Marco Completes Longest Ascent from Henley to Top of Snowdon

Marco Barcella set off on his biggest challenge yet, The Longest Ascent.  Walking out of his front door in Henley, unaided to reach the top of Mount Snowdon in just five days.
The challenge was raising vital funds for The Chiltern Centre, the respite centre for disabled young adults, Marco said, “I’ve always looked for challenges that are a bit different. The idea of being able to summit a mountain from Henley without using any form of transport (motorised or not) intrigued me. Then, it became a question of was I capable of covering 220+ miles in 5 days whilst carrying all my stuff, wild camping and navigating…it sounded like it wouldn’t be easy so at that point I felt I had to try it.”
Marco’s route took him from Henley to Oxford, Worcester, Shrewsbury and Llanberis before the ascent.  Marco commented, “I always get a bit emotional when I set off to do challenges.  It’s hard leaving the family behind but I also feel overwhelmed by the thought of how privileged I am to be able to this. I never take it for granted. I also never take it for granted that my 3 children were born without any complications. Their bodies and minds work as they should. I never take it for granted that my wife (Harriet) and I get to parent in a very ‘normal’ way; there are no special needs to deal with or physical disabilities that would challenge us more and more as they grow up. To say we are blessed is an understatement. Sadly, this is not the case for every parent and through the work Harriet does for The Chiltern Centre I see first hand what disabilities mean to both the individual and the family.”

Packing for a challenge like this is key and Marco didn’t manage to forget anything.  His advice on packing is to be brutal!  He explains “Pack. Throw some things away. Pack again. Throw more away. Eventually you’ll get to a good size and weight ratio.  I had everything I needed. I spent a huge amount of time planning my kit, getting my bag to be as light as possible and ensuring I had everything I needed to be totally self-sufficient. I could’ve gone for months without needing anything else.”

Marco decided not to take any food with him and to get this on the way.  One highlight was, “I was stopped by an old lady in a mobility scooter somewhere in Wales who was very interested in what I was doing. It had just gone 5pm and I was very hungry. When I told her I was on the lookout for a place to buy some food, she said “Oh no. I think the cafe in the village has just closed”. At that, she sped off on her scooter. A few minutes later she re-emerged saying that the cafe was indeed closed but she went to the local shopkeeper and asked him to stay open for an extra 30mins to give me a chance to get there. It was a very sweet moment!” said Marco.

The biggest challenge for Marco was overcoming the pain caused by bad blisters on the first day. Marco said, “It was just really painful. I developed a couple of bad blisters on the first day and then a lot of knee, ankle and muscle pain. I’ve since found out from the local hospital that I have a suspected stress fracture and ligament/soft tissue damage from the repetitive movement. Putting blistered feet into boots each morning and covering 50miles was just not very much fun.”

There were two things that kept Marco going, he said, “The fact that I was raising money for charity and felt under a little pressure to not give up and secondly, a sense of perspective. We cannot forget how privileged we are to be physically capable of, financially able to and to have the support of so many people to pursue these adventures in life. There are so many people who would do anything for a week of adventure so I will never take these opportunities for granted.”

So far Marco has raised an incredible £5,000 including gift aid.

If you would like to donate to Marco’s fundraising for The Chiltern Centre for completing this amazing challenge click here