Last year Xperiology co-founder Ian added the Three Peaks Challenge to his bucket list – and had been in training ever since.
Last weekend it was finally the moment of truth: climb the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland – within 24 hours.
The three mountains are:
• Snowdon, in Wales (1085m)
• Scafell Pike, in England (978m)
• Ben Nevis, in Scotland (1345m)
A popular misconception is that the three mountains that form the challenge are the three tallest on the British mainland. Rather, they are the tallest mountains within each representative country: Scafell Pike is the tallest in England; Snowdon, the tallest in Wales and Ben Nevis the tallest in Scotland — over one hundred peaks in Scotland are higher than Scafell Pike, and 56 higher than Snowdon. But, in any event, these three were high enough!
In short, it’s approx. 13 hours of mountain walking (circa 35miles) with some 11 hours of driving (circa 500miles) between.
As an events business, we dodged the organised groups and went it alone with our own back-of-house team. Vehicle hired (thanks Elliott at Enterprise Worthing for a great deal on the perfect vehicle – a brand, new Toyota Landcruiser – and great service too!), routes planned, practice runs completed and transport logistics in place.
Victoria – owner of Xperiology’s fave private hire firm – PPCH in Pulborough – took on the driving challenge: swapping her Mercedes footwear for some outdoor gear to tackle the Landcruiser’s path). She also packed the gas stove which proved a welcome addition to the supplies.
Some of Xperiology’s friends from around the world – Brendan from Toronto, and Lorenz and Robert from Berlin plus our trusty office hounds Nutello and Guinness – joined Ian in the challenge which kicked-off in Fort William – with a 6.30am start on Ben Nevis.
As the sun lifted, the clouds dropped and soon the adventurers were walking in a lunar landscape with just 20ft of visibility. Ascent required a bit of map-reading as the clouds thickened but the highest mountain was crossed off in under 4.5 hours (well on track in the 5 hour target window).
Six hour drive followed to the Lake District and Wasdale Head at the foot of Scafell Park. Team Xp came unstuck with traffic delays and a national cycle race – which slowed progress – arriving at Scafell Pike 90mins behind schedule and into fading light of sunset.
Scafell Pike proved the most arduous of the climbs. One guidebook referred to it as (accurately) a path of “relentless stones”! Indeed, as soon as you set foot on the path the climb doesn’t stop until the Summit. Again, we were in thick fog/cloud and the hi-vis jackets and industrial torches proved essential.
A tiring four hour drive then took us into Snowdonia and the start of the Snowdon walk at Pen-y-pass. We selected the shortest but one of the steepest routes to the last summit. It proved to be painful and somewhat tricky in the night – and we were thankful we had chosen a full moon as several of our torches had failed by this time. But we arrived at the top of Snowdon just as first light appeared. A few selfies and a more gentle stroll down the Llanberis path to finish at Pete’s Eats – the world-famous walkers’ café in the local town.
“Inspiring adventure and more difficult than we anticipated,” says Ian. “But, as darkness descended and we lost the path several times, a great team spirit kept us going with plenty of poor jokes, mutual support and some really terrible singing got us over the line!”
A cheque is on its way to St Barnabas House – one of our chosen charities for 2017 – a hospice based near our HQ which provides palliative care to adults with advanced progressive life-limiting illnesses.