Day One - Exploring!
So on the 8th December, the DisTIL team plus Simon (second yr), James.S and John-Luke set off at 7.30am for three days of Fellowship, Faith and Fun!
Our first stop was in the Peak District at The ROACHES - SKYLINE Condor Buttress. It was very evident when we arrived that we were going to lose people to the snow in particular John-Luke who jumped out of the driver's seat after parking straight into the snow!(I think he was just a little bit excited!) Now to give an idea of how deep this snow was as we started to walk up towards the crag, James.S decided to take us off the path... suddenly we were walking in snow over our ankles and up to our knees at times! When we reached the crag it was amazing. I don't think I have ever experienced snow like this before. It was epic! Awe and wonder of God's creation had set in... how beautiful and spectacular his creation is and we get to work and live in it how awesome is that?
Once James.S chose and set up routes 29 and 31; both 8 metre climbs of a respectable grade for us to try (as many of us had not really had much time climbing on real rock before) we started climbing :D
Climbing real rock on a sunny winters day without snow would have been fine but with this added feature it becomes a bit more challenging as fingers and feet get cold very quickly making holding on to the rock painful and difficult. Plus the snow underfoot makes grip slippery, but true to form we carried on.
I had a go at route 29 first. I got up three quarters of the climb then balanced myself trying to work out where the route went. After about 15min ish of trying different holds and ideas, I got Simon to move the rope around the rock, from this I was up the climb in no time as there was a ledge sticking out behind me which I could climb up to and fling my self over in style. Needless to say the descent from the top of the climb was a little entertaining and snowy as you could not see exactly what you were placing your feet on. A few slips were had and suddenly finding yourself surrounded and buried in snow was a little freezing!
Now Sarah has an interesting way of expressing when she is in pain...she sings! Not the most normal way to express it but very random when you're watching her climbup the rock and suddenly she starts singing. Despite this she finished the climb singing some very cheerful songs!
Rachel went up Route 31 though she could not finish it because of the cold she gave it a good shot. Shame there is not such a thing as a fitted external heating system you can wear which is light weight and suitable for climbing. It would have made this day so much easier but then again we are living life to the max! Rob also had a go at Route 29 and then, to show us all up, John-Luke and James.S also did route 29 showing us all how it should be done (sadly not everyone is blessed with height other wise chimneying would have worked for us on that climb:)
As we stopped for lunch it was a good chance to get to look around the play ground we were standing in. It was spectacular as we looked around the snow had encased the rocks and ground like a blanketand the sun was bouncing of it. The view further out showed how cold it was as you could see the lake in the distance had iced over. It was stunning.
To continue our day we followed a path down to a collection of boulders, where we stopped to have a go at Bouldering. Well John-Luke, Rachel and James did the rest of us briefly attempted to climb one or two of the boulders then went exploring around as there was a house built into the rock. It was like a house from a fairy tale or mansion covered in snow but hidden in the rock. Complimenting this at the same time was a glorious sunset over the hills! There was just time to watch the sunset before we continued on our journey to the Josh's house in the Lake district.
On arrival to the Lake District it was rather dark we quickly unloaded our stuff and were welcomed by Josh's mum who had prepared a lovely meal for us which was just what was needed after a long day exploring and playing :) Washing up done and everyone settled in their room for the night we sat in the kitchen talking about what we had seen in the day and how we saw God in it :)
Day Two - WALKING
After a good night's sleep and fight for the bathroom we were all up getting ready for the walk ahead of us. Our aim: the top of OLD MAN OF CONISTON in the Lakes. We set out some time after 9am in the mini bus to Coniston. As we had arrived in the dark the night before we had not seen what was around us...snow and lots of it! As we parked up in Coniston the snow had been pushed to the sides of the roads making finding somewhere to park difficult. Once we had parked we set out for the walk. Simon was put in-charge of the map and working out where we were to go as he had done his BELA training and passed earlier in the year.
Up the hill we went, across a field, over a small bridge (which was positioned over a lake that had partially frozen on the top!), along the side of a wall up a hill, stopping at some rocks, continuing along the path and over a sty, across a field finally coming to the path up leading round the mountains. Now there has been one thing I managed to neglect in all of this...MORE snow! It was ranging in depth one minute going from just a few inches to suddenly coming up to your knee, so everyone was walking in roughly the same places as the first person as they had left a large footprint.
Continuing up the mountain we noticed the clouds over head were rather dark and foggy so the decision was made to not walk up any further as we were not sure how safe it would be as the path was covered in snow which we did not know the depth of. On the descent the snow came into play or rather we started playing in the snow making snow balls which everyone became victim to at some point. Bundling John-Luke which ended more as a pile of people he was supposedly fighting off. I'm sure those involved with this would disagree and say he got totally stuck. Also jumping into the snow, as in falling forward leaving a print of your body into the snow.
As we continued going down the mountain we came across an old tunnel Sarah and Rachel both went down through it and out the other side, the faces they pulled were spectacular. Of course while walking you always come across some form of animal. In our case it was sheep (though it was hard to find them at times in the snow...they blend in rather well). On the final part of the walk down i.e. the last field we decided to roll and slide down it as the field was on a slope. If I remember rightly a few people then discovered waterproof trousers were no longer waterproof! Mainly Rachel.
On our return to the minibus everyone changed into warm dry clothes and had a drink, it had been an amazing walk, the mountains were beautiful and the sights were indescribable how big is our God that he made those mountains I think he was just showing off! (I'm sure you can see from the pics)
On return to the house where we were staying we had four tasks for the evening one relax! two cook dinner!(some would say is not a task) three talking about God and Holy Spirit out there in us in Him! four going to bed! we had a great evening everything was relaxed until 11.30pm when John-Luke discovered the toilet was blocked! Drama! How do you unblock a toilet? Toilet brush thing? coat hanger? Plunger? Rachel? after a lot of trying and failing Rachel took up the task armed with gloves, old fashioned plunger (bucket and peg would have also been helpful) she managed to unblock the toilet after 'J-stroking' (paddling terminology) it with the coat hanger and attacking with the plunger! It was a sight and smell!
Day Three - Bouldering!
After thanking Josh's mum for allowing us to stay in her house and packing themini-bus up we left the lake district for the peaks. Bouldering here we come!Now there was one slight change in the weather when we woke up that morning we discovered the snow had vanished over night in the lakes and peaks turning in to slush! All that glorious snow gone :(
When we arrived at Burbage valley in the Peak District it was very foggy and wet! Not the most amazing weather to go play in but all the same we did (snow is so much better though you can't beat a hot sunny day!) Now if any of you have ever traveled anywhere with Rachel you will be aware of two things one she can't stay still! and two 'I need a wee' is a common phrase 20mins in so after an hour and half on the road she was bursting and quite happy to just go behind a boulder, however John-Luke must have been feeling kind as he parked in a car park which had public toilets I don't think she could have run any faster in the slush!
To the Boulders we go, with bouldering mats in tow. Walking up a road and path covered in slush in the drizzle is not fun just wet however the boulders and the view made up for that. We all started to clamber around the boulders after John-Luke showed us the map of the boulders and there grades. Now there are many factors that can help and just be a nuisance in climbing one of these is the weather and how it affects the rock. I'm sure from our experience that day we can all say that grit stone is very difficult to climb when its wet and cold. The faces that were pulled while trying to climb up where amazing!
Now in an earlier post I mentioned Rachel's development of the technique fall, ball, roll which in a bouldering room on to a crash mat is fine just amusing to watch. However, on real boulders in a rocky area is a little bit more scary you could say though works perfectly fine. Rachel slipped on one of the boulders she had climbed previously while showing John-Luke how she had completed it and performed this technique which was affective but landed her in poo! Lovely! needless to say she just got up and carried on climbing :)
Now after some time the fog had started to lift as you turned round the most amazing view was coming into sight it was enchanting; sadly I can't find a picture of it but it made you stop and think about what was around you and who created it. We had been to some incredible places in the last few days but the feeling from each was the same if the rocks are this big, if the snow is this wide/deep, if the mountains are this magnificent and if the views are this awesome, then how big is our God and how blessed are we that he gave us this world to live in?!
It was an amazing time away together as a team having so much fun and getting to play and of course fulfilling the purpose of the trip - experiencing God in creation though activities. I'm quite sure we would all jump at the chance to go, play and experience again. Please John-Luke can we go? :D