Mountaineering Memories

June 13th, 2016 | Outdoor Education

Dragonfly Education Trust Assistant Headteacher, Mark Bridges, took on his lifelong nemesis, the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, as part of the School’s Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Jubilee Challenge.

Staff at Writhlington and Mendip Studio school have pledged to help raise money and awareness for the Duke of Edinburgh Award by taking on various activities that will challenge their greatest fears.

Mr Bridges chose Cuillin Ridge, the UK’s most traverse and challenging mountaineering journey with a three thousand meter ascent, over 30 summits and hundreds of technical rock climbs.

Many climbers across the country consider the Cuillin Ridge to be the pinnacle of UK climbing but with weather being so unpredictable, many fail and return many times to catch the perfect conditions.     

Mark commented:

I began my journey in a Bivvy bag after climbing to 950m, there were beautiful clear skies which were not only lovely to sleep under, but also meant that I stood a good chance of perfect weather the next day. For most of my trip I didn’t see anyone, I bumped into the odd group who all thought I was mad taking the challenge on alone.

One of my favorite parts of my trip was the inaccessible pinnicle; two towers of rock which have to be climbed, this really put my climbing to the test, I didn’t use a harness just a sling as I wanted to keep the weight down in my pack. Even with navigational qualifications I struggled to stay on route, it felt like I was walking through Mordor, a labyrinth of similar looking paths.

I hadn’t anticipated how hot the day would be and had only brought 3 litres of water with me, with no water available on route I thought that may have been the end of my adventure. I pressed on a little further and around the next corner I found a patch of snow which I scooped into my water bottle and let melt in the sun.

I reached the final summit 14 hours after I set out and had never felt so tired. This has been by far the hardest challenge I have ever done, my friends thought I was having a midlife crisis when I told them what I was doing, but I did it, I took on my nemesis and I won.

Would I do it again? Absolutely not!