Monday, 3 August 2020

Montane (Virtual) Lakeland 100

Sunday 19th July.
Three weeks ago, driven by peer pressure, FOMO and half a bottle of rose I had signed up to another ridiculous adventure - the virtual Montane Lakeland 100. I had spent the time since fretting and planning, but mostly fretting! Trying to work out how on earth I was going to fit 105 miles of running/walking around a 40 hour working week, finding routes I could run from home that were easy enough for when I was tired but not so easy I'd be bored. I came up with a plan to do 12 miles per day Monday to Friday then have a big back-to-back high mileage weekend. Now I was having an early night, with all my work clothes laid for the week and next to those all my running clothes and the first two days worth of pack up made ready. I was dreading the week to come and cursing myself for being so impulsive! The real Lakeland 100 wasn't even on my 'races to do' list so I'm not sure how I got drawn in...

Monday 20th July.
The day started early with a walk before breakfast. The dog joined me for part of it until she realised there would be no time for scent marking and sniffing! Only a short distance covered but it got the ball rolling in my mind.
After work, and a snack, I put my first set of running clothes on and headed out into a beautiful sunny evening. I ran along footpaths and country roads taking in the villages of Kirby Knowle and Boltby, I met some gorgeous cattle outside Boltby before climbing over the Mount St John and finally enjoying the long gentle downhill all the way home.
Day 1 and a total of 13 miles covered. I felt pretty good, but was only 1 day in...

Tuesday 21st July.
Double run day! Another beautiful morning and on half a jam sandwich I set off to run the 5 mile route I call Gold Lane Loop. I felt good and the run was smooth.
A busy day at work ensued and I was glad of being organised as I headed over to Kilburn to join some Harriers for a social run. I got there early and David T joined me for a couple of warm up miles before joining the main group for a guided tour of the proposed Mountain Masters route. I still needed another mile so headed back in to the woods as everyone else set off home.
Day 2 and another 13 miles under my belt, everything still works so that is a bonus!

Wednesday 22nd July.
Third early start in a row, not my bag normally. Just took the dog for a relaxed walk before heading to work.
That evening, Gavin joined me for a (relatively) pacey run around Bagby and Thirkleby. The route was mostly flat on good farm tracks, but I had not been this way for some time and had to consult the map a few times. It went well until we hit a field of oil seed and the path disappeared under the crop. That was annoying on tiring legs near the end of a long run, but we made our way around and got home in one piece.
Day 3 and again 13 miles down to stay just a touch ahead of target. My appetite was now being affected, I struggled to eat my dinner when all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Thursday 23rd July.
Despite being so tired, I had a lousy sleep and another early start! I took a power walk to Felixkirk and back, managing to cover 3.5miles in under an hour.
Just about stayed awake at work, so tired, more mentally than physically as my legs still felt pretty good.
I left work and went straight to Osmotherly, once again arriving early to do a lap of the reservoir before joining the social run. I let them all run ahead, I was slow and didn't want to spoil thier run. It's a route I enjoy so I just trotted along on my own without any problem (other than nearly getting stuck in a squeeze stile!!)
Despite my lack of speed, I made it back to the village in plenty of time to get fish and chips. My appetite still off but they were very good and I ate most of them before taking a gentle stroll back to the car.
Day 4 and I was now over 50 miles for the week.

Friday 24th July.
Tired was not the word. I'd decided last night to re-set my alarm to allow just enough time for breakfast and had a mini-lie in instead of walking or running anywhere. It was the right decision and I felt much more awake at work.
Later though, I ran down from home to Sowerby and around Thirsk. I'd done 5.5 miles in an hour and was feeling ok, but it was short lived and by mile 7 I'd had enough. I worked out that if I ran home from that point, I would have still done 10 miles which was enough (as I was a little ahead). So that is what I did.
My appetite a little better, I also inhaled a take-away pizza!
Day 5 another 10 miles brings the total to almost 62.

Saturday 25th July.
First long run day of the weekend. I had arranged to meet Alan S at Sutton Bank at a civilised time and we set off on a very simple out and back route to Black Hambleton. It had to be simple as my brain was no longer functioning! The weather was mostly fine, apart from the fact it poured down on the summit of Black Hambleton! We made good time on the route, averaging 12 min/miles which I was very happy with, given I'd already done over 60 miles for the week. We had a tea stop at High Paradise and the hot drink was most welcome. We pressed on, I was getting tired now but walk breaks were still fairly minimal, then had another refreshment stop at the cafe at Sutton Bank visitor centre. We'd done almost 18 miles by now (my target for the day was 25) but weren't finished yet! We dropped down the bank, passed Gormire Lake and 'dropped' Alan at home. I carried on, just walking now, towards home. As I walked, I ran the maths in my head and realised I'd only need another 2 miles to make my target, so once I got home I deposited my pack and collected the dog and my partner and we did those last two miles round the fields at home.
A long day, 25 miles done and now things are hurting but I am still mobile.

Sunday 26th July.
The last day! Another fairly civilised start. This was the one day I hadn't planned in advance. Gavin met me again and took me around town! We went to visit the Buddha then on to Sandhutton and Carlton Miniott taking in paths I've not really been down before. I felt good for about the first 8 miles, then started flagging. Taking on sweets and a banana helped but I was running out of energy. My legs hurt, but that is to be expected and I could ignore that, just didn't have the energy to lift them! At about 14 miles we decided to re-route back towards the town centre and get some refreshment from Greggs! We'd reached 16 miles by this point and I'd run out of 'run'. I also knew that if I just took a slight diversion on my way home, I could reach my target of 19 miles for the day. Gavin and I parted company and shuffled back to our respective abodes. My watch clicked over the 19 mile mark shortly before I reached my house and I arrived home - triumphant.
Day 7 and 105 miles complete! In fact, 106 as I wanted to be sure I wasn't short.

As ever at the end of an ultra or multi day event, there's no party just a quiet satisfaction. Physically, my body held up pretty well - legs are stiff and sore but that is obvious, but I am not broken at all. I think this is due to pacing myself well from the start and of course being able to spread the miles out over the week. Appetite and sleep have been very messed up which led to a greatly reduced energy level which has been more of an issue than any physical pain. Not sure how to work around this, but I'll keep practicing.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Chasing Ron Hill

Yes that's right, 365 days in a row. Because... because why not?! Ron Hill ran every day for over 50 years, I keep saying I have a long way to go to catch him up :) 

Ok a little bit about me.

I was never a runner when I was younger, didn't really like sport at all really. I still shudder when we do 'team games' during a warm up at Harriers!
I was however still active, going hiking with my dad and doing my Duke of Edinburgh Awards as well as horse riding as a teen.

It was Peter Wragg and Catriona Gaudie, both former Harriers who suggested I was 'tall and skinny and looked like a runner' and Peter said I should contact Rob Burn at Harriers. At this point, I had done a couple of the Cancer Research Race for Life and was almost thirty. I was in to long distance walking and had recently found out that long distance running was a thing, I'd never heard of it before but it peaked my interest. Specifically, I had read an article about a chap who had run the Cleveland Way in under 24 hours. I had hiked it in a week, it seemed incredible.

I contacted Rob and he talked me in to coming down to a training session, I'm not sure I even owned any lycra when I first turned up at the school sports hall, I certainly couldn't run very far, I had been practising a little and could manage a half mile chunk before needing a walk break. The Harriers took me under their wings, I was made to feel very welcome and I was hooked straight away. I completed my first Christmas Handicap a month later, running the full two miles without stopping and came in second place! By February 2011 I was competing at Cross Country. I enjoyed the muddy fields more than tarmac and I was learning more about trail and fell running, although I was yet to try it out.

It still took a long time to learn to love running, it was hard. It still is hard, but I enjoyed the physical effort and gradual improvement. All the time making friends and getting involved in the social aspect of being part of a running club. I was also involved behind the scenes as Club Secretary for 7 years, only stepping down in 2019. 

Gradually, I was doing more off road stuff and that it where my passion lies, I don't know when it clicked, but suddenly I loved running! Getting the typical running grumpiness if I couldn't get out and exercise.

I did my first fell race, Gribdale Gallop, in the summer of 2011. I was so nervous, I remember shaking like a leaf on the start line. But I got round in one piece and never looked back! But I wanted to go further. I'm not fast, never have been, so distance and technical ground became my 'thing' relishing big hills and muddy terrain. A year later I completed my first marathon the Osmotherly Pheonix, a pretty tough route to start with!!

From there, with a lot of help from the Club and my running friends, I have gone on to complete multiple marathons and several ultra races, the longest so far being 55 miles and all off-road. I have made attempts at a 100 mile race, but a finish at that distance so far eludes me. The training involved for that is long and gruelling and takes over your life.

Currently, I have been 'streaking' which doesn't mean running with no clothes on! No, following in the footsteps of the legendary Ron Hill, I've run every day for just over a year. The rules are simple, it has to be at least a mile, and it has to be quicker than a 15 minute mile. I've done this before, but been stopped by injury, or illness or just 'life' getting in the way. This time however, I am pleased to make it to (and now past) 365 days. I'll keep going until I am forced to stop, but I am enjoying the challenge, every day is a new opportunity.

The running community has introduced me to things I didn't know existed, I've been to places not seen by many and experienced such highs you'd think I was on drugs! The friendships that evolve from running with someone for hours on end, through the night and seeing each other at our most vulnerable are without comparison. 

And all because I made that phone call to Rob one evening to 'ask about running Club'.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Sunday 24th June. Last day of annual leave

It promised to be another warm one, so we walked the dog early, down to the Concrete Road and along the edge of town. I wanted to go that way to eliminate quite a few FetchPoint bugs, 12 as it turned out.

We then tried to go to what we thought was the garden centre at Baldersby, but it's not, it's a wholesale place. So that was no good!
On the way back through town, Paul called in to get his hair cut, came out with a new 'do'! Then on to the Thirsk Garden Centre where we bought compost and plants.

Lunch at home before spending the afternoon in the garden. It was very warm, getting up to 30 degrees on the patio.

I did the first day of Adriene's 30 day yoga programme.

It was too hot for the planned roast dinner, so I cooked the chicken and we had salad instead, it was the right idea!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Another failed Fellsman attempt!

I thought I could write a blog about how mardy I was, how much my feet hurt and how I hated every single step of the thing. But I thought, that doesn't help anyone, least of all me. There has to be SOME good bits, right?

It was still dark with a frost on the car when Brett picked me up at stupid o'clock. We collected Gavin and drove over to the Dales, a huge golden moon hung in the dawn sky.

We didn't have long between parking up at the finish and getting bus to the start! No time for a much needed poo!

We all passed kit check (phew) although the man gave me a lecture on 'emergency rations' and blood sugar. I thought, mate, I could write the book on bonking and crashing blood sugars but thought it was perhaps not a good idea to argue with the marshalls at this stage in the game...
Two cups of tea, a second banana and lots of Jamaican Ginger Cake later, it was time to go. (Already doing better then last year where I was ill and hardly managed any breakfast.)

I had seen several friends before the start, including Flanker and KinkyS. We had gathered a chap called Tim from Esk Valley who decided he'd run with us. 
When the RD said go, it was hilarious as everyone barrelled off in different directions! I lost all three boys immediately although managed to catch Gavin and Tim just up the street. Brett had disappeared into the distance. We figured we see him at the first check point drinking tea.

It's a long slog up Ingleborough, we did it in one hour one minute (I know this from my watch data, no idea at the time!) The descent is worse though, steep slippy rock steps and I minced my way down carefully.
The run in to the next check point is quite pleasant and I caught up with Gavin and Tim once more, but no sign of Brett*. Grabbed a chocolate digestive and ran on.

Pretty much straight into the next climb. I regaled Tim with the story of my projectile vomiting episode on the 3-Peaks run a couple of years ago. As we started the climb, this is where the mardiness set in. No idea why particularly, other than I don't understand how after all this training it is still so fucking hard.
Anyway, it took a while to get to the summit, this is a little out and back, no sign of Brett. As we came back down, we crossed my friends Em, Jo and Louise and the chaps they were running with, David and Mark.
I don't remember much about the run from here, apart from a very wobbly metal ladder over a wall!

Down down down into Kingdale. I needed a wee. No bushes anywhere and the porta-loo thingy was a bit close to where everyone was sitting with cups of tea for my liking. Never got my pre-run poo earlier either. Anyway, the boys fuelled up with big slabs of flapjack, I nibbled a corner, and we set of up ridiculous climb number 3, Gragareth.
This is the near vertical, calf killer of a climb. I puffed and heaved my way up.

I had some sweets as I ran the short out n back to the summit. My number was 369 and the summit marshals burst into song! 369, the goose drank wine... etc which has been stuck in my head ever since. That was probably the highlight of my race to be honest.
The boys had waited for me at this point, although I had said I'm ok for them to run on. Gavin had originally spoke of completing in 18.5 hours and I knew I wasn't up for that!

The route follows the wall from Gragareth to Great Coumb at the far end of the ridge. It is sort of flat so was very boggy indeed. I went in up to my knees at one point! Yuk, trainers full of slime.

Somewhere along the way, I don't know where it started really, but my feet were really hurting. I started with plantar fasciitis after the Hardmoors 55 in March and had been managing it by the usual methods. Up until now, it hadn't really hurt whilst running, just afterwards.

The boys eventually pulled away into the distance and I grumbled along on my own. People chatted as they passed, but I didn't run with anyone for long. Louise passed me too, she was flying along, I knew she would!

I missed the stile at Great Coumb, only went about 50 yards out of my way, but took several people with me! No songs at this checkpoint and we turned downhill. I followed a much better line this time and avoided the awkward rocks on the descent. 
Maybe it was because we were going downhill, maybe it's because we were approaching a cup-of-tea stop, but my mood improved greatly as we continued down. Though wet reedy ground, through the Scout check point at Flinter Gill and onto the walled lane zig-zagging its way into Dent. I reached the check point in good spirits, but my feet were very sore and once I had tea and food in hand, I sat down for about 15 mins to re-fuel. I felt refreshed and ready to do a bit more.

I left Dent, should have got my map out 'cos I couldn't remember which turning we wanted. Some lads overtook me while I was faffing around. I ended up walking with an older chap for several miles. To start with I didn't want any company but in the end we had a good natter about this and that. He'd done the race a few times and knew the way, we were on a good obvious track at this point, but still.
The next bit crosses a short section of open, marshy ground. Several more dunkings, but none of them quite so deep. My feet really sore now, every step pulled the tight tendons in a new direction. As we crossed several false summits, I lost the plot and had a little cry. Sheer frustration as I knew that I wasn't going to finish, again. I had to save my feet ahead of the HM110 in a months time, no good trashing them now and not being able to complete that either.
So, I checked in to the summit checkpoint at Blea Moor, then took a different line to last year across the top to join the forestry below. The forestry is now gone!
I could remember the path down being fun and I quite enjoyed it again this time, although my friends over took me and I went into deep mud half way up my shin. 
Once off the steep path and onto smooth grass, my feet didn't feel quite so bad. But when i reached tarmac it was clear they were not going to get any better. I hobbled the mile or so down the road, pausing to wash my disgusting trainers in the river, before checking in at Stonehouses.
I had some pasta, and seconds, before wandering over to the marshals tent and announcing my intention to retire. I cried again as they cut my tally off my bag.

That was it, race over. I now lounged in the sun while the body bus collected enough people to fill it. Flanker, KinkyS and friends came through, taking their pasta with them to avoid grouping a little longer. Then it took a long time to get back to race HQ at Threshfield. An even longer wait was ahead of me as I had no way of getting home til the boys finished! I got my stuff, put dry socks and shoes on (bliss) then had jacket potato and chilli for tea. Nice hot shower (and a poo!) and sorted out my stuff for sleeping. Then I went back and got pudding and a bowl of pasta! I hung around til 11-ish then went for a surprisingly good sleep on the sports hall floor.

The boys made it back around 6am. Tim and Gavin had stuck together and they collected up Brett from where he'd set off too fast then blown up just off Great Knoutberry and picked up Louise along the way too. Gavin had a comfortable run, Brett not so much and I didn't see Louise or Tim, but the boys looked like zombies.

I managed to negotiate some breakfast despite already using my meal token the night before. My friends, Em, Jo and Co. came in at around 24hours. The speed I was going at, had I carried on, I would have been a lot longer...

So, all home safe and sound, I have been checking out the opening times at the local pool as it looks like I'll be doing some aqua-jogging to rest my feet!

The event itself, although brutal is excellent value for money (£50 including coach transfer) and you get feed, all the sweep support, indoor sleeping and a nice commemorative Buff. It is a massive operation and very well organised. The kitchen crew in particular do a fantastic job, working through the night to make sure 300-400 hungry runners are catered for and nothing is too much trouble. And of course the summit marshals, and the checkpoint crews, and the bus drivers... you get the idea!

*The best bit about this is that Brett spent the first 10 miles or so running like the clappers as he was convinced that Gavin was ahead of him...

Friday, 23 March 2018

Hardmoors 55 - The one with the Beast from the East!! UNFINISHED

The weather forecast got worse the closer it got to race day. I realised it was going to be a long, cold day out and packed plenty of layers and spares!

Paul dropped me at Helmsley well ahead of time and I sailed through kit check, got my mandatory tracker attached to my pack and sat down to wait. I watched it snowing sideways out of the window while I had second breakfast and chatted to some fellow competitors.

Over 340 of us stood shivering on the start line as Jon delivered his usual race pre-amble then we took a very leisurely start through Helmsley and out on to the Cleveland Way.

I spotted a couple more firends I hadn't seen earlier and quickly settled into a comfortable jog.

By the time we reached Rievalux the sun was out and everyone was stopping to take gloves and coats off! It was short lived however as a blizzard struck at Cold Kirby! The weather continued to toy with us, sometimes it was lovely and warm in the sun, the next minute we were covering our faces against a horizontal blizzard. The only constant was the strong wind, there was no escaping that.

We did the usual out and back to the White Horse. I ran along the back top with a couple of guys, one of whom I had run my first 55 with, so that was nice to catch up after all this time! All of us almosr fell down the top section of the Angle Path as it was very icy indeed. The steepest section safely negotiated, we ran in to the first check point to be greeted by the Red Druid banging his drum!

The cut off here was tight, but I had made it with a good half hour to spare so had a munch on some jelly-men and a chat with Jon before plodding up the White Horse steps. No Bruce Lee PR's today!

I was bursting for a wee so dived off into the loo at Sutton Bank visitor centre and was alarmed at how dizzy I was, had to brace against the cubicle walls to steady myself. Not a good start, barely 10 miles in...

The going along the top was fien, most of the snow drofts had gone now, apart from the section between Dialstone Corner and the Boltby Turn. That was still knee deep and the blizzard returned, combined with wind-whipped snow from higher up and we were suddenly in a white out! Could hardly see our own feet let alone the runner in front. I struggled against the wind, the path kept disappearing and it was bitterly cold, I had ice balling up in my eyelashes. We managed to get through there, it was actually a little scary, and I overtook a few people, slipping around on the icy path as I went. I ate a few chocolate mini eggs, the sun was back out now, but not for long as we reached High Barn the blizzard closed in again. Here I crossed paths with Gavin and Brett and the three of us shared a brief bear hug before going on our respective journeys. At the Sneck Yate road crossing I dtopped to put on my waterproof coat and the sun promptly came out!

The next section was quite icy underfoot so we had to run carfeully. The sun and blizzards alternated all the way to Osmotherly, the section past Black Hambleton being perticularly bad and it was a relief to reach Oakdale and drop down out of the wind for a while.
Into the Osmotherly checkpoint, an hour in hand, for a cuppa, a hug from Phillip and a cheese sarnie!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My trip to Nepal

About 2 years ago, we got an 'invite' to join a trip to Nepal to climb Baden Powell Scout Peak in the Ganesh Himal (Langtang) region. I was assured it would be a 'strenuous hike' and not at all technical... Hmm.
I was excited but terribly nervous at the same time and spent a lot of time in denial that it was even happening.

My life became immensely busy before the trip and I just ran out of time for training as I needed to pack and sort out things like the Club AGM. We managed one or two trips to the bouldering wall at Middlesborough, but not enough.

It was however, time to drop the dog at my father-in-law's at catch our plane from Manchester Airport. We were on a huge Airbus A380, never been on such a big, luxurious plane, and that was in 'cattle class'. The trip was uneventful and fairly boring (which is never a bad thing when at 30,000ft!) we flew via Dubai and Delhi. Each time we changed planes, they got smaller and more dicey. When we landed at Kathmandu airport, we hit the ground so hard part of the ceiling fell down...

It was hot. It took a good 45 mins to get through the confusion that is immigration and found our baggage already on the floor next to the single carousel... As we left the building, we spotted a little Nepalese guy in a blue shirt holding the Venture Medical sign we were looking for. This turned out to be Prakash, our rep for the trip. It was a bit weird trusting our luggage to guys we'd never met and getting into a car in a foreign country with strange men...

Prakash took us to our hotel, where we were met by guards on the front gates. Again, our bags were entrusted to strangers. The hotel was rather nice, an oasis of calm in the middle of the madness that is Kathmandu.

We relaxed for the afternoon and met the rest of the team that evening for a meal in town.
The next day we met our mountain guides, Ambrit and Kishan who checked our gear, all good to go! We headed into town for a couple of bits we hadn't got, like rope and an extra sleeping mat. The afternoon was ours and we had a beer in a bar in Thamel.

The next day, the adventure began nice and early with our porters loading our stuff on the roof of the bus... It was a long hot drive, it took a couple of hours just to get out of the city!! We stopped for lunch at Jimbu it was so hot it was unreal, I almost burnt my arm on the metal railings. Back on the bus. About 10 hours later, just as it was getting dark, we reached Syabru Bessi and our accommodation for the night. We were already at a reasonable altitude and I felt dizzy as hell, although in hindsight, I think it was a borderline hypo from lack of food. I was surprised to find we had our own rooms, which were en-suite. There was a lizard in ours...

Up and on early the next morning for the first day of actual trekking. It was hot, again.
We trekked for about 8 hours in total, stopping for lunch at the Bamboo. We climbed the height of Ben Nevis that first day! The sweat was running off the brim of my hat, we all drank loads. We followed the Langtang River through forest, almost jungle, on good paths. Some of the climbs were steep and often we returned to river level. At last, around the corner through the vegetation we caught our first glimpse of the Lama Hotel our destination for the night, I was very excited to climb up the stone steps as the place looked exactly like it does on the internet, a collection of hostels and tea-houses lining the path above the river. We stayed in one of the first ones we came to. Again, we had our own room, the shower and toilet was across the yard this time though!

On the road again, more hot, uphill hiking. We gradually left the forest and the chirruping of bush crickets behind. Another 8 hours on the trail took us to Langtang village. We crossed the vast landslip that in 2015 wiped out the village and surrounding area. It was a little spooky crossing it, as it was clearly still very unstable. We wondered how many bodies were still underneath, unaccounted for.
The mist closed in a little as we reached the (new) village. We had time to have a wander round the village, there was lots of building going on, new tea houses going up. I was offered some drugs by a little wizened old man!! Our tea house was small but cosy and we enjoyed pasta for tea and a comfy bed. Inside toilets here, but I don't think there was a shower?

Eggs for breakfast, the hens looked healthy and the eggs were good!
Todays trek was shorter and much less strenuous, after an initial stiff climb out of the village. The environment was more like prairie now and we could see into the high mountains beyond, including our objective, Baden Powell Scout Peak.
We reached the final village, Kyanjin Gompa after just 4 hours so we had time for a nice hot shower and a walk around. The village was relatively large, again with lots of new buildings going up. The altitude now was considerable, about 3800m, and was having an effect.

The next day, we set off before dawn to tackle Kyanjin Ri at 4400m. It was relentless uphill for a couple of hours, we got to the summit without mishap and celebrated with coffee and snack bars! My OH was struggling, the other chap B wasn't much better. Me and the other two girls G and R were busy planning how to turn the walk into a ridge route! Turns out, that's what we were doing... The guys faces were a picture. Thankfully, it wasn't too much descent and ascent to the next summit point. Soon, we were on the path heading steeply downhill back to the village. To say it was frosty when we'd set out, we were now in just our T-shirts! The path was made of a silky fine dust, rich in mica and I fell over several times!!
We were back in time for lunch, egg and chips. Yum. We had the afternoon to ourselves to assist with acclimatisation. It was tough though and I said to my OH it would be a miracle if either of us made it to the top of the main mountain...

Another fairly early start for the push to high camp, it was very slow, my OH was really struggling and needed to rest every few minutes. The guides were very good and we took it slow. It took 9 hours to get there, but another 1000m climbed. The porters came down to meet us part way with hot mango tea to boost our spirits. Crossing the ridge into High Camp was like walking into paradise, we were exhausted. Asinja the chef had a 3 course dinner waiting for us, but nobody had any appetite. We spent the night in bright yellow expedition tents.

Another acclimatisation day. Before the trip, I'd wondered what on earth I was going to do at High Camp all day, now I was here, sitting in a heap seemed like hard work! My OH had been slurring his speech then later in the morning was sick. We had to face reality that he had mountain sickness and was going to have to go back to the village. I managed to hold it together and not cry, felt a bit wobbly though. He disappeared off with two of the porters and we had lunch.
After lunch, we went for a walk and practiced using the abseil devices and jumars etc. It was a welcome distraction. Dhal Bhat and cake for supper, before a very early night. I was surprisingly comfortable in my now huge tent, but I had three sleeping mats now. I could hear avalanches rumbling down across the valley. I got a message on the satellite com to say HQ hadn't heard from OH yet... Panic. After a few stressful messages backwards and forwards, it turns out he had arrived safely a couple of hours earlier, the message had just been delayed. I settled down to sleep at last.

We were up at about 1am, forced down some porridge and set off by 2. It took a long time to reach the snow line, the climb up the snout of the glacier and rocks was hard and scary. I was crapping myself from the start and the sounds of the glacier popping under our feet didn't help. B had also pulled out at breakfast, he'd twisted his knee so now it was just the two guides, Prakash, me and the two girls G and R. G has previous climbing experience, R was a novice like me. The guides looked after me as I quaked in fear on the ice. The sun was coming up when we reached the snow line and the first of the fixed ropes. The physical effort of climbing up the fixed ropes using the jumars took my mind off being scared and I was making good progress until I got stuck in a snow hole! The quality of the snow was awful and as we went over a convex portion of the snow it all just disappeared out from under me until I was stuck on my crampon tips in fluff. Kishan came back and with a lot of hauling from him and flailing from me, I got out of the hole and we powered up the rest of the slope. We roped together to cross a crevasse field, that wasn't too bad, until I got stuck in another bloody hole would you believe?! Got out of that one with G's help. Next was a fixed rope up to a snow bridge over a crevasse, I think I crossed the ridged bit on my hands and knees, I feared it was a cornice (I was later proved correct). Another steep climb, another fixed rope and suddenly we were on the summit!! 5860m high in the Himalayas. It was approx 11:40am we'd been on the go for 9 hours. And I was still shitting myself! The summit ridge was so steep and narrow we clipped onto a safety line just to take photo's. We were the first UK team to summit Baden Powell Peak and the first females EVER to summit this mountain*.
Now, once we'd taken the required summit photos, we turned around to begin the long abseil down. Oh, my poor calves were in bits from my earlier snow hole episodes. The abseiling wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared. To start with, looking down triggered my fear of heights, but in time I could manage it without my head spinning! Which was a good thing as we had to go around obstacles rather than just zip down in a straight line. About 3pm we stopped for food. First time we'd eaten since breakfast. The abseiling continued until we reached the rocks we'd climbed up earlier that day. Now though, the heat of the sun had destabilised the glacier so we had to descent the snow face instead. My legs would no longer hold me up and after about 10 falls, I slid the rest of the way on my bottom. Crampons went back on and we scittered across the rotten ice on top of the glacier and I was relieved to see Kishan setting up a belay anchor point. R went first as she was slowest, I went next leaving the more experienced R to descend by headtorch. I needed mine before I reached the bottom. Not technical, huh? It took ages to cross the boulder field at the bottom of the glacier back to camp, we were guided in by a couple of young porters. We collapsed into the mess tent to find B and Asinja had made us chips for dinner!! 17 hours. I was exhausted. It had been the scariest, hardest day of my life. I had been scared I wouldn't manage it without my OH but the guides looked after me well.

I slept well that night, but refused to get up in the middle of the night for a wee, partly as it was about -10 out there but mostly because I knew my legs wouldn't work to cross the rocks to the toilet tent...
We got our appetites back that day, breakfast was scoffed with glee! We packed up our stuff, the porters broke camp and we began the long descent back to Kyanjin Gompa. We took it steady, my legs were not happy, my calves were so sore. Actually hungry, I wondered when lunch would be, but we kept going through the scrub, then the forest and down onto the river meadow where we found Asinja and the porters waiting for us with plates full of pasta, cheese, spam, toast, veggies and tea!! We all had seconds. It still seemed to take a long time to cross the meadow but at last we were back at the village and found my OH waiting for us. He had been looked after by the Chairman of the village and was looking and feeling much better. It hasn't really sunk in what we had achieved.

The next day was OH's birthday! So we had cake for breakfast! Asinja had somehow baked and decorated a cake for the occasion and we all shared it. We set off on wobbly legs and hiked all the way back to the Lama Hotel, missing out Langtang village, although we did stop there for a cuppa.
We all had pizza for tea and shared a bottle of beer to help celebrate OH's birthday.

Final day of the trek, didn't seem as hot now but I think we'd just acclimatised to it. We had lunch overlooking the Langtang River at the Landslip tea house, Tibetan bread. We saw Syabru Bessi a long time before we reached it's dusty streets!! We had more beers that night and enjoyed a long hot shower at our guest house before sharing dhal bhat with the guides and porters.

We spent the next day doing the return trip to Kathmandu on the bus. When we were met in town by our English leaders (who never made it on the the trek...) it finally hit us and I think we got a little emotional. The next day, we got a guided tour of The Monkey Temple, Patan and got to meet the Kumari and we received a blessing from her! It was sad to be leaving the next day, didn't want the trip to end.

Nepal has left a mark on my soul, I feel different since I came back and I wouldn't hesitate to go again.

* The mountain was originally called Urkema Peak but was re-named as part of the celebrations for 100 years of Scouting. No females have climbed Urkema or Baden Powell Peak until us. Nice one.