As 2016 drew to an end and I started looking forward to an exciting 2017 as an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion I wanted to do something that would challenge me personally. Apart from doing what I do for pleasure and as part of the ‘Summits On The Air’ amateur radio award scheme, I am passionate about getting people over 60 out onto the hills. If I was going to inspire anyone I had to push myself further than I would normally do.
Initially I chose two challenges. The first was a year long challenge to climb hills of the equivalent height of the three highest mountains in the world Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga totalling 26045 metres. The second was to complete a self-driven Welsh Three Peaks challenge – Snowdon, Cadair Idris, and Pen y Fan within 24 hours.
As part of the training schedule I set myself, I also included the 12 hour Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and so the Triple Three Peaks Challenge was born.
However due to daylight constraints the dates for the events are:
Alternate Three Peaks – 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017
Welsh Three Peaks – 4 July 2017
Yorkshire Three Peaks – 12 September 2017
End Of Year Review
So how did it all go? Did I manage to complete everything I set out to do? Off course not – if I had it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge! So how did it all go in the end?
Triple Three Peaks Challenge
This was always going to be the hardest one to complete as it was something of a tall order (excuse the pun). The target to climbing 85,500 odd feet throughout the year was a daunting task especially as the majority of the walking was set to be done in the South Downs and Wessex Chalk Downs of southern England. I had very few trips planned to ‘high’ areas of Britain other than what was to be completed are part of the Welsh and Yorkshire Three peaks challenges.
Well, in fact this one proved to be the easiest to complete and was finally put to bed on the 19 November 2017 when I reached the summit of Hackpen Hill on the Ridgeway LDFP. I would have topped out earlier except for having to spend 5 days in hospital and 2 weeks off work following a spider bite that went septic at the beginning of October!
Welsh Three Peaks
The day started off badly with continuous rain and a cold wind blowing but despite all of that I set off from Pen y Pass can park at 4am on the 4 Jul 2018 at the start of the Welsh Three Peaks. After a cold miserable slog I reached the summit of Snowdon on schedule at 0700 pausing only for a quick photo before heading back to the car and warmth.
After a 1 hour drive I met up with my Brother and his wife at the start of the Pony Path up Cadair Idris. They had driven out for the day to offer me support and bring fresh coffee. The climb to the summit of Cadair Idris was long and steady but the top was reached slighty behind schedule. A short but well-earned break was taken before the descent and the final hill of the day.
However, at the bottom of the scramble coming off of the summit I slipped and twisted my left knee resurrecting an old injury. This turned a planned 2 hour descent into a 4 hour pain shattering struggle back to the car. At times the pain was so bad I did consider calling the MRT out but I wasn’t going to be beaten by the mountain.
By the time I got back to the car and brother the thought of attempting Pen y Fan that night was completely out of the question. So a 2 hour drive back to my hotel for the night and a painful 5 hour drive home brought an end to the attempt. However, I returned to Pen y Fan a few days later and completed what I set out to do.
Yorkshire Three Peaks
Whilst steady progress was taken in the recovery of my knee injury, it became very evident that I was not going to be fit enough for the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge as planned for the September. The decision was therefore taken to postpone the attempt until 2018. As it turned out that was a very good move because the day I was due to do the Y3P, the Yorkshire Dales was hit by Storm Aileen with 60-80 mph winds across the whole region!!
The Charity being supported this year
As if this was not enough pressure to put on one self I decided that I should do all of this for charity. If I could raise a few pounds along the way for some good causes all the better. The question, as always, was which charity should benefit from these challenges.
Just after Christmas I discovered that someone very close to me had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This is a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Although there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life. Parkinson’s UK (registered charity in England and Wales 258197 and in Scotland SC037554) is the main Parkinson’s support and research charity in the UK. They can help if you’re living with the disease and let you know about support groups in your local area.
Donations are being handled by JustGiving, please donate what you can every penny will count. Thank you.