Climbing Snowdon – Alex Wellington

For as long as I can remember, it has always been a pleasure in reaching the summit of a mountain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Tom Cruise impersonators who hang off a slope with a rope no wider than a thread of cotton. I’m a bearded ‘twit’ who treks the mountains in no more than sandals and a ‘Fat Face’ fleece.

And as for my family, my mother’s only idea for sustenance is a flagon of Pepsi and a pack of Tesco value scotch eggs which we picked up on the way. We were miniature explorers, our only mountaineering experience was climbing Pen y Fan (a couple of times!) Although, if it means anything, we did set out to buy hiking boots and North Face coats. We may have looked the part, but, were far from it!

I planned the trip to celebrate my 17th birthday. Besides all the perks that came with being 17, I had one more ‘unexpected’ present that didn’t come with a gift receipt for me to return.

Like my diagnosis, we started from ground zero. The first few feet were the hardest, having to defeat a steep concrete path, we’d only have to accept as being the ‘norm’ for the rest of the journey. Everyone I met, told me how the Llanberis route would be ‘manageable’, but I could never anticipate how ‘lifelong’ the route would actually be.

Every step, every rock and every turn were difficult. The resemblance in climbing a mountain to type one diabetes is uncanny. My family, till this day, say they understand, but like climbing a mountain, no one’s going to carry you to the top! They can hold your hand along the way, but, it’s a one man journey- you’re going to have to just accept it!

They call it ‘summit fever’- the desire to reach the summit despite any warning signs. The closer to the summit I got, the more I grew to accept it. I not only accepted the struggle in getting there but the realization I was far from the finishing line. My mother tried everything to ease my burden. I remember her desperately waving a heap of cash for 4 train tickets down the mountain- despite being of full capacity.

I often wonder how ‘unlucky’ I must be, it’s as though I’ve been given a pot of gold but can’t get the lid off! It’s just my luck, we were forced to walk the whole way back. My feet popped like bubble wrap, blistered from the unworn boots. This was nothing compared to walking barefoot in my new condition.

When the doctors told me I have type one diabetes, I look back on Snowdon, thinking, even though, I opted for the easiest route, I am now taking the hardest path in life. I climbed Snowdon on the 3rd July 2016, in the peak of DKA and now, walk the path of a type one diabetic, on the road to redemption. Ben Nevis today, Kilimanjaro tomorrow.

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