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Three Peaks – Challenging!

I’m back, still alive, mostly recovered and nearly dried-out after our Three Peaks Challenge attempt.

We didn’t succeed – we came off Mount Snowdon about 27 hours after setting out up Ben Nevis – but we were close, and had a good excuse. The weather was pretty appalling overnight, and almost every group on Scafell Pike that night was eventually rescued.

We started up Ben Nevis at midday on Saturday in a light drizzle. We reached the cloud level at around 200m and spent the rest of the day in cloud and rain, although a few swirling breaks in the mist on the way down gave some tantalising glimpses of the views we were missing. The path up Ben Nevis is a tedious set of zig-zags, and even on a clear day you can’t see the summit (1344m, 4406′) until you’re nearly there. We returned to our vehicle five hours later and were on the road twenty minutes after that, bang on time.

 

After the long drive to the West side of the Lake District, we jumped out of the minibus at 11:45 p.m. (three-quarters of an hour late now, delayed by wet weather on the way down) and marched off into a pitch-black night and heavy rain. The Scafell Pike path is just two miles up, and two miles back, but it’s extremely hard to follow in the dark, and is steep and heavy going. We took a few wrong turns on the way up, but got to the top by around 2 a.m. By now we were all soaked under our waterproofs and cold, with strong winds, and rain and low cloud reflecting the head-torches back to reduce visibility to just a few metres. We needed to get back in two hours to avoid losing any more time, and didn’t hang around on the summit (978m, 3210′).

 

I was navigating us back using my GPS to retrace our steps, but didn’t get more than a minute from the top before meeting one of the three other teams with the Anthony Nolan Trust event we were part of. They were being led off the mountain by one of our mountain guides, as they’d already spent an hour up there (in shorts and t-shirts!) trying to find their way down. The mountain leader was bringing them back to the summit for the second time, as they’d all got lost on the way down twice already. We formed a single large group and attempted another route down, navigated by the ML. This ended half way down a steepening scree slope, where we were forced to turn round and go back to the summit again once it became dangerous to go any further down in the dark. By now we’d collected another team, independently attempting the peak and also lost. In the confusion my own team had been split up, but we were reunited on the summit about an hour later. By now the group was 18 strong, and Keith, another mountain leader, had made it to the summit. By now many people in the group were extremely cold. To avoid any further navigational disasters we came down very slowly, with Keith navigating by map and compass, and me cross-checking with GPS. We finally arrived at our vehicle for a bacon sandwich when it was light, at 5:45 a.m. It had taken us six hours to cover four miles, and we were now three hours late.? In the end all three of the four Anthony Nolan teams, plus a few independent teams, were all brought down by the MLs, and the fourth team spent the night on the summit in a bothy bag.

You can see on this picture some of the aborted attempts down, including the steep scree slope we had to U-turn and re-climb.

 

After five hours in the van we’d mostly thawed and dried out, and were glad to finally find some sun for the Pyg path up Mount Snowdon (1085m, 3560′). The top was in cloud, so we couldn’t see the fabled views to the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland, but the surrounding lakes and valleys looked gorgeous all the way down. Pessimistic about the weather, I hadn’t bothered taking my camera for this climb either, but I’ll be going back some time to do it justice. We started on the path around 11:30 a.m., so we had no chance of getting down in time for the 24 hour limit, but we were on the top 25 hours after setting off, and down again two hours after that.

 

We were in the pub just half an hour later, with a couple of pints and our first proper meal that wasn’t made of chocolate for what seemed like days.

If you sponsored me, thanks very much. I met my target and Credit Suisse are matching the pile with another 500.

If you have Google Earth installed, you can see the tracks in 3D here.GPS tracks converted at GPSVisualizer.com.

 

Three Peaks Challenge – August 10th/11th

After my pleasant walking holiday in Scotland last year (the Caledonian Challenge, a double-marathon along the West Highland Way in twenty-four hours), and as a warm up for this October’s Loch Ness Marathon, I’ve signed up at the last minute for the Three Peaks Challenge, in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust.

I’m attempting to climb Ben Nevis (1,344m), Scafell Pike (978m), and Mount Snowdon (1,085m) – the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales. In twenty-four hours.

That’s 26 miles of hiking up and down mountains (a marathon), and 475 miles of driving.

I need your help, and you can help in two ways. Either come and pick me up from the foot of Mount Snowdon around 4pm on Sunday 11th August, and drive me back to London while I sleep, or else SPONSOR ME! If I raise 500 then Credit Suisse will match it, doubling your donation.

Here’s me at the end of last year’s Cally Challenge, just in case you think I don’t work for your money.

 

http://www.justgiving.com/threepeaksbarney

 

 

Little Holiday

Pip, Laurie and I took a long weekend to visit Griff, Clare and Amelia in Sheringham, where Clare has been directing ‘How the Other Half Loves‘. Clare’s photos are here.

 

We then went to Toby and Andrea’s wedding on the Friday.

 

Saturday morning I got up bright and early (well, 11am) and ran […]

More Pictures

Grandpa and Grandmarnier Moss have posted some of their photos from the holiday. Here are Pip and I getting ready to change a nappy.