Planning for the Three Peaks Challenge

The Three Peaks Challenge and mountain climbing in general has been a fascination for me since childhood – there is something awe inspiring about mountains, their raw, natural beauty and the unpredictability of climbing them.

Unfortunately the planning of this challenge has been difficult and as such I’m not going to be able to complete this in July. This is obviously disappointing but I am doing all of this myself and making it fit around my responsibilities for work and my children – starting a new job in July along with school holidays has made finding the 3 days required somewhat tricky. I’ve said all along I would do it and I am.

What is the Three Peaks Challenge?
The National Three Peaks Challenge is where people attempt to climb the highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours. Walkers climb each peak in turn, and are traditionally driven from the foot of one mountain to the next. The three peaks are:

  • Ben Nevis (1,344 m or 4,409 ft), the highest mountain in Scotland
  • Scafell Pike (978 m or 3,209 ft), the highest mountain in England
  • Snowdon (1,085 m or 3,560 ft), the highest mountain in Wales

The total distance walked as part of the Challenge is estimated at 26 miles with a total ascent of 9,800 feet (3,000 m).

So when am I taking this on?
So, now having got a long weekend sorted the Challenge looks something like this;

Day 1 (Thursday 3 August)

  • Drive to Fort William (approx 8 and ½ hours)

Day 2 (Friday 4 August)

  • 5am Challenge start at base of Ben Nevis
  • 10am Finish at Ben Nevis and drive to Scafell Pike
  • 4pm Arrive and start ascent of Scafell Pike
  • 8pm Finish Scafell Pike and drive to Snowdon

Day 3 (Saturday 5 August)

  • 1am Arrive and start ascent of Snowdon
  • 5am Finish Snowdon and complete the Challenge

Walking the Three Peaks in this way means I get a full day to travel up and then properly rest to Fort William before starting the Challenge. It also means that the first two mountains are climbed in daylight, particularly as Scafell is the hardest to navigate. The downside being that the drive to and ascent of Snowdon is done at night, but I feel this is the best option for me personally.

So I travel up to Fort William on the Thursday, starting with Ben Nevis on the Friday morning, climb Scafell Pike later that day and then finish at the base of Snowdon, in Wales, on Sunday morning. This is a tough event and I’m be prepared, although not excited about doing without sleep! The aim is to complete the event in 24 hours and as such I am looking to complete Ben Nevis in 5.5 hours, Scafell Pike in 4.5 hours and Snowdon in 4 hours. The standard for measuring your official total time on the event is mountain time plus a drive time. This another solo challenge, so while I am aiming to complete this in 24hrs or less I will be guided very much by the weather and my body – safety is key when on mountains and when driving. So if I need to rest, I will.

The Wish Flag
On this challenge I will be carrying my Wish Flag. If you don’t know I’ve been asking people to send me message of hope, love and support to all those children and young people facing life threatening illnesses. I’ll carry these wishes with me and when I’m on top of each of the three peaks I am going to fly the flag – in much the same way as a prayer flags used by Tibetans – I want the wind will blow all of that love and hope in the air and spread it far and wide.

I’m not a religious man and I know this isn’t going to change the world, but its something, its a way to remind you that there is always hope – because no child in this world should have to live without hope. Its just a gesture, but I hope you’ll agree that reflects just a little bit of what Make-A-Wish does. So, if you know a child or young person who is in need of a wish, or your would like to send a wish to someone – then simply write a message in the comments below and I will make sure they are all added on the flag.

Kit List
I’ll have two sets of kit – a day bag which I will carry everything I need for walking the mountains and secondly a cool-box in the car, which I will pack all the additional food and water required for three days on the road.

In general I’m taking;

  • Day bag
  • Boots Socks (plus 2 x spare)
  • Thin rain jacket
  • Thermal top / top layer
  • Base layer
  • Gloves
  • Sun hat
  • Buff headscarf
  • Head torch and spare batteries
  • Wet wipes / toilet roll and bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Emergency shelter
  • Personal first aid kit inc. compeed
  • Power bank (Phone charge and Garmin charger)
  • Food and water (my bay bag has a 2ltr internal bladder)

Unlike in some of my other challenges, such as the 144 mile cycle from London to Brighton and back, I wont be burning the same amount of calories. However, its still important to make sure my body is fuelled properly in order to address fatigue and the cramping that will inevitably occur in the driving between mountains.

That said the principle remains the same – taking on carbohydrates – as such I’ll be munching on flapjacks, energy bars, nuts and raisins, bananas and pieces of peanut butter and jam bagels.

I’ll place a High 5 Zero tablet to the water in the internal bladder and take a further bottle with EnergySource 4:1 – the first replaces key nutrients lost through sweat and the second is a blend of carbohydrates and protein giving an additional fuel boost to my flagging muscles.

…That and some good strong coffee!

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