Scrambling to a New Summit

Scrambling to a New Summit

By Steph Wetherell

Alpkiteer and co-founder of Every Body Outdoors, Steph, recently summited Tryfan - her first scramble. Here's her story.

Tryfan was not a challenge that was on my radar. But during a week’s holiday in Snowdonia that was characterised by strong winds and rain, there was one perfect mountain day; calm and clear. Someone suggested we go up Tryfan – me, I had questions. Firstly, what is a Grade 1 scramble? And secondly, is it something that my plus size body could do? Some googling and a conversation with a Mountain Leader friend answered those questions - it was definitely within my ability but squarely outside my comfort zone. Anxiety reared its head however, and I settled on a lower level circular route instead.

It was on the bus ride over from Betws-y-Coed that I changed my mind. Suddenly the ridge seemed like a challenge I was ready for. My decision was promptly tested when I got my first view of Tryfan rising abruptly ahead of us. The decision was made though, and the bus driver dropped us in the layby at the base.

The start of the route was a short, sharp, steep ascent. So far, so familiar. The first hurdle came when picking the route up to the ridge, and it’s fair to say we (like many other first time ascenders) didn’t pick the easiest option. The relatively straightforward path quickly switched up to a full on scramble, but we made good progress, supporting each other with decisions and most importantly making sure we didn’t go up anything we couldn’t come down.

And then I hit my first real challenge; a steep section with limited handholds. My partner went up first and I tried to follow but couldn’t work out how to get myself up. I went down a bit, looked for an alternative route, contemplated giving up, but decided to try again. This time I got it, finding a better hold and placing more confidence in my body’s strength and ability to climb.

Something clicked; I realised I could do this - my body was capable of doing this.

As we continued the climb, I started to find it easier and easier, even though a lot of the scrambling was getting harder. I discovered new ways to support my weight as I climbed, different techniques that worked for me (a well-placed knee can be very useful), and learnt to trust what my body is capable of. I began to enjoy the challenge and the problem solving that picking a route and navigating each section brought.

I had a massive grin on my face as I reached the summit and got to look back at what my body had achieved. Am I rushing out to do more scrambling? Probably not. But am I proud of what I achieved that day? Totally. For me, being outdoors isn’t usually about the big walks, the hardest mountains and the toughest achievements. But sometimes I relish the challenge of doing something I didn’t think I could do is so important – of stepping outside my comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment, and discovering the amazing things my body is capable of.

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