Last weekend we finally managed to complete the National 3 Peaks Challenge. What a challenge it was too. Stacey and the two drivers, Chris and Stuart, picked me up about 0800 and we thundered up the road to Fort William. The weather was dry, warm and mostly clear. In fact it was probably a little too warm.
The car park at Glen Nevis was packed with cars and mini buses, and the Ben was packed with groups of people heading up and coming down. Sweat poured from me the whole time and I drank every last drop of the two litres of water that I took up with me. Despite the heat there was quite a lot of old snow up near the summit that made the going a bit difficult on that last stretch.
We hurried back down in the not too spectacular time of 4 hours 45 minutes and spent about an hour in the car park eating and sorting out kit before heading off for the Lake District and Sca Fell Pike.
Curiously Sca Fell Pike was nowhere near as busy as Ben Nevis. Again it was very warm and dry. It was about 20 degrees celsius in the car park at Wasdale Head at 2300. Sca Fell Pike has defeated us every time for different reason on the three previous attempts. Not this time though. I’m not a fan of the Wasdale Head route up the mountain. It’s a relentless slog and in the dark it is just miserable. Like climbing a 3000 foot staircase in a sensory deprivation tank. Sweat poured off me again all of the way up the mountain. A quick photo in the dark at the summit and we headed back down. By this time my feet were sore and I had a blister on each big toe. My knees were playing up too, but we pushed back down to the car park. Surprisingly I never fell over once.
3 hours and 15 minutes after setting off we were back in the car park at Wasdale Head. Cup of tea and expedition breakfast eaten and we were off on the road again for the 6 hour transfer to Snowdon.
Stacey and I managed to catch 40 winks in the back of the car and when I woke up we were somewhere in North Wales and it was raining! Tired and sore, the thought of climbing Snowdon in mist and rain did not appeal to me. As we passed through Llanberis the mist had become quite thick. We followed the road through the valley to the Pen Y Pas Youth Hostel car park where we suddenly emerged into bright sunshine. We found a spot to park, got our kit and headed off up the last peak. As a result of the mist the temperature at the car park was a lot lower than we had experienced on the other two mountains and so I had a fleece on as we started the ascent. Within minutes I had taken it off and was labouring up the hill, puffing and panting with the sweat running off of me. Snowdon was even quieter than Sca Fell Pike had been. We saw a couple of other groups that we recognised from the other hills, and there were a few groups of people just out on Snowdon for the day but at times it felt as though we had the mountain to ourselves.
By the summit I was ringing wet and knackered, but we had done it in a semi decent time and so hung around long enough to get our photo and then headed back down. We took the miner’s track on the way down and so there was a short sharp scramble followed by a relatively flat drag around the lakes back to the car park. Snowdon took us 3 hours and 42 minutes and the whole challenge was competed in 22 hours 35 minutes and 28 seconds.
We’ve done it at last. If I never walk up Sca Fell Pike again I won’t be too sad about it. There are other adventures to be had.
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