More mountains are a coming :)

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking to try to get a few more trips booked into my calendar, and as I’ve done just that, I thought I should say so right here, so here I am :).

In May I have the Welsh Three Peaks already arranged. This consists of Pen Y Fan, Cadair Idris, and Snowdon – the former two being done on the Saturday, and Snowdon on the Sunday morning, bright and early, or 5.30am for those of you like me will not be very bright by that time of the morning. I haven’t actually been up Pen Y Fan or Cadair Idris before, so it will be nice to tick off two of Wales’ most iconic climbs, even if neither of them are exactly giant peaks. The whole challenge does however involve some 19,000 feet of ascent and descent, and about 20 miles of distance covered, so it should be a really good challenge.

But the news now, is that I have booked THREE more very exciting adventures, all firsts in their own right…..

First in June, I will be doing the Three Peaks (not to be confused with the Welsh Three Peaks). The Three Peaks involves the highest mountains in each of Scotland, England and Wales, done traditionally in that order, being Ben Nevis, Scafell Plike, and Snowdon. There is this time over 20,000 feet of ascent and descent, and 27 miles of distance to cover, and all within 24 hours. Add to this somewhat exhausting schedule the fact that there is about 600 miles of distance to drive between the mountains (about 13 hours on the road, these are not motorways in the main), and you have a brutal schedule ahead of you. Oh and just to add to all that, you need to do Scafell Pike in the dark :O. Should be a fantastic adventure, of which I will tell more as the time draws near….

Then comes even more excitement in July, with, wait for it, Mont Blanc! Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in western Europe, at 15,781 feet, and is a brute.

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Here is just one of the ridges that I get to face:

The Bosses ridge on Mont Blanc.

The Bosses ridge on Mont Blanc.

I’ve never been up Mont Blanc, and never had the chance to even try it, so this is massive for me. It is not to be taken lightly at all, and has a high fatality rate. In fact around 100 people a year sadly lose their lives trying each year. Alan Arnette has a great FAQ on Mont Blanc which I will post below:

http://www.alanarnette.com/7summits/montblancfaq.php

There is so much more to say here, but again I will leave that for another time, as it deserves a good few posts of its own. I’m more excited about this than I am Elbrus actually, as it is just one of the most talked about mountains in the world. One of the amazing things about Mont Blanc is that is has a massive prominence from the surrounding valleys – something like 4,000m in fact. To put that into perspective, Mount Everest has a prominence of 3,500m from Base Camp! I have also seen it many times, from many angles, but the main angle I wish to see it from is potentially there in July………:)

So whilst I had a busy week in booking up these two lovely trips, I thought to myself – why stop there? I therefore contacted International Mountain Guides and booked up for Aconcagua! Now as you may know I have had Aconcagua booked for each of the last two years, but had to cancel it on both occasions. So without tempting fate, I am hoping for third time lucky :). I was originally going to wait to see if I made it up Elbrus (booked for August) before attempting Aconcagua, but then I decided that if I can’t make it up Elbrus then I shouldn’t be doing this whole thing, plus I really need something to aim for at the end of the year.

This is my year of the mountains – the one to really test myself and see if I am up for maybe 6 of the Seven Summits…….if I do what I have just booked for then that’ll be three out of the way by the end of the year, or almost – Aconcagua will start in December and end in January. More, much more, on that to follow too. Nearly 7,000m more, in fact……..better get training, and hard.

Aconcagua - so far away still......but getting nearer.

Aconcagua – so far away still……but getting nearer.

The Lake District 21st-23rd May 2010

So in my previous post you will have noticed that I went to the Lake District the weekend before last. It was great, and so I thought I would put a post up here about it. I went and did Scafell Pike with a few folks from work, and so it might not exactly be Kilimanjaro, but it is the highest mountain in England, so you can only do what you have in front of you right? (OK so I know that that is so not true, but I love the Lake District, so it works for me).

The reason for the trip is that sadly, very sadly in fact, the Three Peaks Challenge is no longer going ahead. Basically it ended up as being quite expensive (it probably works out at about £500 each for a guided trip by the time you have got transport up to Scotland etc too). So my work colleagues decided that this was a bit steep, and we were down to just me to do the trip, and that didn’t pay off at all really. So if anyone is reading this, fancies the trip, and can drum up another 6 or 7 like-minded souls, then I am still up for it…..

So in lieu of the Three Peaks that never was, I decided to ask if anyone fancied a trip to the Lakes instead, and to my absolute surprise and delight, we ended up with nine people. There was a mixture of experiences as far as both camping and walking was concerned, but after a few trips to the local Go Outdoors to sort out a few sleeping bag requirements etc., we duly headed out from work at 3pm on the Friday afternoon, and six hours later were setting up camp at Low Wray campsite on the shores of Windermere.

Not too shabby a place to camp...

Having managed a couple of beers in Ambleside that night after we were all sorted, the next morning we woke to glorious sunshine. In fact the whole weekend the weather was incredible – I think we had 82 deg F on the Saturday and I cannot remember ever seeing weather that glorious up there. In fact it was too hot for walking really, but onwards and upwards we went.

We trekked from the Langdale Valle, and decided to do Scafell Pike from there, via Mickledon, Rosset Gill, Angle Tarn and Ill Crag. The total walk was about 13 miles return. Here we are on the way up Rosset Gill, a fairly sharp pull up to around 1,500 feet:

The climb begins in earnest....

At the top of Rosset Gill it was time to take in some scenery and have a breather. Here is a picture of me and my colleague Alain. He subsequently was to surprise us all at the top by pulling out some Brie, paté, and a bottle of Chardonnay! Some people by now were breathing harder than others, but no names, as it were:)

The hills are alive with the sound of Frenchmen.....

Over the top of Rosset Gill we came to Angle Tarn, which proved a very nice place to cool off. We all went in at least with our feet – lets say the water temperature was ‘bracing’, but very welcome nonetheless.

Angle Tarn with the slopes of Bowfell on the left, and Great End in the distance

The walk from here on was not too hard, but the heat certainly made it tougher than would have normally have been the case. Interestingly also there was still a little bit of snow at higher levels once above about 3,000 feet.

Approaching Ill Crag from Great End, a little bit of snow in evidence

From here it was a steep pull up to the summit of Scafell Pike, but we all made it up there for a very rewarding (if a bit hazy) view from the top:

a right motley crew, especially that guy in the pink T-shirt....

So from the highest point in England, at 3,209 feet, we re-traced our steps back down the way we came. Here is the wikipedia link to Scafell Pike for those not familar with it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scafell_Pike

The journey to the top was around 5 1/2 hours, and the reurn was about 2 1/2 – helped by the thought of one of my favourite pubs, the Old Dungeon Ghyll, at the bottom. The ‘ODG’ as it is known, is a bit of a legendary pub amongst walkers in the Lakes, so it would have been a bit rude not to pop in and say hello to the place. I think I first went there when I was about 18, a few years ago now 🙂

http://www.odg.co.uk/home/index.cfm?id=1

Suitably refreshed, everyone headed back to the campsite with weary legs but a great day was had by one and all. It was certanly a testing walk, and great to do this as my first ‘proper’ walk post Kilimanjaro. My legs certainly knew they had been on a walk the next morning, which was nice actually. It was great also to be able to help some of the others to do the mountain, three of the party had never even been to the Lake District before, and so it was just a great thing for us all to do.

On the Sunday we had a long trip back ahead of us, and so the consensus was not to climb any more mountains. We thus went into Grasmere and had a saunter around. I love Grasmere village, it just has a lovely feel about it, despite the omnipresent tourists, of which I suppose I am one, so I can’t really moan too much! I visted my favourite Art studio (Heaton Cooper, I think I have about 10 Heaton Cooper prints in all in my house), and also Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop – a place where I always make a pilgrimage when I am in the Lakes, basically because it is the most more-ish substance that I know of.

http://www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk/index.htm

Finally we headed back to Oxfordshire. It was great to have had good company, and to do a wonderful walk in my favourite part of the country. As noted earlier, we went up with nine folks, but there were only 8 of us on the walk itself. One of my colleagues Carl went to meet some ex-colleagues from the US who were there to do the C2C. An excerpt showing his own travels from the weekend, from his own hugely entertaing blog is attached below:

http://bubbleinthedesert.blogspot.com/2010/05/crazy-plans-come-good-meeting-bill.html

So next time I shall tell you about my trip to New York last weekend. I may have alluded in my last post to the fact that whilst there, the potential for another trip (and a very serious one, involving something even higher than Kilimanjaro) was mooted. I am so excited I can hardly contain it, but I will hold back until then……