The “Stepping out of my comfort zone” resolution I set myself back in January sent several opportunities my way. One such being a call from a friend asking if I’d be interested in doing the “Three Peaks Challenge“. I had to say “yes” (part of the resolution) and so next thing I know I’m sitting in a pub in South Derbyshire with my friend and some strangers (who’d also said yes) to discuss “The Plan”.
30 minutes in and all we’ve done is share stories of friends of friends of friends who have DIED doing this challenge and how training is KEY and how none of us REALLY have the time for that and maybe ACTUALLY it’d be better if we just did one PERILOUS mountain at a time and in fact whilst we’re talking ourselves out of it let’s just start with the easiest one yeah, say, Snowdon?
5 months later I’m sitting in a hotel in Wales looking at the big mountain outside and hoping it’ll be gone in the morning.
It wasn’t. It was still there. I regretted approaching the challenge in such an arrogant manner (training was nil, it’s just a big hill after all) but was rather pleased I’d spent £80 in Decathlon the day before on thermal base layers, proper walking trousers and a decent hat (even if the ensemble did make me look more “Missy Elliot” than “serious walker”)
We met at the car park at the start of the Pyg Trail – we chose the more challenging route just to prove we weren’t total pussies – and began our ascent. I was scared.
In the first 10 minutes we were overtaken by a 6 year old which was hard to swallow – the little sh*t. I reconciled myself with the fact that he would peak too early and we’d pass him asleep on a rock at 1000ft. (we didn’t)
The Pyg trail was a good choice though, challenging without being crucifying. The terrain constantly changes so we didn’t get bored and any time we thought our legs might give up the path seemed to level out for a while – I was totally digging it.
At around 2000ft we started passing fit young guys on their way back down, leaping between the rocks like mountain goats. Oblivious to the fact that we were clearly mid-heart attack, one of the guys shouted “Hold on lads, good looking ladies coming through.” Then turned to me and grinned “Morning Treacle”. Under normal circumstances I’d have replied “Right Backatcha Sugar Tits” but half way up a mountain first thing on a Sunday morning all I could do was take that “compliment” and use it to power me up the next 1500ft.
3000ft and we’d reached the top of the climby bit, were well into the clouds and well pumped on Jelly Babies. The last 20 minutes was spent negotiating the ridge around to the summit; it was a rather peaceful end to the ascent even though visibility was zero and the moisture was turning to icicles on my “serious walker” raincoat.
We were under a strict time constraint (one of the girls had a flight to catch that afternoon) so after posing for pics, we grabbed a very welcome cup of tea in the very welcome cafe at the very top of the very big mountain and got straight on the Miners Route back down.
After 40 mins or so of proper rock climbing down we were on to a pretty level path all the way back to our starting point. It was a completely different experience on the way down. Like a long stroll through the hills rather than a mountain climb and we didn’t get chatted up once
So, a step out of my comfort zone yes, I had never climbed a mountain before, but it wasn’t the BIG challenge I’d thought it would be. We climbed it with no training, only a couple of bags of jelly babies and a bottle of water in our bags. The 6 year old made it up before us for God’s sake. It was great, I loved every minute of it, it was a good challenge but I’m sticking with my original opinion – it’s just a big hill. Next year Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Who’s in?