Strong winds, cold water and high summits
Well done to David, Ryan and Graeme who braved some extreme winds, and some very cold water to reach the end of their wilderness experience last week.
We based ourselves around Braemar, which gave us a fantastic location from which to play in the Lui gorge on our activity day. Despite how cold the water was the team got stuck right in and even achieved the distinction of having every member of the group jump off the highest rock.
The other great thing about being based around Braemar was that it gave us easy access to some great mountains, and it was into those same mountains that we headed for the expedition stage of the trip. Our first expedition day involved a 7km walk in to our advanced base camp. The team did really well to set up a fantastic camp right on the edge of the loch, and to make sure that they had all had a good meal to help keep themselves warm. After we had all eaten we spent some time talking about what we need from life in order to feel happy, before having a final review of the day, and settling down to try and get some rest before our summit day.
During the night most of us struggled to get much sleep due to the high winds that were hammering our tents. Despite this the team was up early the next day, and after a good breakfast we had our morning check in, and introduced the thread, or focus, for the day. As it was the summit day our thread was challenge, which was very fitting given the lack of sleep, and the high winds. After a quick check that we had all packed enough spare clothes, and food for the day we set off up the mountains.
Lochnagar is a very impressive mountain, which reaches the impressive height of 1155m at its peak. Though the walk up started quite steeply the team worked well together, and we were all grateful of fact that for the first few hours of the climb we were out of the wind. This meant that after the first period of climbing we could have our support sessions near a beautiful waterfall while enjoying the sun.
By the time we got higher on the mountain we had a few members of the group who, despite being very sporty at home, were finding the climb quite tough, and were in need of regular breaks. This was not helped by the fact that as we got higher we became more and more exposed to the high winds. As we reached the plateau before the summit we started to feel their full force. Despite the fact that at this stage we could only hold conversations by shouting we covered the ground to the summit quite quickly.
After some chocolate, and some rest on the summit we started to head down. It was quite late, and with some well established blisters, when we finally reached our camp. With everybody feeling quite tired we got straight on with the task of getting some food. We then only had time for a thorough review before bed.
On the last day of our expedition we had to walk about 6km to the bus. With tired bodies it was nice to have the easy track to walk along. It also gave the group a chance to spend some time walking on their own, so that they had a chance to reflect upon the changes they wanted to make as they started to head back home.
Reaching the bus we were greeted by Andy who had prepared bacon rolls, a nice reward after a tough few days. The final task that the group had was to then fill in their Action Plans, so that they could record those things they had been thinking about on their solo walk.
Though the weather had not made things easy David, Ryan and Graeme did really well to soldier on to the end of the course.