Monday, 7 November 2016

The Climb for Our Pride

My eldest son plays for the great Wigan St Pats Under 15 Rugby team and as well as a great team and bunch of people, they do some other great work. Yesterday, Sunday 6 November 2016, a number of players, parents and supporters climbed Mount Snowdon. That in itself is a great challenge but none of expected the torrid weather conditions that we went with the steep hard climb.


The reason that the players, parents and supporters did this was for a great cause - Our Pride. Our Pride was set up in 2011 and was set up to support families with children with Down Syndrome. They offer support, advice and most of all friendship. They help take families away on trips and make some great memories. Currently the group are also working on creating a family pack for families that may be pending diagnosis. This was one of the reasons that the group was started because the lady who did start this didn't know where to turn when she got this news. For me she is using her knowledge and others to support others and their group grows from strength to strength.


There was just over 30 people that braved the climb. The weather at the bottom wasn't to bad but we had seen on the weather forecast there may be a bit of snow on top and a bit of wind. At the bottom of the climb none of us expected that even the road at the start of the climb would be so hard and steep. After a short while we turned off the road and went on to the track that goes up to the summit. There were stories that it would get easier in a bit. But apart from a small section later on in the walk where the track went more slight, it was all pretty much a hard slog.

Wow, what a view an hour in.
When we had been walking for about an hour we looked behind and saw this great view. Wow. We were so looking forward to the views once we got to the top if this was now. A little while later the cold came in and the heavy rain. Then it started to play on people's mental ability, as well as their physical abilities. I knew that I was not in the best of shape, especially as I had a serious operation on my spine last year and then further  complications too at the end of last year. Some of the team where flying up and full credit in their ability to do that, just goes and demonstrates the fitness these lads have.

If I break the trek up into 3 sections the 2nd of these was very uneven under foot and steep too. This is where it really got to us, How much longer could this go on for? I am pretty sure this is what we thought on this section. Once you got to the end of this section you go under the 2nd railway bridge and turn right and then climb up to the level of the train track.

BANG! What on earth! Although it had been heavy rain and a bit slushy before now we were in a full blown blizzard. A couple of people had to turn round but full credit for them to getting this point - an achievement in itself. One of the other walkers coming down said to climb on to the railway track and walk that way. The train had stopped working 2 weeks ago and because of the snow it would have been hard to follow the track but following the railway track would be more even under foot and also we had something to follow.


Following the railway track in the blizzard was hard going and the only thing in our favour was the fierce wind was blowing on our backs. As we battled and braved the elements we asked climbers coming down how much further? The answer every time - 10 more minutes, you are nearly there. We must have climbed for a further 30 - 40 minutes but everyone would say 10 more minutes. It got to the point where we stopped asking, mind you the number of people coming down was going fewer too. At one point I hit the wall, so to speak, and had it not been for the fact my lad was up at the top and I wanted to make sure he was OK and the other lads with me helping me, I seriously thought about turning around. The conditions in this storm were you couldn't see much in front of you and then another couple walking near us shouted that the closed train station was near. We nearly had done it. Soon enough there it was a dark structure in the blizzard, the train station. Then we looked up and saw the last steps up to the stone on the summit. We raced up to the stone - took some pics and then wasted no time in getting back down.
The stone at the Summit.


So normally going down means easy. Not this time. The conditions under foot was much more harder and also the snow was deeper. We came back down the first of the 3 sections following the railway track. There were 2 issues.
These were the conditions at the top section 
At this point in the blizzard I was thinking
what had I agree to 
The steep slippy descent and the snow blizzard was hitting us in the face. Some of us have described the snow and hail hitting us was like pellet gun bullets hitting us and I can confirm this. Man when would this end?
Any one that has done this climb will confirm that even without this weather the descent pulls on your legs and ankles. Sure enough though once we got to the first train bridge where we climbed down to go back on the normal trail down the snow just stopped. How could this be? I was a gentleman called Paul and he said he was going to get some of his hot drink. Great news to me let's stop for a bit. I got some drink out of my pack and we both couldn't believe that once you go under this bridge it seemed to be a different country, in terms of the weather conditions.

The rest of the climb down was slow and steady and we did up and down in four and a half hours. Not bad I think for the climb and those conditions.

No doubt we all complained at some point about the climb and the conditions but it was a great achievement for everyone. It was another great team building exercise but most importantly it was all for a great cause. Early indications are that we raised about £2,000 for Our Pride.