Well we completed our challenge in an excellent time of 21 hours and 56 minutes. I have put some notes below on how it all went during our challenge.
Drive to Fort William
After some driving around Manchester to pick up all the team members we were finally on our way north at 1.00pm. The weather heading up was great and we had fantastic views over Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe as we drove up the A82.
After settling in to our B&B we went to sample Fort William nightlife but were rebuffed at the Ben Nevis Inn. We went to The Lochy pub in Inverlochy instead and after briefly looking through things for the day ahead, tucked in to a substantial dinner. After a quick visit to Neptune’s Staircase locks on the Caledonian Canal we headed back to the B&B.
The next day brought bad news as the weather had taken a turn for the worse with overcast skies and persistent rain. After packing everything in to our car we headed off for last minute shopping in Fort William. We then had a private tour around the Ben Nevis distillery thanks to Andy, and after lunch started to prepare for the start of the challenge.
We decided in the end to start from the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel which gives a shorter route than from the Visitors Centre where most people start. The disadvantage is that there is a short steep section at the start before joining the main path but we thought the shorter route outweighed this. The weather was overcast with a bit of rain so we opted for full waterproofs from the start. With spirits high we set off at 4.00pm for the first of our three mountains.
We made steady progress up the Pony Track ascending in to the cloud and eventually made the summit just after 6.00pm. Unfortunately due to the cloud we didn’t get any views of the summit. We stopped for the obligatory summit photo and a chat to a few other three peak teams who were up there, and who we were likely to run in to again during the next 24 hours.
We set off again quickly descending and trying to raise our support team on the radio and mobile as we realised that we were going to be down earlier than our anticipated time. We eventually made it down in 3 hours 55 minutes which was much faster than our target of 4 hours 30 minutes. After a quick change of clothes we got ready for the long drive to Wasdale.
Me to Will: "I can't believe you are wearing those trousers with that jacket, the colours just don't go".
Swapping fashion tips at Glen Nevis Visitor's Centre
Marc tackling the Pony Track
Closer to the summit as the cloud comes in
On the summit at last
Heading back down
Drive to Wasdale Head
We detoured from the Visitors Centre to pick up Lisa who had been getting our extortionately expensive and greasy pizzas from Ben Nevis Takeaway, and we ate en route.
The drive down allowed us to grab a bit of broken sleep, but was very hard on our driving team of Andy and Lisa. The weather conditions slowly got worse as they drove on with heavy rain, lightning, high winds, and flooded roads. After brief stops at Annandale Water and Gretna service stations for fuel and toilets we continued in the Lake District.
We eventually arrived at Wasdale Head shortly before 1.30am and after stopping next to Wast Water for a few minutes to get ready we started Scafell Pike at 1.30am in the pitch black with rain and wind beating us down. We progressed up from the National Trust campsite concerned that the storm would have made Lingmell Gill uncrossable.
After arriving there we fortunately remembered the best crossing point from our previous trip and were quickly over but with slightly wet feet. We continued to make good progress towards the summit despite the conditions and with visibility deteriorating even with our torch lights. We eventually made the summit around 3.30am and were surprised by the presence of two guys from Wasdale Mountain Rescue who were looking for a group missing since 7pm the previous night. Will lifted their moral by letting them know that we had been in a relatively warm and dry car whilst they had been up there during the storm earlier.
After a brief stop to put on extra layers we started to descend and quickly got lost by following a false path and cairns. We realised that we weren’t on the correct path and tried to correct with GPS and compass but ended up getting in to steeper ground eventually looping back towards the summit. Our second time off the summit was more successful and we moved in sections of 10-20 metres before stopping and checking the GPS, and correcting were necessary. We eventually made it to the path and started to move down at speed, but we had wasted time on the summit.
Daylight started to appear, along with other teams heading up to the summit who we passed on our descent. We made good progress down and crossed the Gill and eventually made it down to the car by 6.10am taking 4 hours 35 minutes on a route which had taken us 3 hours only a few weeks ago.
Mountain rescue at the summit
Marc and Will at the summit
Crossing Lingmell Gill
Drive to Pen-y-Pass
Again a quick change of clothes and we set off on the last sections of the drive. We stopped only once at Lancaster services for toilets and headed south. Thanks to some brilliant driving we made it to Nant Peris by 10.20am and got prepared for our final walk
We were dropped at Pen-y-Pass at 10.30am and knew that with 5 hours 30 minutes on the clock we would definitely finish in 24 hours. Fortunately the weather here was much better, and although there was a strongish wind, at least it was dry which meant no more waterproof trousers. We set off on the Miners’ Track and made good progress and made the summit after 2 hours 15 minutes. The wind was particularly strong on the ridge up to the summit alongside the railway, so we quickly got back in to the shelter of the Pyg Track. Down the Miner’s Track again and to the welcoming flatter section from Glaslyn where we kept a quick walking pace to ensure we got under 22 hours.
On the summit
Looking down Snowdon
We eventually got back to the car park at 1.56pm and we were very pleased with our time an beating 22 hours. After being picked, up went to the pub for a celebratory drink.
A happy team relaxing in the pub
These are our times for the Saturday/Sunday.
Ben Nevis Start 16:00 Summit 18:05 Finish 19:55 Driving time to Wasdale Head -
includes 10 mins to change after Ben Nevis, 5 mins to collect pizzas, 15 mins in total for two service station stops, and 10 mins stopping next to Wast Water to get ready.
5 hrs 30 mins Scafell Pike Start 01:30 Summit 03:30 Finish 06:10 Driving Time to Pen-y-Pass -
includes 10 mins to change after Scafell Pike, 10 mins for service station stop, and 10 mins stopping at Nant Peris to get ready.
4 hrs 20 mins Snowdon Start 10:30 Finish 13:56
And then a long two hour drive back to home comforts.