In Staff Stories

Sarah & Sophie’s 3 Peaks Challenge

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Sarah and Sophie from Head office recently took on the infamous 3 Peaks Challenge last month scaling the highest mountains in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) within 24 hours. Have a read of their blog to see how they got on…

Pre-challenge Baking

It’s the night before the trip to Newcastle. Sophie and I decide it’s a good idea to go in to our final day at work with a bake sale! We make a variety of delicious cupcakes to tempt our work mates into donating to our charity, Papyrus. In hindsight staying up till 1am on the eve of such an event probably wasn’t the best idea!

The cakes go down a storm though and we manage to raise £68.50 for the charity!

Journey Begins

At 3.45pm it’s a mad dash to the bus station to get the 7 hour journey to Newcastle underway. On arrival we are greeted by the final members of the team. Bed is our only destination tonight and we crash straight away to make sure we’ve caught up on our beauty sleep. At 9am the next morning we’re out the door having stocked up on a huge breakfast of bacon butties, croissants and pain au chocolate. We thought this was supposed to be hard work?!

The team looking worn out at the top of Ben Nevis!

The team looking worn out at the top of Ben Nevis!

A mere 7 hours later and we reach our destination – Ben Nevis in Fort William. We’re all a little apprehensive but also excited to get the challenge started. We’re decked out in our Mountain Warehouse gear and feel more ready than ever to tackle our first peak. After a couple of group pictures we’re off- let the games begin!

Ben Nevis

The terrain of Ben Nevis starts out relatively amateur enough and our walking boots are flying us through. Half way up, the air starts getting cooler and mistier and we’re glad we have our extreme active jackets to keep our body temperatures at a good level.

We reach the top only 2.45 hours in- we’re all exhausted but happy and after a quick break (and glucose intake!) we start our descent. This is where lack of training kicks in. Lots of loose, rocky rubble is underfoot and as it’s hard not to let gravity pull you down at quite a speed. We definitely find it a challenge without walking poles to help stabilise our descent.

This is when our team tragedy happens. Poor Sophie loses her footing under the loose, steep terrain and takes a fall. We manage to get the bottom in one piece but Sophie is aware that her knee is in quite a bit of pain.

Despite this, we start the mad overnight dash to Scafell Pike- hoping that Sophie will recover in time.

The drivers do an excellent job and make up as much time as they can, putting us in a good position when we arrive at the English Peak. However, Sophie’s injury sustains and so she decides to hang back  leaving the rest of the team to head up the second peak at 3am- in the dark!

Scafell Pike

What a view!

What a view!

We’re optimistic about the second peak- we have fleece mid layers on to give us the warmth we need in the misty, cool air and our trusty 4 way stretch trousers to keep us flexible.  Let’s not forget the head torches, there is no way we could tackle a midnight hike without those!

Things start well but half way in, we take a wrong turn which results in us clambering up the ridge of an extremely steep, wet and slippy grass bank. We’re lost, confused and the terrain is very inhospitable but we’re determined not to let this English mountain beat us!

It takes longer than planned but we end up back at the van at 7.30am – absolutely knackered and completely drained.

Snowdon

The mission is then on for the drivers to get us to our last destination- Snowdon in North Wales- while we get some much needed R&R. By the time we arrive everyone is eager to start but also ready for the challenge to be over. The Mountain Warehouse gear has got us through comfortably but none of us fully predicted what a challenge this would be not only your body but also our mental state.

We take the one final push and head up the Welsh peak. The walk around Snowdon is beautiful. It’s a gorgeous time of day and the scenery of the Welsh hills and reservoirs really gives us a kick. When you get toward the plateau the terrain becomes very steep and rocky, you need to be nimble and I am certainly glad I have my lightweight walking shoes on!

Sarah makes it back in 4hrs 58mins! Just within time!

Sarah makes it back in 4hrs 58mins! Just within time!

We get to the top and spot the railway- can we take that down?! The feeling of elation when you get to your final peak in the challenge is second to none. Anyone who’s completed the challenge knows the toll the three peaks can take so the feeling of victory at the top of that last mountain is unprecedented.

Luckily, Snowdon has a nice easy flat route for most of the way down, meaning we could take in the picturesque scenery under the glorious blue sky.  But, this isn’t the time to rest! Despite wanting to slow down, the race was now truly on. Power walking, running and crawling to the end is all we can think of to get us back within the time limit.

And how happy we were when we did! With a second to spare the car park is in sight! WHAT A FEAT!

Kit List:

Waterproof boots

Double Layer walking socks

4 way Stretch Trousers

Baselayers: Swish and Talus

Warm fleece: Alpine warm stretch

Active 3 layer jacket

Walking poles

Head torches

10L active rucksacks with 2L bladders

Snack food –nuts, sweats, dried fruit and chocolate. Bananas and breakfast bars.

Whistle

Ice packs

Hindsight Kit List:

Our gear was amazing, but we realised we didn’t have everything – it was freezing at the top of Ben Nevis and could have done with warmer gear – so we’ve created a kit list in hindsight that we’ll use for next time.

Beanies and scarf

Gloves

Cooling head tube

Handwarmers

Waterproof rucksack covers

Thermals

Stoves and thermoses for hot cups of tea in the bus

Water carriers to re-fill our water bladders

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