Everest – six times over!

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A FORMER Rastrick vicar has just chalked up a remarkable milestone as part of his 75th birthday celebrations.

The Rev Canon Michael Storey, a former vicar of St John’s Church, Rastrick, climbed Pen y Ghent, the 2,273 feet fell in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales for the 75th time to mark his 75th birthday, despite the rain, mist and low cloud.

Afterwards Canon Storey, who was at St. John’s from 1978 until 1987, came up with a remarkable statistic. He totted up the height of the famous fell and the number of times he has climbed it and came up with figures that would make the famous Dales landmark nearly six times the height of Mount Everest.

“Roughly I think it would be something like the equivalent of climbing Everest four times.”

Canon Storey recalled that the first time he climbed the famous fell was in August 1960 when he went with three members of a church boys’ club he ran in Mirfield. He has it documented, as well as all his other occasions, in a series of neatly inscribed exercise books which he has carefully maintained over the years.

That first occasion records that it was fine and sunny all day.

“From that occasion it has just developed and, as they say, the rest is history,” he says.

“It really started out as an idea to get the boys from the club out to see the countryside. We knew we could get home to Mirfield from Horton in Ribblesdale via Bradford by train. We were totally dependant on public transport in those early days,” added Canon Storey.

In the years which followed, Canon Storey continued to encourage people to enjoy God’s wonderful world; leading walks as a teacher and from the three churches in which he served, Illingworth, Rastrick and Crosland Moor.

“I have walked up the fell in all weathers and in all conditions, not always from Horton, so on 75 different occasions you are bound to get a wide variety of conditions,” he said.

He recalled the worst condition he and some friends from St John’s, Rastrick faced was one January day in 1985 when they were planning to tackle the Three Peaks, Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, and encountered blizzard conditions and sensibly abandoned the attempt.

To celebrate significant birthdays, Canon Storey has got together people who have stood on Pen y Ghent with him over the many years.

On this latest birthday walk he was accompanied by 88 of of these “Pen y Ghenters” 60 of whom, including Canon Storey, reached the top of the fell, despite the poor weather.

The latest walk also raised over £200 for the Friends of the Three Peaks organisation, which helps maintain, improve and protect paths and routes from further damage.