Saturday, 21 November 2015

Xtreme

Management has a birthday this weekend - one of those significant "mumble-zero" ones.   He did not want to go away, or have a party, or have his family descend upon us, in fact he really wanted to just chill out and be quiet which suits us both very well.  Until one day I said "do you want to do something daft like the Honister Via Ferrata for your birthday" and he said "yes" like a shot.

Given how much water had been thrown out of the sky in the last fortnight we both had more than a little trepidation about how the pre-booked, non transferable event might be.  But it stopped raining, and we woke this morning (far, far earlier than we would have liked!) to the first snow of the year.

7.00am:


A beautiful drive through Buttermere got us to Honister by 8.30am.  A tad chilly, but that's what we have wardrobes full of lovely technical gear for.



It is completely understandable that for safety reasons you are told not to use a camera whilst on the Via Ferrata.  It also means you have the opportunity to pay for a set of pictures taken by the guide, they'll be sent to us in a few days . . .  But I am not very good at following rules so at appropriate points when I had  both feet on something firm and safe a little point-and-shoot camera came out of the pocket (attached to a lanyard round my neck but I never had to put that to the test).  I am generally disappointed with the pictures, partly because I was concentrating on karabiners and ice, and partly because I really, really want a portable compact camera that shoots RAW :-{   "Dear Santa . . . "

First our party of ten walked up here, 9 blokes, a guide and me,  the only girly.  Those steps were very slippery.



Then we hung around here for far too long whilst a group of five chaps from Manchester, who clearly felt they had to be at the front but such is often the way with groups, took far too long to go down a ladder (amazing what you can do with rebar, Management was getting all sorts of ideas for the garden and his welding kit) along a slab, and back up another ladder, .  Never mind, the other three - Steve, Dale and Bryan, were a damn good laugh and great company.





Later there was quite a lot of exposure which bothers neither of us at all, and the technical stuff (clipping on and off the safety cable) and not getting tangled up was quite enjoyable, in an intellectual sort of way.  We've both done a little climbing in the past and neither of us liked it back then.  Today we remembered why - an awful lot of hanging around and messing about to cover very little ground.







Did I mention it was very steep, and more than a little icy?





And a few obstacles later it was over.  The geothermal warmth emanating from the actual mine was staggering - M's glasses fogged up as did the camera but neither dampened the rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' which everyone joined in with; the box of chocolates hidden in my rucksack might have helped ....







And then all that remained was a wander up to the top of Fleetwith Pike which, in today's conditions, was an absolute delight with outstanding views.



Followed by a rather slippery walk back down to the car-park with a few stops for the first Snow Angel of the year, some messing around in small drifts, and the obligatory snowball fight.






The verdict is:

Did we enjoy ourselves?
Yes, in a strange sort of way

Did I ever feel scared?
This is no gentle saunter around but not the sort of thing that would scare me.

Was it hard?
Not particularly, but climbing an overhanging rock face with your upper body wanting to obey gravity and fall backwards is physically tiring.  Not helped by the fact that the route was clearly laid out by 6 foot tall climbing jocks with no consideration for anyone with short legs like me.  One of the chaps from the group of three wasn’t much taller than I am, and I heard him having similar issues on a couple of occasions.

I feel for a group of this size, which was very spread out, it would have been better to have another guide at the back.  M. and I talked about this and he agreed that if I had slipped (and he knew I nearly did on one occasion although I wasn't going to admit it at the time) then it would have been up to him and one of the guys behind us to pull me up and get me back onto the stemples and that they would have really struggled.

Are we glad we made the effort?
Yes, and Management says it was a great way to mark "the occasion"

Would we want to do it again?
No

Will we sleep very soundly tonight?
Oh yes


How the hills looked when we got home:






20 comments:

  1. WoW! Congratulation of the mumble-zero-th and I stand back in awe in your mountain goat activities - amazing! Not for me thanks, tried it once. The father in law took us(my husband and myself) up a frozen waterfall in the lakes one wintery November. We were roped together and had ice axes - and I hated every single moment. Well done you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hawthorn, I don't think I would have enjoyed ice climbing any more than you did :-}

      Delete
  2. Unbelievable!!!!! I remember Honister Pass but certainly not like that. I wouldn't be brave enough, but well done both of you. Wish M a happy birthday from us and I'll email soon. Was it the 21st? If so our Miss A was 19 and Master L 10 yesterday the 21/11. Loved the snow pics. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan. We were exceptionally fortunate with the weather window, it all looked very different from when you were here.

      Delete
  3. Yikes! You are very brave.....I'd have stayed at home and eaten the chocolates.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wanda, I might hurt less today if I'd stayed in with you.

      Delete
  4. Respect. Definitely rather you than me! I thought I'd been daring this week (necessitating the wearing of crampons and not on my slope) but what you have done takes it to a whole new level. Well done both and a very Happy Birthday to Management.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So you haven't been on the Precipitous Bank again? I shall watch Duck Towers to see your reveal :-}

      Delete
  5. Bloomin' marvellous ,,, loved all the pics although there seems to be two people in mid-air on one of them lol! How was that bit by the way!!!! It looked terrifying on the video. A massive well done to the pair of you ,,, Wow!!! What a birthday present! It's my Bens' birthday today if you can believe I have a son who's 33 (and he's my youngest!!!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jill, yes, the 'mid-air folk' were on the big wire Burma bridge. Which was not difficult but it did go on for a long way and it was extremely tiring to keep pushing the horizontal wires out with your arms (which is what stabilises the bridge). Neither of us liked it very much.

      Delete
  6. Many thanks for the birthday wishes, and to Jayne for setting all of this up. My birthday is the 22nd (today) and we have just been to The Pheasant (local pub cum restaurant) for Sunday lunch, which was very nice.

    The Via Ferrata Xtreme was great fun but hard work, and had clearly been laid out by 6 foot men, for 6 foot men, as some of the gaps between steps / handholds / footholds were a stretch for Jayne (she's not 6 foot ...). Additionally some of the vertical bits required a lot of upper body strength to handle, suffice it to say that Jayne is aching a little today ... I'm OK ... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to hear your take on it too Max ,,, a belated Happy Birthday for yesterday. Jill

      Delete
  7. You are adventurous souls. Where was Daisy well you were doing all this. Was she like me and tucked up somewhere nice and warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, thank you for thinking of Her Ladyship.
      Daisy was warm and safe at home with the heating on. She had a good walk on Friday, went out first thing Saturday morning, and then another walk as soon as we got home on Saturday. In truth, she was alone a little longer than we would normally leave her but she hasn't suffered at all (and may even have found steak trimmings in her supper bowl last night . . . )

      Delete
  8. I've always suspected that you're mad, now I know you are!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You disappoint me Sue,
      I did not realise you hadn't already sussed that I am completely bonkers :-} :-} :-}

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Thanks Driftwood. Certainly not for everyone !

      Delete
  10. Dear Gods Jayne, one look at that ladder and I'd have been clinging to the nearest stable surface and refusing to move - heights are not my thing and that ladder looks like a complete nightmare. Congratulations to you both and belated Happy birthday to the Management.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Curvy. Let's just say the experience "concentrated the mind" and we won't be repeating it! There are many ways to enjoy our fabulous countryside and this isn't one of the best

      Delete

So there I am, chuntering on to myself, but it would be lovely to hear from you. Thanks to all who take the time to comment - it makes my day :)

and I always delete spam - my blog, my rules :-}