4am – the dreaded alarm went off and as we lay there, struggling to open our eyes, stinging from the lack of sleep (4 hours was never going to be enough) mixed emotions filled the hotel room and even with no words spoken, you could feel a shared sense of anxiety and apprehension in the room.
Four months prior to this moment we had enthusiastically signed up to do the 3 peaks challenge for charity. We chose to support Alzheimer’s Society, a charity close to our hearts and were spurred on by doing a good deed. However, climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales whilst exposed to the elements, all within 24 hours, is no mean feat and now the reality was upon us and there was no backing out! (Gulp!)
We made our way to Ben Nevis in the early morning darkness and set off up the highest of all three mountains at a good pace. We soon found ourselves hot and breathless, fairly daunting considering we were only 20 minutes into our first mountain. This quickly highlighted exactly how hard the challenge ahead of us was going to be. We didn’t let this phase us though and we all powered on, passing words of encouragement and jelly babies between us along the way.
Reaching the top of the mountain felt like a weight was lifted and restored the faith in ourselves. We were making good time and felt optimistic about completing the challenge, high on endorphins we flew down the mountain, exchanging energetic good mornings and good lucks with strangers just starting their climb. Buzzing from our accomplishment, we got back into the mini bus high as kites and enjoyed the opportunity to rest our legs and refuel. Peanut butter sandwiches, flapjack and smiles all round!!
Over 5 hours in a mini bus and we had arrived at mountain number two. Scarfell Pike, which stands at 978m, the smallest of the three, sounded like it would be a breeze to climb after Ben Nevis at 1345m. With the most rugged terrain and steepest climb out of the three, we had planned to do Scarfell in the daylight.
We set off around 4pm, exhausted from lack of sleep and physical exertion, the mood in the group a little less spirited than the previous mountain but the support and unity amongst us remained strong. We could barely see a few metres in front of us due to thick fog and it got damper, colder and rockier. Battling on like the true heroes that we were ? we eventually made it to the top…. HURRAH!! The relief and sense of achievement was incredible and just the boost we needed to carry us back down. We had defeated this unforgiving, hardcore beast of a mountain and my gosh it felt GOOD!
We were all fatigued after Nevis and Scafell and would have probably been comforted in the fact that Snowdon was the easiest of all three climbs if it were not for the torrential rain that was hammering down as we pulled into the car park. The ascent continued to get more difficult as we clambered over rock faces on our hands and knees. Over four hours of walking in the dark, exhausted and soaked through despite wearing waterproofs, we eventually reached the end of our challenge and we felt incredible. IT WAS FINALLY OVER!! Overall we managed to raise over £1300 for Alzheimer’s Society made all the effort and discomfort worthwhile.