On Saturday 10th June, myself, my sister and my Dad set off to start the national three peaks challenge. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s hiking the three highest mountains in the U.K in 24 hours. Ben Nevis, Scotland. Scafell Pike, England. Snowdon, Wales.
We’d been training for this weekend for months, our fitness levels were the highest they had ever been and we were more than ready to give 100% in this challenge.
We’d booked through an organisation that provided a guide on the mountains and a driver for the minibus to get us between each hill. We met with our group at the airport on Saturday morning and started our journey. Ben Nevis was the first mountain to conquer, and it was the biggest of the three. We set off at 2.30pm with an aim of completing the mountain in roughly 5 hours to be on track for the 24 hour goal. Within 10 minutes of the ascent, one lady had to back out as the sole of her boot came loose. Whilst she was on her way down her friend realised she had another pair of boots in the bus, so we waited for her to come back up the mountain to meet us. 20 minutes down on the clock, I was becoming agitated. Our guide said he was going to allow us to knock it off our time, but in my head I was already frustrated, knocking time off is not doing it in 24 hours.
We carried on up Ben Nevis and got back to the bus in 5 hours 25 minutes and, considering the delay, that was pretty good going. A little confidence was back and I realised that we could still achieve our goal. It was time to load up on pasta and try to get some rest.
Scafell Pike was next. As we started the climb at 2.00AM it was dark and we were all kitted with a head torch. I find hiking at night calming and peaceful and I was getting into a good rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other whilst listening to the stream to our right. When it came to crossing said stream, my heart sank. I have never been good at this, I’m a little like Bambi when it comes to balance and my sister always helps me across. This time, I took in a deep breath and made it across alone. Another surge of confidence…until the deal breaker happened. One lady was struggling with cramps in her legs and, as it was night, there was no way our guide would let anyone down alone. She decided she couldn’t carry on. Upon hearing those words, we knew our challenge was over. We were half way up Scafell Pike and had to turn around. To explain the emotions we felt would be impossible, part of me understood that it just wasn’t our time to complete the challenge, part of me wanted to push her off the side and carry on walking.
So that was that, we walked back down and got onto the bus, feeling deflated. We knew the challenge we set out to do was over but we still drove on to complete Snowdon. We started as a group of 9 and only 7 of us attempted Snowdon. Unfortunately, like many other teams, our guide turned us around (again!) half way up due to the heavy winds. It was another decision I wasn’t keen on and had we still have been on track to complete the challenge I would have shared my opinions a little louder, but we headed back and another mountain had defeated us.
As I write this now, 72 hours after it all started, I feel heartbroken that the challenge wasn’t completed this weekend, but comforted knowing that as a team of three, myself, my sister and my Dad, we are going to attempt this again shortly.
There are so many reasons I wouldn’t recommend doing this challenge with an organised company, from the time wasted in between mountains when you know you’re set to go, all the way to a complete stranger stopping your chance of success. However, despite the money, time and a whole lot of effort we have lost, we really did meet some incredible people who shared their own stories whilst on the hill and for that I am very grateful. I’ve become very good at finding the positive in difficult situations, and there are certainly many to take away this weekend. I guess it was just good training!
To all that have supported us throughout our training and sponsored us on this challenge, fear not, it is not over till we cross the finish line and have a stop watch to prove it. We are working on some logistics but hope to have another shot very soon. For now, the national three peaks challenge shall remain uncrossed on my bucket list.
Here’s a few snaps from the phone over the weekend –