Day Two - The Challenge
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We rose early at around 6.30am for a hot breakfast to fuel us all for the day ahead. After packing our rucksacks with our lunch and kit we prepared ourselves for the challenge.
When we arrived at the Slieve Donard car park we gathered for a prep talk from Mark Wood and set off on our climb. It was 9.15am and at this point the weather was poor, we were hoping for it to clear later on into the climb.
The initial section of the ascent was in a beautiful woodland area. This took us up alongside the Glen River and took 40 minutes or so. Upon entering the clearing after the forest, we got our first glimpse of the peaks and Slieve Donard came into view. The summit was barely visible with a descending mist. At this point, we knew we were heading into some poor weather, with equally poor visibility.
Spirits were high in the group, and we had made some great progress at a good early pace. We continued to climb the early sections of the mountain until we reached a section called the saddle. The steep uphill climb then became relentless and we knew this would remain until the very top! After traversing the saddle section, the Mourne Wall eventually came into view through the thick mist…the climb was now testing everyone’s resilience, we had to dig deep once more.
Once we hit the Mourne Wall, we knew this would be the last section on our route to the summit. This last section was a steep rocky climb. Some sections of the wall had collapsed through lightning strikes so we climbed on carefully watching out for loose rocks. We continued to follow the wall up to the summit. The visibility at this point was very poor and we were only able to see 15 metres ahead of us. Once the summit came into view through the mist our hearts lifted and we knew we had nearly conquered Slieve Donard. The group rallied and hit the top together as a group, cheering as we went.
What an achievement! The whole team really pulled together, dug deep and were victorious in reaching the 5th peak of our Sherbourne Challenges. Although the signal was very hit and miss, we managed to get a phone call through to school and talk to all the students and staff back at base. It sounded like they were all very proud of what we had achieved, and they had all been very busy doing challenges of their own back at school.
After lunch on the summit, we headed back down the mountain following the same route as we climbed. Clambering down was another challenge, watching our footing on the steep rock filled sections. As we headed back toward the woodland section, the mist began to clear, and by the time we got back down this stunning mountain the sun was shining and the views were simply beautiful.
An amazing day , an amazing experience and above all an amazing accomplishment from the Sherbourne Fields students, staff and the brilliant Mark Wood who lead us once again through a tremendous challenge!
More images will follow on Friday when we are back at school