Three peaks on two legs

three peaksWE CONSIDERED ourselves to be in decent shape, we thought we were pretty active, and we thought that a nice stroll around a few mountains to raise some money for charity would be a weekend well spent.

Only at the bottom of Ben Nevis after eight hours in a minibus did we begin to realise what we were letting ourselves in for. It was my first time ‘mountaineering’, and I’ll admit to underestimating the challenge. Halfway up Ben Nevis, the mood was jovial and fun. We had 25 miles of walking ahead of us, and a further 3000 metres to climb but we were buoyant. Part of me thinks that it was just the joy of being out of the minibus, but here we were after months of planning and money spent on outdoor clothing and equipment, trekking up a path to lead us to the top of the highest mountain in the UK. As we ascended higher into the clouds the thought struck me that whilst it would be great to get to the top, we still had to get down in the dark, drive 260 miles to the next peak to do it all over again. And then we had to do it once more.

I’m sure Ben Nevis is lovely in the daylight, and I’ve only heard positive things about the supposedly stunning views. Despite this, with my head torch beam lighting up nothing but six foot of mist and rain in front of me, I struggled to appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors. We reached the top, posed for the obligatory photo, and hot footed it down to the minibus. I won’t bore you with the details but yomping down the side of a wet mountain, clambering over sharp rocks and leaping over gullies like a two-legged mountain goat left me absolutely exhausted, and at midnight at the bottom of Ben Nevis I privately thought that I’d struggle to carry on with the challenge.

That said, after a few hours sleep on the bus through the treacherous roads out of Scotland, we arrived at Scafell Pike travel sick but ready to crack on. Climbing started at 5.45am, and we were back down well within the budgeted time, after taking in a spectacular sunrise.

On to the next one, Snowdon beckoned with a renewed sense of vigour amongst the group. The end was in sight and we were so determined to complete the challenge, ever mindful of people’s truly generous donations. Our logistics men spun us a yarn of being pressed for time, so we didn’t mess around in trying to get up there as quickly as possible.  We realised that we had enough time left to not push ourselves so hard, yet the sense of determination and desperation to finish the challenge took hold.

We finished the challenge with a total time of 22 hours and 58 minutes, and we were thrilled. The sheer sense of achievement standing at the bottom of Snowdon having raised over £3,000 for two very worthy causes overruled the massive physical exhaustion, blisters and pulled muscles. Would I do the challenge again? No, but I’d love to return to all of the mountains at a more leisurely pace. Would I recommend doing the challenge? Yes, absolutely. It’s mentally and physically exhausting but also an enjoyable and rewarding way to raise money for charity.