An Upside Down Flag – International Women’s Day Challenge 2019 Report

It is widely accepted that an upside down flag represents distress and by all accounts of the word the women were suffering from extreme weather conditions, muscle fatigue, fear and complete exhaustion.

We had made it a kilometre from the summit when I called time. I made the decision to abort the mission. The snow had turned to ice and the harrowing cliff edges had the women in tears or frozen still from shock of whether they were going to make it back down to a ‘safe place’.  The truth is, on this hike, there were no safe places.

We hiked for six hours in streams of water that came up to our ankles. High winds were sending us flying often having to hold onto rocks to keep us on the ground. Hailstones were near blinding us. The cold was blistering our faces and the rain soaked through five to six layers of clothing. It is safe to say that none of us have any faith in waterproof clothing!

The Challenge Timeline:
4:45 – Left Bridge Park Complex – Brent.
9:00 – Arrived at Rhyd Ddu car park – Wales.
9:30 – Set off on the hike in the pouring rain.
10:09 – The rain is getting heavier and the women are saying very few words.
11:20 – The hailstones appear and there is not one dry foot amongst us.
11:45 – A couple of hikers tell us without snow equipment we won’t make it to the summit and if you do you won’t get back down – my mouth said ‘thanks for the advice.’ My mind said ‘we are making it to the summit.’
12:12 – The high winds and steep inclines are putting pressure on our optimism. If there was actually any left at this stage.
12:20 – And as if just out of nowhere everywhere is covered in snow.
12:34 – The women stop to let me catch up as they can no longer see a foot path. What they do see is that they are one step away from a cliff edge that drops down into the abyss.
12:45 – The snow turns to ice and I can no longer keep pretending to make a footpath.
12:47 – Mission to summit aborted.
12:50 – Tara dares to ask for a group photo with the David Stewart Bursary flag – she gets no response.
12:52 – We turn back at snail pace – there are lots of outward and internal tears at this point.
13:00 – Tara asks for a picture with this £18 flag one more time. Only one cares to join.
14:12 – We are into our descent and we have the added pressure of walking against the winds.
14:49 – Walking through streams of water.
15:30 – The last of the group arrive at the Car Park and begin to change out of their soaking wet clothing.
16:00 – Leave Rhyd Ddu Car Park – Wales.
21:30 – Arrive back at Bridge Park Complex – Brent.
23:35 – Tara checks out the prize picture and the flag is UPSIDE DOWN!

There is one thing for certain, for these 7 tenacious and adventurous women, International Women’s Day 2019 will be one they never forget. They defied the odds of extreme weather conditions, lactic acid burns, mental defeat, fears and doubts and showed the world that “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” I have no doubt that for the rest of this year they will be achieving great things because everything in comparison to this challenge is light work.

We want to thank all of our donors from the bottom of our (defrosting) hearts.
We took on this challenge to raise money for the David Stewart Bursary to provide extra-curricular career-focused activities for the young people of Brent and Harrow. Because of your donations we can keep this great work going for another year.

There is still time to donate please visit:
Remember to select The David Stewart Bursary from the drop down list on “which project would you like to donate to.”