While the skies overhead may have been clear and calm that morning, my mind was distracted, focused on the challenge that lay ahead.
I was to hike Scafell Pike that day, but not alone nor leisurely for pleasure with my wife. That day was “pre-parachute selection,” one of the hardest courses you can attempt in the British Army. Each soldier was required to carry 65 pounds of weight on our backs along this 20-mile journey.
You can’t hike Scafell Pike unprepared under the best of conditions. It may not be the highest mountain in the world, at 3209 feet (or 978 meters), but it is the highest mountain in England. No matter which of the four routes you take to the top — Wasdale, Borrowdale, Lansdale or Eskdale— the journey up Scafell Pike, and back down, is a rugged adventure. And not because of the Scafell sheep you encounter along the way.
The mountain itself is barren and rocky, but the weather that settles into and around Scafell Pike without a moment’s notice is what sets it apart; conditions can swing from a heat wave to hail, or from thunderstorms to high winds in an instant.
True to the mountain’s form, I watched clouds rolled swiftly in from the west, darkening the bright blue skies as I muscled up the mountain on our mission. My pack became heavier with each step. Fog closed in on us instantly, and the temperature drastically dropped toward freezing as falling snow encrusted the ground in slushy frozen ice.
We could hardly see ten feet in front of ourselves, and I winced as a fellow soldier’s boots broke through the snow, dropping him up to his waist into a small river of water rushing underneath the snowy crust.
What was to be a 20-mile hike became much trickier under these conditions. Fifteen extra miles trickier, to be exact, making the total full hike out 35 miles. Did I mention the 65 pounds on my back? To say it was treacherous would be an understatement.
Had we been able to see it, the 360 degree view from Scafell Pike’s summit is breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. But the pre-parachute selection course was not the day to stop and enjoy the view.
Lord Leconfield donated Scafell Pike to the National Trust in 1919 in honor of the men from the Lake District who fell in World War I fighting for King and country. And 90 years later, there I was, proudly training in the backyard of these distinguished men for more experienced challenges in my own career fighting for Queen and country.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its challenges, this mountain embodies everything I love about a life of adventure lived outdoors. And it is why Scafell Pike Co. is so named. You need to be prepared for anything when climbing Scafell Pike — whether making a hot drink, putting on warm layers or donning a waterproof jacket — and that’s what has inspired us to curate a collection of products that prepare you for any adventure you set your heart on, from a leisurely walk in the woods with a loved one, to scaling Scafell Pike itself.
Tell me: have you ever been to Scafell Pike? What’s your favorite mountain to climb, and/or what is the spot that has made a similar impact on your life and represents who you are? I welcome your feedback about our collection and would love to hear what inspires you to get outdoors, and the gear that best equips you to do so (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below).