Two weekends ago, I attempted the 3 Peaks Challenge* – ascending Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales respectively. During the trip, and while pushing myself to get up (and down), I learned some things about myself, and the world. These I’ve been sharing here in a series of blogs over the course of this week.
Day Two finale: turning back on Snowdon. So there we were, about half-way up the Pyg Track, pitch dark, pelting rain, tired after the two previous mountains, and we got hit with a gale-force gust that literally stopped up in our tracks. I was the first over the little pass, after Pere – when the wind hit, it ripped my hood off and I stopped, head down, body angled into the wind, feet planted firmly to hold my ground, clutching my hiking poles for dear life. As the wind abated slightly, we retreated into the lee of the rocks to consider our next move.
I know Pere was desperate for us to make it to the top – he’d already completed the challenge 3 times, and Kate had done it once. But Ben, Rajan, Maike and I hadn’t, so he was reluctant to call it off. He calmly gave us the facts – including the one that we were only about half-way there. And we had our final lesson, probably the big one, Lesson Ten: Discretion really is the better part of valour!
We could go on, and we’d probably make it – but in those conditions, maybe we wouldn’t? And maybe we’d end up calling out the Mountain Rescue teams, putting their lives in jeopardy too. We knew that if we’d asked for advice before setting out onto the mountain, we’d have got an unequivocal “don’t even think about it!”, and did we really want to go down as the sort of people who let a challenge blind them to common sense? So, disappointing though it was, we called it a day, and started the still-arduous trek back down fearsome Yr Wyddfa. Don’t ever let anyone tell you Snowdon’s an easy mountain!
Back at the car park, we headed for the toilets to strip off our wet gear. And most of us found that our wet-weather preparations in the cramped back of the minibus hadn’t been as thorough as they could have been! I stripped off my waterproof over-trousers and was pleasantly surprised at how dry my legs were. Then my jacket, again a nice surprise that my shoulders and chest were pretty dry – so how come I felt so flipping wet? Grabbing the bottom of my fleece, all became clear – I’d left it sticking out below my jacket, over the top of my over-trousers, and it had neatly wicked all the rain running down my jacket straight to my midriff!
Others (apart, I think, from Rajan with his full Goretex kit-out) suffered similar fates, and we were very grateful that the ever-resourceful Ben managed to persuade the manager of the Hostel over the road to let us use their games lounge to change into some dry clothes.
Nonetheless, we were still a pretty soggy bunch as we headed through the night back to London, driven by the indefatigable Kate and Pere. My thanks go to both of them for their fantastic support and hard work over the whole weekend.
So, that was my 3 Peaks weekend – ten great lessons for life and for business, and three days of great companionship. Would I do it again? In all honesty, probably not (though Pere’s taking a team on Eric Edmeade’s Kilimanjaro challenge next year). Would I recommend it to anyone? Absolutely!
* Lite version, over 2 days.