Toyota GB Lakeland 3,000ers in aid of Comic Relief 2015
Tagged: meindl, lake district, retailers
On the 28th February 2015, 8 brave souls from the directorship of Toyota GB,
set out to climb 4 of the Lakeland 3,000ers in two days in aid of Comic Relief.
This was a real challenge as hardly any of these guys had stepped foot on
a mountain before let alone in winter which creates so many more obstacles than
walking these mountains in the summer.
As part of the initial equipment preparation day we insisted that there
were some other items that would be compulsory even before they could
contemplate this challenge and we suggested Montane clothing including direct
ascent waterproof jackets, astro ascent waterproof trousers, base layers and of
course the Beanie Hats, all red and black in colour of course to match the
Toyota brand. To complete the essential kit list which consisted of Meindl
Toronto and Kansas B rated walking boots, these would be minimum requirements
in the conditions we were expecting.
We arrived in Langdale in the early evening pretty much at the same
time, most people arriving by train apart from Sean, Dave and Rob and myself
who arrived by minibus with all the kit and instantly set about briefing the
chaps on what they had let themselves in for.
Four routes were displayed on a screen to indicate our routes up and down
the four mountains along with dialogue explaining some of the symbols on the
map including what those tight contour lines mean?!!!!
After a health and safety brief and a quick Q & A session we began
the process of issuing the essential kit that would be needed to take on such a
challenge including, crampons, ice axes, warm jackets, walking poles, head
torches and gaiters, all supplied by Trek Hire UK. The crampons needed to be
sized at this point as it was something that you would need to avoid doing on
the mountain, especially in wintry conditions….
The evening was quite relaxing, much banter and maybe a little nervous
laughter was had as the topic of conversation shifted from the journey up to
what would happen over the coming days, a couple of pints of beer would
eventually ease any worries that they may have….
The first day went like clockwork, Sean (our lead guide) suggested an
early start on the mountain so the alarms were set for 6am with breakfast at
7am which left the guys enough time to get their respective packs down to the
mini bus and of course the extra support vehicle in the guise of Ewan’s Toyota
V8 4x4, what else?
DAY 1 Before we set off, a few photos were taken of the smiling
adventurers resplendent in their bright (Toyota and Comic Relief) red jackets
and black trousers which would indeed protect them from the elements that we
would encounter on the mountains.
The journey to our first location and start point in a car park in the
village of Boot took us over Hard Knott Pass which thankfully wasn’t icy as the
roads many twists and turns would have had more than a few squeaky bum moments.
After around 30 minutes driving we finally arrived, a quick kit check, a few
happy snaps and we were off!
The first part of the route took us along a path that ran parallel to a
stream that lay fifty feet or so to our right and then up onto Eskdale Moor.
This part of the trek was very easy with a number of stops to layer down as
some people decided to set off with more layers than they really needed. Our
first obstacle was soon upon as in the shape of Burnmoor Tarn, the stream
entering the tarn had what looked like a bridge that didn’t quite reach right
across to the other side so it had to be negotiated by placing your foot on
precariously placed rocks slightly below the surface of the water which of
course led in turn to a few wobbly moments and people were silently betting
among themselves who would fall in first but surprisingly no one did and the
journey carried on. That’s not to say that there weren’t quite a few mud
sucking squelches as the odd person went up to their knees in the bog.
After an hour or so we eventually reached the base of Scafell and as we
ascended into the cloud the temperature dropped, the visibility started to
diminish and the ground became colder with patches of snow starting to appear
more and more frequently the higher we went.
Onwards and upwards we went, nothing was stopping us now and the summit
was reached, the first mountain standing at 964 metres had been reach and the
first of four summits had been conquered. Out came Toyota’s Comic Relief flag
and the guys gathered round it as evidence of this great achievement, it needed
a few hands on it as the wind was starting to pick up but nothing in terms of
what lay ahead of us.
Because of the cold wind and the lack of shelter Sean and Dave
(assistant guide) decided that lunch should be taken at a lower level, we could
see that the path down was quite icy so it was decided to get the crampons on.
This was done relatively quickly thanks to the pre sizing session back at the
hotel, Sean took the lead down, and we all lined up behind him and snake our
way down too. On our way, we bumped into a mountaineering group from the south
who looked ill prepared with warnings of a tricky descent due to icy
conditions, wise words from a bunch of guys without crampons and to top it all,
they loosened a rock higher up the pass, shouted ‘below’ and we all waited to
see what was on its way down. The spiralling rock came fizzing past me and
narrowly missed Darren who used some amazing footwork to avoid the projectile
which had it him would have caused some serious damage, dangerous places these
Lunch was well deserved and everyone eagerly got stuck into their packed
lunch that had been provided by the hotel we were staying at. We now seemed to
have an uninvited guest for lunch in the form of the biggest crow that I’ve
seen who in turn gratefully accepted some of the scraps of sandwiches that had
been discarded in his direction in preference to the more appealing chocolate
bars. Ah that’s why the bird is so big I thought, how many times has he joined
other groups for his packed lunch date?
The next part of the route took in a quite imposing gulley with numerous
tricky obstacles to overcome. Doug (our biggest guy) took the lead and slowly
manoeuvred his way down with us all following in his footsteps. Dave and Sean
strategically positioned themselves along the narrow fissure ensuring that the
chaps got themselves down safely with me bringing up the rear (as usual)
keeping an eye potential hazards that the other guys may have missed.
After what seemed an age, we all managed to get down to the base of the
gully only to hear a few moans and groans as we all peered up the next ascent
enroute to Scafell Pike. “How far Sean”? a voice was heard to ask, “200 metres”
was the reply, is that vertically or horizontally people were asking
themselves, in fact it became the standard from Sean whenever asked throughout
We had to ascend the route adjacent to an incredibly steep rock face to
our left called Broad Stand if we wanted to achieve our second summit and the
200 metre ascent again seemed to take an age but the guys were very determined
and after a Doug was taken out a couple of times by an invisible sniper we
managed to get to the first waypoint called Mickledore. This is a narrow ridge
that has a 250 meter drop off on the other side from where we came up which
seemed to focus us all as we turned right to wind our way up to the summit. It
has to be said that at this moment a couple of climbers walked down to where we
were and had to be turned back by Dave as they had got totally lost and would
have invariably tried unsuccessfully to descend this particular point,
impossible without crampons it has to be said, so well done Dave for saving
The mist now was now thicker than it had been all day which I guess
helped keep the eyes away from the exposed ridges and the path to the top of
Scafell Pike was clear. The summit was reached at roughly 4pm, the flag was out
and the ritual was repeated, a couple of mountain rescue guides who appeared with
their dog were surprised to see us and thought we were the military and no
sooner had they arrived they disappeared into the deepening claggy skies.
It was a quick stop here, we weren’t hanging around now as night was
fast approaching, so a bearing for a suitable ascent was taken by Sean, Dave
concurred and we were off albeit a bit slower now due to a couple of aching
limbs and sore feet. It was quite a simple manoeuvre now, get down as quickly
and as safely as possible and the rapidly dropping temperature wasn’t helping
The stronger guys were now setting a pace and poor Doug was feeling
every step and his pace had slowed quite dramatically and Dave now became tail
end Charlie and I moved forward to walk with Matt who was also suffering from a
ITB issue that had inflamed during the day, these are normal injuries for this
type of thing and we will get down in our own time, after all, we all had head
torches, didn’t we?
Two hours had now passed and the skies had darkened to a hew of light
which made each step an art in concentration and the head torches had to be
broken out. Unfortunately, I hadn’t put the batteries in most of them as I
seriously thought we wouldn’t need them but I did have a fresh pack of
batteries in my daysack which managed to light up 7 out of 8 which left Rob
without a light and had to rely on the other guys to provide the sufficient
light for him to get down but when you walk with Sean, you got to keep up and I
think I overheard him call to Sean to come back as he left him without the
means to see where he was walking which could have proved tricky!!
Four hours had now passed now and we still weren’t fully off, some of
the guys had managed to pick up the pace and get down in pretty good time, I
think the instigator for this was when Sean said, ‘oh you can see the lights of
the pub now’ that was it! They were down, a brief walk up the road and the
first pint ordered all inside of 20 minutes!
Dave and I managed to Doug down in one piece but he was in considerable
pain and to be fair he never moaned once and showed real grit and determination
to finish the day, so well done big fella!
The pint that night was well deserved and much appreciated and drank
with gusto but time was getting on and the hotel said that they could only
serve dinner up to 9pm so it was into the minibus which was slightly overloaded
as we needed to get back to the start point in Boot to pick up Ewan’s vehicle
before we could even think about the drive back to the hotel. Chris our driver
(and one of the directors) did a great job in keeping the wheels on the road in
what we’re becoming quite tricky driving conditions with the onset of a rain
shower and once we had unloaded the vehicle to its normal operating weight we
were off again for some grub, I was starving, I don’t know about the others…
Back at the hotel for around 9.20pm and thoughts of food was now in
everyone’s mind and although the cut off time had been and gone, they were
still prepared to make us a pizza which was better than nothing and actually
tasted very nice especially when it was washed down with a glass or two of the
Day Two, there were a few weary faces at breakfast, none more so than the
limping Doug who quite rightly announced his emittance from the day’s
activities to come. We still had two mountains to summit and as one of them was
quite notorious for injuring climbers the right decision was made by Doug and
he and Chris now became the support team which worked out well as we had two
vehicles to drive.
Again we arranged to leave at 7.30am and everyone was present and
correct at the right time with a certain amount of gusto which surprised me a
little bearing in mind what had happened the day before.
Today’s targets were Hellvelyn and Skiddaw and we had to get a wiggle
on, we left the car park at the base of Hellvelyn and ascended very quickly
through the forest. Once through, we had a steep but firm footing ascent to the
main ridge to the summit. It was at this very moment that the weather started
to deteriorate and the wind picked up which wasn’t a bad thing but it will make
the ascent to the summit ridge much trickier in terms of footing due to
slippery icy paths so yet again the call for crampons went out. They helped and
aided our speed along to the summit and what became the ritual of flag waving
and cheers took place for the third time and 3 out of 4 peaks was now ticked
The wind at this point was very strong and a group joined us at the
summit and warned us that the route down had become quite tricky due to clumps
of ice and snow and had to rely on a stranger to chop steps for them with his
ice axe so they could get up. With this in mind, Dave went ahead to reccee it
for himself but was quite confident that it would be okay and we could
relinquish our crampons and off we went.
The wind had picked up a notch or two and using walking poles became
quite awkward as they were flapping around like wind charms clanging into each
other and knocking a few people off balance. As we descended we saw a few
people trying to negotiate the icy pass that we had been warned about, they had
very limited gear so it was quite ironic to see what I assume was a mountain
rescue volunteer below them slip on a pair of crampons and get his dog into a
warm body suit and harness to make this short but important manoeuvre safely,
irony? you could see him coming back to rescue the idiots behind him (should
have gone to Trek Hire UK).
We took particular care and time to negotiate this bit too and then took
cover behind a large boulder to sort ourselves out and prepare for the next
stage down. By this time, some of the other guys were starting to feel the pace
and as I walked with Matt I could see that the events from the day before had
finally taken its toll on his ITB problem and Skiddaw was becoming less
appealing with every step and our progress slowed right down to make sure that
we got down safely. In fact the walk off slowed our progress considerably and
the time to get off and over to Skiddaw for our final ascent became time
critical, just at the same time as a storm was fast approaching from the west,
how’s your luck?
All down, Sean needed a small number from the team to make the final
push and the injuries to four of the guys seemed to have made his mind up. We
boarded the transport and made a mad dash for Skiddaw, it didn’t look great,
the weather had closed in as promised and we were expecting 60mph winds in the
area which would definitely make things interesting on the last peak,
especially at the summit.
After a 20 minute drive we arrive at Skiddaw, the car park is relatively
empty with a few remaining cars waiting for their owners to descend the
mountain. A few concerned looks from those wondering why we were climbing so
late in the day, particularly as the weather was worsening by the minute….so
with lots of back slapping, a few high fives with the remaining members of the
team and no time to waste, Sean (with flag in hand), Dave, Steve, Darren,
Richard, Ewan and I set off at a fairly brisk pace for the summit. The going
for the first 10 minutes or so was fairly flat with good terrain which seemed
to be made up of relatively freshly laid scalping/slate mix which felt good
under foot and seemed to drain away the water very well.
We reached our first waypoint quite quickly and our initial hopes of the
mountain peak in the distance being the summit were soon dashed by Sean who
explained that the route followed the base of this one on a single track that
seemed to have quite a bit of snow on it but luckily for us it stopped at the
track so we could carry on safely in single file.
The wind by now had picked up to 40mph (we guessed) and the noise from
the wind was quite loud now and like on Hellvelyn, made the use of walking
poles almost redundant but the wobbling, stumbling group carried on regardless.
With the closing weather came the diminishing light so after a 2 1/2 hour
battle more so with the elements than the mountain we were all glad to see the
summit where we hoped to take some limited shelter. Our shelter was a pile of
rocks and by lying down was the only way we could protect ourselves from taking
off. It was now down to Sean to break out the flag, get some photographic
evidence and get the hell out of there. We assumed the wind must now be around
50/60mph which made standing a challenge and encouraged us to pull the hoods
around our faces to protect us from the stinging rain that was being blasted up
the mountain. I visualised the chaps opening the flag and being carried away
into the distance like disorientated paratroopers missing their LZ, thankfully
that never happened and the moment to descend quickly had arrived.
As we started down, we soon realised that we had had the wind at our
backs, now it was full into our faces, it seemed that every step we took
brought a change in the weather though, the wind slowed but the rain stayed
constant and with everyone now happy with their successful summit our progress
had quickened and after a couple of small breaks we were down. Strangely, the
walk from the base of the mountain to the car park seemed to take an age and
that was on level ground!
Back in the minibus, feeling a little warmer and rightfully chuffed with
our achievement, which included thoughts for the rest of the team and the
effort that they had made to get us to this point, we headed for home but felt
a celebratory beer was well in order. Dave, who’s a regular in this region,
suggested a pub close to our hotel and on opening the front door we were
welcomed by a wonderful scene which included a roaring fire and tables full of
people recalling stories from their own day’s activities on their respective
mountains. Job done!
Well done to all those who took part;
Toyota GB Team: Matt, Rob, Doug, Ewan, Richard, Steve, Darren, Masa and
Chris (the driver and support team)
Guides: Sean (Mountain Leader), Dave (Assistant guide) and Mick
(Director, Trek Hire UK)