Last weekend, I attempted the 3 Peaks Challenge* – ascending Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales respectively. During the trip, and while pushing myself to get up (and down), I learned some things about myself, and the world. These I’ll be sharing here in a series of blogs over the course of this week.
Day Two again: Summitting Scafell Pike. We’d maintained a decent pace up the mountain, and Hugh had lagged behind most of the way. He hadn’t completed Ben Nevis the day before (having gone back down with Valerie), so despite in theory having fresher legs, he hadn’t been able to ‘limber up’ like the rest of us (my theory), and the pace had him on the verge of cramp a lot of the way up. So he was really looking forward to a break and a sandwich at the top.
Pere and the weather had other ideas – it was damp and cold and very windy at the summit, so no sooner had Hugh arrived than we needed to get going down again. We were also slightly behind schedule, and we wanted to make it up, so we wouldn’t arrive too late at Snowdon. Hugh managed a quick bite sheltering behind the summit cairn, and we were off again – and disaster struck: Hugh’s thigh went into full-blown cramp!
And the lesson here, Lesson Five: keep your promises, especially the ones you make to yourself (and your body). All the way up the last part to the summit, Hugh had been promising himself – and his body – a rest and some sustenance when they got him there. So his body heaved a great sigh of relief on arrival – only to be told, no, there’s no rest for you, we need to get off this mountain. Is it any wonder that it rebelled – effectively said “Sod you then!” – and immobilised him?
It’s similar to lesson four – if something expected doesn’t happen, it’s much worse than if it wasn’t expected in the first place. So if you promise something – even if you don’t promise ‘cross your heart and hope to die’ – if something’s expected of you, make sure it happens.
Two big lessons on the Pike, and we’d only been on it two-and-a-half hours! And there were more lessons to come …
* Lite version, over 2 days.