Our challenge wasn’t so much the climbing of the 3 highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales respectively. Ours rather, was the driving in between and more specifically, the route from the car park to the actual base of the mountains. Well, to be fair to ‘Team 3 Peaks’, I should clarify that peak number 1 and peak number 3 – inclusive of routes in and out of car parks – were embarked upon and conquered in ardent style.
It was peak number 2 – we shall call him Mr Scafell – that was determined to show us that the Challenge is indeed no mean feat. We came to learn during our 24-hour stint, like for many other adventurers, thatthis was the peak (or Pike) to make or break you.
Initially though it was Ben Nevis that I had apprehensive forethoughts about. Through the 3 Peaks grape vine, others had let on that as Ben Nevis was the first and the highest peak and in Scotland, it was far more susceptible to adverse and highly changeable weather conditions, especially at the summit. Between you and me, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t metaphorically soiling myself with anticipation and a touch of anxiety.
Leading up to our imminent departure, Wednesday 14th July 2010 - collectively between David, Katy, Lucy, Stephen, myself and our designated driver Andrew – there was of course much excitement and backpacks full of happy thoughts. This is something we’d been preparing for and psyching ourselves up for weeks if not months. A fabulous opportunity to get fit, both physically and mentally; spend copious amounts of money on enough high-tech gear to put Ray Mears to shame; and of course raise money for a good cause. There had been a handful of ‘getting to know you’ dinners and drinks, not to mention many an email and Facebook message about logistics.
Circa 17:30pm: Enter Peak 1. There we were at Fort William, the serene and strikingly scenic base of Ben Nevis. Bellies full of chicken, peanut-butter sandwiches, apples, fruit & nut mix and so on. Blood streams full of Red Bull, rehydration liquids and miscellaneous caffeinated beverages. Backpacks full of energy bars, water bladders, jungle-strength midge repellent and a token camera or two – for photographic evidence when reaching the summit.
…Five hours, a lot of cloud, snow, sheep and a photo or two later; we were reunited with our driver, clean undies, socks and tops and bound for England’s Lake District.
Circa stupid o’clock in the morning: Enter Peak 2. After a 7-hour obstacle course across the boarder (aka a car journey in the thick of some of the most adverse weather I’ve ever experienced in this country), and the most pathetic excuse for a sleep this side of a rave party; we somehow arrived at the car park for Scafell Pike. We played a long game of Hokey Cokey in the car - you put your left foot in (your hiking boot), you put your left foot out (the car), you put your thermals and waterproofs on and shake all about - deliberating over the extreme weather conditions, our safety and our general ability, or lack there of, in climbing the mountain that morning. To cut a long story short, we came, we didn’t really see, we certainly didn’t conquer, and then we left. Without further adieu, we took our half-relieved but half-disappointed selves back on the road and set our sights on Peak 3.
Circa midday: Enter Peak 3. With clear skies, no dislodged trees on roads and very little wind, came an abundance of tour buses, tourists and day-trippers.
We had arrived at Snowdon and it was obvious this was the package holiday destination of mountains. With this though, also came a great enthusiasm from Team 3 Peaks: a yearning from me to reconnect with my walking poles, a yearning from David and Lucy to sport their gaiters again, a yearning from Stephen to show his knees who was boss and a yearning from Katy to do her ablutions on a rocky outcrop, one last time.
…For the second time that day, we successfully navigated and reached the summit of a mountain!
Reunited with our driver for the last time and knowing that our hotel, proper food and indeed celebratory drinks were waiting for us in Chester, we traipsed our last steps, physically and mentally exhausted but with grins the size of the Cheshire Cat. Apologies to the virtuous types out there but the desire there and then to devour a huge steak and murder a cold beer was overwhelming.
Now several weeks on, with 2 peaks (and a ridge) under our belts, I think I can speak for all of Team 3 Peaks in saying that despite both the real and metaphorical highs and lows, we gelled superbly well as a team, we inherently thank all of our supporters and we’re thrilled that we raised as much as we did for the Living By Giving Trust.
Official Peak blogger signing off…