The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
The Matterhorn, North Face
It was a hard-bitten group of mountaineers that met at the Staffordshire Knott that Friday night. Over the glistening plates of pie and gravy, they discussed the potential perils of the expedition that would take them to the dizzying heights of the Matterhorn that Sunday afternoon. Although an ice axe and crampons were unlikely to be needed this time of year, preparation was likely to be the key. With carb-loading high amongst their priorities, they solemnly ordered pudding.
The next day dawned warm and bright: perfect for the acclimatisation hike in the Manifold valley. This was a twelve mile trek through the gentle green folds of the Peak District, taking in parts of the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail. Provisions had to be carried by the expedition, but these were supplemented by food depots along the trail, most featuring a nice line in coffee and cake.
On returning the Sheen base camp, the cooks got busy with preparing a sumptuous feast. This was essential if the party were going to survive the gruelling expedition the following day. The Staffordshire Knott was also available for additional calories in liquid form.
The Sunday morning broke to a slightly less promising weather forecast. Cloud was low, the temperature had dropped and there was the distinct tang of drizzle in the air. After all these days of preparation a cancelling of the expedition could not be conscienced, so with a gritty determination the party set out to camp 2, where they planned to meet up with Sherpa Karl.
This was the first part of the trip that didnít go to plan. At the appointed hour there was no sign of Karl. The party marched up and down, warming up for the trek, but eventually it was decided that they could wait no longer and had to set out. About a mile down the trail, a frantic Karl caught up with the main group having accidentally slept in.
Now the expedition started in earnest. The walk in was along a beautiful green valley, which became more and more wooded as we entered Macclesfield Forest. Lunch was snatched at a picnic spot with stunning views west over Jodrell Bank, but it was getting colder as they ascended. Ploughing on upwards, they eventually broke free of the tree line and got their first views of the magnificent profile of the Macclesfield Matterhorn (aka Shutlingsloe, 1,660ft). Approaching from the north-west, its classic triangular profile reached out from the surrounding moorland. Bleak and windswept, wild and free. Theirs was not the only expedition that day, and, like our party, all were attempting the ascent without the aid of ropes or oxygen. We are clearly a nation of heroes.
The summit plateau was ornamented with a cairn from where you could admire stunning views over Staffordshire and Cheshire. They waited a short while for the whole party to assemble, but then it was necessary to ascend to the warm, oxygen-rich air of the valley below. The expedition returned to their cars at camp 2 with a glow of satisfaction. All members had successfully summitted and none were lost to frost bite or altitude sickness. A big thank you to expedition leaders Mike and Cress, and chief cook Trudi. Mont Blanc next?
Dollywould, would she?
Theatre with a difference. On the one hand a thoughtful treatise on mortality and the shallow nature of fame and glamour, on the other hand a riotous romp featuring a giant pair or bouncing breasts. Very entertaining.
A Walk from North Fambridge
At one point we thought the jinx of John W had struck again, but after a drizzly drive to the start of the walk the sun burst out and we were treated to a day of glowing autumn sunshine. A portion of the walk was through a tunnel of trees along a former railway, featuring dappled sunshine and falling leaves. In other places we broke out over hillsides to panoramic views across the Crouch Valley. A fabulous way to spend a Sunday.
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