Three Peaks Challenge Part Two

Three Peaks Challenge Part Two

After a very wet and windy Ben Nevis (see The Three Peaks Challenge Part One), we made our way to Scarfell Pike. During this 6 hour drive, this was our main opportunity to catch some sleep after just spending 5 hours climbing the previous mountain. Its not surprising that we hardly managed to catch any sleep whatsoever. The damp and squashed environment of a 7 seater made for a not so comfortable environment to rest. Dozing in and out of sleep for a few hours (whilst being stuck in a surprise traffic jam, encountering a roadblock of sheep and a service station full of geese) we finally arrived at our next challenge back in England.
Scarfell Pike
Statistics: Distance- 5.8 miles – Ascent- 978m – Climb time 4 hours
The biggest challenges with climbing the second mountain are one, your pretty shattered after getting minimal sleep on the journey and two, its dead in the middle of the night (2AM for us). The best thing about this climb was the fact we already knew that it was shorter and easier (supposedly) then Ben Nevis.
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Taking the correct route on this mountain was almost more important then the previous also just because for most of the climb you can only see a few meters ahead of you. When they say that its pitch black, they weren’t lying. Even with our head torches, visibility was minimal, coupled with the fact that Scarfell Pike is renowned for being very rocky (great for the ankles). The climb was riddled with bouts of confusing turns and questions of whether we were going the right way or not. We decided to take what was meant to be the easier route up. This avoided a shard ridge that was saved for the competent mountaineers that completed the challenge.
There were times where the climb was really steep. This was probably the most testing part of the mountain. Even with the grip on your climbing boots, slippery mud on a steep hill still poses its problems. A few of us had the occasional slip on the damp ground due to the condensation produced by the early morning atmosphere.  You never really realise how tiring hill climbs are until you actually do them. Living in London, finding hills to practice on was a challenge in itself, so preparation for this wasn’t as good as it could have been.
The saving grace of Scarfell Pike was that the weather was calm. Getting to the top was actually quite easy (well not easy but way less difficult then Ben Nevis). No strong winds, no torrential rain, no freezing cold temperatures. We were at the top in what felt like no time at all. Even with tiredness kicking in and the darkness, the climb went to plan and we actually got to the peak. Feeling way more accomplished then we had on Ben Nevis, this gave everyone the boost they needed. We enjoyed the views and continued our decent.
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By this point the group were shattered. The steep climb down was made worse by taking a slight wrong turn that took us about 15 minuets off of our course. Finding out you have been going the wrong way at this stage in the climb after not having any sleep or a proper meal was definitely a knock to the groups morale. This actually made us start to move quicker through the overgrowth that we shouldn’t have encountered in the first place, but we managed to get back on track to our original path. The glimpse of daylight was our final push back to the car. We were tired, getting irritable (speaking for myself) and ready for a rest. Getting back to the car was a brilliant feeling; taking off all the overcoats and waterproofs, sitting down and getting some shuteye was the feeling we had all been waiting for.
Snowdon
Statistics: Distance- 4.7 miles – Ascent- 1085m – Climb time 4 hours
After a 5 hour drive (where it seemed like we actually got sleep this time), we had arrived at our final climb. The weather was nice, the temperature was up, the sky was clear and all moods were up. People said that the sheer fact that it was daytime and the final part of the challenge, we would all be joyful by this point.
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No need for big jackets or waterproofs, we started our climb. The route was well trodden, so seeing which way to go was easy. There were multiple other climbers out, so there was never any doubt about our direction and the best thing about the entire climb was that the end was always in sight. At times it was pretty rocky and pretty steep but never seemed hard compared with the previous two tasks we had just encountered. The clear sky allowed us to actually enjoy our views for the first time which was brilliant as with the other mountains, there always seemed to be some obstacle stopping this (horrid weather and pitch black darkness).
There was the occasional shortcut up the sheer side of the path which was easily climbable, cutting time off the ascent. We made it to the top of Snowdon with little trouble and with relative ease. looking back at what you had just climbed made for an amazing view as well. The top of the mountain was packed with regular climbers and was much more commercial then the previous mountains. Dog walkers, runners, Three Peak Challengers and people that clearly do the walk on a regular basis made up the population of people at the peak. There was a united feeling of triumph.
The feeling that we were 2 hours away from the end of this adventure got us revved up again. We had a quick break and started climbing down again. Knowing we wanted to end this journey as soon as possible, we moved with haste. At this point all of our feet were in pain and we were well and truly ready to stop. Regardless of this there was the odd occasion where we  ended up jogging down the side of the mountain avoiding the path just to cut out time. We blazed down within 1 hour 50 minuets and ended one of the biggest challenges any of us had ever taken. Our final time was around 26 hours, so we fell just outside the timescale we were aiming for. Regardless we all felt we had achieved something brilliant even up against the challenges we faced along the way.
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My Thoughts
This was an unforgettable experience. It is very rare to do something that reveals multiple emotions in the space of a day. From the start to the finish, you go from feeling tired to exhilarated and frustrated to proud. Its a massive team building exercise and ultimately brings you closer to the people you do it with. Together with the physical challenge of getting to the top, you do get a winning feeling by finishing.
Getting to the top of Snowdon was honestly my favourite part of the entire climb. The feeling that you have completed such a well known and loved challenge, plus the views you get to enjoy at the peak, literally tops off this adventure. I would advise everyone able to give it a go. As long as you do some proper preparation and go with a team that can get on well with each other, even when they may be tired, you can achieve the completion of the challenge. One for the bucket list indeed.
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Have you ever taken part in The Three Peaks Challenge? If so, did you manage to complete it within the 24 hour time slot? Or did you just miss out like we did? Are you thinking about getting involved in this national challenge any time in the future? Please leave your comments in the boxes below.

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