Friday, May 10, 2013

A Lake District wedding

Peter Little and I have climbed together at least twice a year for the last 25 years all over Britain and the Alps. It was therefore only natural that when he told me he was getting married that I should be there.
However the subplot of what happened before the wedding is worth telling:

We decided that it would be good to catch up with a walk up Blencathra , a mountain I had never climbed before. Our plan was to ascend via Sharp Edge- an interesting scramble well known to thousands of visitors to the Lake land fells.

I arrived at Peters house at around 11.30am and we headed off to the start of the walk. As we set off it started to rain and the mist came in. Peter was frustrated for me because he was keen to show me as much as he could of "his" beautiful Lake District . Frankly I didn't care , I was just happy to not be in charge and was just out for a walk.

Now Peter is a member of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team so when a text came through he was obliged to read it. "Guess what ? Some one's fallen off Sharp Edge." Peter announced.

Through the mist we could hear someone shouting for help. Finding the casualty was relatively quick , but actually getting to him proved to be one of the most scary things I've done in a long time. We found our selves on a mixture of super slippy loose wet rock interspersed with equally treacherous vertical grass. Thrown into this toxic mix were some huge cliffs meaning that one slip would almost certainly be your last slip ever.

We couldn't get to the casualty so we reversed our route which was even more terrifying. Eventually we got to the casualty from above via the "Bad Step " on the actual Sharp Edge Ridge. If ever rain can turn rock from grippy stuff to super slippy nightmare it is on Sharp Edge. This was turning out to be no walk.

The casualty had broken his lower leg . Peter and I stablised the situation and then waited for the rescue team to arrive.
Even going as fast as they could they were still obliged to Pitch the Bad Step and belay in the traditional manner.

The weather was too misty to get the Sea King Helicopter in to winch and so the rescue team had to do a 150 meter stretcher lower down the cliff to below the cloud level.

Eventually the helicopter attempted to winch but the cloud came in and trapped the helicopter in a hover for over 20 minutes.

The next day I met up with Peter Folkman for a wonderful ascent of one of the Lake District's most famous mountain rock climbs: Corvus
Finally the Wedding Day which was granted Mediterranean style weather.

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