Ken’s Mountain Challenge
It ended up as quite a family affair when Ken Burgess finally reached the summit of England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. Ken completed the challenge and raised a fantastic £1540 for North London Hospice. But it wasn’t all plain sailing, and here Ken tells us about the ups and downs of his journey to the top.
It’s amazing that something which started as a jest should end up as fundraising event. But that is exactly what happened in the case of our ascent of Scafell Pike.
During a family holiday in 2017, in order to prove that my wife Ann’s two replacement hips had really given her a new lease of life, we scrambled to the top of Neaum Crag. It was only a few hundred feet high, but it felt like an amazing achievement. I jokingly pointed to the misty shadowy shape of Scafell Pike in the distance and said “next year we’ll come back and climb that”. Ann’s response was “In your dreams“.
Returning home I told this story to Jenny Thiou, the fundraising coordinator at North London Hospice. Rather than taking it as a whimsical statement she convinced me that it was in fact a great idea, and potentially a good source of funds for the hospice.
Before I knew it I had a JustGiving page and it was all systems go.
My first attempt in June 2018 led to disappointment. After four hours of trekking the ‘Corridor Route’ from Sleathwaite in Borrowdale, and just 30 minutes from the peak, the party – three very experienced Scottish climbers; Sonja, Pauline and Elaine and me – was forced to turn back due to adverse weather conditions.
On Sunday 16th September I returned to take care of the unfinished business. Again a poor weather forecast threatened to hamper the second attempt. But a late change of start point to Wasdale Head meant we were could give it a shot.
Unfortunately this last minute change entailed a hair raising journey on two of Britain’s most hellish roads, the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes. In retrospect this trip could well have been worthy of a hefty sponsorship deal in itself.
Having undertaken this horrendous road trip we were all the more determined to make it to the summit.
And make it we did. After three hours of an energy sapping climb we finally managed to get to the 3,209 feet summit of Scafell Pike.
I believe that things in life often happen for a good reason. In this case the abortive attempt in June allowed me to try again. This time I was able to make it with a team comprising my sons, Matthew and Simon, and amazingly my wife Ann. Not bad for a woman with two titanium joints.
The achievement was made all the more pleasing by the fact that, through the support and generosity of the sponsors, £1,540 has been raised for North London Hospice.
I would like to say a big thank you to the two mountain guides Richard from Lost Earth Adventures and Mark Eddy of Climb Scafell. Without them I would not have even contemplated taking on the challenge.
Ken is a member of the POETS Society, the luncheon society for the construction industry based in North London, which supports North London Hospice. To find out more visit www.poetssociety.co.uk