This week saw the final leg of the 18-month Challenge and the ultimate ‘4th Peak’.
The team travelled via minibus and Eurostar into France, and then on to Chamonix – the base camp for their week of activities.
After meeting their Mountain Guides for the week it was straight into equipment issue and briefings, and then onto the serious job of glacier training, multiple-pitch climbing, and overnight stays in refuge huts to enable final pushes on to reach the summits of Tete Blanche (3550m) and Gran Paradiso (4061m).
All agreed they had a thoroughly unbelievable and unforgettable experience (even with GCSE results on Thursday!), and will take this with them into new personal challenges in the coming months.
A special thanks to Gary Hind of West Hill School for going above-and-beyond to doggedly help all the lads get the most from this experience, and a personal thanks from a Joshua to Marsh Industries for their sponsorship contribution which was genuinely appreciated.
The July heatwave might have been good for the tan, but not so much if you’re climbing three mountains in three days and travelling around the UK in a minibus.
Following a long trek to Scotland the lads conquered Ben Nevis first, then travelled to Cumbria for Scarfell Pike, and finished in Wales on the peak of Snowdon.
Months of training and preparation meant all went smoothly – the biggest ‘Challenge’ on the expedition apparently being the McDonalds menu!
Just the Gran Paradiso (Italian Alps) to go in August .. bring it on!
Last weekend saw the lads return to Snowdonia – this time for 2 days, and involving an overnight camp in the mountains.
Poor weather again plagued the weekend’s events but despite this Joshua led the second leg to the summit of Cnicht, standing at 688m, before making camp and a quick NightNav session (map reading in the dark) before bed.
Jetboil incidents aside the weekend went well and the lads returned to school to settle into the winter climbing sessions (NICAS Levels 3-4) – fortunately for them indoors!
For their second outing in preparation for the 4 Peaks Challenge, last Sunday saw the lads from West Hill on a challenging walk around Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia – one of the best examples of a glaciated valley in Britain.
The circular walk was planned to test the map-reading and compass skills of all involved, whilst also ensuring plenty of opportunities for scrambling up fabulous rock formations and down equally demanding scree slopes.
With sections of the walk named ‘Devils Kitchen’ and ‘Terminator’ a challenging day was only to be expected, but this proved even more difficult when poor visibility and constant rain combined to make route-finding difficult and the climbs hard going. Even the ‘Cantilever Stone’ just below the summit was shrouded in mist, and so spoilt the usually good photo opportunity.
Having spent all day on the mountain the sight of the school minibus and it’s change of dry clothes was well received …apparently only topped by the sighting of the famous ‘Golden Arches’ (McDonalds) on the journey home!
Here’s looking forward to a return to Snowdonia very soon for the next training exercise – a weekend session involving camping out overnight.
Hope the cooking lessons have gone well?!
Marsh Industries is supporting Joshua Swallow (son of our Northern Area Manager Nigel) throughout his 4 Peaks Challenge with West Hill School.
The Challenge consists of climbing the British 3 Peaks – Ben Nevis (1343m), Scafell Pike (977m), and Snowdon (1085m) – on three consecutive days in July 2018, with the additional climb of Pigne d’Arolla (3796m) in the Alps in August.
Initial preparations have been in the classroom, learning about equipment and the associated skills for hill and mountain walking. However, as the final ascent involves rock-climbing on snow and ice, the team are also completing their National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme (NICAS) to Level 4.
Practice on the school indoor climbing wall has gone well, but as an introduction to The Great Outdoors they have just completed an abseil of Peel Monument, a 128 foot tower standing on the hills overlooking Holcombe in Lancs. We’re pleased to report that all attendees completed the task, with no-one ‘bottling it’ …and even Nigel got roped in (literally) to increase donations to the challenges’ nominated charity, ‘Believe and Achieve’.
More posts to follow as activities arise.