Voiceless for Viva: Day 21
[By Guy Harper]
To mark the three quarter checkpoint in my vow of silence I decided to celebrate by climbing Snowden (England and Wales’ highest peak- 1,085m/3560ft) with a good friend of mine, George Adams. The plan was to wake up at around 5.45am for a 6.30am departure. Given that the drive is approximately four hours and the climb thought to be about five hours, leaving this early was essential in order to not be walking in darkness. We selected the ‘Snowden Ranger Path’, printed off a map and some instructions, got together more appropriate equipment than I had for Pen y Fan, prepared some food and got ourselves into bed.
I asked George a few questions about the day and I shall include some of his responses throughout my description of how everything unfolded (anything in quotation marks is written by George):
As mentioned the plan was to get up at about 5.45am for the long drive however in actual fact “we left at 3.30am, as a result of both our somewhat out of sync sleeping patterns”. After about three hours of driving we pulled up in a car park so that I could have a quick hour nap, and then carried on. The first down point of the day was learning that the postcode we were going to was not particularly accurate so we spent another hour finding exactly where our start point was. Having arrived at the correct car park we stocked up on some wholemeal pasta with beans and sweetcorn to fuel us for the walk. At first the weather was alright, as it was for about two thirds of the ascent. “The first mile reminded me of just how horribly unfit I am. I thought my fitness would be the main issue, until experiencing the frankly indescribable weather that set in at around 800m.”. The weather George is referring to is very similar to what I had experienced while climbing Pen y Fan, and really is not pleasant at all. Visibility was reduced to about 15 metres in any direction, it was cold, pouring with rain and the wind was very powerful.
On top of England and Wales- 1085m
Reaching the summit was an awesome feeling, and having George with me meant I didn't have to mime to anyone for a picture! Picture taken and the satisfaction of the achievement enjoyed, we swiftly started our descent in search of some respite from the weather. Our descent of the mountain was a very quick one as the weather was proving unrelenting and all body parts were beginning to get very cold indeed. The same routine then happened as Pen y Fan when reaching the car: clothes off, air conditioning on full blast and a general reflection on the trip. The return journey was filled with brief pit stops to make sure I kept myself fully awake and alert, because the company of an asleep George Adams was not doing the trick.
George wanted to share a few more comments about the trip and my challenge more generally:
“Communication with Guy was actually alright. Obviously there was no small talk, but it’s surprising how much communication we waste and the amount of useless communication that was consequently emitted.
“Guy’s cause is fantastic, and I’m sure if he even just makes people aware of his cause, he’ll feel it is worth it. The inevitable inspiration of others is a bonus.
“To be honest, at the beginning of this challenge I thought Guy had no hope of completing it. I really did think it was ridiculous. But three weeks in and he is nearly there- a testament to his will and drive. He’s fully in the zone now, even when we came close to hitting a squirrel he didn't even utter a sound.”
A huge thanks must go to George for agreeing to come and accompany me on this somewhat arduous journey, I hope he enjoyed it. The feeling of accomplishment and achieving a goal set out for was similar to the emotions felt after Pen y Fan, however sharing the experience with someone else was awesome (not only so they could do the talking for me!).
By Guy Harper