Helvellyn for Climb of Life

My second year taking part in this festival day for walking enthusiasts in a good cause for the Institute of Cancer Research.

Team BOSS was made up this year of Steve Oldham from BPIF and BOSS accounts, Sammy Bartley and husband Rob aka Bartley Business Associates, Scott Walker from Nemo and I. 

We met and stayed at the YHA Ambleside on Thursday evening and had dinner at Zefferellis and watched the latest Blade Runner movie.  I saw most of it…

I had travelled up by train from Redhill and was taking the bus from Windermere to Ambleside which was a clever combination of public transport and open top tourist bus with a commentary. 

What were the odds of being in a seat right next to Janet and Chris from OPI with their guest from Chicago Mike, himself just about to do the Everest trip? An 11 coach train witb 80 seats in each and I get sat right next to them! Thanks for the gin and tonics guys! 

The morning brought clear weather with the tops of most of the hills visible and cloudier conditions forecast later in the day. 

We met Mike and Karen, our walk leaders, at the Swan Grasmere and were underway by 8.50.
Walking along the road for a mile or so we turned off to the right and started the slow steady ascent. Conditions were great for walking – dry and cold but not much wind and I was comfortable in two base layers. 
As we climbed, extensive and impressive views unfolded. 
Coniston Water, then the sea and even at one point the Forth of Firth in Scotland were all clearly laid out to see. 
The wind began to increase and layering up became essential. Even the silly hat came out. And the gloves, just the thin ones, which were warm enough today and showed the contrast with the Himalayas where they were next to useless.

We climbed up to and around the Grisedale tarn. And looked up towards the ridge from which we thought we should see the summit. Another steep climb and further views opened up including the famous Striding Edge where we could see a few brave walkers on the narrow jagged knife like approach from the other side that we were coming from. You could see how people can fall, including one sad 54 year old fatality in August of this year.
The wind got increasingly bitter as it got stronger and by now was etching lines in my face. Time for the buff. Easier to breathe here and I felt really fit and strong. 
That’s the benefit of high altitude training I guess! 

At 858 metres we reached the iron post at the top of our first Wainwright- Dollywaggon Pike. 
The route flattened out now and ahead we could see High Crag at 884 metres, Nethermost Pike at 891 metres and the summit of Helvellyn at 950 metres in the distance. We could also clearly see the two higher English peaks than Helvellyn, Sca Fell and Scafell Pike over to our left both slightly shrouded in cloud. 
We reached the Stone announcing the extraordinary achievement of landing and taking off with a fixed wing plane here in 1926. Looking at the stony ground it seemed most unlikely. 
We pressed on to the summit, not able to talk much as the wind was howling and bitingly cold. 

There was a star shaped rock wall with a stone seat bench that we did use as shelter to have a stop and eat our lunch. Wonderful views swept out ahead of us and we congratulated each other on the successful ascent. 
The cloud started to roll up from below as forecast, but we all elected to press on to Helvellyn Lower Man about 15 minutes further on. We were conscious of the steep drops and the risks that a sharp gust of wind might bring so stayed at a safe distance. The wind got even stronger and was by now quite unpleasant. 
We didn’t linger at the lower summit but turned straight round and retraced our steps. We had been 5 hours now. The cloud came in and restricted the visibility to the immediate surroundings. The views disappeared and to all intents and purposes we could have been at sea level. 
As we dropped down though the clouds cleared again and soon we were enjoying the autumn colours with tawny bracken contrasting with the green tufty grass and moss. 

A steep downhill descent to the right of Grisedale Tarn meant concentrating hard to avoid a slip and then the popular choice of skirting the side of the tarn rather than yomping straight up the hill ahead went down well with us all. 
Mark and John from 3M were obviously keen walkers and kept up a lively pace with Karen at the front with Steve more sedately bringing up the rear with Mike or I keeping guard. Sammy, Rob and Scott were all walking well and taking it all in their stride. 
Soon we were passing the mysteriously abandoned mountain bike, locked and in good condition but with no owner in sight. Could he be skinny dipping in the nearby mountain pool? More fool him, I thought. 
Eventually we reached the road and then trudged back to the Swan, reluctantly passing the Travellers Rest with its strong smelling coal fire and real ales tempting us in. 
After a snecklifter or two we went back to the YHA and a swift turnaround shower we were lucky to get a mini bus cab back to the Swan for 6pm. 
Presentations from 6.30 to 8.30 ( I got a welcome yo-yo as a recognition of my trip to EBC) and then dinner of tomato soup, blade of beef and sticky toffee pudding washed down with a glass or two of wine in the excellent company of Matthew and Sara and Frances and Jason. 

The taxi picked us up at 11pm and we were all ready for bed after a long and very pleasant day.  

And £103k raised all told – an amazing result and Graeme, Jason and Francis, Carol, Susie and Andrew and all the others involved will be rightly proud of all their efforts as will everyone who had been involved. 

Donations still welcome at Just Giving 

And well done Team BOSS and thanks to all who supported us!

Here’s to another record attempt next year…!