Over the May Bank Holiday, we sponsored Alice to do the 3 Peak Challenge. She managed to raise an incredible £3,200 and all donations went towards the Injured Jockeys Fund, a charity that truly changed her life.
Read her wonderful story on her 3-peak experience.
We started at the base of Ben Nevis at 5pm, to be told by two men who had just come down that it was ‘truly winter’ at the top. We started as a group of 10 and about 30minutes into the climb we passed a group of walkers coming down who were in full ski gear and some fairly hi tech looking tramping boots. In the preceding half an hour it had become fairly obvious that the walking pace was going to be a little varied within our group of 10 and at this point slightly spooked by the very professional man who was all but telling us we were idiots, 4 of the group took the opportunity to say that they would slow down, climb as far as they felt comfortable and the get back down the mountain before it was pitch black. 6 of us ploughed on and for the next hour climbed what, to me, seemed like a fairly never ending mountain. 1.5 hours in and it started getting fairly miserable.
Firstly, there was snow, not just a sprinkling of snow but knee deep snow that made it fairly difficult to walk. I started with two walking poles, but I unfortunately managed to snap one ¾ of the way up the mountain whilst trying to anchor myself with it. About 40minutes from the top visibility was terrible, if someone got more than about 20metres in front of you they disappeared into the fog and we were bouncing from canard to canard to get to the top. We got to the top at about 7.45pm whih was good going considering the conditions.
The wind chill factor at the top was -10 and so nobody wanted to hang around. Getting back down was ok once we found the first canard, which wasn’t immediately obvious from the summit. Coming down through the snow was fairly dicey. You couldn’t really dig your shoes in and so it just became a bit of a slip and slide down to the next bit of rock. 1 hour into descending we were on fairly consistently solid footing and from that point it was just soggy, cold trudge the whole way to the bottom.
We got back to the car around 10pm, met up with the others, had a quick debrief on how they really hadn’t missed anything except 2 hours of total misery and then turned our attention to the next task. There was a 5/6 hour drive to Scarfell Pike roughly arriving at 4am. We were all of fairly varying fitness levels and so inevitably to get everyone to the top you end up walking at the slowest persons pace. It was a pretty slow and steady climb but it was really amazing to have all 10 of us at the top to watch a really incredible sunrise and it was probably my favourite summit of the three peaks.
We got back to the car at roughly 8am and did a quick turnaround to leave for the final peak, Mount Snowdon. The 6 of us started climbing Snowdon (on the correct track) and soon split into two groups of 3. I was in the front group with two boys and we were going at a fairly fast pace. Snowdon is sort of like 2 hours of climbing a continual staircase. It’s a path made of steps and let me tell you now it’s not kind on legs that are already tired. It was about 27 degrees and completely exposed which made it very hot work. It also turns out that a lot of people climb Snowdon at lunchtime on the Saturday of a long weekend and most of them were going at a pace the was significantly slower than the one we were trying to set. 23hours and 46minutes later we finished!
It was the most amazing thing to do and much like anything that’s painful you always look back and it never seems quite as awful as it did at the time. It certainly doesn’t come with an ‘everybody should do it’ endorsement from me but it was such a fitting way to appreciate the Injured Jockeys Fund and the work they did putting me back together. Only 3 of us completed the challenge in 24 hours, and the other two were not in hospital 20 months ago which makes me proud of my achievement.