Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ain't no mountain high enough

I do hope everyone has had a nice, relaxing (or at least productive) weekend. I have spent the last weekend of October doing something a little different- climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales. Yes, all three and a half thousand feet of it!

Mr Freakum Dress and I travelled up there on Friday with a group of other climbers to fund raise for the RSPCA North West Middlesex (yes, VERY specific location). I first agreed to take part because I wanted to raise money and help out; they do some great work and deserve all the support we can give them, but I also wanted to prove something to myself by climbing that mountain....mainly that I could reach the summit without the aid of an oxygen tank/air ambulance. Repping it for the fatties! 

We set off at around 9:45am after a hearty breakfast at the hotel. I have to admit that I was feeling apprehensive on the drive to the mountain. I'm not completely immobile, but I'm NOT fit and I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew. However, by that point it was too late, so I put on my walking boots and got on with it. Here I am looking fresh and naive:

The start of the climb was nice and easy going. Our guide told us to take it easy and actually enjoy looking at our surroundings, which was easy to do because it was so beautiful. However, what he neglected to tell us was 'enjoy it now because soon you're going to wish you'd never signed up for this hell fest'. The path became incredibly steep, narrow and....well, there was no path to be honest, it was just rocks. The relief I felt when we got to the top of 'the hard bit' and looked down is like nothing I've ever felt before! That said, it soon turned to pain as I realised we were still an hour from the top. Good view though:

The wind was terrible. I'm a big girl and I actually had to hold on to the side to stop myself being blown over several times! It was also incredibly misty so you couldn't really see very much. It was at around the 2 1/2 hour mark that I hit the wall and thought to myself 'I can't do this any more'. My legs were on fire, the wind and rain was battering my face and I was just absolutely exhausted. The only thing that kept me going was our guide, Mick. He just spent the full 5 1/2 hours shouting encouragement and telling us we could do it- I need him to stand next to my desk and motivate me every day!

I actually think the final 20 minutes to the summit are the hardest. Not only are you tired because you've been going for nearly 3 hours, but the final path has been carved into a sort of staircase and it took every ounce of energy I had to lift my legs up to climb it. I kept stopping every few steps just to take a break while Mick shouted 'IT'S JUST AROUND THE CORNER' at me and I glared back.

And then....there it was. The summit. Not that I could see anything of course because the weather was so bad, but the sense of achievement and relief was enormous! It was probably a good thing I couldn't see anything because I probably would have been absolutely petrified!

It took us around 2 1/2 hours to get back down again. While it's easier to descend than climb, it feels like a struggle because you're so tired by that point, both physically and mentally. By the end I just marched forward like a robot, trying not to think or even speak, desperate to get it over and done with.

And here I am, the next evening, aching all over, knees absolutely killing. And I'm thinking...what should I climb next? Ben Nevis? Everest? 

I'm the next Ranulph Fiennes.