Conquering Snowdon

Last year, I saw a tweet from the lovely Anne-Marie Dodson (Birmingham City University) asking for anyone to get involved in the Cavell Trust #10kForNurses. I responded not thinking anything of this and ended up with emails signing me up to conquer Snowdon. This year, on the 12th of October 2019 we set out to conquer Snowdon – for the second year running. However, last year storm Callum defeated us. We didn’t make the summit but we managed to do our #10kForNurses to raise money and awareness for the amazing Cavell Trust. If you don’t know who they are please take a look at their page and the wonderful things they do for nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants across the UK. But here are a few facts about them:

The Cavell trust supports nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who are in Financial hardship. Their name Cavell comes from the marvellous Edith Cavell – a nurse during world war 1. She nursed both sides; the good, the bad and the ugly and managed to set free soldiers from Belgium! Unfortunately, this was seen as treason back in those days and poor Edith Cavell was executed for such behaviour. Edith was executed on 12th October 1915 – Hence the date of our Snowdon hike.

I took up this challenge thinking it would be a good challenge as I enjoyed walking and climbing. I’d been up the Malvern hills a few times and felt well prepared (how wrong was I?! More on this coming up…) Last year we missed out on the opportunity to walk up Snowdon with the 100 or so nurses due to storm Callum. Callum had taken down a tree in the main road leading up to the meeting point preventing us from getting to them all. We did not want to give up, so we decided to do #10kForNurses our way. We still climbed some of Snowdon however, we didn’t make it to the summit sadly. So, it was even more exciting this year, as we were with the whole group and no storms on the horizon to prevent us getting to the summit. And just for an extra challenge we decided to do Snowdon by night this time around.

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Myself, Anne, Dally and Lee

I woke up at the Padarn hotel in Snowdon on Saturday morning (of the 12th) excited for the walk ahead. Our group (myself, Anne, Dally and Lee) had a little wander around the high street before meeting the rest of the team at 13:00 for our briefing. John Orchard (CEO of the Cavell Trust) started off with his talk about why we are doing what we are doing. It was a fantastic speech and it really did light up my heart hearing some of the stories about the nurses who have been helped through the charity. At 14:00 we started our Snowdon climb and 5 minutes in, I needed the toilet… Which I continued to hold in until I got back to the hotel later – whoops.

The first 10 minutes just set the scene for the rest of this challenge; it was tough! The road we walked up to get onto the mountain was steep – very steep. I heard along the way it’s called cardiac hill (whether this is true or not i’m not sure) but I can see why! I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding, my legs started to burn, and I felt myself leaning over my knees as I walked to ease it all (you can see this in the vlog I did below). Then we got onto the Snowdon mountain itself, and the pain didn’t stop there. We continued uphill and at this point I was really wishing I did some warmup exercises / stretches before leaving… another whoops.

As we were all walking, spirits were high, and everyone seemed to make little jokes along the way – mainly because if we didn’t laugh we would probably cry (I know I would have haha). I remember thinking and quite possibly saying out loud

‘it’s ok, it’s just this one bit and then we are nearly there’ – we were not nearly there

But in my head, it made me feel better, like the burning of my thighs and calfs

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The morning team – Michaela and Sarah

was almost over. Every now and then, the uphill wouldn’t seem as vertical  as it did, and my legs would love that moment, even if it was just a moment. As we approached the halfway point, we started to see the team that did the morning climb descend past us – This
kept me going even more! It was so lovely to see them passing by and we all shouted ‘well done’ as they did. And in return they shouted ‘good luck’ as we made our next steps up the beast.

We made the halfway point and had a little rest with some snacks and hydration. The half way point was such a great feeling! Knowing it wasn’t too far now and we would soon be at the top. We kept going with our mountain guides, Jason Rawles, Lisa and Louis; they were all fantastic. They kept us going, kept us motivated and it was really lovely to speak to them as we climbed. Throughout the climb I did some live vlogs on my twitter and Instagram pages for those waiting for messages on how we were all doing – this also kept me going and it was nice to be distracted from my legs burning and  breathing.

As we were walking up towards the summit, the clouds surrounded us and we had an ice mist hit our faces which literally took our breaths away! You could barely see anything around you due to the low cloud which was a shame, but it definitely added to the atmosphere for the climb. At one point I remember thinking ‘I wonder if something will jump out of the clouds at us, like a white walker from Games of Thrones’ haha! It kept me entertained for that last stretch (that or I was delirious from the lack of oxygen and pain in my legs). We were also told that the last stretch was a 45 degree angle… no wonder it hurt but it was certainly fun coming down haha. We finally made it to the top! There

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The summit!

was a little round brass like stand and the top, which people were surrounding to get their selfies and videos to show they made it. If the climb wasn’t bad enough, you should see the stairs to get up there!

‘One last piece of torture’ I heard Snowdon whisper (you can see this point in the vlog also).

But we did it! We had finally made it to the top for our own little selfie and video for proof we made it too – No storm Callum this time ruining our plans. What a great feeling. As a team we were a mixture of so relieved, chuffed, excited, proud but in pain and exhausted and now it was time to get back to base camp. We descended down into the sunset, which was beautiful to see. We had to put our head torches on for the last halfway as darkness really fell fast upon us. Spirits were high again; everyone was so relieved to be heading back for a well-deserved drink and rest. After a total of 15k on Snowdon, we got back to the hotel at around 7.45pm! Pretty sure that was record breaking time to conquer Snowdon in!? Overall, this experience has been amazing and despite it being the most challenging mentally and physically, it was all for an amazing cause. You can see the full >>Snowdon Vlog<< here.

And if anyone has any spare pennies to give, please feel free to donate to my just giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-carmichael7 Every single penny counts towards this amazing charity. If you are a broke student like me, instead of giving, if you could share the Cavell Trust website amongst your social media pages to raise the awareness of such an amazing charity that would be great. Help nurses so they can help you.

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34 years old and finally achieving my dream of becoming a nurse.

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