Thursday, 24 July 2014

Three Peak Challenge


I have to start this post by saying that this is not about THE Three Peak Challenge, but it's about MY Three Peak Challenge. I didn't climb Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon within 24 hours, I didn't run up and down the three tallest mountains in the UK either, nor did I dress up in fancy dress. Why would you want to do that anyways? My Three Peaks Challenge was to conquer each one at my own pace and on three different days. Boring? Not so much.

Three Peak Challenge
Photo by Dave under Creative Commons Licence

The first one on the list was Snowdon. This was my first mountain climb ever and I was lucky to have an experienced mountaineer as my guide. We walked up Watkins paths which starts out quite even as you pass some abandoned copper mines. The ascent became a bit more steep as we went along, but the hard part was close to the summit where we had to find our own path as we scrambled to the top. As we started this final ascent, thick fog came rolling in and within seconds I could barely see as far as the tip of my nose. Kudoos to my expert mountain guide, who led us to the top, but nonetheless I was bricking it slightly. What made it even more surreal was that when we finally reached the top (me with my heart pounding so hard it felt like it was coming out of my mouth) there were people walking around in flip-flops instead of hiking boots on the terrace of the restaurant at the top. They'd taken the train. Go figure.

Three Peak Challenge
Photo by Richard Leonard under Creative Commons Licence
The second mountain I went up was Ben Nevis. We decided to do this in late May and were so not prepared to find the top covered in snow. We had no problem walking up halfway to the summit accompanied by numerous fellow hikers, when patches of snow started to appear and then they just became one big massive patch of snow. All of a sudden, it seemed like all the other hikers had dropped off the mountain. Fog drew in, the wind picked up and rain started to drizzle. We were just debating whether to risk our lives and continue or be wimps and go back down, when suddenly a group of hikers appeared out of the fog and yelled: Ten more minutes guys! We could not not continue, so we did. We got to the top that looked more like the North Pole than Scotland and practically skied back down. We were so relieved to reach the visitors' centre that we broke open a cheap bottle of champers to toast to our safe return.

Three Peak Challenge
The start of Ben Nevis hike


Three Peak Challenge
Summit of Ben Nevis

The walk up the last of them, Scafell Pike was blessed with some fine weather. Finally. At least I could enjoy some fine views from the top this time. We were treated to an action packed training session of the mountain rescue heli team who dropped off two of their people only to hoist them back up to the chopper again. It made for an exciting lunch at the top.

Three Peak Challenge
Walking up Scafell Pike

Three Peak Challenge
Scafell Pike Summit

4 comments:

  1. But what a story to tell (and as a sidenote, champers is champers - don't mention the cost!)

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