As 2011 drew to a close I put the outline of how I would like the event to run together including - dates, training dates, kit lists, mountain profiles, potential dangers etc and presented to Ellie & Chrissy. I made it clear that at that point it was my intention to try put them off doing the event and they might want to look for something that may be easier and that carried a lesser chance of failure, I did this to ensure their commitment to the event as it was in no way going to be easy!! To their credit they were unperturbed by the physical, financial or time commitments a successful event would demand.
Neither Ellie, Chrissy, Jodie or Richard had done much, if any hill/mountain walking in the past so it was decided I would take them on a couple of training routes to give them a small idea of what they could expect and also so both they, and I, could assess their fitness and kit and look for any potential problems. To enable the group to gain some 'mountain fitness' they would also meet regularly to get out in the Derbyshire Peak District which was most easily accessible to them and look to increase on their general fitness and stamina levels.
N.B It is important to note that hill/mountain walking not only makes demands of the body's cardiovascular fitness. Demands are also made of the body's skeletal and muscular systems including tendons and ligaments which may be put under greatly increased stresses to enable the body to make controlled movements over different terrains and surfaces of all angles whilst both ascending and descending the mountain.
The first of our training routes was planned to take place on Sunday 29th April in the 'Yorkshire Dales National Park' to walk the 24.5mile route of the 'Yorkshire 3 Peaks' (Pen-y-ghent, Whernside & Ingleborough). During the week leading up to the walk I payed close attention to the weather forecast which was looking decidedly 'spicy' with possible temperatures around 2°C and winds in excess of 50mph. I kept the group updated and also made clear the potential risks of walking in those conditions, to their credit they were insistent they wanted to go ahead as it would be good experience as long I was happy to take them -
|Mountain weather - Met Office Mountain Weather Forecast|
|The approach to Pen-y-ghent and it was getting 'breezy'!|
|Getting out of the wind and 'Baltic' temperatures on Pen-y-ghent.|
|One benefit of the freezing temperatures was the 'easier' going over the frozen notorious peat bog.|
As we snacked a couple of experienced looking guys told us they had struggled to even stand up as they walked over Whernside due to the winds, I thought this information may have caused worry in the group but they were still keen to go on.
Heading towards Whernside we walked past 'Ribblehead Viaduct' and to 'Force Gill' where, as we gained height it became necessary to pause and brace against the ever increasing gusts. It was at this point that I felt conditions were approaching the limits of where I thought it safe and would only further deteriorate as we went on, it was to the disappointment of the team that I decided to call an end to the route and that we should make our way back.
It was a difficult decision to call a halt to the day as Ellie, Chrissy & Richard had traveled up the previous day and paid for accommodation and fuel etc, but safety of the group has to be the first consideration and it did give them an insight to possible conditions on the hills at any time of year.
Great effort by all and a display of their commitment to the event.
The second of our training routes saw Ellie, Chrissy & Jodie return to the 'Yorkshire Dales' on Sunday 26th May for what is one of my favorite training routes.
The route begins at 'Ribblehead Viaduct' and heads back along Guber Road towards 'Horton-In-Ribblesdale' before taking a right turn towards 'Colt Park' and up the steep ascent of 'Park Fell'. The route then continues on to 'Ingleborough' then across to 'Whernside' before returning to 'Ribblehead Viaduct' - 2 of the 3 Peaks, 21km & 830m of ascent without the boggy bit!
|Making their way up to Ingleborough summit|
|Whernside in the distance|
|Enjoying the warm weather on Whernside|
We then headed back along the summit plateau and made our way down the notorious 'Devils Stair Case' as people who were doing the 'Yorkshire 3 Peaks' came in the opposite direction, we were not at all envious of them going up the very steep stairs! Heading over towards 'Whernside' we took the chance of a refreshment/toilet stop at 'Philpin Farm' before heading up the ascent to 'Whernside' summit, here we passed literally hundreds of people making their way down from the summit with some of them looking very drained in the warm weather.
Crossing the summit of 'Whernside' we then made our way down back to the starting point at 'Ribblehead Viaduct' passing the point at which I had drawn a halt to the previous training route in very different conditions. We completed in the route in a little of over 6hrs and I was very pleased with the ladies effort in preparing for the event proper - the remaining preparation was in their own hands!!!!