The point at which I stood was within ten square metres of the spot at which I called off my first attempt to climb the Pike. That time I couldn’t see ten metres in front of me as the cold October rain drove into my face and the low cloud obscured the land. That walk was curtailed by various factors; injured knees, aggressive weather and the fact that we’d only just finished climbing Ben Nevis and had Snowdon yet to come. This time, I was focused on the one mountain and I had no intention of being beaten again.
|Setting off up the valley|
|The path becomes less clear|
We climbed through the cloud bank and over giant slabs of rock until finally we reached the summit with it’s rock mound. There we were: standing on top of Scafell Pike. In jubilation the nine of us danced about on the top of the mountain like celebrating pagan peons. A bottle of Scotch was passed about to accompany some wolfishly eaten snacks. After a few moments we succumbed to the exposure on the peak and pointed our boots back the way we had come. The descent was a hairy one, slipping and sliding down rocky snow-banks on our backsides while clinging to anything and everything to control the speed. Having offered my gloves to a friend whose hands had become numb in the wind, I suffered when attempting to use my palms as brake pads. Though it hurt I was able to prevent myself cartwheeling off the side of the mountain. The adrenaline pumping noisily past my ears made the danger no more than an exciting challenge, but looking back we really should have taken some precautions. Or an ice axe.
|Alex and Ryan scramble up the final, treacherous section|
At times it felt like we’d bitten off more than we were capable of chewing and it turned out that our route should only be scrambled in summer, not during the harsh back end of winter. Risks were taken but no serious injuries or ailments were suffered. Once again we’d escaped to the natural world, found it almost empty of people but full of dangerous beauty and enriching experiences.
|The route back down, eding along rock faces (Images: Luke Doyle)|