Last weekend i was joined by Arrica. Arrica contacted me to help her in preparation for her ambition of completing the Everest base camp trek later this month.
A keen painter Arrica, wants to go to Everest base camp (EBC) to paint the mountain and enjoy the experience of the challenge.
Arrica lives in London and has limited access to hill/mountainous terrain down south. The Peak district offers hills of a much lesser magnitude but similar broken terrain under foot to the EBC trek and with the added value of being close in proximity from London where Arrica resides.
What we cannot make up for in the grandiose of mountains we can definitely make up for in steepness of terrain and chossey/varied terrain under foot. Time to get walking.
After speaking to Arrica on the phone and exchanging several emails with her i decided that we should spend the day walking and talking. Time on her feet will be very good preparation for Arrica on the EBC trek as she will be spending many long days walking with her guides.
The talking element of our day involves Arrica picking my brains to bits with a broad range of questions from equipment and clothing to training and food to altitude sickness to ….… the list is endless. I cover everything.There is no such thing as a daft question. My knowledge and experience comes in very handy. How are people supposed to know what AMS (acute mountain sickness/altitude sickness) is like? what to expect accomodation-wise? (tea houses)……. the list can go and on i am sure you can imagine.
Ok, the EBC trek is to be enjoyed but a fair amount of preparation (practical and physical) must be done to ensure the holiday, and it is a holiday remember, is to be fun.
Arrica is a very organised lady. The amount of practical preparation she had done was detailed to say the least. From suitable clothing (head to toe) to breaking down each day of distance walked and height gain may seem overkill to many, but this could help you plan the next day(s) if you not feeling on best form.
We started the day in Edale walking up to and around Grindsbrook knoll. A steep climb from the valley bottom of Edale with an abundance of broken ground under foot. Once at the summit of Grindsbrook knoll we were in a strong fifty miles per hour westerly wind. It was not a comfortable situation and we decided to descend on the wet rocks down back to Edale. The steep climb up and down from Edale to Grindsbrook knoll over mixed/broken and greasy rock was my way of throwing Arrica in at the deep end. Short and sharp climbs and descents are plentiful on the EBC trek. Plan B was initiated.
From the base of the valley we started to ascend on the muddy path towards the saddle of Hollins cross, half way along the great ridge in between Mam Tor and Lose hill. Slippy under foot and with many groups descending as we passed them we expected to be a similar situation as a couple of hours earlier. We were correct. The westerly wind was still strong and buffeting us. We decided to limit our exposure to the wind and head back down to Edale for Plan C. Don’t give up.
The ups and downs of the walking was all good practice for EBC. Whilst we battled the wind Arrica and i talked throughout about the physical preparation for the EBC trek. With the gym as Arrica’s most realistic option for training down south i explained how she could maximise her time to best prepare for day after day of walking on the EBC. Physical preparation is a much neglected area in trekking planning. Being strong physically makes your whole trip a lot more enjoyable.
During our lunch we spoke about the dramatic landscape of the Peak District and The Lord of the rings films which Arrica is big fan of. The wind battered rocks on the edge of the Kinder scout plateau paint a Tolken-esque landscape Arrica explained to me. I have never really though of the landscape in such a way until now. A fresh pair of eyes bring a new perspective.
Plan C was to head along the the long distance footpath of the Pennine way to the south west edge of Kinder scout. The wind will still be blowing strongly but it will provide incline and decline and good preparation for Arrica. With slightly more shelter from the wind on this route we talked about altitude sickness, how can you expect your body to react (signs and symptoms) and ways you can limit your exposure to the condition. We also spoke about Diamox and ways of making your day/trek more comfortable overall.
Myself and Arrica battled through the wind and steep ascent reaching the edge of the Kinder scout. This took alot of determination in the strong wind. Well done Arrica.
This determination will be sure to aid Arrica as she heads out for the EBC trek later this month.
Thank you for a good day on the hill Arrica. Please keep me informed of how your journey of a lifetime turns out later this month. I am sure it will not be as windy as the Peak District today.