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Ice To Meet You

By Phil on 2014.11.04 In Lake District

Last weekend I headed back over to the Lakes to meet up with Lydia, who I met on the Toubkal Two Valley trek a few weeks ago, who had travelled up from London along with her two friends Simone and Tom. I also invited my friend and fellow outdoor blogger Rhiannon to join us and to meet face to face for the first time.

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I was first to arrive in Kendal so I decided to head to the Kendal Brewery and wait for the others. While waiting I received a text from Lydia saying she had missed train from London as she had been to a masked ball wedding reception and would be getting the next train but that Simone and Tom were on their way and that I should look out for a tall blonde Australian woman and a Frenchman entering the pub. So that meant I was on the lookout for 3 people who I had never met before in a pub full of locals dressed in Halloween costumes.

Rhiannon was first to arrive and luckily she wasn’t in Halloween fancy dress, so I could spot her easily enough as she entered the pub. It wasn’t long before I spotted Simone and Tom while standing at the bar as they too were dressed in normal clothes. I think we were the only ones who were.

An hour later Lydia finally arrived, soaking wet from the rain as she walked from the train station to the pub while wearing her wedding outfit, high heels and her mask she had worn at the masked ball reception. She was actually the hardest to spot amongst the Halloween costumes of the locals. After drying off and a few glasses of wine, she was starting to look her normal self.

The next morning we decided to head to Kentmere to do the stunning Kentmere Horseshoe hike which I did last month with Joe and Jason.

The day started off well with sunny spells but after an hour into the walk the clouds we got caught in some light showers, before arriving at our first summit in complete clouds.

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Although visibility was bad at times at the top, I wasn’t too worried about getting lost as we had chief navigator Rhiannon with us. After reading about many of Rhiannon’s adventures on her blog Away To The Hills, which also included many solo hikes and wild camping trips, I was confident we wouldn’t get lost. Rhiannon was constantly checking our location and running it by me by showing me the map. If only she knew my navigational track record, as I nodded and agreed with her. So I told her about the time me, Joe and Jason got lost in Courmayeur while doing the Tour du Mont Blanc last year, where we walked 5km in 3 hours looking for the start point, only to find it was 5 minutes from where we had spent the night.

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By lunch time the wind had really picked up and was nearly knocking us all off our feet, as we sheltered behind a rock for a short lunch stop. It was one of the windiest hikes I had been on, it was up there with my Windy Gyle experience last year. As we walked across the one of the ridges, the wind was that strong it actually blew the water which was running down the valley back up and into our faces. At one point we also thought we heard cries for help in the distance, but after stopping and listening for some time in the gusty winds we decided it was actually the sound of a horn, which was later confirmed as we passed a group elderly locals and their dogs.

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Due to the gusty wind, poor visibility and dark nights, we decided to shorten the walk slightly and head back to the car before heading to the Hawkshead Brewery for the best chips ever and a beer. The best way to end a windy hike, before heading back to Kendal for a quick change and out for a meal and plenty of wine at the excellent Romney’s in Kendal.

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On the Sunday we headed over to Keswick for a session on the Ice Wall at King Kong Climbing Centre. Rhiannon had suggested giving it a go, which was also a chance for her to get some practice in before her 3 weeks trip to Nepal next week to attempt an unclimbed peak.

I hadn’t done any form of ice climbing before, so was really looking for to the experience. As there were 5 of us in our group, we had the ice wall chamber to ourselves along with our instructor Will. After Will’s safety instructions and basic ice wall traversing test, we paired up for our 1 hour 30 minute session.

After pairing up with Rhiannon, it was quite nerve wracking being responsible for her safety as she had first attempt to climb the wall, while I performed the belaying duties of managing the rope and to stop her from falling should she slip from the ice wall. No pressure!!! Before switching positions for my climb.

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I must admit, the ice wall climbing was a lot harder than I was expecting. Our first attempts were the hardest, as we wasted lots of energy hacking away at the ice wall trying to get the best hold, rather than taking our time and choosing the whitest part of the ice in order to get a better hold and position. Something Will decided to let us find out for ourselves. The following climbs were a little easier, though I started to lose the grip and power in my weaker left arm and hand while trying hack the axe into the wall.

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Despite losing strength and feeling in my left arm during the session, I now know what to expect the next time. It was a great experience and look forward to other sessions in the future.

After dropping the London contingent off for their train back home, me and Rhiannon headed over Milnthorpe to visit my friend Lindsay who owns The Sporting Lodge for a coffee and another private viewing of their amazing showroom. On our way over we saw what looked like a man paragliding. As we got closer it looked like he was struggling and attempting to climb up his paraglider.

We thought about phoning for help as we got closer, only to realise it was actually a kite and the man we thought was struggling was in fact also a kite in the shape of a scuba diver. This was followed by other kites of a frog, cow, a dog and an octopus. We were so glad we never made the SOS call.

Overall I had a cracking weekend. There was beer, wind, rain, sun, more beer, wine, ice climb, funny kites, catching up with old and new friends and plenty of laughs. To sum up in one word. Awesome!

2 Responses to "Ice To Meet You"

    Comments (2)

  1. Oh the joy of ice climbing. I found that the hardest part is to trust your feet, your hold, well essentially your crampons. You are in way more control than what you think. Remember to push your body close to the wall so you’re not hanging far away, basically keeping your hips as close as possible to the wall makes it a lot easier. I have a love hate relationship with iceclimbing, and as of now I haven’t been out in more than a 2 years I think. The biggest reason is that it gets cold here, as in I have mostly done iceclimbing far below freezing temperatures. Me and my climbing partner created a cut off temperature, mostly after the time where I got a really bad frostbite, well only my big toe but still, at that point the Subaru temperature had constantly been showing -27F….for several miles, because a lot of Subaru car models don’t go lower than that. Either way, we decided to create this cut off temperature of -10 F or so (if I remember correctly). Reading about you iceclimbing now does make me miss it….

    • Phil wrote:

      You are so right! It’s all about foot position and trusting your foot hold. Was a great experience for a first try and looking forward to doing it again in the future and actually trying it for real outside, as I’m sure that will be a lot different than an artificial wall. :)
      Thanks again for the comment.

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Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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