Remembering our First Mountain Experiences

Paul Boggis of Mountain Magic recently posted a quick tweet that got all of us at Arrampica thinking of our first mountain experience. Where did we first push our legs to carry us up high? Where were we rewarded with looking down on a beautiful landscape before us?

So we put it out to the team, just a few simple questions to find out more details of where each of our relationships with mountains began.

Paolo immediately said Monte Rama.  As his girlfriend, I already knew this story and have heard the tale recounted many times.  Something along the lines of he was staying at the family flat in Cogoleto on Italy’s Mediterranean coast, near Genoa.

He was supposed to be on the beach with his friend, but overlooking the coast is this enormous mountain, part of the Ligurian Apennines.  All the way up it’s 1150m of altitude was where they were drawn to ascend.  Paolo learned the story of Rama, the last bear in Europe, on the summit and it was amazing one summer to get to the summit with all three of our children and hear Paolo tell the story.

The trouble is, you’re only allowed to hear the story of Rama when on the summit; so, I’m forbidden by Paolo to share any more details of it with you.

Paolo then proceeded to take his then girlfriend up Snowdon, driving from his home in Surrey which is another whole story.  But his love for the mountains had begun and it led to him being the Mountain Instructor and International Mountain Leader he is today.

Stephen stunned everyone with his first experience being at Aonach Eagach in Glencoe, Scotland. He explained that he was always out and about walking in the countryside with his dad in Worcestershire, Lincolnshire, Scotland “but the first real mountain that I did was in my early twenties” he explained.

“I was with colleagues from the local authority outdoor education service, where I was an ‘Advanced Modern Apprentice’.  It was a lovely sunny day and I was excited – first time on a proper mountain.  I was in one of my favourite countries, Scotland, and we were climbing up and down things with serious exposure and drops either side, an experienced older MIC supervised us roping up alpine style.”

“After this I got out into the mountains when I could. I wanted to lead groups into the mountains so others could experience some of the things I like about the mountain environment.  I got stuck into the process of earning my Mountain Leader Award.”

Personally I don’t know what was my first mountain experience, it could have been when I was very young.

I guessed it was one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, as both my parents come from a small village near the foot of Whernside, the highest of the three.

I asked my mum: “Well I know you were at the summit of Whernside while you were still in my womb.”

Thanks mum, but I don’t think that counts.

I asked my dad: “I remember we walked to the top of Ingleborough (the second highest one) with my dad and David [that’s my grandad and my brother] when you were quite young, and David was throwing some of the stones around at the top and one hit you and you didn’t like it very much…”

So I’ll go for the experience I do actually remember – doing a walk/run around the Yorkshire Three Peaks with my dad when I was about eight or nine.  I think the weather was pretty good but quite cold.  I was so excited and determined, around and up and over the 26 miles, as we’d registered at the Tourist Information Office in Horton in Ribblesdale to be timed and receive a certificate for my efforts.

Growing up I loved to walk in the Lake District with my dad and grandad. I have done my Mountain Leader training but have yet to do my assessment, but I regularly fell run for fitness and fun near my home in Cumbria.

Tom’s first mountain experience was in the same location as Paul’s, Snowdon.  Tom says he was about eight and with his family.  “It was so windy, and I was so small, that half way up we came back down again as my dad decided I was in danger of being blown away! The main thing I remember was feeling very cold and wet. During my childhood there were lots of walks on Dartmoor but I didn’t return to the mountains until I was in my late teens, when the ‘bug’ really bit me!”

If you haven’t had your first mountain experience yet, what are you waiting for? There’s plenty to choose from! #mountainmagic[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Post by Jenny Haygarth

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