Posted on 30 10 2012
National Three Peaks Challenge – Oct 2012
On Friday the 19th October 2012 at 6am a group
of 3, Tom Sexton, Ross Headley and I crossed the bridge at the base of Ben
Nevis in Scotland to begin the National Three Peaks Challenge.
The objective was to climb the three highest mountains in
Scotland, England and Wales in under 24 hours. This would involve a total
ascent of 9700 feet and an overall walking distance of 26 miles – over half of
which would be in the dark!
Due to the time of year and the subsequent limited daylight
hours we chose to start Ben Nevis before sunrise so it would be getting light
as we ascended. This would then mean that we could climb to the summit of
Scafell Pike in the light before it got dark, leaving Snowdon to be climbed at
The weather conditions on Ben Nevis were perfect; clear
skies, bright sunshine and not a breath of wind. We reached the summit in good
time, passing a squadron of Dutch soldiers on the way to find the peak covered
in at least two foot of snow. On our
descent the views across the valley were spectacular with the morning sunshine
glinting on the glass like surface of the loch below. We passed the soldiers
again on the way down; each one was carrying a pack the size of a fridge on
their backs. When we asked how heavy they were, they replied; “too heavy!”
We were back on the road four hours after starting out over the bridge, heading
for the Lake District and England’s highest mountain; Scafell Pike. With no
hold ups we began Scafell at 5pm and again the weather was on our side. If anything we were too hot as we climbed
and the late afternoon sun beat down on our backs. The climb was relentless
with the only respite coming when you reach the summit plateau. The trip back
down to the car park would be in darkness and we had to concentrate on the
loose rock and hidden dips whilst simultaneously shoving energy bars into our
mouths! We completed the mountain in 2 1/2hrs but doing it in this time had
taken a lot out of the legs!
Still on schedule we had time to stop for a much needed
cheese burger and a strong coffee on the way to Wales and the last Mountain
that needed to be conquered; Snowdon.
We left the Pen Y Pass car park at 1:30am and our luck
with the weather had run out. It had started to rain and the wind was picking
up, this would only get worse as we got closer to the summit. The path to the
top of Snowdon was easy to follow at first, however as we gained height it was
easy to stray from the main path in the dark. To make matters worse a thick fog
greeted us as we reached the top and we couldn’t see more than a few feet in
front of us. As we began to climb down it became obvious that we had lost the
main path and were on a section of steep rocky ground high above the lake
below. We retraced our steps and found what we thought to be a section of path
but this seemed to disappear after following it for a few metres. This
continued for some time until we hit the path again. As we followed it the
lights on our head torches began to fail and we had to rely on one hand held
torch alone. It soon became clear that the path we were on was a higher track
than the miner’s path we had come in on, but it was descending and heading in
the right direction so we pushed on with the wind and rain buffeting us as we
went. Eventually we were very relieved to see the lights of the car park
flicker into view through the mist ahead. We had completed the challenge in
just over 22 hours.
We were tired, wet and hungry but elated to have achieved
our goal. Now it was time for Welsh fry up and some much needed sleep!
All three of us wore Bridgedale socks for all of the
Mountains and they couldn’t have performed better, keeping our feet warm, dry
and comfortable for the full 22 hours!
A big thanks my Dad, Cliff Stuckey for being our