Charity Peak Challenge
Four personnel from RAF Waddington and RAF Boulmer lay down a challenging task on Tuesday 8th Sept which would turn out to be exhausting and testing, although enjoyable. This may be due to the fact of allowing time to pass since the event and as our aches and pains become distant memories I’m sure if one was to ask as we finished our answers may have been slightly different.
The event team consisted of FS John Hughes, Sgt Lisa Cavill-eardley, Cpl Peta Todd, and SAC Brettell with the aim to raise money for two separate charities’ The Matt Hampson Foundation (£295) who support people been affected by injury through sport aiding them in recovery; the second charity was the Lions club ‘Alnwick Branch (£400)’ a local and international organisation who support both local and international good causes.
The challenge was walking/ running multiple peaks in the Lake District these being (In Order) 0800Z Helvellyn, 1100Z Scafell Pike and Skiddaw 1600Z with a goal to complete within 12 hours, we successfully managed with a total time of 11 hours 10 minutes (including travelling to and from start points) and a climb time of 9 hours.
As the morning began, the base of Helvellyn was layered with thick fog leaving us questioning what to expect throughout the day, thankfully half way up we broke through being welcomed by cloudless blue sky and spectacular views setting us in good stead and raising our hopes. As we pushed ahead with the rising sun we reached the top of Helvellyn within an hour, breaking into a morning jog on our descent where we encountered for the first time others who seemed bewildered by these strange people jogging in the opposite direction at such an hour. After arriving at our second vehicle we had time for a quick drink and refuel before driving to the other car and onwards to what now we know as the killer, Scafell Pike.
We set off jogging again in a picturesque valley at 1100Z with Scafell Pike looming overhead with its many false summits as we would soon realise. The peak began with a gradual climb on a wellmaintained gravel path, which we were soon missing as the terrain became difficult and at time hazardous. Working together and surging on knowing each step took us closer to the finish and thinking of the reasons for our journey we climbed higher and higher leaving the greenery behind and first false summit entering a section covered in large boulders, no paths but with the relief of the true summit now in view. This excitement was short lived as we realised to reach our goal we had to descend and scale two other false summits before the final stage climb. This sounds like nothing, but when your body is aching and cramps setting into your burning legs, each step affects your already drained energy levels. Through the guidance of Cpl Peta Todd and determination we successfully completed our second ascent in a time of 1 hour 57 minutes and began our descent, encouraged with the thought of one peak left; and although we may have taken the scenic route by accident we reached the car a few hours later and once again ate and drank quickly to restore our energy and restock our packs.
At last the final peak, Skiddaw. This 686 metre climb, although the smallest would for me become the most painful. I would soon realise my body was now running on fumes. We set off at 1600Z with the sight of most people on the peak now descending as our team began. As the sun was setting and dark clouds appearing for the first time as we struggled up the slope, everyone was feeling the burn and picturing a well deserved meal and pint. We climbed step after step until we reached the summit 1 hour 30 minutes later. At this point we were all suffering and my legs were in agony, cramp surging through them. The relief of transiting downhill was a blessing for me even with my bruised feet and sore knees although it was a curse for FS John Hughes as his knee was suffering, we descended quickly with the sun and finally finished our challenge 11 hours 10 minutes after start with a mixture of feelings from proud accomplishment to pain. ‘Now where’s that pint?’