The Three Peaks Challenge The 24 Hour Challenge

How to complete the Three Peaks Challenge in a 24 hour period.

The 3 Peaks Challenge involves climbing the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales within a continuous period. Updated for 2010

 
The 24 Hour Three Peaks Challenge

Three Peaks Challenge Facebook Group

Firstly, some basic info...

So you've decided to attempt the challenge? Because there are so many organised challenges, with differing rules and routes, a Three Peaks Challenge record is difficult to define. However, Joss Naylor MBE (a celebrated fell runner) completed the 3 Peaks Challenge in 1971 with his rally driving support team, in under 12 hours. A modern, legal challenge is unlikely to achieve anywhere near this time, if simply due to road speed regulations. Joss started from the Loch at Fort William, and finished at the sea in Caernarfon - but nowdays the challenge is generally to climb and travell between the highest mountains of Scotland, England and Wales within a 24 hour period.

But I'll start with a more realistic view of what mere mortals can expect. The 24 hour challenge includes a minimum drive time of 11 hours, and is an attainable journey time between the hills so long as you don't encounter any roadworks, heavy traffic, or make navigational errors:

Ben Nevis to Scafell (Wasdale): 6 hours
Scafell (Wasdale) to Snowdon: 5 hours


Using Seathwaite for Scafell Pike reduces drive time by around 1 hour, but the walk is about an hour longer! These timings are quite standard for a challenge and allow for short petrol/toilet stops, but no time is included for transition from mountain to road, where many teams will lose time. Anything quicker than this may involve speeding, not legal, and certainly not a good idea for a tired group of walkers! More info about this on the driving page. Remember to have a separate driver!


How long on the hills?

The following timings are based on a 24 hour schedule (north to south), and acknowledge an average walker becoming slightly fatigued as the challenge progresses. If attempting just one hill you would expect to easily achieve these times.

Ben Nevis - 5 hours
Scafell (Wasdale) - 4 hours
Scafell (Seathwaite) - 5 hours
Snowdon - 4 hours

As you can see, the three hills at challenge walking pace could add up to 13 hours, plus your 11 hour drive, and you're right on the limit of your 24 hour challenge time!

Prevailling weather conditions can have a huge effect on your times, Scafell involves a certain amount of route finding and navigation in good, clear weather conditions. Mist and darkness require a far more experienced navigator and many teams fail because of poor navigation on this peak. Ben Nevis has claimed many lives in poor visibility. Do not underestimate conditions at the top, even when the sun is shining..!
Conditions found at Snowdon are often completely different from those encountered a few hours previous at Ben Nevis.


The Team...

Taking into consideration that from where ever you live, you will face a long drive before or after, or before and after the challenge, a dedicated driver would be invaluable, and is highly recommended. He/she would face hours alone in a car park waiting for you, unless they had a co-driver or companion, and hey - you've got yourself a support team!

Once you have your chosen few assembled, go out and try the nearest mountain to you. None of the three peaks are particularly hard in themselves. Then look at your time - is it within the expected pace? And could you rest in a car for a couple of hours and do it again? Twice?
Training together is important to build up mountain fitness, understand each others strengths and weaknesses, improve navigation, test out any new equipment and see which older equipment needs replacing, and to generally know how well you will work together if things get tough.
Food and Drink.

Two main problems can evolve from ignoring this : dehydration and exhaustion : possibly leading to mountain exposure, hypothermia and death. So it's quite important! Whilst on the hill it is important to keep drinking little and often, if you can't carry enough water with you, top up at streams and use steri-tabs if you need to. If you can't stomach sandwiches whilst undergoing physical activity, try eating small chocolate bars, dried fruit or a bag of mixed nuts/sweets.

When you get back to your transport it is important that you replace energy that you have just used. I have found that 'pot noodle' type meals go down best, but it's up to you. Make sure that you have a decent calorie intake well before the next hill, or else you'll bonk out, leaving your team mates to try and get you back to the car park. If you have a support team, they can sort out your meal whilst you're on the hill. Buy them a pint at the end....


Enviromental and Ecological Stuff....

Freedom of access means that you can stage your attempt whenever you wish. However, you should consider that you will be one group of many that pass through small communities who live and work in the areas you may visit. Speeding cars and vans at three o'clock in the morning past your front window doesn't impress anyone, especially local residents. The campsite at Wasdale is there for the benefit of the campers, and not passing three peaks challenges. If you need to use toilets or top up water supplies, do so at the M6 motorway services.

Keep quiet when at Wasdale, don't slam car doors, shout to friends, or set up a communications centre next to a support team who wish to get some sleep! Remember people are camping nearby.


Mountain Rescue...

Nearly all mountainous areas in Britain are covered by voluntary rescue services, mostly made up of mountain guides, climbers and mountaineers, fell runners, cavers etc, who use their expertise and knowledge of local areas to search for missing persons, and effect rescue of injured climbers or walkers. Unfortunately, some incidents have been highlighted where mountain rescue teams have been called upon in the early hours to lead dis-orientated three peaks walkers to safety. Being lost is no reason for requesting emergency help. Don't let it happen to you. Be prepared and stay safe.


So Where Are We?...


Many orienteers will run with the map folded in their hand, their thumb pointing to their current position.  It is very important for them to know where they are during the entire race. Of course, this level of navigational accuracy is not required for a days walk in the hills, however, you should always know where-about you are on the map.
Note what time you start walking, and pick an objective where you will check the time again. Make a note of features that you pass, walls, gates, streams, etc., until you reach your next objective. Now you will have an idea how fast you are walking, and can predict the time it will take to reach a further next objective.

If you are still walking somewhat longer than expected, stop and identify your position on the map. Remember the last feature that you passed to try and help you. If visibility is poor, use the topography of the land, steep slopes, crags, forest, etc., surrounding you to narrow your possible position. Use your compass to set the map correctly.
If you can work out your mistake, retrace your steps and correct the error. If worried about your abilities, employ a mountain guide for your challenge and don't simply rely on mountain rescue to help you.

If you have become totaly lost then DON'T PANIC !!! Decide which grid square, or squares, that you are likely to be in. Each square is one square kilometer. Find a large, unmissable, defining feature - such as a river, minor road or track, edge of forest etc., and then set your compass and map, and carefully head towards it. Beware of hazards in the area and note any that you see. Once you reach this feature you may have to travell along it to identify your exact location.
If The Worst Should Happen...

If a member of your party becomes injured, or you meet someone who needs help, then offer any help and first aid that you can. You must then decide whether the injured person is immobile and must be left on the hill, whether they need proffesional medical help as soon as they are off the hill, or if their condition allows you to take them to a doctors or hospital yourself. If in doubt, contact the police.

For the latter, contact anyone who may be expecting them, as soon as possible, and let them know what is going on so no unneccessary search is started. Consider informing the police of the fact you are bringing down an injured party and follow any advice.

For someone who can continue down the hill safely, but needing more urgent medical help, contact the police and give them details of your position, intended route, injuries, number in party, etc. Follow any advice they may give you.

For someone who has become immobile, if possible move them a short distance to any available shelter, put them into a bivvy bag with another person, use any sleeping bags or tents you may have, and get one person to monitor them, noting any change in their condition. Pool all equipment and food. Notify the police of your position, injuries, numbers, equipment and food available to you, and follow any advice given. Consider the well being of the whole party, not just the injured person. Try to make your position as clear as posible, and try to attract the attention and help of other walkers by using your whistle/torch.
Getting Help...


If you have a mobile phone, and it is finding a good signal, then that's that. If not, you must send a message via one of your party. If you have enough people in your group, send two people together with a message. Remember that as soon as they leave, the message cannot be ammended, so it's important to include all relevant information with the first message. Also bear in mind that it may take a couple of hours for the message to get to the police or mountain rescue.

If you walk solo or in a pair, what would you do?

Always consider this when packing your rucsac....
Are you still up for the Three Peaks Challenge..?

If you still want to attempt this exhilarating and demanding challenge, then start reading through our website.
Check our Blog to see what we've been up to. We have over 10 years worth of knowledge completing many successful challenges with private groups, charity teams and corporate organisations. If you need any help - please just visit the forum or email richie@merseyventure.com


Good Luck - Stay Safe..!
 
Communications

Mobile phones tend to get a very poor (if any) reception in the valley areas. Reception from the summits is much better. You should back up your communications with VHF radios, and send text messages where possible if the person you are trying to contact has no mobile signal.

Ben Nevis:

Summit has good signal. Glen Nevis is poor, but possible for most networks. Fort William has good reception.

Scafell Pike:

Summit can have a good signal, depending upon weather. Wasdale has no signal, but a signal can be found by climbing some 100 metres out of the valley. Wasdale Head Inn has a public telephone (credit card type)

Seathwaite has no reception, but a public phone can be found near Seathwaite Farm.

Snowdon:

The summit and Llanberis have very good reception. Pen-Y-Pass has no signal, but has a public phone at the cafe.
Top of the Pyg Track, Snowdon
Summit of Ben Nevis
Glen Nevis Bridge - start of the challenge
Teams at the finish of the 2008 Three Peaks Challenge
Three Peaks Challenge
Merseyventure Challenge & Adventure Website
Three Peaks Challenge Forum
Browse the Three Peaks Challenge forum here
Merseyventure Adventure & Challenge Shop..!
Three Peak Challenge blog from Event Organiser
Open Challenge Series 2011
First Three Peaks Challenge event:
 
The Spring Stroller
7th - 8th May 2011
Scafell Pike Training 26th/27th March
ONLINE ENTRIES NOW OPEN..!

Open Three Peaks Challenge Series 2011
Neptunes Staircase, Benavie
Challenge Start
Coleman Open Challenges 2008
Pen-Y-Pass
Summit of Scafell Pike
Public Footpath Sign
Typical Scafell Pike conditions...
Transport

If you are looking for a minibus and driver, we offer a range of vehicles that can collect you at Glasgow Airport, then drop you off in north Wales (or take you back home).

This can be cost effective, and is a lot less hassle than trying to organise transport yourself..!

Mountain Guides

We can include a fully qualified and experienced 3 Peaks mountain guide with our vehicle and driver. Please
email for details.

Campervan

We can even supply self-drive luxury motorhomes for your 3 Peak Challenge..!
3 Peaks Challenge Map

View Three Peaks Challenge - Driving Route in a larger map
NEW EVENT

Completed the Three Peaks Challenge? Fancy something a bit harder and brand new? Fancy winning 1000 cash?

The Three Peaks Mountain Rally Challenge - 23rd to 25th September 2011