The Perse School

PES Summit 12 Field Weekend

23 Oct 2013

Over three rather damp days last weekend, 46 students and seven staff of the PES Summit 12 group set out to train in mountains and valleys of the Lake District. The aim of the weekend was to re-acquaint students with the mountain environment after a canoe-focused year in Summit 11, and also to move skill learning towards steep ground management and advanced first aid.

The group set off after school on Friday by coach. After a six hour journey the group was greeted by darkness and rain. Unaffected, the students established camp and quickly went to bed. PES always makes the most of Field Weekend training and this was no exception, students were up at 7.00am conducting the final bits of camp setup and away hiking by 10.00am to the summit of Pike of Blisco.

Saturday’s weather continued in much the same vein as the previous night with low level cloud and persistent rain. Nevertheless the students navigated well and reached the summit of Pike of Blisco high up in the mist. On our descent, the group encountered its first scrambles and minor rock chimneys. This was an excellent opportunity for the students to practice steep ground work and for students to practise spotting for each (i.e. providing physical protection for a buddy). The evening was spent cooking dinner, practising night navigation and conducting medical seminars in the marquee.

After another wet night the group set out for the most challenging part of the weekend; an attempt on the summit of Scafell Pike (the tallest mountain in England). Sadly the weather was not on our side and after climbing the Band (a rocky ridge of broken slabs) and summiting Esk Pike and Bow Fell the group had to turn back at Esk Hause to descend down Mickledon valley, due to worsening weather conditions. Though disappointing for the whole group, the decision to turn back was fully appreciated by the students and provided a salient lesson about good decision-making in the mountain environment.

Monday morning was spent striking camp, conducting medical scenario training and practising rope-work skills. This resulted in some questionable casualty theatrics and few students dangling by Thompson knots from nearby trees.

The weekend was thoroughly enjoyable despite the poor weather. The Summit 12 students learned a great deal and demonstrated great fortitude. All staff very much look forward to working with the group on our second field weekend in March and ultimately on the Morocco 2014 expedition.

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