When the alarm intruded my forty-wink slumber at 02:00AM, little did I know that two mugs of hot chocolate in a Welsh pub and a chicken burger in Birmingham would delay my return to the land of nod till 26 hours later. Today was the day of the Snowdon Challenge. I would feel muscles that I never even knew existed. Huzzah!

[04:10] Three vans pulled up outside the Islamic Relief office on Blackhorse Lane. Our fates for the day ahead had already been alphabetically determined the night before and, as we were thus divided, we climbed into the vans that epitomised the meaning the journey would have for us all.

We departed late. Nevertheless, our journey was well entertained with Imran, the sleep deprived comedian who happened to be driving, constantly bickering with the Head Sister, and declaring apparently unorthodox views about everything and being rebutted with relentless contradictions about anything. Eventually there was an uproar of defence for the Head Sister from the back of the van and he was shocked with the realisation that everybody was actually awake. The girls pretended to be offended, irritated and exasperated at his experimental conclusions but were, in truth, grateful for the energy that was keeping them alert in the early hours of the morning.

We arrived late. The rain was coming down in endlessly helpless sheets and the guides at beautiful Snowdonia filtered out the people with incorrect gear and they sadly resigned themselves to the confines of the van again. Chris Onions, our guide, mentioned, as he munched away at all of our lunches, that this was the worst possible weather to be climbing Snowdon and they wouldn’t be going up had it not been for us. Flashback: Tonbridge bike ride.


Our group was set for the Llanberis Path, despite desperately coloured pleas to do the tougher Miners Track, which would use the Llanberis Path to get back down anyway. But, like all good children, we set off on our 10 mile return trudge. Uphill, uphill, uphill! With the rain showering away at us we were wading up over loose slate and quartz, through the water rushing down at our feet. The ‘waterproof’ labels on our gear screamed and ran away back down the mountain as we continued to squelch up Snowdon, being smacked still by the wind. We were soaked to the bone.

We occasionally caught sight of the Llanberis train, choo-chooing its way repeatedly up and down the mountain carrying old people, young children and maybe even some cheaters.


We kept moving, using points on the horizon as the next goal, and reached halfway house. The treasured golden rule: You are only as fast as your slowest team member, was soon blown clean off the mountain with the sharp winds and it was at the steaming halfway house that the group split into two. The fast group and the slow group. Ahem.


UFOL’s [Unexplained Fits of Laughter] held us back at several junctions but Asma had a genius supply of Starburst which kept us on track. An ad was filmed, showing the bursting effect that the fruity chew was having on Toobaa. Each time a pastille hit her tongue there was a whoosh. This was demonstrated through the classic I’m-all-fizzy-run-run-run jig and a triple-knot increase in pace with occasionally close-to-the-edge-risky jogging.


The higher we moved the denser the mist became. The tops of our heads scraped the floss of the white candy clouds that were so heavy with rain that they sank lower and lower towards us. The gradient steepened and the ground loosened. We could see no further any further. The rain evolved into tiny sharp needles as it pierced our cheeks and kept us looking at the ground. We could see nothing. The views? The summit sights? They were waiting for us at the bottom of the mountain. Any disappointment was absorbed by the sheer awe inspiring awe of being so high up, still being battered by soft water rain, and having zero visibility.


On the way back down, gravity surprisingly continued to be as strong as it was on our way up. It pulled us down onto the front of our soft little toes and so we obeyed Chris and came down with our feet at 11 O’clock. For the digi-species who cannot tell the time this way, this meant our feet were at a slight anti-clockwise angle, approximately 10 degrees.


The rain lightened up as we reduced height but we pretended not to notice because, everytime we did, it would find us again and remind us of its worst. When we did manage to escape its radar at momentary intervals, we pulled out our cameras to try and salvage some sights lower down. White specks of sheep, the layers of sky falling down the mountain, and the snail trail river at the bottom of the valley. The distant and haunting bleeps of specially delegated sheep didn’t do much to hurry us down from the beauty spots of Snowdon.


As we neared the bottom, the ground was smooth, but steep as ever. Our poor toes protested against being squashed at the front so Afifa and I held hands and came down backwards. We watched ourselves go up in rewind and UFOL took hold of our lungs yet again. It was either the carefully placed zinc-oxide tape, the double layer of specially designed socks, the carrier bags, coming down backwards, the Peter Storm boots [squelching, mind you] or the diligent and skilful manner in which Toobaa used her feet that she broke the minimum blister record at a total of: NAUGHT. Heh. Triumph, indeed!


[16:00] Dry clothes were declared the next best thing since the wheel. We got back to the van and changed from our slopping wet gear into our dry clothes and clambered back into the van, wide eyed and buzzing. Thinking that we would be home at a decent hour, we settled into the somewhat smoky warmth of the van, pondering our semi-blind adventure, as the drivers fuelled up all three vans.

Then there was an announcement. Zainab was hushed. She had predicted this.

To Be Continued…

The Snowdon Challenge was completed for Islamic Relief’s Action for Africa Appeal. Thank you to everyone who sponsored and supported me. Together, you and I, we raised just under £500, and the sponsors are still coming in. And that’s just me! There were at least 35 girls who raised money and did the challenge. We’ll find out soon what the grand total is!

For more information, go to http://www.irsnowdon.kk5.org/