Keeping everyone “together and motivated” proved the toughest task as hiking instructor Matt Phillips led a team of six climbers up Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike in the space of 15 hours in early July to raise funds for Calvert Trust Exmoor.
Matt, 23 and an activities instructor at the centre, explained that there were differing abilities within the group, and some had not appreciated how much more arduous such a challenge becomes with a full backpack.
“Some of the group had been training well but had not fully realised the implications of carrying such a weight when trying to ascend more than 4,400 feet above sea level,” he said. “On both climbs, some members needed to stop for prolonged rests before we could continue.”
The team raised £780 for the Calvert Trust Exmoor with all climbers expressing delight with what they had achieved even though the original target was to reach the top of Mount Snowdon as well in the space of 24 hours.
“I wanted to do a real outdoor adventure and challenge that matched the spirit and ethos of the work at Calvert Trust Exmoor, and this trip matched those criteria very well,” said Matt, who grew up in the village of Willand in Mid-Devon.
“Bring on next year,” exclaimed Barnstaple-based Sarah Robinson, who took on the challenge with her daughter Izzy. “It was certainly a fun trip and well organised too. It allowed me to spend some valuable time with my daughter and memories we will always have to share.”
“It was great knowing that we were raising money for a local charity.”
Bristol-based Charlotte Roberts, who joined the team with two friends said they were initially worried about the challenge and how well they would do.
“From the start, our guide Matt was warm and welcoming and very optimistic which is what we needed at that time!” she said. “Climbing those mountains was a huge challenge with some hiccups on the way as our strength and stamina were really being tested.”
“Matt kept our spirits high and continued to encourage us, reminding us off our end goal. We loved the experience and despite being exhausted we look forward to it again next year! And what an amazing cause to raise money for.”
The team spent the first night at the bunkhouse at the base of Ben Nevis, then began their ascent the next morning at 6 o’clock. By midday, they were back in the minibus headed for the Lake District where the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, rises more than 3,200 feet above sea level.
They reached the Scafell Pike peak shortly after 9pm whilst the evening sun was still shining.
Matt explained that the funds would go towards specialist bikes that Calvert Trust Exmoor use to take guests around Wistlandpound Reservoir.
“The bikes can be used by guests with a variety of disabilities, and therefore are not cheap. Biking around Wistlandpound Reservoir is an extremely popular activity for guests as not many places offer the same accessibility,” he said.
Photograph: Matt Phillips with his group atop Ben Nevis (Matt Phillips).
Photograph:The trekkers enjoy the late evening sun at the peak of Scafell Pike (Matt Phillips).