Failure

Whilst everyone else is starting the New Year with positive thinking (that is apart from the effects of last night’s drinking), I thought I’d take an opposite tack and talk about failure.

In my walking career I’ve notched up a few failures and whilst I’ve not let them get to me too much, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a desire to expunge them from the record.  So I thought I’d start the year with a good positive post about all my failed ascents – whether down to the weather, the terrain or simply running out of time.

But first, what do I mean by a “fail”.  Well quite simply it’s when I start an ascent with the intention of summiting and give up, and doesn’t include where I proactively manage my route along the way – for instance if I were walking a ridge with loads of individual summits, if I stopped halfway I wouldn’t count all of the remaining summits on that ridge as fails, and I would only count the next one if I’d actually started it.

The weather has actually only been responsible for two of my failures – usually I make a decision to cut a walk short and don’t start an ascent.  And they’re actually the two most recent failures, which reflects the fact that I’m a lot better at route planning now and so less likely to set myself up to fail by being overly ambitious.  In 2008 the wind was so strong that I abandoned an ascent of Great Gable from the Kirk Fell side, and in 2011 I abandoned an ascent of Mungrisdale Common (no loss I hear you say!) in hail and strong wind just ten minutes into the walk.  Great Gable has now been claimed on the day I got to halfway in the Wainwrights, making it a special day of redemption.

Navigation is also responsible for two fails.  The first was due to a wrong turn on the Kirkstone Pass road (turned off too early) which put me in Scandale rather than on the ridge up to Red Screes.  I then ran out of time to correct it as I was on a tight pre-breakfast schedule.  The second was during my first long Lake District trip in 2007 when I detoured to pick up Ullscarf on a walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere via Greenup Edge.  In the mist and rain I simply couldn’t find the path, let alone the summit and whilst I felt I’d worked hard enough for the summit, couldn’t in honesty claim it.  Both of these have now been bagged, in 2010 and 2009 respectively.

My physical capabilities have been responsible for the other three.  My first ever fail was on the 3 Peaks in 2005 when, having officially pulled out, I climbed Snowdon for fun anyway.  But we were taking it easy and simply didn’t have time to complete the climb, which wasn’t necessarily our intention anyway.  Still, it’s technically a fail.

The next one was on Red Pike (Buttermere) where having blown my whole ten day trip plan on day 2, I relocated my camp to Buttermere on day 3 and took an afternoon walk up Red Pike.  I just couldn’t get up the final loose slope to the summit from Bleaberry Tarn.  I got my revenge in 2011 and let the mountain know about it with massive gloating at the summit.

And the third fail of this type was Stonesty Pike in 2007.  After a really early start from the camp site in Langdale, I was at the summit of Pike O’Blisco for 9am, then Cold Pike.  I flagged massively early afternoon and gave up the dog leg out to Little Stand via Stonesty Pike before recovering some vigour over Crinkle Crags and down the Band to the tent.

So the complete list is:

Date Name Reason Revenged ?
17/07/2005 Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa Ran out of time 10/09/2007
28/06/2006 Red Screes Navigation 31/08/2010
18/04/2007 Red Pike (Buttermere) Scree 08/07/2011
24/04/2007 Ullscarf Navigation 29/06/2009
19/06/2007 Stonesty Pike Tiredness
05/09/2008 Great Gable Weather 01/08/2010
04/04/2011 Mungrisdale Common Weather

“Style Failures”

No I don’t mean ill-advised clothing choices.  The list would be too long.  I realised some time last year that I’ve done almost all of the Wainwrights without using a car, and using only my own feet and public transport.  This makes a round of the Wainwrights a lot harder to do, but having got so far, I decided that I wouldn’t consider the round done unless every one of the 214 had been done car-free.

So under this rule, being dropped off and picked up for a walk is a clear violation, but what about where I drove to the campsite and did all the walks from the site without using the car ?  Well this is a bit moot, but I’ve decided to redo these fells anyway to be on the safe side.  Not that I don’t consider these fells bagged, just not bagged in “good style”, as the alpinists would say.

So the complete list of exceptions where a car has been involved are – note I’m only counting Wainwrights under this rule, and not if I’d previously bagged it “properly” before doing it by car:

Date Name Reason Redone
18/08/1992 Helvellyn Walk from car 29/10/2005
17/07/2005 and 15/08/2007 Scafell Pike Walk from car
13/08/2007 Clough Head Walk from car
13/08/2007 Great Dodd walk from car
13/08/2007 Watson’s Dodd Walk from car
15/08/2007 Bowfell Car to camp site
15/08/2007 Esk Pike Car to camp site
15/08/2007 Great End Car to camp site

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