Summit Training in the Peak District prepares students for Morocco Expedition
24 Feb 2017
Sixth form students Chloe Curtis-Smith and Tabitha Thornton-Swan write about their experience of the Peak District Summit.
On the first weekend of half term, 26 members of Summit 12 set off for Castleton in the Peak District for the second of two training weekends to prepare for the summer expedition to Morocco.
After a long journey characterised by a sub-optimal service station stop and mounting excitement about the prospect of snow, we finally arrived at our YHA hostel.
We quickly made the most of the good weather and headed out for an afternoon hike between the two villages near the hostel. It was really nice to spend time in our fires again, practice our map reading (with varying degrees of success!) and sample the products of the local bakery, as well as practice mock river crossings involving a rope and a very muddy field.
After a lovely meal cooked by the YHA staff we watched a performance by the fire leaders to demonstrate the hazards that we might encounter the next day, which can only be described as very creative!
We were up early and fueled on by a big full English, we left the hostel in three groups to complete a circular route of the ridge line around the valley, including the Summit of Mam Tor at 517m. It was fair to say the conditions were pretty extreme; it was windy, snowing and there was already a decent layer of snow over the whole ridge.
Although low clouds made the visibility poor, numerous snowball fights, a highly competitive snowman-building competition and many hills to slide down kept the hike interesting. In the evening as our kit dried out, we all sat down to watch the tense England-Wales rugby match as well as listening to a talk about expedition hygiene and safety.
On our last morning we packed our kit and waved goodbye to the hostel, but before we went home we drove up to a high point which we had hiked through the day before to complete some skill based rotations on first aid evacuation and steep ground techniques involving the rope. The rotations were a struggle given the -10 degree windchill and piles of snow being blown into our faces, but we all managed to have a good time and stay vaguely warm due to the fun and active sessions and yes, even more snowball fights!
Tired out, we got back on the buses and returned home. Overall everyone really enjoyed the weekend, and although the weather was very different to what we might encounter in the deserts of Morocco, we had learnt a lot about dealing with extremes whilst staying comfortable and cheerful outside of our comfort zones, which is exactly what we needed. We are looking forward to our next expedition.