Monday, March 15, 2010

Catch Up - Pleasant Peak Sunday 7th March

I am afraid I am playing the game of catch up. Last week was so busy with niff naff, entertaining and preparing to go away this past weekend I haven't had time to post about our recent adventures.

We had a spate of glorious weather with brilliant blue skies and burn a hole in you sunshine last week.

On Sunday the 7th we headed for a walk up Mount Pleasant Peak. It is one of the mountains that lies just to the North of the air base. It has two commerative crosses on top to remember the crew killed in a 'blue on blue' incident during the Argentine war.

On Sunday june 6 1982 a 656 Squadron AAC Gazelle AH1 XX377 was shot down in error by HMS Cardiff with sea dart missiles. The Cardiff's ops room was jolted into action when one of the radar operators detected an unidentified air contact moving slowly east across East Falkland. With no known British Air movement and no special signal to make any exception for any British aircraft doing anything that night, Captain Mike Harris had to make a swift decision whether this was friendly or foe. Unfortunately he plumped for foe and ordered two Sea dart missiles to be launched believing it had to be an Arg flying toward Port Stanley, Fitzroy or out to sea.
The helicopter was engaged in Relay Broad Casting Station resupply sortie to Mount Pleasant Peak and crashed on its southern slope. Staff Sergeant Christopher Griffin and Lance Corporal Simon Cockton of 656 Squadron and their passengers, Major Mike Forage and Staff Sergeant John Baker of Headquarters and Signals Squadron, Royal Signals were all killed.

The climb up to the two crosses is definitely interesting with some very easy paths and then an awful lot of rock scrambling. It would be horrendous to attempt this in wet weather but we were so fortunate on our chosen day to have clear, clear blue skies.

At times we were on our hands and knees carefully hedging our way up the slope. Fergus however, leaped around the rocks without a care in the world and gave me a heart attack on several occasions as he took massive jumps off some of the more jaunty rock faces. He grinned his way up the slopes as if he was half his age.

The views are absolutely stunning as you head up the mountain. The whole of the air base is laid out below and you can see far out to sea. Behind the peak you can see across to Onion Range, Mount Wickham, Mustard Mount and Rocky Mountain.

Maddie completely surprised me being the first up to the top, she was like a little mountain goat on steriods. Euan was a typical boy and found theee most difficult way up scrabbling around the rocks in a happy daze.

This is the first of the crosses that we reached and is set right up on the ridge line of the Peak. You wouldn't want to be up here in a typical Falkland Island day with high winds as it would become rather perilous.
It was rather busy up at the cross with several groups of climbers stopping for a break and some lunch. Euan had been happy climbing up the hill but wasn't so keen on being at the top. He has a very strong fear of heights but managed really well considering that at the back of the cross it is a shear drop down a very rugged rock face.

Maddie however had no such fear and was happy to pose for Mummy on any ridge line. Mum had insisted at this stage that Fergus be put on a lead as he was leaping around anxious to get to me and not really looking where he was walking.

Since being on my camera course last week I thought I would try to get out of P mode and start taking the shots using Aperature and Shutter Mode. Hmmmm not sure that was such a good idea, I have been really frustrated with the results I seem to be getting. On a dull day I can cope but in brilliant sunshine I am struggling big style.

Next we walked to the second cross which involved quite a bit of sliding down and climbing back up and around some of the huge boulders. There are some really interesting rock formations one of which reminded me of a massive penguin.

This of course is John's idea of heaven and my asthma's idea of hell! but I coped okay even if I had very rosey cheeks when I finally made it to the top.

Fergus and Euan were happier to pose up at this cross as it is slightly lower down the ridge line.
The cross itself is stunning. I am not sure what it is made of but there is an ammunitian box with a polishing cloth which they ask the climbers to use to keep the wonderful reflective surface clean.

Mountain goat lady was back to have her photo taken again before she scurried off down the ridge line to beat her brother to the bottom of the hill.

We descended around the back of the Peak and walked back along the road in front to the car which we had left in the quarry. Ellie was happy pottering along with my camera taking pictures of rocks and odd arrangements. By this stage I had begun to realise that I should have put some sun cream on my arms and neck as well as my face. I now have a wonderful t-shirt tan which thankfully hasn't peeled.

With a high noon sun it was definitely time to head home for a long cold drink and some lunch.

Bless her, Maddie had decided she was rather tired by the end and was happy when she spotted the car not to far away. I thought Fergus would be sore the next day but other than a very sleepy and snoring dog that night he didn't seem to suffer any ill effects.

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