3 Peaks – Review by Mark Williams

Danielle asked me to do a report of the 3 peaks from an outsider’s perspective!  Gayle has been a jogger for a number of years but she put my name forward when the opportunity for the 3 peaks came up – having always liked the British mountains.

So it was after some practice walks and a trip to the Brecon’s to do some training on the Pen-y-fan range that we met up on Saturday 20 June to begin the long drive to Scotland at the uncivilised time of 05:30.  (Apologies to the residents of Gresham Place that were hoping for a peaceful lie in and instead got us!

The drive north was long – very long but we eventually arrived at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel having seen the beautiful Loch Lomond on the way at about 19:00 hours to be confronted with a major issue in the 21st century – no Power sockets.  May seem trivial but when everyone has a mobile device for doing everything on and our navigational devices also needing electricity it did cause some panic, but that was overcome with a lot of charging at the Restaurant.

So after a great meal, a good sleep and breakfast we set off on the Sunday morning to explore a nearby waterfall before heading to Fort William fire station to register.  At the registration it soon became clear how well organised and efficient this event was with a very througher briefing.  After that there was time for lunch, to explore Fort William and to buy last minute supplies from the supermarket and the wealth of outdoor shops that exist in town.

Finally it was time to move out back to the assembly point at Gen Nevis, after first us all stopping to wish Danielle a happy birthday and then to pick up our other driver Hugh from Fort William station.

At Glen Nevis we had out first encounter with the midges, who found us all very tasty as we moved from the car park to the official start point.  I had been assigned Team A and we had a revised start time of 17.22.  We were given an equipment check and cheered away Team B as they set off at 17:00.  Then it was our go!

Having left to the sound of bag pipes we started the ascent , which was about 5 miles of climbing and in total XXXX feet.  It was a long slog but we settled into a good pace, some later teams came past us and then stopped just in front, but our pace was constant set by Kaz, team leading from the front.  We didn’t stop once on the ascent and after passing Marshalls we reached the snow line at about 4000 feet.  Slippery at first and in low cloud we continued through, near the top we passed Team B on their decent setting a good pace and we reached the summit at XX.XX.  After some photos at the Trig point where we were lucky to have a break in the cloud it was straight back down as quickly but as safely as possible.  We caught sight of Team B and chased them down over a couple of miles, but just as we reached them, Jackie caught her foot and went down in considerable pain.  This is where having a medic as team leader and a paramedic as driver was great, and the radio comms between then was clear and concise.  After a few minutes Jackie decided that she could walk on it and the team helped her slowly off the mountain to the start point.  Danielle, Andy and Hugh waited with Jackie while the rest went back to help David pack the van and move it to a location we could get Jackie.  David was then able to examine Jackie and deduce ligament damage – she would unfortunately not be able to take any further part in the walking part of the challenge.

So at this point we started the drive south, all in the minibus and eating some great Pasta, cooked by David while we were up the mountain, before we settled down to try and get some sleep.  Not as easy as it sounds while the bus negotiates some tight corners of the Scottish roads, which did lead to some people feeling and being ill.

After a night drive of 6 hours we arrived at a very wet Wasdale, to begin the climb to the summit of Scarfell Pike.  This I have to say was a horrible mountain, really rocky and not at all pleasant, but we climbed again at a good pace in very bad weather and summited that at XX: XX, crossing paths with Team B near the summit who were making good progress having arrived before us.  By now the organisers had decided not to let anyone else up and the conditions were really bad, and our decent was certainly very slippery, but we made in back down at XX: XX, a total time on the mountain of X: XX.  At this point everyone was soaked to the skin and a full change being required before we sat in the minibus ready to depart for the Snowdon.  But we had a problem, no driver!  Dave having come to meet us had taken the old path and missed us, but no time was lost due to the excellent timing system the organisers use.  Finally we were off on the 5-hour XXX mile journey to Snowdon, arriving there at about 1400 in the afternoon.

Somehow in the journey we got in front of Team B – and we both arrived at Pen y Pass at the same time.  Here it was straight off the bus and into a fairly good paced hike up the Pyg track.  We knew that despite the issues we could still make a time less than 22hours and we preceded on to summit in X: XX.  Typically for Snowdon the cloud closed in just as we were near the summit.  But we did it, arriving at the summit at about 15:40 and hoped that we were less than 22 hrs. when travelling is taken into consideration!

We waited for the Team B at the summit before all walking down the Llanberris path to find out our times.  We were overjoyed to find we had done it in 21h 10 minutes a cracking effort by the whole team and a silver medal.

A meal followed in the hotel in which Andy M got a very deserved award from the organisers for picking up every bit of litter he could on all the Mountains and then a final trip to Capel Curig for a very welcome shower, beer and bed which followed a massive midge attack on arrival !

In all it was a great experience and I felt very at home with everyone and appreciated the welcome given to an outsider.

So finally some thank you’s – to Mark and Mandy for the entire organisation for both teams.  To Kaz Fletcher for being a great Team Leader and setting a good pace throughout, to Fabien for some excellent Navigation, to Andy, Danielle and Tammy for putting up with my slower pace at times and to Jackie for having the determination to get off Ben Nevis and enduring a lot of uncomfortable hours in the minibus.  Also without Hugh for driving and David to being an all round star in driving, cooking and Paramedic skills which allowed us to start and finish this adventure .  Also to Team B for also great camaraderie and also for finishing in a great time

If I have missed anyone out I apologise – would I do it again YES – although I wouldn’t do it sitting in the back seat of a minibus again…