The Beauty of Challenge

1st Jun 2015

In 2002 Peak Mountaineering formed a sponsored climbing team.  It initially only comprised one member and we added a second in 2003.  To date this team has cost us a fortune as we fund all their costs including food and clothing, pay for their climbing trips, buy ice cream, pay for school visits and a host of other costs.  Running a team like this is a labour of love but we remain committed to their long term development.

The team, as regular blog readers and clients know, actually comprises our 2 boys who are now, shockingly, aged 12 and 13 (where did those years go?!).  They both started climbing when they were three and are now confidently leading and having fun on all sorts of vertical ground.  They are also members of the local mountain bike and fell running clubs, like skiing and generally enjoy hurling themselves off high things in a semi controlled way (they tell me it's parkour but it certainly doesn't resemble the controlled parkour I see on You Tube!).

The only area of mountain sport which didn't float their boat in the early years was walking.  They did it when pushed, but it tended to need a fair bit of persuasion and encouragement (often involving promises of ice creams and similar rewards).  We tried making the walks more fun with orienteering or nature quizzes but ultimately it still stayed low on their list of outdoor activity choices.

This problem actually got solved very easily and in the end they inadvertently came up with the solution themselves.  One day they came home from school saying they wanted to complete the national 3 peaks because their friend was doing it.  We were delighted but, much as we love the UK mainlands highest mountains, we were keen to tackle the challenge a bit differently.  In the end we came up with a three peaks with a twist type of plan.  We'd do them all but in challenging ways.  Snowdon via Crib Goch, Scafell Pike from Borrowdale incorporating a wild camp and Ben Nevis via the Carn Mor Dearg Arête.  We completed it over a few separate weekends and it was a fantastic series of family adventures. 

However, the biggest bonus for the family was how the idea of a challenge had provided focus to both the boys and to us as parents.  I have used the concept of projects in my mountaineering plenty of times but this was the first time it had been applied to family adventures.  The children loved it.  What a great way to focus them, educate them, inspire them and, at times really push them.

Once the 3 peaks project was completed the seeds were planted for more and the beauty is that the options are really only limited by the imagination.  Some are projects to chip away at over time like the Welsh 3000's incorporating as many scrambling and climbing routes as possible or the Peak District 3 star VS's in the Rockfax guides epic.  We are also ticking our way through the routes in Ken Wilson's Classic Rock which, given that it stretches nationwide, is certainly a longer term plan.  These longer challenges are perfect for keeping the family focussed on suitable objectives for upcoming holidays or weekends away.

Others can be done in a day like our recent 10 climbs in 10 hours on 10 crags challenge or our upcoming 10 different outdoor activities in the Peak District on one day (currently planned to be mountain biking, climb on limestone, climb on grit, caving, weaselling, orienteering, canoeing, road cycling, slacking and fell running but open to other ideas!).  A nighttime Kinder traverse, cycling the Peak steeps, linking the Peak top downhills in a day.  The options are endless.

So, we are currently a family loving a challenge and, of course, the concept isn't limited to families.  Set a target of climbing a certain grade by such a date.  Create a project of nailing a particular climb or hill ascent.  Learn the skills to navigate the Bleaklow Plateau or visit all the Peak District points over a certain height.  It doesn't matter what it is really.....but the challenge of the project may really help keep you focussed.  It comes tried, tested and highly recommended.

Posted by Cal