In preparation for our trek to Everest Base Camp in March/April 2020, a group of us going on the trip, headed by Major Reed and Major Money, went up to the Lake District for three days to do some preparation. We stayed at Halton Army Barracks for the time we were up there and travelled off each day to do each walk/hike. Once we arrived on Sunday, we got settled in to our compound and slept well after the long drive.
The next morning we were up early and off to The Old Man of Coniston standing tall at 803m elevation from sea level. It was a fun climb and the easiest day out of the three. We learnt the art of plodding at a steady pace the whole way up, and tried to stay as a group as much as possible as these are vital skills for trekking as a team in the Himalayas. We also took it in turn to navigate, with map and compass being passed around. The way up was relatively steep at points but the way back down way smoother, although constantly being interrupted by Jack and Jeremy’s obsession with going into every cave we went past.
On day two we travelled slightly further than the previous day, over 90 minutes in the minibus to Hellvellyn. It was bitterly cold, only 3ºC, but we soon warmed up and made great 5.5km/h pace on the flatter paths at the start before we diverged off the paths to walk cross country to the peaks. We walked across a very open and unprotected ridge line once we had done the main climb and it was extremely windy, with all of us opting for beanies, snoods and windbreaker jackets to keep us warm except Zack who opted for a t-shirt and hoodie to keep warm… Half way back down, we set up our wind shelters to eat lunch and then set off making solid progress on the descent, despite myself not being able to stay on two feet and constantly falling over on the way down, even with the aid of walking poles.
On our final full day, we climbed Scafell Pike – the tallest mountain in England. At 978m, it was the toughest climb out of all three days. This was mainly due to the temperature of only -6ºC at points. As well as this, the route we took was complicated and difficult to ascend. It is a lot easier to simply jump onto the ‘tourist’ route and walk up with every other person but we opted for the ‘corridor’ route. This involved a lot more hands and knees moments where we were scaling essentially vertical jagged rock. Once at the top, we took a break and had lunch before starting to head our way down a different route. It involved a steep rocky downhill section at the start where Jeremy narrowly missed a potentially fatal collision with a boulder, triggered accidentally by me I must admit. Nevertheless, we powered on through and just as we were walking across one of the many valleys we crossed, we had an unexpected visit from a Typhoon fighter jet practicing low level right amongst where we were walking. Once we had scaled down a monster of a descent, we finished the walk with a flat walk where as before, we made great pace.
The next morning, we signed off and headed home. We learnt a lot whilst we were there walking as a group – whether it be that some of us need to invest in some better kit, get better at our admin whilst walking or work better to stay as a group and work as a team. All of these things will be critical when walking in the depths of Nepal. Overall, a very fun and enjoyable few days trekking!