This is nuts. In the past four weeks, I’ve climbed two mountains – something of an achievement for someone who previously would take the flat route in preference for anything with the slightest incline!
The reason, of course, I climbed Table Mountain in Cape Town and Snowdon, a lot closer to home in North Wales, was to prepare for the forthcoming trek in Nepal, to raise money for Springboard. I always knew that undertaking the five day trek within the Annapurna Mountains was going to be tough, so I therefore jumped at the opportunity to scale the two mountains – which coincidently are identical in height at 1085m (3560ft).
Table Mountain came first – during a holiday last month with my husband Jeff. Ordinarily, we would have taken the cable car to the summit, but on this occasion, we were determined that the only way we should reach the top would be on foot. We knew we had to capitalise on a clear day; so when we woke the day after flying into Cape Town to blue skies, we went for it.
Soon after setting off, just after 10am, I knew it was going to be a tough climb. While the route we had chosen – through the Platterklip Gorge – is described as “one of the easiest”, the soaring heat, already nudging 30C swiftly sucked the energy from me. Clambering up the sandstone rocks through the steep and winding path was akin to completing four step classes, back-to-back. As we emerged out of the gorge and onto the flat top of the Table, renowned the world over, the feeling was one of sweaty triumph. The view over Cape Town, the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range and out into Atlantic Ocean to Robben Island was a spectacular reward.
Exactly one month later, I joined seven of my fellow trekkers for Nepal 2014, plus Andy, the super supportive husband of Debra Adams, to climb Snowdon. For a November day, we were incredibly fortunate to enjoy skies as clear as we had experienced in Cape Town. The big difference, though, was the temperature – hovering around freezing and dropping further with a significant wind chill factor as got closer to the top. The ascent, via the Llanberis Pass, was a great deal more varied in terrain than the step-like incline up Table Mountain, taking us from what seemed like a vertical tarmac road at the start; through slippery, shale covered paths; rocky outcrops; and onto an increasingly steep, snow and ice covered section as we neared the top.
While we enjoyed fabulous views across to the Menai Straits heading up the mountain, the vista from the top was non-existent as the cloud descended during the final 20 minutes or so of our ascent. Nothing, however, could dent the euphoria of our achievement. In the space of the the three and a half hour climb, followed by the two and a half hour walk down, friendships were formed as we worked together as a team to encourage and support one along the way, with the knowledge that this was only the start of the adventure that lies ahead. There was also a great deal of laughter – in my case somewhat hysterical as Emily Saul-Baylis and I clung on to each other, as our legs turned to jelly during the final steep descent.
Our next training trek will be in the Lake District in February, just one month before we fly to Kathmandu.
The trekkers from left to right: Janet Harmer (Caterer and Hotelkeeper); Emily Saul-Baylis (Zenith); Jacqui Allum (Premier Inn); Anne Pierce (Springboard); Georgina Bower (Zenith); Debra Adams (HOSPA), Firoza Kholwadia (Nestle), and Deniz Inceer (Sodexo)
I would be thrilled if you would take the time to visit my Virgin Money Giving Page and make a contribution to my £3,500 target. I am personally paying the £2,000 cost of the trip to ensure that every penny raised will help the young people supported by Springboard.
* Huge thanks to Premier Inn for accommodating and feeding the team at the company’s new hotel in Wrexham the night before our climb up Snowdon; Jacqui Allum for organising the trek; and Deniz Inceer for heroically driving Jacqui and me back south in a state of total exhaustion!