Last weekend (June 9th – 12th) the team at ASSISTED. and a few friends embarked on the national 3 peaks challenge, climbing the 3 largest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales. With only 75% of teams attempting the challenge able to complete it, we knew that it would be tough and we’d have to be lucky with both the weather and traffic to meet the allocated 24 hours timescale. It’s fair to say a small mistake nearly cost us the challenge and our motivation to continue…..
We started the journey to Ben Nevis excited and ready to complete the challenge in a competitive time, we arrived at Nevis at 5pm and set off up the first of the 3 mountains at 5.45pm.
It’s fair to say the weather for the majority of the climb was great with the evening sun shining through the clouds on the ascent.
We arrived at the summit 2 1/2 hours later in the low cloud cover in great spirits and after a quick photo started our decent.
With mountain 1 complete, we hit the road for our 5 1/2 drive to the next mountain in the Lake district, Scarfel Pike – The shortest of the 3 mountains. we expected bad weather and by the time we arrived at 4.30am the rain was heavy and was set in for the day.
We put in a good shift to reach the summit in 2 hours and with the low cloud, sideways heavy rain and strong winds we took the obligatory photo and decided to get off the mountain as quickly as possible.
As we started to descend following the cairns down we very quickly realised that we’d made a mistake and we were on a different route. The rain, wind and visibility made the experience pretty poor, so we had a choice… climb back to the summit and find the path we ascended on or descend and walk around the mountain back to the car.
It’s fair to say we made the wrong choice, our desire to find shelter and better conditions led us off the mountain on the east face, the opposite side to the car and our main route.
Although the route was a fairly easy detour it was costly, especially in time. A 9 mile, 4 hour detour saw us walk around the whole of the Scarfel range on lower ground back to the car. The rain was relentless and with all our waterproofs giving way after 7 hours in terrible conditions our motivation was seriously damaged.
The drive to Snowdon in Wales was a somber one with us reflecting on our mistake and us now knowing we were unlikely to complete the challenge in 24 hours. Forecasts of similar weather on Snowdon started to put doubt in the teams mind on whether we’d be able to complete the challenge at all, never mind within the time frame.
As the journey went on, one by one the team made the decision that they we going to give Snowdon ago regardless of the conditions and slowly the able team members pulled together. We made the decision to change into whatever dry clothes we had and to persevere with the challenge regardless.
As we ascended Snowdon we encountered several 3 Peak Challenge teams walking down suggesting the weather was worse than Scarfel on top, followed by droves of walkers who had turned around just a few hundred meters from the top due to the weather.
With this information putting doubt in our mind we continued into the low cloud cover surrounding the summit, with our sore legs and achy joints we enjoyed a brief moment of sunshine through the clouds which seemed to give us all the energy we needed to hold onto the side of the mountain all the way to the summit.
We rattled down the mountain with the hope of a warm van, cold celebratory beer and a headful of stories to tell as we endured some extreme conditions. We went prepared for bad weather, always respecting the mountains and still we got caught out – each having to overcome our own mental battle to continue on with the challenge.
The experience was a great one and we completed the challenge in a little over 26 hours. More importantly we raised over £1200 so far for our chosen charity and an additional £460 for our second charity – £1682.00 in total (and counting).
Thank you to the team who participated – Craig Thomas, Andrew Triffitt, Tom Pearson, Adam Moss, Andrew Allen, Ben Gregory and Myself (Nick Rinylo).
And finally thank you to everyone who supported us throughout and helped us raise the money for a cause close to our hearts.