We made it! Phew! It’s been 2 weeks since the Checkatrade team conquered Ben Nevis and what an experience it was! From laughter, blood, sweat, tears, bruises, joy, relief… We had it all! Here’s more about our fantastic weekend and challenge in Fort William, Scotland.
At 5:30am, on Friday 16th September our Head Office started their journey! It’s safe to say that we had our priorities straight on this journey…
The traffic was fairly kind to us, many coffee and loo stops were made but by 7:30pm we had made it to our cabin! With a good weather forecast for Saturday, we had a carb-licious dinner and made our way to bed for a (reasonably) early night.
Fast forward to 6am Saturday 17th and we were all up, packing the remainder of our bags full of energy bars, chocolate muffins, water and Lucozade sport. Unofficial chef Matt, one of Checkatrade’s personal trainers and authentic Scotsman, made us all a huge pot of porridge to share to make sure we were fuelled up for the challenge ahead!
By 8am we’d arrive at the Ben Nevis Visitors Centre ready and raring to go. Spirits and motivation were high as we made final preparations (hoodies on, hats on, hiking boots tightened feeling like professionals). Less than 5 minutes into our hike, just after having defeated a small set of wooden steps, we regretted all our layers and coats, hoodies and hats came off!
After sticking together for about an hour, we broke off into smaller groups, setting paces that ensured we all made it up and down safely. The views along the way were encouragement to keep going. With the calves, quads and glutes well engaged we started to take comfort when fellow hikers told us we were doing well and assured us that we were nearly half way/an hour/half hour from the summit. Although often incorrect with their time estimations, their words of encouragement, your donations and the promise of good views from the top kept us going!
“We’ve made it this far, we can’t stop now!”
5 gruelling hours after setting off, the last group made it to the top! All 1345 metres above sea level!
WE MADE IT!!
Due to the chilly weather, groups that had made it up a lot quicker couldn’t stick around at the top for too long so unfortunately we couldn’t get that big group photo at the top but we did snap these…
Now, I’ve been fairly conservative in describing just how challenging this climb was for some of us. Let me assure you that it was no walk in the park… The trail seemed to go on forever, you couldn’t see the summit above the clouds for the majority of the hike and some of us were even commenting on how we couldn’t wait for our knees and ankles to be hurting on the way down, just so we could get a break from the pressure on our lungs, calves, quads and glutes.
That being said, the journey back down was HARDER. We’d been warned of this by some experienced hikers but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the treacherous descent! Despite near perfect weather conditions, the terrain was steep, uncomfortable, unstable and slippery in places. Hips, knees, ankles and feet were hurting, we had a few tumbles and watched other hikers have to be picked up by helicopters due to falling and injuring themselves (including some triathletes who were RUNNING up and down the mountain). Tears were shed, the ground wasn’t getting any closer and The Ben Nevis Inn (at the bottom) never felt so far away!
Despite the pain, fatigue, awkward public toilet stops and beer cravings we all made it safely back down and WOW! What a relief that was. It was then that we all realised a massive sense of achievement and gratitude for having the opportunity to climb the UK’s highest mountain whilst raising money for people who need it more than us. We were spoiled with incredible views and a once in a lifetime experience in Scotland and it’s one that we’ll never forget! After a takeaway and (more than) a few beers we were all able to recover with a good night’s sleep and even had the chance to explore the surrounding areas on Sunday. Monday saw another early morning to get us all home and ready for work the next day. We even detoured to Edinburgh to see the castle!
We want to say a huge, huge thank you to anyone and everyone that has sponsored us and helped us to support Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice and The Checkatrade Foundation, supporting orphanages in Nepal and children rescued from the sex slave trade. We’re ecstatic that we have completely smashed our target and raised £1,512.00 so far! Some of us definitely wouldn’t have completed the climb without your support! Jon, on the other hand, can’t wait to go back up with his friends!
Any last donations will be most gratefully received via our JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/catbennevis
We really cannot get over the support we’ve received as well as how fantastic of an experience and challenge this was. Thank you, thank you, thank you!