Himalayan Guide visits the Lake District
Here’s a guest post by Matt from www.peakseekers.co.uk. If you want loads more routes from the Lakes to further afield (including Iceland!) then it’s well worth a visit.
Last year we battled through dodgy stomachs, headaches and breathlessness to achieve our dreams of reaching Everest Base Camp. Along the way new friendships were made and many good memories were etched in our minds forever.
This was all made possible with the help of our incredible porters, guides and our group leader Rajesh who stuck with us from the moment we arrived in Kathmandu, throughout the 75 mile trek and finally back to the airport destined for Heathrow.
18 months later with new chums added on facebook and occasional catch-up’s with our Nepalese friends, news came about that Rajesh, aka Raz, aka Razzle had landed in the UK for his first ever trip outside of Nepal.
Instantly ideas started flying around in my head. What will he want to do? Where will he want to go? What will he make of the UK?
The day finally arrived when I was reunited with Raz, and to no surprise Alton Towers blew his mind! Within 15 minutes of being there, packed with excitement Myself, Raz and fellow trek mates Alan and Stacey were strapped into the vertical terror ride that is Oblivion, staring down to a black hole in the ground. Seconds later that ride was over and what followed was 7 hours of stomach churning thrills, laughter and a few queasy moments from me. Raz loved it!
It was at the end of this day that I informed him of something I was arranging that would feel a little closer to home. Two days in the Lake District with two other familiar EBC Trek faces would show Raz some of England’s most beautiful landscapes and what had inspired us to head for Nepal.
Deciding on the exact location wasn’t easy. Raz has been a guide in the Himalayas for 12 years. He has led travellers on many different treks and has dragged people to Everest Base Camp on more than 50 occasions. I needed to think of two routes for a short trip but with a bit of variety, I was worrying that it all could seem too much like being back at the office for him.
Two weeks later and the destination was decided. Great Langdale would be our base camp and the target peaks were set. A scramble on Pavey Ark and the classic route of Bowfell and Crinkle Crags were mapped out.
Alan and Paul came along for the trip and were excited to see Raz again. We were departing from Cambridgeshire’s flat fens, an area with no real hills to feed our addiction and a huge elevation drop for Raz. From his home city of Kathmandu at 1400 metres above sea level to approximately 10 metres it must have seemed strangely featureless.
It was the first week in August and stifling hot! For 5 hours the four of us were crammed in Alan’s VW Golf with rucksacks, camping gear and no air conditioning.
During the car journey it was clear that the heat was not affecting Raz in the slightest and that even the A1 motorway and its surroundings was giving him so much to absorb. When I think back to Kathmandu’s free-for-all of rusty cars, tooting at each other on the dusty roads, our traffic system must have felt very relaxing.
Finally after Alan’s endless offerings of awful repetitive dance music and a quick detour to the culinary delights beneath the golden arches (Raz’s first) we arrived at the Great Langdale Campsite. It was 2.30pm and we still had our first hike to complete so we acted fast. Thoughts of arriving at the pub late at night after the bell rang on serving food were enough for us to have the tent up pretty swiftly.
Leaving the campsite behind us the air was very muggy and it didn’t take long to work up a sweat as we retraced the flow of Stickle Ghyll up towards Pavey Ark. We figured clambering up the shear face amongst the cracks of Jack’s Rake would spice things up a little and I was surprised to hear that Raz hadn’t really done what we call scrambling before. After a short break at Stickle Tarn and trying to point out the route in the rock face we pushed on up… straight up!
I led the way. Wedging my self into the deep scars of Jack’s Rake seemed the safest thing to do, rather than being on the exposed edges. I was assessing for solid holds for my hands and feet and constantly maintaining three points of contact.
All of a sudden Raz shot up the outside edge overtaking me like Spiderman. ‘You ok dude?’ he said as he passed by. I heard laughter from Alan and Paul below and Raz shouted down, ‘I want to get your picture’. I looked up so see him perched on a rock several metres above pointing his camera at us. Crikey! How did he get there so quick? I felt a little embarrassed.
Eventually with Raz now leading the way we topped out on Pavey Ark. We all looked down towards the tarn below and then out to Langdale and beyond to the Coniston Fells. The view was fantastic, lush green and vibrant in the late afternoon sunshine.
I said to Raz, ‘Hey buddy, what do you think of the Lake District?’ to which he replied, ‘It is absolutely beautiful!’
This coming from a man who walks in the shadows of Ama Dablam and Everest!
We made our way back down quickly to the campsite to get cleaned up for dinner and with groaning bellies and a thirst for beer we burst into the Old Dungeon Ghyll Pub.
I told Raz that a great day walking in the Lakes ends with stodgy food and a few beers and he seemed more than keen to taste the culture with chips on the side and a few pints.
Day two started at 4a.m awaken by some rather inconsiderate people in the tent next door. Full blown, full volume conversations in the early hours never go down well with the neighbouring tents. We could hear the unhappy mumbles of other campers sharing our frustration until Paul couldn’t take it anymore ‘Are you lads having a laugh?’ he called out. Suddenly the campsite was deathly silent. We looked at each other, chuckled and fell back to sleep.
8a.m and the heat inside the tent told me it was time to get up. We boiled up some brews, packed the tent away as swiftly as it had been erected and set off on our next adventure.
As we headed up the grassy slopes of The Band with our sights on Bowfell, we were breathing heavily. The Band is a bit of a slog but the heat this morning was very uncomfortable. I looked to Paul and Alan to see them both wiping their brows and a passing fellow walker told us it was 30 degrees in London today. Raz looked bone dry as he said ‘Are you ok dudes?’
We pushed on, leaning into the hillside as Raz ambled beside us. He looked as if he was on the simplest of strolls. ‘I must get out more’, I thought.
We briefly chatted to a lady who was sitting on a rock close to the summit and we exchanged the usual questions. ‘Where are you heading?’ and ‘Where did you set out from?’ She told us about her recent trip on the Inca Trail so we recommended the EBC Trek and introduced her to our friend.
‘What do you think of the Lake District?’ She asked. Again Raz’s response was ‘Beautiful!’
As we reached the summit of Bowfell the clouds cleared the fell tops. I was pleased that Raz would get to see the views out to Upper Eskdale and the Scafells although I felt that my pasty complexion was about to feel the full force of the sun. Schoolboy Error! No sun cream!
We pushed on over Crinkle Crags in the baking heat. I was conscious of the fact that I needed to be drinking plenty of water today and I could feel I was catching the rays on my head. Looking at the back of Paul’s now bright red neck confirmed that it was just as well that we had reached our descent path.
As our weary legs carried us down and we chose to avoid as much impact to our knees as possible, Raz skipped behind. He asked us how we were and we all confirmed that we were tired. It became very clear at this point that over the last two days he had still been the mountain guide and I felt like we were back in the Himalayas, tired but with someone looking out for us.
Back in the car and heading for home, Raz thanked us for taking him on a wonderful trip and I received a text message from Andrew, another friend from the EBC Trek saying ‘Has Raz kicked your arse on the hills?’ I laughed and replied, ‘You could call it that’.
Click here for a link to the Pavey Ark walk on PeakSeekers.co.uk.