Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The 3 Peak Challenge

click to enlarge
The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the three highest peaks, respectively, in England, Wales and Scotland, within 24 hours.
The Peaks are:
  1. Ben Nevis (Scotland - 1344m)
  2. Scafell Pike (England - 978m)
  3. Snowdon (Wales - 1085m)
It is a popular misconception that the three peaks in question are in fact the three highest in Britain. Over one hundred peaks in Scotland are higher than Scafell Pike, and 56 higher than Snowdon.

I was the designated driver for this event and was not actually climbing the hills apart from Snowdon which was agreed I could run as my driving duties would have ended by then.

Saturday mornin

I awoke at 5.00 am and dragged myself from my bed to get the 5.45 am train to London and then get me down to Gatwick Airport for my flight to Glasgow, Scotland. It was a stressful part as the queue for the Baggage Drop was horrendous and I missed my slot by 5 minutes which meant I had to carry my kit a s hand baggage. I was further delayed when the xray machine picked up my maglite torch, a rolled up survival bag, this meant my bag had to hand searched and my torch chemically tested for explosives. Given the all clear I was dismissed but was further delayed as my shoes were checked, luckily they rang ahead but had to run in bare feet to the departure gate, with no belt and my shirt hanging out. I must have looked a right picture when I got on board the plane.

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday afternoon was a relaxing affair as we went to the pub in Fort William, had a great big meal and watched the Rugby on television and slowly made our way to the start of the Challenge at the Visitor Centre at Glen Nevis.

At 5.00 pm the clock started for real and the walkers went on their adventure leaving me in the car park to chat with other drivers, read a book and rest as much as possible. Later the gas stove was set up and 24 sausages were cooked ready to put into rolls as 8 hungry walkers tucked into them along with fish and chips for some.

Saturday Night/Sunday morning

Now my job started for real as I got the gang on the van and I drove through the night to Scafell Pike arriving at 4.16 am, some 6.25 hours on the road, jeeze I was tired but the walkers had snatched a few hours sleep in the back as I drove. Bleary eyed they went on their merry way up Scarfell allowing me to get 3 hours sleep and get up to cook beans and the remains of the rolls


It was now apparent that the lack of proper sleep, proper food, the very hard terrain was taking its toll on the walkers and I as the driver. Come the morning, a hot meal and the thought that there was only one mountain to complete left us with good humour as we sped off to Snowdon.......or so we thought. Halfway through the last leg traffic came to a halt and we found ourselves in a stationary traffic queue in the middle of nowhere.....this meant only one thing a serious accident. It was agreed that the race clock was stopped at this point and it would not strat again until we passed the scene of the accident. After 1 hour we were off again and for sure looking at the cars it was definitely a fatality.

On arrival the guys debussed, some agreed that they were in no physical shape to get the 24 hours but were going to do their best to get as near as possible to the time and others were to "go for it"

In conclusion, this is an extremely difficult challenge, the combination of 24 hours of lack of sleep, poor food intake and the tiring effects of driving such a long way really makes this both a physical and mental challenge. Looking at the other vans full of "3 Peakers" the age group was about 20 - 30 years old, they were showing signs of fatigue and my hat goes off to my team who were in their late 40's and a 13 year old.........outstanding achievement even if you did do it just over the 24 hours but I think you can blame that on a van that was restricted to 60 miles an hour.

I will publish my run up Snowdon later and get some photos for you to look at so watch this space.

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