With a new year came a chance for another year of adventures- this is 2017 so far….
The weekend started with a drive down to a scout hut in Dartmoor. We were very excited to receive our first Patagonia team kit. We were each given a light blue t-shirt which had our Patagonia 2017 logo on it, which the team had designed previously. After a few hours of patchy sleep, we headed out into the moors. As soon as we started walking we saw that all the water on the ground was frozen. This meant that Tilda managed to take out Nathan on the ice, nearly jeopardising the whole trek. After hours of trekking through frozen bogs we ended at the chosen wild camping spot for the night. We made dinner and played cards in the freezing tent until we dragged our bodies out into the cold and dark for some night navigation. Finally, we went to bed for some well-earned sleep.
The next morning, we were up, ate breakfast and were out by 08:30. We started by spending half an hour attempting to cross a river. We then trekked back to the vans through more bogs and practicing more navigation. Overall the Dartmoor weekend was…an experience.
The Scotland trip gave us, as a team, a good feel for how life will be, when hiking in Patagonia. With crampon skills, ice axe arrests, navigating through the valleys and the peaks, and long treacherous hikes we are feeling very prepared.
The week started with a very long arduous journey up to Scotland via mini bus. We had a top of night at a scout hut in Carlisle, where we learnt some judo skills with Rob as the instructor. Once we had reached the lodge in the Cairngorms, we sorted out what rooms we were staying in and then set off for our introductory walk. It was a gentle walk around a scenic loch. After taking lots of photos, we returned for a well needed uninterrupted sleep.
The first day of proper hiking (the Sunday) was spent hiking up the ridge towards 1141. We stopped half way up and learnt our first load of snow skills. We learnt ice axe arrests and had some spectacular fails but mostly just good practice and success. The most spectacular display of what not to do, was Tilda trying to do an ice axe arrest head first on her back and just panicking, dropping the axe and coming to a messy halt because of her heels digging into the snow. After sufficient practise and some lunch, we continued traversing up to 1141, then along the plateau and over Cairngorm. It was a tiring first day but we learnt lots and felt very skilled for tackling mountains!
On one of our rest days we still woke up for breakfast at 07:45 still but then instead of heading out to the mountains we had a talk about packing an expedition pack. It was very useful and we all learnt a fair amount. We then went out for a short hike to a bothy. A bothy is a small hut, sometimes with a fire place, to get out of the elements and sometimes to sleep. We went to see what one is like as we will hopefully be staying in one on Thursday night on our overnight expedition. We headed back for lunch and then went for a distillery tour about an hour away from our lodge. However, sadly, we couldn’t drink. It was a great day and lovely to have a break from such tiring daily activities, usually.
April- Lake District
Over the Easter weekend, we drove up to the Lake District for a weekend of hiking, climbing and scrambling.
We kicked off our adventurous Easter weekend with a hike, sharing navigation (Friday). After reaching the base of Pavey Ark we manoeuvred around Stickle Tarn to the bottom of a scrambling route called Jack’s Rake which is a grade 1, 3 star scramble. We kitted up with helmets (and snacks) before beginning the ascent. Most Jack’s Rake was enclosed however some parts were exposed to the elements which worried. Nevertheless, after a slow scramble, we emerged at the top of Pavey Ark where we had lunch. We then did some micro-navigation across the ridge lines to High Raise before heading back to Great Tower for the evening.
On Saturday we drove out to Bowderstone where two climbs were set up for us. We rotated around between climbing, belaying and tailing. After that a long, much harder line was set up with a top belay. Everyone tried their hardest to complete it however some people didn’t manage it. Later on, we moved to a long abseil before driving to Keswick where we had an ice-cream and a cup of tea then headed back to the activity centre for some well-earned rest.
After Saturday night’s dinner, the team were driven out by Alan to the base of a valley. We hiked up it in the dark and although it was hard going and steep, it was enjoyable as it was something different. We skirted around Grizedale Tarn and set up camp next to the shore. After a satisfactory night’s sleep, only interrupted by Dan’s snoring, we were walking out by 09:00. We took turns navigating and our navigating skills had definitely improved since Scotland. We slowly trudged up the ridge to Fairfield’s peak and as we got higher the visibility got worse because it had started snowing. At the top, we got out the cold wind and snow in a small wind shelter. We struggled to navigate off Fairfield as the visibility was so poor but once we got on our way we made good time. After a tough and very damp day we made it down to Ambleside where we were picked up and driven back to Great Tower. We had a great group singalong on the way back and then got straight in the lovely hot showers. After showering, we met as a team and had a debrief and then got on with organising our July fundraiser. All in all it was a fun weekend with lots learnt and experience gained.
We are still not done yet for this year!
We have fundraising days planned for our expedition, as well as a trip to the Peak District in June,
-The Patagonia Team
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