Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The National 3 Peaks Challenge - getting started

Date: 14th-15th May
National 3 Peaks Mountains: Ben Nevis 1344m (Scotland), Scafell Pike 980m (England), Snowdon 1080m (Wales)
Distance: 24 miles
Vertical ascent: 2980 metres
Time Allowed: 24 hours
Road miles 475 miles

In the face of all adversity and totally ill prepared (from a point of view of training not from an equipped angle), on Friday 14th May 2010, 7 of us embarked on a self supported attempt of the National 3 Peaks Challenge.

My day started in hospital having my foot treated and dressed. I had a surfing accident about a fortnight back in Australia where I had the heel of my foot sliced off leaving me unable to wear shoes or trainers. The prospect of doing some 20 odd mountain miles along the hiking trail in flip flops was not turning me on so I had to somehow conceal and protect the yellow and green soggy mess that my heel had become in order to make the yomp palatable. Once dressed I was packed up with plenty of dressings and given strict instructions to strip it all off after each mountain and let it dry out in the hours between walking before redressing it to start the next of the 3 peaks.

All the chaps arrived at mine and we set off in the fun bus just 15 mins later than hoped at 11:45am, not bad considering 2 of the guys had meetings that morning.

Half an hour up the road we realised that we had no satnav, furthermore we had no atlas but with senses of direction and iPhones being overworked we decided we'd plough on and get an atlas when we stopped. This necessity slipped our mind at the first stop and at the 2nd they were £20 so our senses of direction were to continue being overworked unless we acquired one for a fraction of that price.

We were hoping to be at Ben Nevis base to kick off on the first hiking trail of the 3 Peaks by 5pm to get the show on the road. Naturally this plan was whisked out of the window as we hit the Glasgow rush hour traffic. After crawling into Glasgow for what seemed like an age we decided it might be wise to postpone the attempt by a day as mounting Ben Nevis in the dark was a particularly bad idea, well it was never going to happen. It crossed our minds to get a hotel for the night and go out for a few beers. Everyone got excited at this prospect, until we realised that the van had to be back by 2am on Sunday morning not leaving us enough time to do Scafell Pike and Snowdon. Dissapointment spread amongst the ranks, this meant it was do or die (well not literally, more like do or don't).

With that in mind and Kenny at the wheel we forged our way through Glasgow and got the hammer down Fort William wards.

With white knuckles, sweaty palms and palpitations we arrived at the base of Ben Nevis and parked in a layby across the road from youth hostel in Glen Nevis at a time that seemed to be before we'd left Glasgow however it was indeed around 6:30pm (Friday 14th May), here we were ready to start the National 3 Peaks Challenge. We all leaped out of the van and ripped bags out of the boot as we changed into our walking kit in the middle of the road ready to get a wriggle on and get up that hill. Not off to a great start, it could surely only get better. Well that was one way of looking at it.....


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