I can happily report that the Three Peaks challenge has been completed successfully!
The three day challenge came about as a means of raising money for Jo – see Paul’s Place JustGiving Page for more information – and please donate to a good cause!
I got involved when one of the team members thought it would be a good idea to have me along due to my experience in the mountains. In the event, my skills were only really required for the Scafell Pike climb and descent.
The team consisted of a core group of 14 people, which went up to 16 for the last climb. Their experience varied from having some climbing experience to having none at all. I have to say that I have never hiked with so many people!
Being the most experienced hiker in the group did add a little pressure, as I felt responsible for the team’s safety. I wanted to ensure that no one got hurt and that everyone would go up and down each of mountains safely.
It was a shame that given the UK’s generally good weather this year, that most of the walk took place under some dire weather conditions on the weekend of the 8th August 2014. In fact, some of the conditions were the worst that I had encountered on the mountains!
In all, the team had managed to walk a total of 43.52 km and climb a total of 3299 mtrs over a period of three days in some truly atrocious weather. But this doesn’t tell the whole story, as unlike a standard hike, one has to drive a considerable distance between each mountain once a climb has been completed. The designated drivers deserve special praise for this undertaking!
It is a testament to the strength of character of each of the individual team members, that they had all managed to climb and descend each of the mountains despite the very challenging conditions.
The hardest decisions to make with the team was the green-lighting/red-lighting of each climb due to the weather forecasts.
These forecasts had originally predicted thunder storms for all three days – so there was a distinct possibility that one or more of the climbs would be cancelled on the grounds of safety.
A weather review was conducted on the morning of each day prior to a climb. On the whole these reviews had forecasted weather that was at the best marginal. Careful consideration was required during the decision making process.
Overall, I really enjoyed the walk, even though it was not a solo one. The dynamics of being in a group are quite different to those of a solo hike and provided a different but rich experience.
In terms of equipment, I was only carrying a day sack, which I’m guessing weighed in at around 3-4 kg. This is a huge difference compared to my normal load of 13-20 kg. The weight difference had made itself felt in a big way.
With a full kit load I would have to take regular rest stops when ascending a mountain, but with a day-sack, these stops were strictly optional.
Another departure on the kit front is that I had decided to use a 2 litre hydration bladder rather than my usual water bottles. I didn’t want to hold up people whilst getting a bottle out of the rucksack to drink!
However, I don’t usually like using hydration bladders as it can be very difficult to keep track of one’s water consumption. In the event my water consumption was actually very low on all three days – 500ml or less per day!
In terms of kit the biggest let down were the boots:
As usual, the Salomon boots were extremely comfortable, but by day 3 the left boot had started leaking heavily under ordinary rainy conditions on a well made track. Given that these boots have only been on two previous walks for a total of 95 km, this was quite a disappointment.
These are the second pair of Salomon’s that I have owned that have leaked well before their time. I’m now beginning to wonder whether this is the ultimate fate of all Gortex lined boots?
As a result of the above, I’m now looking around for some replacement boots. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!
With regard to kit highlights, the star of the show was undoubtably the new Black Diamond Carbon Cork walking poles:
I found that these poles were very comfortable and that the hand straps suited my style of pole use perfectly. However, the biggest plus point for these poles was their dual FlickLock® Pro locking mechanisms.
The poles could be extended or retracted exceedingly quickly and without the usual jamming or slipping that can occur with poles that have standard twist locks.
Well that’s it for this initial report. Once again, I’d like to thank Jago and the team for inviting me along on what proved to be a fun and excellent excursion!
I will blog each individual day of the challenge over the next few weeks, so tune in for the details!