After an initial month’s training (including a minor blip from Jason where his efforts didn’t seem to be paying off), eyes were back on the prize and Richard decided to take Jason on a nice little warm up jaunt… up the UK’s second largest peak, Mount Snowdon… in the winter conditions…
A weekend (or several) of walking is brilliant preparation (as advised in John Stedman’s Trekking Guide to Kilimanjaro) but bearing in mind Snowdon is approximately an 8 hour round trek, we think Richard threw Jason in at the deep end!
As the image above shows, despite Wales delivering its finest winter weather, spirits were high (probably because they couldn’t see the summit due to the fog) with Master Richard (left) and apprentice Jason on the Saturday morning as they prepared to take the first major step in their Kilimanjaro preparations. A positive mental attitude is always important!
After about twenty minutes into the climb, the burn in Jason’s legs (which didn’t stop until the Tuesday after) and Richard’s concern for the weather were both growing at an alarming rate. It was unclear (excuse the pun) whether they’d be able to reach the summit. They soldiered on however through the -5°C (and dropping) gales nevertheless, with admirable dog-like determination.
The entire experience from start to finish was new to Jason with the whole climb being an eye opener. From being mesmerised by not being able to see where he was going or where he had been due to the fog, to the realisation that “maybe you can’t just rock up and do Kilimanjaro.” Even for Rambo Richard – the seasoned climber of the British Peaks, the trip threw up some eye-opening moments – namely being stopped by a chap in a duffle coat and wellies half way up asking “which is the way down?”
Richard and Jason’s climb came to a disappointing and frustrating end as, approximately 7/8 of the way up, the blinding fog, snow and icy weather made it simply too dangerous to continue. The ‘hardest part of the weekend’ for Richard was to make the decision to turn back before reaching the top – taking into account the descent is hardest in said conditions, and takes twice as long, it was the right decision. The mountain will be there another day! And it will need to be as they have a few more warm up climbs planned there, as well as at Scafell Pike in the Lake District before conquering the mighty Kilimanjaro in August!
We caught up with the guys:
Richard: “The weather was the worst I’ve ever climbed in so it was a real test for me, let alone Jason. I was disappointed the weather stopped us in our tracks – we pushed as far as we safely could in the conditions, with Jason’s florescent yellow hat lighting the path… but we don’t want any more broken bones! I thought Jason did very well; what he lacks in fitness, at the moment, he makes up for in sheer determination. I have no concerns for him at this point.”
Jason: “I personally give the climb an 11/10 for difficulty. It was a struggle for my legs from basically the start but there was no way I was going to stop. It was hard to accept, with all the effort we put in, we weren’t going to make the top but I’d rather be alive for another day to do it again! It’s clear I still have a lot to do in terms of training and preparation but I’m back on the right track, having lost approximately a stone all in all. The equipment Richard suggested was fantastic and did help, but maybe next time I’ll invest in a chair lift!”
Don’t forget, the guys are doing this challenge to raise funds for The British Heart Foundation. If you’d like to support the cause and donate (all funds go directly to BHF) you can either text GOSR89 and the amount you wish to donate e.g. ‘GOSR89 £3′ to 70070 or click the image below.