Three peaks challenge (Part 1)

If you’ve been watching my Instagram stories over the past week, you’ll know I completed the three peaks challenge. Lot’s of you have been asking me questions about it, so I thought I’d write a blog post to answer them as well as share my experience.

what does the challenge entail?

Basically, the “three peaks challenge” involves climbing the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in under 24 hours. The peaks are Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales). Since they are so far apart, a component of the challenge is getting between each peak with enough time to climb them within the 24-hour constraint. Luckily, there wasn’t much traffic to complicate matters and there were no issues there.

The group at the bottom of Ben Nevis (I’m the small one in blue…)

why did i sign up for it?

Some of my friends did it last year through my school, and although I’d wanted to, I was in Sri Lanka so couldn’t. They did it to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), after one of our teachers was diagnosed with this life-changing disease. As well as rasing money for a good cause, I wanted to do something both physically and mentally challenging that wasn’t running, as well as have a final trip with some of my school friends before we head off to Uni.

phase #1 – journey to scotland

At 09:00am on Monday morning (09/07/18), we all met at school and got on the minibuses to start the trip. Although the drive up took about 11 hours in total, it (thankfully) didn’t feel that long. I mostly read my book (Holding up the universe by Jennifer Niven – thoroughly recommend), as well as chatting to my friends and listening to music. I’d bought lots of snacks and two packed meals so even though we stopped t numerous service stations, I didn’t need to buy any more food. We arrived at the hostel around 8pm, at which point we had some final kit checks and “motivational” speeches before getting ready for bed. Despite my best efforts, I only managed about 5 hours’ sleep…

It was a bit drizzly and foggy at the top!

phase #2 – ben nevis

We set the alarm for 05:30am, got on the bus at 05:50am, and set off for Ben Nevis, stopping off for breakfast halfway. I had a vegan “full scottish” plus a cappuccino to fuel me up, with the mandatory 509385 last-minute toilet trips to make sure I wouldn’t need to go on the climb.

Start: 09:11am

Okay so I’ve got to admit, the start of the challenge was a bit anticlimactic. Being someone who’s used to XC and track races where the start is crazy fast, the beginning was pretty different. Obviously I didn’t expect us all to go sprinting up the mountain, but it still felt pretty strange just to start walking and not have a gun to send us off. For me, the first 20 minutes of Ben Nevis were definitely the most challenging due to it being pretty steep, humid and slippery. I got out of breath within 5 minutes, and my back was drenched with sweat within 10. At this point I did start to panic a bit and question myself whether I’d be able to get to the top in one piece, let alone complete the challenge. Thankfully, everyone else felt the same and we quickly got into a sustainable pace.

At the top.

a few stats

Ben Nevis is the tallest of the three peaks, standing at 1,345m above sea level. Bearing in mind that we started at 35m above sea level, we had a long climb ahead of us. By starting off with the longest, we all had the adrenaline boost and energy to keep us going, meaning it didn’t drag on as I’d expected it to. There was a nice, mostly flat bit in the middle which I could definitely imagine running if and when I climb it again, but it got pretty steep right before the summit. There was also some snow and ice up there! Unfortunately, it drizzled a bit and was quite foggy so we couldn’t enjoy the stunning views that people rave about, but I guess that’s something to hope for in the future! I actually found the climb down much harder because of the mid-climb drizzle, which made the slippery rocks near the bottom even more slippery. Consequently, it was mentally draining on the way down because you have to concentrate extremely hard to ensure you don’t slip or trip over. Siân & I made good progress on the way down though and were amongst the first at the bottom.

Siân, Aaron I making good progress on the way down.

Steps: 26,000

Distance: 17km (up and down)

Duration: 4 hours 19 minutes (down at 13:30)

A brief interlude…

Although lots of you on Instagram said you didn’t mind a super long post, I thought it would be better to split it into two. I know I start skim reading posts which exceed a certain length, so hopefully you’ll come back next week refreshed and ready to read the second half. Keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram for the announcement of when it’s up!

I’m now ready for my next adventure which starts tomorrow: interrailing! Whilst I’ll be slightly less active, this won’t  shouldn’t impact next week’s blog post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the first half of my experience, and if you’re interested in  doing the challenge yourself, feel free to DM me on Instagram.

Emma ♥♥