Whilst everybody in Essex enjoyed the spectacular weather on Saturday, a team of 12 members of Gepp & Sons were stocking up on bacon sandwiches and hot tea before setting off to climb the hills of the stunning 950-metre high Helvellyn mountain range in the Lake District as part of the annual LawNet challenge.
British summertime felt like it had not quite reached 'base camp' at Patterdale, where the rain poured and waterproof kits were checked. A team of fantastic guides had altered the route slightly due to the weather conditions which, we were reliably informed, whilst "not unheard of," were also fairly unusual for the time of year.
The climb began innocently as the route meandered through fields of sheep and pleasant snack breaks, but that was shortly all to change. The word "waterproof" soon lost its meaning as the rain and 50mph winds refused to let up. Walking poles were dug into the ground to stop the team being blown over and the guides advised lying on the ground to avoid it if it got too much!
By this point the original 10-hour route was abandoned for a slightly shorter 6-hour route as it became clear that the rest of the climb really was going to live up to being a 'challenge.'
The team pushed through and reached the summit, by this stage feeling more like they had climbed to the top of Everest. Soggy sandwiches were gulped down under rain jackets and energy drinks glugged to keep the team going for the last couple of hours of the descent.
Finally, as the team crossed over the top and began to wind down, the clouds and mist broke to the scene of the beautiful Helvellyn area and surrounding Thirlmere and Ullswater lakes. Legs were sore, bodies were cold, but you couldn't help but think there really is no place quite like the beautiful British landscape.
So whilst there were plenty of soggy bottoms and, for those who had fallen in the mud, not much dignity remaining, the team had done it. If you'd asked them straight afterwards if they would do it again, you'd have met with maniacal laughter, but after a hot shower and alcoholic beverage, you can bet you'll see these guys up another mountain next year. Until then…
Our thanks to George Coombes of LawNet for organising a brilliant climb and to all our guides for leading us safely through.