Dreams of the KLF and adventure, it can only go wrong, but one must try. Oddly I do wake up early, 6:40 am. I look at that clock and roll back over. I woke up though, that is a sign to do this mad caper surely. I close my eyes. But they reopen, it is 7:10am. My mind is set I know it, it wants adventure. It wants to go and take my body with it. My foot is already out of the bed, I reach for the phone and call my brother, amazingly he answer and says he’ll think about it, and call me back. I’m getting up anyway, I’m getting my stuff together, I’m getting my breakfast, I picking up the phone and answering it. It is my brother, he is up for it. I’ll be round his with 30 minutes. I get my back packs out of the garage, pick my snowboard and put it in the car. I am out of the door.
Before you know it I’m round his, helping him get ready, for he is not. We fill the car with things and his skis and poles and boots an head to the Esso garage. I fill the car up, grab some food to take up with us and we are on the M6.
We cruise north bound at a pace, as we get further north things get colder, whiter, chillier. Winter is certainly up here. This is a good sign. The madness that this is in Britain, if you can ski, then you have to go when Britain is least prepared. I ponder weather to go over the Kirstone pass or to continue north to Junction 40.
As it happens we continue to Junction 40 and it is the right choice. As we head south toward Ulswater there is a sign showing the Kirkstone pass is closed.
We follow the road along the side of the lake until
We reach Glenriding, At first we head towards the old mine track, I see someone walking up it with skis. I stop and talk to them, they have tried driving up and turned back. This doesn’t put me off though and I continue up. That is for a bit. Things look rough and icy and I change my mind. We find a spot big enough to turn the car around and head back to the village car park.
We park up on the slippery and icy car park. Head to the toilets and gather our backpacks and equipment, shuffling in and out of the packs what we think we will and won’t need. This is it then this is where the walk begins.
I take a last llok at the directions and try to memorise them. One wishes I hadn’t but thats me. “Please refer to O.S. Map English Lakes 1:25000. N.E. Sheet before setting off and bring a compass – particularly useful for finding your way down to the chimney if it clouds over. Raise (343175) is reached from Glenridding (386169) via Greenside Mines (365174). On reaching the mines follow the footpath for Sticks Pass, up the hill to your right. At the top of the zig zags you will see on your left a steep banking. This is the old chimney: follow this until you reach the remains of the chimney stack. About 200 metres past this traverse Raise to the right (there is no path) and you will come to the ski slope at the top of the valley.Take care on the last section if the snow is hard as a fall and slide could pitch you onto rocks. When reaching the area you will find the club hut (345177). “
We are on our way to Raise, we start the climb upwards.
The white stuff is ahead of us, I’m excited, I raring to go.
We walk the mine track with our heavy gear on. This is going to be tough I know it, and my brother is already moaning, I knew that too.
The track gets grimmer and it starts snowing. A good sign surely?
The walk goes on and on.
and of course, on. But we don’t know how long for yet.
But then we have no real idea where it is we are going.
Of course we could give up. Now would be the time. But where would be the adventure in that?
And remember at the end of it will be the great reward, the snow, the slopes, the fun.
We reach the youth hostel and old mine. According to those instructions it will be another hour from here.
That’s another hour of moans from him!
Though the gate of the Ski Club, so we are on the right track then.
And I am in high spirits still. The crisp air, the cold, the bright green jacket keeping me warm.
Of course in France I would never dream of doing this, why would I, there are lifts from the bottom, only in England would they make you suffer first.
Things slow down when we are off the road. From here on it is snowbound paths and
beautiful views to keep us entertained.
We are of course heading upwards from here on too.
I look back, wow.
I look forwards, this is going to be the easy bit, but at this point we don’t know this.
The path starts to climb and narrow.
It begins to zig zag.
I somehow don’t think he’s enjoying the views, the walk, the thrill. I don’t think he knows we might not make it up, and if we do, will we make it down?
We follow the tracks of some others who have caught us up and are asking if I know the way. Of course its this way, we are heading towards Stick Pass. And no I’ve never been. They trudge on faster than us, but leaving us their foot steps to follow.
The weather keeps changing, the temperature, and our orientation. I’m beginning to wish I’d brought a compass.
The views down the valley keep me walking up the valley, my brother questions why I don’t need to rest.
We climb higher
I look further down.
The path gets steeper and less obvious once we start following the chimney. It’s here somewhere I’m sure.
I’m sure this rocky path is the way.
The exhilaration is what I’ve needed for all these weeks. I can feel challenge, but I’m sure he hasn’t realised it yet.
I love the veiws, I park my board and wait for the brother to catch up.
One day he will catch up.
The kit is heavy and this is one of only the very few times I’ve used my big big back pack.
Ah he is coming, but neither of us know what is truly coming.
The snow gets deeper and the route and tracks disappear.
Sometimes you legs disappear in the depth of the snow.
This makes it slow going.
I ponder if this is truly the easy way. Its the right direction I’m sure, but surely this isn’t the easiest way?
The trek up continues, but slowly, my brother is struggling, perhaps what he doesn’t realise is so am I, but I want and desire the treasure I believe waits us at the top.
Come brother come, there is no time to wait, we must make it, we must, no matter what.
Where no one wonders, one must make a decision, the snow so deep, where have the tracks of the people in front of us gone? Where? Of course up it must be.
The nature keeps me going, I see the chimney and head for it.
We’ll have a rest at the chimney and a snack, that will help I’m sure.
And the journey goes on, the quest, I’m not sure though that he’s determined enough to make it. Perhaps he’ll just keel over, perhaps he won’t, but while he’s till moaning he’s still alive.
This is insane, this is stupid, this is a lie, this can’t be right, this is getting worrying.
There are times you want to give up, there are times, you should, and there are times you carry on regardless. This is one of those times.
It’s so far back there’s no turning back, we should keep going, its not far now. Things though get icy, tricky, and ludicrous. The going gets slower.
We warm up and trudge on regardless, well I do he follows.
And as all mountains the weather changes from state to state, from peaceful, to harsh with a blink of an eye.
You make the most of the wonderous, magical moments. You enjoy them for what they are.
You stand and stare at natures beauty, in case you never get to see it again.
The journey returns to its nightmare, of a walk though all to quickly
Then I see the tow lift, there it is, it looks so close but in reality it turns out to be far, far because of the terrain, far because there is no obvious path, far because the snow is deep.
Eventually I’m here, there, here. I need warmth, I need warmth badly and leave my brother straggling behind.
There is someone watching me struggle up and hurrys me into the hut.
They tell me to get warm and will watch out for my brother.
I put my board to the side and get in, where I’m made welcome by the others, I sit down, warm up and eat something before going back out. I help my brother up the last few meters of icyness and get him in. He is exhausted, I am exhausted. I am too exhausted to snowboard. He is to exhausted full stop. We eat, we get warm, we talk. We share out getting here tales of struggle and which is the best way up. Apparently we came it! I suggest one of us gets full membership so that he can leave his skis up here, I can see he’ll never make it back down if he tries to take them. I try to hurry him into putting his boots on, but he’s having none of it. I tell he its 2:30 and its took 3 hours to get here. He tells me he’s not coming. He’s stating put. I can’t blame him, but my passion and desire makes me a fool, it makes me want to do something I know I truly have no energy left to do. I change into my snowboarding gear, do my boot up and head out anyway.
I fasten my boots to the board and pray I can remember who to board, I pray my legs will work, I’m off, I’m moving, and more importantly I’m going in the right direction.
So this is it, this is my treasure, my pleasure, my reward, this is great, this is fun, this is magical, this is the answer, this is the enjoyment.
And occasionally, the views are wonderful too.
Up and down, down and up. Its a hard lift on snowboard. I talk to the manager when getting a pass and tell him he needs a gondala up here. He tells me they need many things and smiles.
I whizz up and down the easy slope, for that is all my legs have the energy left for.
But it brings me enjoyment, it brings me frill, it brings me life.
For it is fun, for it is what I do.
I board for an hour, until it start getting dark.
The slope starts to empty.
Everyone starts heading to the hut. We get changed, wish each good luck, for only a few of us have come the easy way!
The walk down, the first but anyway is now icy, very icy, I know we need to get down to the track before it gets dark.
Gravity is on our side, but strength and endurance is not, not for me.
At least we know we are going the right way though.
And eventually we reach the track.
Yes before its completely dark!
We walk though the mine area.
past the youth hostel
and down the miners track, which goes on and on and on and on and on. And whilst we are going down, the mountain rescue vehicles are going up, the eye in the sky is in the sky. It doesn’t look good for someone, but then I can truly believe it at the top.
We reach the car park. The car is there somewhere in thedarkness. I go to the pay machine but for some reason it doesn’t know my car. I insist on paying and it suggests £2. I suggest it is correct then and pay with my card.
We climb in the car and consider who is going to drive home, I can feel my legs and its not a great feeling. I change my socks and shoes, put my board in the car and have a sandwich.
I check my pass and program the satnav
I put my sticker on the window so I can park at the ski club parking spots next time and suggest we take it easier on the way back.
This turns out to be a wise decision, the temperature is zero, it is snowing, and lane 3 is snow covered in parts. All is flowing though until Wigan. Then the motorway stops, it stops for good. We turn the engine off, and so do the others and wait very, very, very patently. It would appear the icy conditions are taking its toll.
I’m glad to have a car that drives itself.
As we drive again I see a car behind in lane 3 swerve and then its head lights disappear into the fields with the traffic stopping behind. Its not a night to rush, its not a night to have rubbish tyres on.
Eventually I get home
We go to the pub across the road and have pint before
walking, yes that's right more walking
to one of our favourite balti houses.
Tea at last. Yum Yum
What and adventure, what a day, and you know what, I go home alive, until next time, because afterall I have a season pass.