Monday, 1 September 2008

51 at 55

Utter exhaustion at Threlkeld after 51 peaks, 23 hours, 62 miles and 25,000 feet and a dash of common sense (although I have little idea where that came from) called a halt just after 23:00 on Saturday night.

Thanks are due, in particular, to Pauline & Keith Foster for fantastic road support throughout as well as to Ed Swift and Julie Laverock for helping them. For navigating, thanks to Richard Scott, Dave Bateson, Bill Williamson and Rae Pritchard. For company on the fells and for carrying food and drink: - Richard Baker, Albert Sunter, Karl Taylor, Suzanne Budgett, Philip Dewhurst. Dave Bateson is due a special mention because a no-show meant he had to carry everything as well as navigate and in the worst conditions, by far. Great Gable was so wet and slippery that we had to sit down in places to get enough traction. Thanks also to Paul and Ros Murray for waiting at Threlkeld and for being prepared to start the final leg and drag me to The Moot Hall. It seems I missed a party (and Billy Bland) at Dunmail - thanks Eileen, George, Mary and Andy for stopping by, it makes a huge difference.

What happened? The conditions underfoot were difficult - wet, heavy ground and greasy, slippy rock and too much bracken. I reached Wasdale, where I was due at 08:14 and had reached in June despite struggling since Grasmoor at 08:47, at 09:38 - almost an hour slower than June and nearly an hour and a half behind the schedule. From Wasdale I stayed with the schedule until the Langdales when I started slipping further behind. After Dunmail the schedule started to prove too much again and by Clough Head I was utterly exhausted, more worn out than on either of my two previous rounds.

Paul Murray suggested afterwards that it was probably just too late in the year and certainly the bracken was much more difficult on the first leg and there was fewer hours of daylight. My revised food/drink worked much better and although it can still be improved I avoided the nausea and managed to stay very close to the required calorie intake. I had wondered just how much harder this could be and now I know. There is always next year, of course, and I may have identified the 56th summit.