A group of Montgomery Transport Group staff recently decided to attempt climbing Northern Ireland’s highest mountain Slieve Donard (850m) in aid of popular yardman Kevin Gallagher who has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Kevin has begun treatment and remains upbeat and positive about the challenge he has in front of himself and his family so the challenge of the climb in front of the staff members was nothing in comparison to what he faces
Throughout the discussions it was left in no doubt that Operations Manager Steven McBride was going to be the ideal man to lead us to top. A date of Sunday 8th March was set and preparations soon began with staff members searching ebay for the correct footwear, clothing and most importantly a ‘selfie stick’ that would help us all reach the Summit with as much ease as possible. An eager bunch of potential mountaineers started to put their names in the hat and in the end we ended up with 11 climbers who were to face the challenge
The staff met at Donard Park in Newcastle on Sunday 8th March at 06.45hrs to start the climb at 07:00hrs. On arrival it was clear to see that this was most definitely a group of amateur climbers, there was even one person who looked more like a Welsh miner than a climber but we won’t mention any names! Soon after departure it was clear to see that it had been underestimated how difficult it was going to be. After a few minutes we had named our first rock (Kyles’ Rock), as this was the end for one of our climbers as he decided after 39 steps it wasn’t for him and after a quick check up from our self proclaimed camera man and leader he returned to the car park!
Onwards and upwards the remaining 10 plodded and it wasn’t long until the group out in front reached the aptly named ‘devils staircase.’ This is where it all became apparent that this wasn’t going to be the easy climb we had predicted sitting at our desks. Unfortunately this is where we lost our leader and designated cameraman for the challenge as even after much encouragement he decided it was time to turn back and another rock was named (McBrides rock). Upon reflection he believed the climb was made harder for our ‘leader and cameraman’ because of the large lunch he had packed and has threatened to return in the coming weeks to complete the challenge
At 550m the group finally reached the Mourne wall and regrouped, refuelled and refocused on making it to the top. Setting off on the final climb the wind picked up from behind and basically carried the remaining 9 climbers and 2 dogs made it to the top where they enjoyed a very well deserved break and some refreshments
The way down was a lot more relaxed and jovial and everyone was back in the car park by 1030am. The staff who took part thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and while there were a few sore bodies the next day it was a great achievement for all those who took part. We would like to thank everyone who contributed either by climbing or donating, it is very much appreciated. A fantastic total of £775 was raised.