We set off on Thursday evening as the first peak was going to be Ben Nevis and that is a ten plus hour drive away.
We stayed in Keswick in the Lake District giving ourselves only a four hour drive and a much better preparation day with the aim of setting off from the bottom of Ben Nevis at 5:00 pm on the Friday.
At 5:00 pm we were not ready to go, so we started a little bit later than planned. If any of you know Archie, he has never been on time for anything, EVER, despite his (loud) protestations to the contrary, therefore this will come as no surprise to you.
We started off and it was incredibly pleasant. The weather was amazing, the scenery spectacular and at that point we all had plenty of energy in our legs! We then started to feel the burn of continually climbing upwards when a local lady ran past us, and as mountain novices we made the fatal mistake of chatting to her:
“Yeah, I run up it quite often, mainly when the weather is OK, just for, y’know a bit of a stretch the legs and some fresh air”.
Really? Just to stretch your legs? You have grossly mis-read your audience if you thought that was what we wanted to hear! Thanks for that.
Off she jogged. Like some kind of bionic woman. We were in awe.
Anyway – onwards and upwards. We made it to the top intact and by this point I think it had dawned upon us how big a challenge we had undertaken. We were shattered! It was pitch black and the air was very wet. I am told the term for those in the know is that it is “claggy”. It wasn’t raining but we were all drenched. Very odd.
Then because it was so dark we couldn’t find our way down. That was a bit scary. But Matt and Archie went on an SAS reconnaissance mission and came back to confirm we were going the right way and on we went.
We made it back down to the lovely Sharron (car) and any professional distance between colleagues got thrown out the window as everyone got changed in or around the car as there was not a chance we were staying in our wet stinking clothes any longer than we had to. Then we set off for Scafell Pike. Now, I am not going to name names (in case my mum reads this) but there was some questionable driving en route, but we did get there without (serious) incident, intact and ready to tackle the next mountain.
This was the most difficult part of the whole expedition
We were tired as no-one had slept much, we were sore from walking up a mountain already, we were grumpy, we had been stuck in a car for 5 hours, it was dark, it was cold and quite frankly the quite frightening cheeriness coming from the mini van next to us, carrying people who had also been up Ben Nevis was quite off putting. Why were they so happy when we were so miffed? So we did what anyone would do in this situation. Made no eye contact and no chat and developed a steely resolve to beat them to the top!
Now, I have been told - the biggest challenge also brings the biggest reward, so when we reached the top, not very long after the sun had risen, mother nature gave us a hug. The views were spectacular, the day was clear, we could see for miles and what a view it was! Fully worth the ache in the legs, the fuzz in the brain from no sleep and the non-to-enjoyable step section at the start of the mountain.
At the bottom was a stream which was also glorious when you have just walked up and down the highest peak in England. In fact I would recommend it to anyone. Walk up and down it, just so that at the end you can take your shoes off and have a dip. It felt amazing!
No time to rest though – onward and upward to Snowdon!
Snowdon was a doddle in comparison to the rest. It was very enjoyable, very quick. The weather was kind. There was a 30 minute break while air rescue came along and saved someone who was drunk (really?) and hurt themselves. We all felt great as we knew we were on the home straight and a pint and a meal awaited.
As we got near the top, the clouds then rolled in and we could not see a thing. Then it got a bit trickier. You couldn’t see 30 yards in front of you. We were at the top and it all looked pretty precarious. We chose the easiest route down we could and went for it and at around 8:30 on the Saturday night we were done. Finished. In more ways than one.
What did we want more than anything?
“beer please” (the boys)
“bath please” (the girls)
We were five people, and we have been on work weekends before
We have been to Berlin, and Brugges and other places and had a great time. But I have never got to know the guys I work with so well as doing this. We achieved together. We annoyed each other and just got on with it. We succeeded together and were pleased for each other and with each other. All in all, it was a tremendous experience. I was very pleased to do it, I was very pleased to finish it. I was very pleased to have done it with the people I did and I will remember doing it with them for a very long time, and thank them for doing it with me.
To link it back to your career - often the things that present the biggest challenges are what you will gain the most reward from. That includes getting a new job. Some of our clients have very difficult interview processes, but at the end the reward is an amazing job in an amazing company.
Don't worry though, we will be there to help you all the way, and don't worry, we won't jog past you when you are struggling!