For years I have wanted to do all the “Classic Rock” climbs in the Lake District in one unassisted journey. Fifteen long rock climbs and a lot of fells to cover on foot between the crags. It was an impossible dream having only been completed by a handful of men who are very good fell runners and all climb several grades harder than we do. They soloed most of the climbing with very little protection as they carried hardly any climbing gear. We would need to lead the climbs with full ropes and a full climbing rack in a traditional fashion, and Mandy, although she has been climbing for fifty years, is not a fell runner at all. But since no women have completed the “Lakeland Classics” in one go before time was not really important. We could carry our gear, keep ourselves safe, and camp out and just keep going.
I reckoned some of my fell running friends would see this as a ruse to get out of the Ennerdale race. But the truth was I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right person and all I needed to do was recognise that. It was the adventure of a lifetime, and in our own backyard. Each climb, each scrambling descent, each stormy sky and hard-won walk are etched into us. Some of the routes were a battle in bad conditions, some were pure pleasure and all were savoured and stored up within us like treasure. The forecast lied. We had rain, gales, cold and mist and sunshine on occasion too. After four long days of climbing, we amazed ourselves by topping out on the final, and the easiest and shortest climb of Little Chamonix at Shepherd’s Crag.
There was no Ennerdale race for me this year. Instead, we had a unique few days which I am still absorbing and digesting. Commitment and planning are all very well but if I had stuck to my plan, I would still be waiting for another elusive right time. I will write the story of our unlikely adventure in coming weeks but for now I don’t want to forget that it only happened at all because of a willingness to be distracted from my plan. When life surprises us with rare and unexpected chances then only fool sticks to the plan.