Ben Stubbs Completes the Triple Peaks Challenge in aid of GB Football

by / Friday, 11 May 2007 / Published in FDFC News

Ben Stubbs and his 4 works friends, decided to attempt something that would test their fitness and endurance levels to the limit and that is to attempt the Triple Peaks Challenge which many try to complete within 24 hours, and this would be our target. We decided that we should try and raise a little money for charity whilst doing it. I decided to raise money for Great Britain Deaf Football Club. The three peaks in question would be Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scarfell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales) in that order, not your average walk in the park.

With all of us working in the fitness industry we had a bit of an advantage when it came to designing our own programmes of exercise. We also tried to meet once a week as a group along side our own training to test our fitness levels, to see if we where improving. By doing this we kept our focus and where able to push ourselves that little bit harder.

Along with all the training we also had to purchase the right equipment for each of the climbs. This meant a trip to the local shopping centre and with an exhausted credit card later I would be the envy of any serious mountain climber. If any thing could go wrong we would be prepared. Next was the car hire, we needed something bigger than a normal car that would allow us to relax during the journey and also hold all of our Kit. We opted for a people carrier. 9 hours to the foot of Ben Nevis and then the time between each of the mountains and home again, thats 24 hours alone. The only driving time that would be counted as part of the challenge would be that in between each mountain, a little help from Tom Tom sat nav should keep this to a minimum.

On Friday 27th April we set out on our journey to Ben Nevis. We had picked the car up earlier that morning and set off at around 11.10am. We got to the youth hostel we where staying in at the foot of Ben Nevis at around 10.30pm and prepared our kit for the next day. We all knew we needed a good nights sleep but for some reason the apprehension of what we where about to do kept me and the others up until about 12pm, so we just played poker until the tiredness took over.

Top of Snowdon

At 8.30am the alarm went off, we had about 2 hours to get ready for the climb and check that we had everything we needed. We were now set and with everything ready we started the time at 10.40am and started to ascend. The weather was great which made the most out of the already fantastic views and after about an hour of climbing I was starting to think this wasnt so bad. This thought however quickly soon changed; the terrain was becoming a little more unstable and steeper with every step which was making it a little harder to climb, at some points clambering was the only option. The closer to the top the colder it got, it was a complete opposite to the blistering sun at the bottom but we knew we were getting close to the summit when snow started to appear.

Top of Ben Nevis

The extra layers in the back pack where a good idea and are a must to anyone else wanting to climb Ben Nevis. Very soon all you could walk on was snow and we could see the base at the top. We had all made it safely to the top and congratulated each other on this feat. I was now at the highest point in Great Britain and made a few phone calls to brag about it. It was soon time to make our way back down. We knew we could do this quicker then getting up, so we set off at a much faster pace, slowing down for the more troublesome spots. Where there was snow it was easier to slide on your backside to give your legs a bit of a rest. I went on and managed to climb up and down in 3 hours and 40 minutes, not bad considering mountain rescue have to prove they can do it in 4 hours. I was pleased with the time and we were ahead on time to complete the challenge within 24 hours.

On the way to Scarfell we had to make a stop. Getting to the start point was not the easiest of tasks either; although we had the navigation software it only guided us to the area, the signposts were very hard to read and we lost about 2 hours trying to find our starting point. At this point I was all ready to give up and put the whole thing down to a bad experience, especially with the climb up to Scarfell Pike being low visibility and dark. My other 2 works friends was unable to participate for this peak as one have injured his knee on Ben Nevis and the other one was too fatigued. So with the two of us unable to climb, the whole point of completing it all in 24 hours was going pear shaped, but then we discovered we were on the right road. We quickly parked up and changed into our gear. With head torches on, me and my 2 works friends jogged to the foot of the mountain to try and make up some lost time whilst leaving the other two in the car to rest up and sleep.

Luckily we bumped into some climbers that were on their way down and we asked them a few questions as to what we were likely to expect. They said just stay within the marked areas and you will be fine, just try not to wake the man that was asleep at the top!! The night was clear so the moon was giving us some light. The start of the climb was next to a stream so care was needed at some points to make sure our footing was ok. We then started to encounter the unstable rock similar to that on Ben Nevis. Its not too bad when trying to climb on this sort of rock but it does start to make your ankles hurt after a while and I was way beyond a while. We started our climb at 10.30pm and got to the top at around 12.30am.

The climbers we met were right, there was a man asleep at the top and of all the places you think you could get a good night sleep, the top of a mountain would be in most peoples top ten, but not this night as there were lots of climbers. We were cold so did not want to spend too much time at the top, it was not like Ben Nevis when we where all ecstatic to have reached the summit. It would turn out that Scarfell Pike would be the most unpleasant climb of them all. On the way back down the rock was moving under foot with every step which was starting to put a lot of stress on my ankles, knees and back. Every step was sheer agony. I only cheered up when I started to hear the stream in the distance; I knew this meant we only had around 30 minutes to the car. We got to the car, changed and made our way to the next mountain, Snowdon.

We reached Snowdon at around 6.30am and starting to climb at 6.40am, the terrain was a little easier under foot as there was hardly any loose rock, but there were some steep inclines. The views on Snowdon were spectacular and every now and then we would stop and take a picture whilst also catching our breath. We were fully aware that we had around 4 hours to get up and back down again so the rests were few and far between.

5 of us at the top of Ben Nevis

There were lots of climbers out today, every 10 minutes or so we would catch up with or pass climbers who all wished us a good morning. I really had forgotten whether it was morning noon or night as I had found it hard to sleep in the car and could have easily just laid down and slept there and then. Snowdon is a little bit devious you think you are nearing the peak when all of a sudden you get to a point when you can see another higher peak in the distance.

We worked our way around the horse shoe shape pass between these peaks until we got to the area we would climb up. This was difficult with the combination jagged rock and the immense fatigue that was starting to set in. The top was in sight and that seemed to give us all a second wind, we pushed on to the summit and congratulated ourselves. We were exhausted but the challenge was complete, Peak to Peak in 22 hours. I was all for getting the train down, Snowdon being the only one of the three mountains to have this facility, but I was persuaded otherwise. We now wanted to see if we could all get down within 24 hours as well. The pain on the way down did not matter every step was a step closer to the car and to my bed at home. In the end I managed to get back to the car at 10.00am, 40 minutes short of 24 hours. This meant me and my 2 other works friends out of the 5 managed to complete the challenge in 24 hours. Although there were some points during the course of the 24 hours I wanted to give up I couldn't. I feel privileged to have been able to attempt an event like this as I know there are others that would find it impossible even if they wanted to.

Me looking absolutely shattered

I have raised approx £200 for Great Britain Deaf Football. I hope that will assist their preparation for the European Championship this summer. I like to wish them best of luck and I shall be keeping my fingers cross through the summer. I hope now that by reading this it will encourage others to maybe think of their own event to complete and to raise money for Great Britain Deaf Football Club. For me now it will be a lot of rest before the Preseason start again with Fulham DFC.

Written by Ben Stubbs

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