Monday, 3 June 2013

Working on the 3 Peaks Challenge

 Summit joy on Scafell
For many people the 3 Peaks Challenge is their first taste of the delights of ultra events. Climbing the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales in 24 hours is becoming ever more popular with a constant stream of walkers and minibuses at this time of the year. It has attracted a significant amount of negative publicity and there are plenty of far more interesting challenges to be had but it is still a significant physical challenge and provides the stimulus for a huge amount of charity fundraising.
I guide a few events for Activius each year so Saturday morning saw myself and a couple of other guides heading up Ben Nevis with a group of 21. Taking point I was soon passed by Alex enjoying his first time in the hills by cruising up in a blisteringly fast 2:06. Pretty impressive for a newcomer to the hills in walking boots. The next 4 hours were spent on the plateau guiding clients safely to the summit and pointing them in the right direction for the long knee jarring descent.
A few hours later we were rolling up into Wasdale with the clouds clearing fast from the summit. I pointed Alex in the right direction and did my best to hang onto his tail arriving on the summit in around 1:15. The views were spectacular but a chilly northerly was blowing. An hour later I'd checked the rest of the fast moving team through and was away on the descent. Scafell is usually the hardest mountain physically and mentally coming at the end of a long day with the final challenge still many hours away. Any weakness in the legs or knees is cruelly shown up by the demands of the descent and a number of our group began to suffer.
The final mountain is Snowdon in North Wales which we climbed by the PyG track. With perfect conditions and visibility we were able to let Alex off the leash who duly dispatched the mountain in 1:56 topping out in 1:08.  the rest of the group soon followed with 19 folk completing the challenge.
Despite this being work it provided a great work out for the legs with 2500m of fast paced climbing in 6 hours plus another 10 hours of hill time.
 Checking the participants through Scafell Pike
Amazing early morning light on Snowdon

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