A Grand Day Out 4:Just a walk and an easy ridge she said?

by antwan Feb/2009
This article has been read 2,869 times
Great Gabel - Worth the effort
© Antwan

Just a walk and an easy ridge she said...

4 o'clock came, the beep of the clock machine that 9 hours earlier had imprisoned me into a large tin box was now setting me free. I was setting of another weekend meet.

What happened between picking everyone up and arriving at camp could fill a small novel of its own; arguing with Mrs. Sat'Navigator, roads closed due to snow and a naked campsite owner hanging out of an upstairs window.

7:30am Saturday morning. We were up before the sun, eating breakfast whilst watching the dawn break. All the kit had been sorted the night before, and a plan had hatched to drive over Honister pass, walk up from Seathwaite, onto the climbers traverse and have a crack at Needle Ridge followed by bagging Great Gable. Almost like clockwork we were packed into the car, chugged over the pass, gaiterd' up and were on the track past Seathwaite farm. This wasn't a normal meet? Where was the chaos and disorder?

Looking round I could see snow topped peaks, filtering down into the lush green valleys. Tingling from excitement I knew in my head that the Napes crags were higher than the snow covered path we were now motoring across. The rest of the group were more experienced in this winter malarkey than me. The most I had done was an iced path on Scarfell a few years ago. Soon we were onto the climbers traverse and feeling like a real mountaineer I swapped my walking pole for an old, slightly rusted Camp ice axe given to me a few week earlier by a friend.

The path seemed to disappear and a trail of footsteps meandered across frozen patches of scree precariously near the edge of some small gully's and steep drops. Distant voices directed me. "Keep right here." Then, "Don't go on the ridge." I had summer boots and an axe I didn't really know how to use. Every time I took a step the mountain tried to spit me off. I was utterly bricking it. I wanted to go home but something inside me said 'I'm okay, just take it steady'. Soon after we found Needle Ridge, far below us. We were off route and then the clouds rolled in and visibility was zero. Our tracks were disintegrating and didn't look as safe as they were moments earlier. After a group discussion 'Go up' was our rescue plan.

Following the footsteps left by the rest of the group they would wait on safe ground for me to catch up then carry on to the next rest. On what was probably the fourth rest I knew I was in for a hard time when they were putting on crampons. For a split second my heart sank, would I be one of the ill prepared' mountain rescue statistics? Moments later all I was thinking about was going up, learning how to torque with my axe when there were no convenient placement, Then it happened, both feet slipped off iced up foot holds on a small rock bulge. There I was, hanging on by one axe in some poor shallow turf placement, with my body pressing against the rock. I was expecting from a rapid descent into Wasdale. I had a silly big grin on my face, and I wanted more. The climbing eased; the mountain had tested me, and let me pass easily onto its summit; we even made it back to the car before it got dark

Just a walk and an easy ridge Lizzie had said the night before. Like our last adventure I have pushed myself that little bit further, physically and mentally. Bit by bit the world is coming into focus..

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A Grand Day Out, 154 kbimage © Mick Ryan

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