Lake District fell top assessor Jon Bennett on Helvellyn’s summit with last year’s eBay winner Peter Sharratt

Lake District fell top assessor Jon Bennett on Helvellyn’s summit with last year’s eBay winner Peter Sharratt

Intrepid hillwalkers are being offered the chance to bid for a trip up England’s third-highest mountain in the company of lifesaving experts.

Nine places are on offer through an eBay auction to walk up Helvellyn in the company of the Lake District’s felltop assessors who provide real-life reports on mountain conditions for walkers.

The two Weatherline assessors Jason Taylor and Jon Bennett make the climb to Helvellyn each day, ascending the equivalent of Everest’s height every week.

The buy-it-now bids to accompany the men are on offer at £90 on the online auction site, which has 18 million monthly users. Bids will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, but one man who successfully bagged a place last year will be making a return trip after a journey to remember.

Experienced walker Peter Sharratt of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, got more than he bargained when he had a felltop assessing trek in extreme weather last year.

He encountered 70mph winds and was forced to walk at a 45-degree angle just to stay upright, but enjoyed it so much he has just paid again for the privilege.

“It is an amazing experience and really brings it home just how important Weatherline is. It’s the only service which gives an accurate account of conditions on the ground. During the winter I follow the assessors’ reports on a daily basis.

“I’d say to anyone considering bidding, to go for it. They won’t be disappointed.”

Winners who are fit enough will be able to make the ascent of Helvellyn with an assessor between April and June.

The ‘buy it now’ option is currently running on eBay for one month and the main prize will be launched on 10 March and run for 10 days, with the chance to be a felltop assessor for the day, with their picture added to the Weatherline website and their name attributed to the report for that day for the rest of the year.

The Lake District national park’s head of visitor services Adam Thomas said using eBay to promote Weatherline, and bring in some crucial funding, was designed to get people talking and thinking.

He said: “This is a rare opportunity to scale our third highest peak with an expert and see first-hand what our assessors face as they gather information that so many people depend on.

“Their seven-day Helvellyn shifts are equivalent to reaching Everest’s summit. They face hugely challenging elements ranging from driving winds, snow drifts and windchill temperatures plummeting to –16C.

“We have some of the world’s most spectacular mountains and keeping those venturing on them as safe as possible is paramount. We are constantly looking at ways of finding additional funding to safeguard the service and hope the eBay adventure will be popular.”

Cash from the eBay auctions will go towards the cost of running the service, which was threatened with closure due to Government cuts in 2011.

Anyone wanting to make a bid should go to eBay and search for Fell Top Assessor Experience. The Lake District reports can be seen on the Weatherline site.

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