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Climbing Scaffel Pike (F*ck Comfort Zones)

One of the cool things about fitness is how many subsections the broad term encompasses. There are so many stops across a vast spectrum.

On one end you have all the power stuff (Olympic Lifting, Sprinting, Jumping etc) and all the way on the other side you have the crazy endurance stuff (marathons, triathlons, hikes, cycling events etc).

Obviously we all have our favourites and preferences and more often than not, they’re usually what we’re best at. And who knew what we’re best at we tend to like more?!

I’ve always been powerful and fast and loved low rep work. Give me a set of 3-5 over a set of 10-12 any day! Give me a 100 metre sprint over a 1600 metre crawl, also. But I know many people who would rather have 6 fillings done at the dentist than have to sprint or lift heavy. Usually they just know they’re not good at it or sometimes they’re intimidated by the level of intensity, as well.

Now I don’t know about you but there are few things I find more impressive than when someone overcomes steep odds against to get somewhere. Like the dwarf who learns to dunk or the giant that wins the Grand National. Obviously there are limitations to what people can do and genetics are the key player, although they’re only as limiting as you’re willing to believe they are.

The whole reason for training usually starts off aesthetically driven and then moves more into a performance and health pursuit as one matures on their journey. Being well rounded is one of the ultimate aims of physical exercise. Even coaches with competitive athletes will spend time making their athletes well rounded, outside of the obvious specific training they get them doing.

I have been heavily calisthenics/gymnastics strength training based for the last 4 years or so now, and in this time I’ve ceased to do much in the way of traditional cardio – even more so long cardio in the form of steady state sessions above even as low as 10 minutes.

Back in April 2019 me and my friends climbed Mount Snowdon in North Wales. What I remember most about that climb, apart from the breathtaking scenery, was how hard I found it physically at certain points. Then there was an epiphany: WHAT THE FUCK WAS ALL THE DEDICATED TRAINING FOR IF I COULDN’T CLIMB A MOUNTAIN?

Snowdon Summit, April 2019. Sandbag handstand!

How functional was I? I make all my clientele as functional as I can yet here I was a third of the way up, struggling?

From that point on I gave myself a telling off and set my mind in the zone and ended up getting a great time, thanks to a machine like breathing pattern and a strong mindset overriding the monkey mind and the way I perceived my body to ‘feel’.

Those of you who know your UK geography will know Snowdon is one of the ‘three peaks’; the others being Scaffel Pike and Ben Nevis. From then on our group wanted to tick the remaining two off our list. As 2019 went by there were plenty of other trips and the mountain climb was inevitably pushed back to 2020 (this year).

The original plan was to do it the same time in the year as we did Snowdon (Easter weekend). But obviously the world shut down as we knew it for months on end. Among the uncertainty we kept faith and vowed to do Scaffel as soon as travel restrictions began loosening up.

In the UK restrictions in terms of Air BnB’s were lifted from July 4th. We wanted to do our trip ASAP after that date and duly did it the very next weekend – July 11th -July 13th.

This time I was determined to go all guns blazing for a good time from the get go. Last time I started conservatively and didn’t know what to expect………this time I was driven and hungry.

What didn’t help was drinking double figures in alcohol and staying awake until gone 3am the night prior to the climb! But sometimes you have to have your fun while you can. We’d been so starved of the travel getaway and all its shenanigans we just had to let loose a bit.

The next morning/day of the climb had me feeling rough. The room was spinning a little still and I hadn’t slept well at all. This left me feeling uncertain and the doubts crept in. Granted this was a totally self inflicted state. But I wasn’t going to let it faze me. I had spoke about this climb for ages and visualised it. I wanted to see how I was this year. I wanted to get out of the comfort zone again – that place where the lungs burn, the calves are screaming, you’re drenched in sweat and panting like a dog yet somehow you love it. You feel alive. You feel invigorated and almost in some kind of meditative trance.

The exhilarating moment when the finishing line becomes visible (Scaffel Pike July 2020)

Moments like these make you feel truly alive. They reinstate your value, particularly your deep rooted self value. And you’re not just proving it to yourself but the world, too. In these moments I’m defending the training style I love and showing that a predominantly anaerobic athlete can do well in aerobic based challenges. I visualise the people that say I can only do muscle ups but nothing else. I think back to the days where I was laughed at for ‘skinning the cat’ and to those who said they didn’t want to do any bodyweight training, as it made you ‘smaller and weaker’………….

And there’s no way in the world I can stop or let myself flail. It means too much.

When I started on Sunday the 12th of July I was breathing heavy within the first 30 minutes. I wasn’t as far in front of my group as my ego would have liked. And I seriously doubted my ability. I thought I’d blown it. The alcohol was the reason. I wasn’t the athlete I was last year, was another ‘reason’. Maybe I’ll have to accept this one will be a leisurely climb, I thought.

But I kept trudging forward despite how I felt and took it every step and breath at a time. One hour and 25 minutes later I reached the summit. I’d not stopped bar the odd snap of a photo or momentary pause to do a video pan around. I didn’t even bother with water till the top. I didn’t want to get out of the zone whatsoever.

The summit of Scaffel Pike (July 12th 2020)

What’s with the bragging, you say?

No bragging here. Just reaffirming to myself that I can do what I want and that my mind is the kingpin to everything. Also proving to you even when people pull things off and achieve goals, they’re never without doubts and inner struggles. It happens to everyone. It’s how you overcome them that makes or breaks you. Always remember: voices and feelings pass.

I would like to dedicate my climb to my dad whose birthday it was on the 13th (the next day). All my life I’ve been useless with presents and showing feeling and appreciation has never been my strong point, so yet again it was another birthday where I struggled for gifts. Money wasn’t the issue and never is. Frankly, I don’t care for it. Sentiment and practicality are eternal.

When I reached the top I stumbled across a bottle cap/keyring with an engraved message inside the cap…………..

This just felt right. I’d found my gift and it was a lost bottle cap with the most fitting message to my dad I could ever find, that said words I couldn’t even say out of my own mouth, alas.

Happy birthday dad. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me. Thanks for being a mother and a father. Thanks for being an emotional punchbag when I was younger and hadn’t found myself. Thanks for keeping your spirits up in the endless testing times we’ve had as a family. Thanks for always being there and putting your kids before you. And I’m sorry I don’t always show appreciation and can be harsh in my criticisms but you know it’s only because I want the best for you, and for you to enjoy the latter years of your life wherever possible.

Now there’s just the mighty Ben Nevis to come and we hope to do this next month (August 2020). Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading. Check out some of the amazing views below.

The beginning of the climb……
Early in the ascent…….
Approaching the halfway point…….
Further still……..
A different view from the summit………
The valley from the DE-scent……
A mountain lake…….
Bonus image: The view from the bridge above the river that ran right next to where stayed!

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

2 thoughts on “Climbing Scaffel Pike (F*ck Comfort Zones) Leave a comment

  1. This is Dee, a daring 70+young mountaineer (volcano freak) who (with also 70+hubby want to say ‘Cheers&Hellos’ from Seattle/USA..In your blog you refer to fitness ‘against the adds to get to…’ grabbed our attention. Most certainly, what we do is that and we’re perhaps fitter than most half-our-age hikers/climbers out there. Ben Nevis has been brewing on our minds. But first need to do one more of the USA’s list. Aug 26-29 highest peak of Nevada 13,140 is waiting. click& sign to follow to share the rest (bragging rights): . I climb then concoct material to write Amazon Kindle mountain thrillers! Check it out.

    • Hey Dee,

      Thanks for commenting! That’s awesome you guys are mountaineers at your age range. Love it when people prove age is just a number and that physical exercise and exploration isn’t just for young folk/those below a certain age!

      Nevada at that height sounds immense. That makes Ben Nevis seem puny in comparison! Haha. I shall check out your site and good luck with the climb in late August. We’re climbing Ben Nevis on the 13th of August (this Friday!)

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