After last year’s successful duel charity trek up the UKs highest mountain we again found volunteers who were prepared to give it a go this year, as last year it was attempted over two weekends to accommodate peoples work commitments, I accompanied the first group of Duncan Turnbull, Jade Ridley and Mark Rutter.
We set off from South Shields at 4am in beautiful sunshine but by 5am we encountered a monsoon, one that didn’t let up for the next 24 hours and ended the plan of starting the climb at 10am.
By the time we arrived in Fort William it was clear that the route they were going to use was far too dangerous and heeding the advice of the mountain weather forecast we postponed the walk for 24 hours and retired to the pub to regroup.
I had organised a bed and breakfast for that night that by coincidence had the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall next door so Duncan, Jade and Mark donned crampons and spent an hour in a -18c giant freezer, I bravely minded the coats.
That evening was spent with the friendly locals in our hotel bar, about 1am it was suggested that there was a climb to do the next morning so we retired to our beds (bunk beds in some cases).
All of the group are experienced climbers and had decided to trek up Ben Nevis via two other mountains (Munros) and cross between them via the Carn Mor Dearg Arête. As you can see from the image it’s the reason they decided to wait for better weather before the attempt.
Throughout their time in the mountains they stayed in contact with me via phone and email giving regular updates and photos along with the thoughts they shouldn’t have spent so much time in the pub the day before.
After 8 hours they returned, happy from completing the climb and eager for a beer and something to eat, an hour later we set off for the drive home in what very quickly became a quiet car. By 3am on Monday we were home though all of them had to get up for work the next morning, all I had done was drove the car and read the Sunday papers and I was completely worn out, these people are unbelievable.
This fundraising event raised in the region of £2000 for the TKPA and on behalf of all our members and patients I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Duncan, Jade and Mark for their hard work in finding sponsors as well as climbing three mountains.
Our second group of fundraisers made their attempt the following weekend in a party led by Vanessa Hardy. The weather was again a huge problem with Steven Bell and Ivor Haynes making a successful and wet ascent.