Friday, July 14, 2006

three peaks - a few thoughts

So, would I do it again? I honestly don't know. Maybe. I'm glad I've done it - it's been something I've thought about for a while - but I think I'd prefer to do each peak at a more leisurely pace, or better still, find peaks that are a bit more interesting. Ben Nevis is a bit of a motorway, and while the views are spectacular as you climb, it's a pretty boring journey. Scafell was wet, wild and miserable - I can't comment on views, as there was bugger all to see but weather, but I found it unenjoyable. Snowdon - well, I've gone up that several times now. I like the Pyg and Watkin paths, and I'd like to do the Crib Goch route too, but the Llanberis path is just a tedious slog.
A few thoughts from this experience:
There is no such thing as waterproof.
You can never have too much chocolate.
Climbing in the dark when you don't know a mountain is bloody stupid.
Pain is temporary.
You can get through exhaustion - the most important attribute is a mental attitude to the task in hand.
Hiking poles are a bloody good bit of kit.

So, talking hypothetically, if I were to do it again, what would I do differently/the same?
Have good, non-climbing drivers. They were absolutely vital, not just for driving, but also for making up food and drink for people.
Have comfortable cars/people carriers: we were four or five to a van, but it meant that we could let our gear breathe in the back, and the climbers stretch out a bit.
Bring spare maps.
Bring extra clothing - in particular, waterproofs and fleeces, and something to change into inbetween mountains. By the end, everything I had was soaked, and added to my discomfort.
Have a camelback fitted into my pack.
Have a decent sized daysack - my daysack was a bit too small and my main rucksack a little too large for comfort.
Have a waterproof container for my mobile - a bit of a no-brainer, really, but I had my phone in a waterproof pocket and it still managed to get wet. It's still sulking at me.
Make sure that everyone's mobile is fully charged.
Have walkie talkies with fully-charged batteries - we had them, but the batteries fizzed out on Scafell, when we most needed them. Essential for big groups.
Weather and Timing: I saw the last weather report for the three peaks on thursday night. Next time I would like to get as much as possible right up to the last minute, as this would affect timings. Although our main wasn't bed in itself or when we should climb, it was at the mercy of the elements, and that's what buggered us in the end.
TRY NOT TO CLIMB IN THE DARK, especially when you don't know the mountain. Now I know where the path is from wasdale Head to Scafell, I wouldn't mind it so much. Instead, if I were to do it again at the height of summer, I would consider doing Ben Nevis at 5.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m., maximising the available light, followed by Scafell at 4.45 (daybreak) until 7.45, followed by Snowdon from 1.15 till 5.00. This would all be dependent on weather conditions, although the afternoon climb on Snowdon is ideal for that mountain.
Go up and back down the Pyg Track: going into Llanberis is just far too long.
Wait for all my team to assemble before going up anywhere in the dark: it was too bloody dangerous and a bit too stupid for my liking when we went up Scafell.
Train a bit harder: I felt very tired at the end, as did everyone who did it, and I felt that just a little bit more training would have been beneficial. Our training weekends in Brecon and Snowdonia were extremely worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

Why not consider this effort merely a training run for next time - when you put all these things into action and manage the whole thing inside the time limit?

But, all the same: Congratulations on a truly heroic achievement!

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