Barefoot challenge tackled in gales and needle rain

Mark Cropley, Sheralee Pace and Jerry Hopkins took on the Barefoot Challenge 2018 for Coastal West Sussex Mind
Mark Cropley, Sheralee Pace and Jerry Hopkins took on the Barefoot Challenge 2018 for Coastal West Sussex Mind

Climbing Mount Snowdon is a feat in itself, so to do it barefoot is quite an achievement.

Three staff from Lancing van accessories company Whitebox UK completed the challenge in gale-force winds, needle-like rain and severely reduced visibility.

Mark Cropley, Sheralee Pace and Jerry Hopkins were raising money for Coastal West Sussex Mind and admitted there were times it felt more stupid than brave.

Mark said: “One of the most challenging things I have ever done, mentally and physically, this has opened up my eyes to the world of mental health.

“With not having experienced it or knowing anyone who has, the challenge allowed me to feel just a small fraction of the effect mental health can have on a person.

“Anyone that’s suffering with mental health, we did this for you. I just hope the money that we have raised helps the people in need.”

The trio completed the Barefoot Challenge 2018 on Saturday, their toughest challenge yet, following on from last year’s successful fundraising for Sussex Community Foundation.

From the beginning, torrential rain and dangerous winds almost compromised the whole mission. Passers by, experienced mountaineers and ex-mountain rescue guards were all saying climbing the mountain was hard enough in those conditions, never mind doing it barefoot. The thought of their commitment to Mind and sheer determination was what kept them going.

Sheralee said: “There were times the wind was so strong, it made us lose balance. With heavy wet clothing and no clear vision of the path ahead, we without a doubt made the right decision in the end by putting our boots on and coming down a safer route from the top.

“It was scary but we did it and for such a great cause.”

The trio completed three-quarters of the climb via the Pyg Track. Precaution guidance then made them contemplate the risks of carrying on barefoot.

Carrying on could have been dangerous, so instead of going back down the way they came, they put on their boots to make it carefully to the top and back down via a safer route.

The challenge was completed in just over three hours and took a huge toll on the trio’s joints and muscles, so the descent was as mentally and physically challenging as the way up.

Jerry said: “Mentally and physically, when you introduce high speed winds, piercing rain and awful weather conditions, along with people telling you you shouldn’t carry on, it does put that doubt in the mind when your body is already exhausted.

“This was one of the hardest things I have ever done but knowing what we’ve raised so far for West Sussex Coastal Mind, makes it all worth it.”

Whitebox carried out a survey of its 2,500 Twitter followers and found 67 per cent had suffered with some form of mental health illness.

Donations are still to come in but so far, Whitebox UK has raised just under £1,000. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/whiteboxbarefoot to make a donation.