Lighting the Paralympic torch on Scafell Pike
August 23, 2012 2 Comments
The mountain rescue were approached to accompany the party and arrange professional mountain guides with costs covered by LOCOG. Penny Kirby guided (also a member and leader of WMRT), along with Matthew LeVoi (a team supporter) and Richard Warren and myself assisted. As it happened the weather was poor and so our role became essential.
It was an early start, at first light, but very quickly the police and media presence grew and the scouts who were to light the flame arrived. After a divert to join the BBC live at Wasdale Head the parties assembled and it became obvious quite a group would ascend. The scouts were very well prepared, the three Metropolitan Police officers were kitted for the mountains, the guides and Mountain Rescue carried moderate sacks and the LOCOG group were there in their Paralympic track suits. The torch bearer Karl had experienced horrific burns in an conflict zone but also a variety of cameras from the BBC, ITV and LOCOG were with us.
We set off at a good pace and the camera crews kept jumping ahead to get good footage. After crossing Lingmell Beck the cloud base came into view and with some determination the steeper section up to 550m was surmounted.
Forking left at Hollowstones we rounded Pikes Crag as the skies opened and we stopped to don waterproofs and tuck away our gadgets. It had become a typical mountain day but at this point it became more obvious that some of the party were better prepared than others.
The climb onto the plateau went at a good pace and the group stayed together well until eventually I led the media ahead to the summit to capture the scouts arriving. I was surprised to find one or two torch chasers at the summit already including a very cold father and daughter. Richard and Ian constructed a tarpaulin from a bivvy shelter and we ducked underneath it to keep out of the driving rain and provide a triangular structure.
Whilst the scouts created fire, the media stood outside filming into the cover and the police security endeavoured to light the torch and then the lanterns. By this time everything was very wet and security had to work hard to maintain a flame.
Stepping outside the conditions were no better and a second bivvy tent had been erected to try and warm one of the bystanders and his daughter. Eventually the groups started to descend followed by the rescue and a cold, tired but determined chaser with daughter in hand. We followed them off until they were clear of the rock and back onto Lingmell Col when I jumped groups catching up with the caravan ahead. By now the scouts were almost down and after some bolstering of the flame the security and LOCOG group followed us down for final photographs and a mad rush to transmit all of the footage out to London for midday news items.
An interesting day and again plenty learnt, on this occasion particularly the need to carry a couple of extra layers more than you need, if only to donate to others.
Photos by Matthew LeVoi who runs a guiding business based in the Northern Lakes.