Chris on Top of the World

I did it!! I can't believe it - I've climbed the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales over one weekend. I didn't think I would be able to climb one mountain, let alone 3 mountains - 4.5 years ago I was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, so I've come a long way through sheer determination.

We met up on the Friday morning with anticipated excitement and met some fellow climbers for the first time - it was a jovial time, laughing, joking and full of hope and wanting to exceed my own personal goal (I set of target of £150 but raised £1500 in sponsorship at time of writing).

We went to Scotland to a hostel for a couple of hours sleep, and then started the climb at about 3.30am on the Saturday. On grass and mud I was climbing quite well, but then suddenly the rocks started to appear and, because I've got drop foot due to my strokes, I was then a lot slower. We didn't really have a break, I was just slow and steady and plodded along. We reached the summit at about 8am, the highest point in the UK, and I was so elated!! Going downwards is tough as well for me, but I reached the bottom at about 12pm - all of the teams were clapping and I was overwhelmed with it all and wept a little!!

We drove to Scafell Pike and slept over in a hostel again for a couple of hours and started the ascent at 4am on Sunday. There isn't a correct path on Scafell Pike, so we had to navigate it and we detoured to another route but needed to get over the steep climb to the "correct" path. It was a real challenge but I did it. The rest of the ascent was slow but kept going no matter what. After about 6 hours, we reached the summit - 2 mountains down, one to go.

We drove to Snowdon and started the climb at about 8pm - it was pitch black, the only light was our head torches. It was so peaceful and there was no-one except right at the top, where someone was sleeping at the summit in a sleeping bag. His name was Tom and we chatted for a while and then started the slow descent through the darkness. At some points, it was actually rock climbing but we got through it and finished at about 9am on the Monday - around 33 hours walking in total.

My team was fantastic - all the way through, we always kept it light hearted and always positive until the end - and they were so supportive of me - with jokes, a helping hand and joining forces when times were tough. I was and am so proud of them - I couldn't do it without my team. We did Ben Nevis in 8 hours, Scafell Pike in 12 hours and Snowdon in 13 hours.

The scariest moment of my experience was slighting across a big, smooth rock with my bum, but then suddenly I fell backwards, rocketing to the floor, head first, with the ground about 5 foot down, and I would crack my head open and the challenge would have been over. Over a split second, I tried to find something to hold onto, but rock was so smooth and I plummeting downwards, but lucky I found something to hold on to and the team rescued me and proceeded with the ascent of Snowdon!

All in all, it was a massive personal achievement for me and I'm so proud of the 3 Peaks' teams. So, now, I'm already thinking about the next challenge.... :)

This article by Chris Banting was posted in: Stroke Survivor Stories. Walking. Stroke Recovery.


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