Ben Nevis Summit

National Three Peaks 24 hour Challenge, 11th September 2009

The Challenge

The challenge was to climb the three highest mountains in the UK within 24 hours. That's over 9,488 feet (2,892 metres) of vertical ascent and over 25 miles of hiking. With one descent and one ascent in darkness, just for the added fun.

  • Ben Nevis: Height: 1,344m. Starting elevation: 30m. Total climb: 1,314m. Distance to walk: 10.66 miles/17.16 Kilometres.
  • Scafell Pike: Height: 978m. Starting elevation: 90m. Total climb: 888m. Distance to walk: 7.15 miles/11.5 Kilometres.
  • Snowdon: Height: 1,085m. Starting elevation: 395m. Total climb: 690m. Distance to walk: 8 miles/12.9 Kilometres.
Scafell Pike Summit
the team

The Participants

  • Craig Brewster
  • Chris Thomas
  • Peter Stephens
  • Louise Spence
  • Stephen Pannell
  • Ian Perrett
  • Brian Jukes
  • Patrick Moore

Patrick deserves a special mention as our driver, without him we could not have completed the challenge. As well as driving over 1200 miles, he had our food heated up and ready for us as soon as we finished each mountain. Well done Pat!

Waiting to start at the Ben Nevis visitor centre

The Fundraising

We've been collecting money for Asthma UK online and offline using traditional forms. Between us we should be over £2000 when all the promised sponsorship is paid.

Ready to go

After a restful night in the Glen Nevis youth hostel, varying Scottish breakfasts and a visit to the Commando memorial we were all nearly ready to start.

Ben Nevis complete

Ben Nevis

Started 1630
Reached the top 1910
Started back down 1930
Reached the bottom 2125-2139
Departed 2200

Scafell Pike complete

Scafell Pike

Arrived 0420
Started 0420
Reached the top 0624 (5 minutes lost due to navigational problems)
Started back down 0634
Reached the bottom 0750-0805
Departed 0820

Snowdon complete

Snowdon

Arrived 1350
Started 1352
Reached the top 1600
Started back down 1610
Reached the bottom 1746-1800

We completed the challenge in approximately 25 and a half hours, however we lost about 2 hours in traffic delays over our planned 10 hour travelling time.

The challenge required a very high fitness level, with the least fit of us having trained since late April/May. The whole group were of an excellent level of fitness before we climbed and at least one of us had been up each mountain beforehand.

The upper slopes of Ben Nevis

Lessons learned

  • The original plan was to start Ben Nevis at 1700, being concerned about reaching the summit in darkness we opted to start 30 minutes earlier. This was a very good decision.
  • It is important to eat before every mountain or you will run out of energy - sandwich or trek bar needed
  • At lot less water is needed when climbing a mountain at night
  • Apply lubricant to areas of the feet that could blister
  • Treat blisters as soon as possible
  • Snowdon will be full of tourists if tackled in the day time
  • Don't take co-codamol before climbing a mountain
  • If you are going to sleep in a Minibus tearing around mountain lanes, you may need something to help
  • Don't spend too long on the summits admiring the views
  • Don't let the euphoria of completing Ben Nevis slow you down, you need to get going to the next mountain
  • Leave your backpack as prepared as possible after each climb so that there is no delay starting the next
  • Take a long range torch to be able to see the stream fording point in the dark on Scafell Pike
  • Not everyone likes recovery milkshakes, bought 14 and returned with 7
  • Eating than 150 grams of Pasta in one meal is enough
  • 2KG of pasta takes a very long time to cool down, cook it the night before
  • Most people can only eat and digest 1 Trek bar per day!
  • If it is good weather Snowdon will be a nightmare to get to, especially if tourists have accidents
  • In the dark on the Scottish mountain roads watch out for deer and stags, there are hundreds of them
  • If you are arriving at Fort William late at night, there's a good chance the only drinks you'll get are those you bring with you.
Scafell Pike in the dark

Food

Food is an essential part of the challenge to make sure you have enough energy to complete it.

  • 30 litres of water
  • ~2KG wholemeal pasta with tomato sauce
  • 14 Chicken breasts
  • 4 bunches of banana
  • Container of chopped fruit
  • Soreen cake
  • Sandwiches (although few were eaten)
  • 9 Mars bars, 5 snickers
  • 14 Trek bars
  • 7 high protein flapjacks
  • 14 packs of glucose/dextrose tablets