IT REALLY WAS EPIC!
The plan was to hike the height of Everest, to achieve the elevation gain of half the height of Everest, over two days in the Lake District. Of course there was a plot twist… That November weather!
As our team members spent the week leading up to the challenge nervously checking the weather forecast, our guides were doing the same and it was only getting worse. Wind speeds of up to 70 mph were forecast on the peaks and that just wouldn’t be safe.
Being the amazing guides that they are, Cat and Jade set about formulating a new plan and a new route, that would still be a massive challenge but within the realms of safety.
It was decided that as driving rain and high winds would be the challenge, length and endurance would be the test. Upping the length of day one from 22km to 38km certainly pushed the team to their limits! Keeping the route predominantly gradual and undulating whilst still getting in quite a bit of ascent (over 1400 metres) meant the team were protected from the worst of the elements.
Day two was when they had to dig deep. There were a lot of sore knees over night and a few blisters but they all cracked on with the challenge racking up 24.13 km and over 1140 metres of elevation gain.
We were super lucky to be assisted by Jonny Huntington and Stu Croxford from the Adaptive Grand Slam. The AGS challenge aims to select, train and enable disabled adventurers to take on some of the most extreme expeditions and testing challenges on the planet and inspire others with life-long injuries and disabilities to achieve their goals. Both Jonny and Stu have guided with us on Everest in the Alps and despite their life changing injuries sustained during combat, they are some of the toughest and fittest people you’ll meet. They certainly inspired our team to keep going when it got tough!
Most of the team stayed with us at the bunkhouse which although basic, was perfectly positioned as a base. We had Becky Scott of RS Performance Training with us (our EiA personal trainer) and she cooked up a storm each evening which really brought everyone together. As well as being on hand with the support vehicle to top up water, swap out wet clothes and offer a hot drink every now and then!
Everyone came prepared with the right attitude and spirits were high. It’s the team mentality that really gets you through on this type of challenges and despite the women not all knowing each other, they soon bonded and kept each other going.
The guides were really impressed:
“The women were some of the most capable I have taken into the hills. They were all well equipped and prepared with their equipment, food and attitude.”
“I had a fantastic weekend and it was really a great pleasure to be out in the hills with such a capable group of women”
“Great bunch of like-minded ladies.”
“They were all fantastic and a great bunch of clients.”
We ended the challenge with a celebratory meal at the Langstrath Inn on the Sunday night and it was the perfect end to an extraordinary weekend!
Lets hear from some of the team members…
I would echo what others have said about the guides – they were so good – it was very clear that safety was the first priority but they didn’t shy away from our challenge back to them to still make sure it was a challenge worthy of the initial goal!
As you know, we/they decided to add length and endurance to make up for the height. I think doing 38km rather than 22km was definitely a decent extension on day one. I was feeling really good at about 30km, thinking we were nearly there – then we got to about 32km and Cat said we actually had another 5-6km to go, and it was nearly dark and that was quite tough!! But weirdly I then quite enjoyed the head torch river bank scrambling part – not sure everyone else did.
My biggest issue was my knees on the second day – I was so concerned about achieving the uphill that in my training I probably didn’t think enough about the down… so I ended up loving the uphill parts and finding them relatively easy but the downhill on the second day was agony!! There were a few of us with the same issue, luckily we seemed to rotate who was having the most painful stint! But that was part of the challenge to know that managing that pain all day had to happen as there was no escape route.
Despite that I really enjoyed it – I haven’t been to the Lake District before and despite the weather, it was so, so beautiful. The colours were amazing and, especially on the second day, the remoteness was stunning. I love woodland too so the part after lunch on day one through the woods looking down at the lake was really lovely.
We had a fun group – I knew three others, but only Lizzie well, so it was really great to meet people, chat, share stories – coincidentally we were all roughly the same age and stage of life so there was a lot of easy, common ground.
The guides were great too – Cat and Jade were so calm and competent and totally unfazed by the elements – and Stu and Johnny were great company and very inspiring. It’s very hard to moan when you know what they have been through! The photographer was insane – he was like Spider-Man, leaping around us, unaffected by the wind….. Becky was a lovely person to anchor the van and the hut.
Best part? The cold beer at the end of each day!!! Seriously… probably the peaks we did manage to do. Although the wind was insane on day two at the top it was so exhilarating.
All in all I am so glad I did it – I was nervous having just had COVID, and not trained as much as I would have hoped. But I feel really proud of all of us and looking back at the pictures and videos makes me realise how hard it really was.
The fundraising has been overwhelming. I was doing it in memory of a very close friend and colleague who died from a brain tumour in March. We can’t actively solicit donations at work but word leaked out on Friday as I was driving up and so many donations came in over the weekend (and still are) which was very buoying! I obviously have links too, due to being close friends with Rob and Tans Ritchie, the EIA founders.
Anyway, so glad to help but get to do something unique, challenging and amazing in the process.
What an epic challenge. The weather wasn’t favourable but I think we were all pushed even without reaching the heights originally set out. Coming from the flats of Suffolk, it was definitely a knee cruncher and in hindsight some more training in downhill on uneven surfaces would have been advantageous.
The guides were a great bunch and I felt well prepared and subsequently well looked after at all stages of the event.
Always love being in the Lakes and a great bunch of people to spend a couple of days with.
I wanted to say how fantastic our guides were. Pulling together a challenging itinerary in tumultuous conditions. Keeping us all sane in the rain. Inspiring us to do our best. Well done Cat, Jade, Stu and Jonny and Becky.
Thanks to our amazing photographer Sam Hill.
He is a Runner – Mountaineer – Skier and also happens to be an International Mountain Leader based in Switzerland and the UK.
We would highly recommend!