Three Peaks Challenge
Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike & Mount Snowdon
Everyone loves a challenge whether it is running a marathon or swimming the English Channel. It is what makes us humans always wanting to push ourselves to the limit or that little bit more. Completing the Three Peaks Challenge took a different type of strength and mindset for me than when I was at Everest base camp and on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike & Mount Snowdon
- 2 What is the Three Peaks Challenge
- 3 Decide how you want to take part
- 4 Have the right fitting Hiking/Trail Shoes and they are worn in
- 5 Organise a driver (This applies to self-organised groups)
- 6 Have a bright head-torch
- 7 Keep your group to a minimum size that can be manageable (This applies to self-organise groups)
- 8 Take a change of clothes or top
- 9 Carry a small first-aid kit
- 10 Take a small music device like an iPod
- 11 Take a Day Back up the Summits
- 12 Be prepared Physically
- 13 Remember to have fun with it
What is the Three Peaks Challenge
The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing the three highest peaks Ben Nevis in Scotland (1345m), Scafell Pike, in England (978m) and Snowdon in Wales (1085m) within 24 hours. Covering a distance of 462 miles from start to finish driving and climbing a total height of 3408m (10,000 ft).
This is a tough challenge and I saw a lot of people giving up when I was completing mine, especially in the middle of the night on Scafell Pike. So I thought I would share some of my tips and hints that I learnt along the way to help you save time and hopefully make it more achievable. Remember every little bit counts.
- Lots of people do it for charity and it is definitely worthwhile if you can.
Decide how you want to take part
You can take part in the Three Peaks Challenge in two ways — as a “self-organised group” (which is what I completed), or a “professionally organised group”.
A Self-organised group is often the cheapest way to take part but that is because you will have to organise everything from car hire to registering the group (refer link below).
A professionally organised group is a great option if you do not do much climbing and are not overly familiar with the three mountains. Also, professional mountain guides are usually provided as well to assist.
- I do a lot of hiking in these areas so I know the routes well and it took a lot to organise on our own. If you are unfamiliar with the routes it’s best to consider doing the Three Peaks Challenge with an organised company.
Have the right fitting Hiking/Trail Shoes and they are worn in
Just like my Everest Tips, you may think this is a silly point but you will be surprised how many people I have seen over time getting really bad blisters and limping as they did not have enough support in their shoes.
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Remember, you’re climbing up three mountains, so you want your feet to be as comfortable as possible especially when you’re tired and pushing up that last mountain.
- Most outdoor shops will have experts that can professionally fit your hiking boots. They usually have a display area that you can test them too, just ask the assistant.
Organise a driver (This applies to self-organised groups)
Organise someone to do all the driving and to wait at the car in case anything happens during the Three Peaks Challenge. Do not try to share the driving amongst the group climbing, as you can become fatigued and run the risk of not completing the challenge and worse still crashing.
As I said before it is 462 miles from start to finish and in good traffic takes about 10 hours. Having someone else drive means you get to rest & recharge for the next summit.
We hired a Van in Scotland and had someone drive for us all the way back to London. We chose a van because we were able to sleep in it between peaks.
- Most professionally organised groups will have a driver provided
Have a bright head-torch
When you are climbing in the middle of the night, your senses can be thrown right out and you could waste valuable time going the incorrect way. I have been up Scafell Pike on a number of occasions before the Three Peaks Challenge, I thought I knew the route pretty well but in the middle of the night with a bad head touch my bearings were out of whack.
We did not cross the stream when we were supposed to and we ended up losing over an hour trying to find our way back to the correct route.
- If you are not sure, ask at your local outdoor shop for the best head torch.
Keep your group to a minimum size that can be manageable (This applies to self-organise groups)
Remember you are only as fast as the last person and you can only go from one mountain to the next when everyone has arrived back to the car after reaching the summit.
It can be frustrating getting down and then having to wait around especially when you are on limited time and know it is out of your hands.
- Our group was only 3 plus a driver, which was a good manageable size.
Take a change of clothes or top
You will work up a sweat (some more than others) by the time you reach a summit and get back to the vehicle again. Being dry between mountain transfers can make the world of difference of getting a decent rest before the next summit or just generally being comfortable.
Unfortunately, a pack of Redbull’s smashed in my bag on the plane while on the way up to Scotland to start the challenge and everything I had was soaking wet.
I got a chill and could not rest as I didn’t have anything to change into, so the others lent me their clothes to warm up. This made the world of difference and I was able to have enough energy to do the last summit of Snowdon, Wales
- If you have quick dry clothes that you use for sport that is great to use. Also don’t wear heavy clothes it will only weight you down and make you hotter.
Carry a small first-aid kit
The size of your group and fitness levels will determine a lot where you are going to be placed during the summits. For a professionally organised group, usually, there is a guide in front of the fastest person and a guide behind the slowest person. At times you can be a couple of hundred meters apart, so if something happens you need to be prepared.
As for self-organised group, it is something you should already have on your list. Maybe carry small kits on you and a larger one in your transport. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- If you are a self-organised group you will only have each other. If something happens you need to be prepared on the mountain.
Take a small music device like an iPod
When you need a little push and motivation especially in the middle of the night up to the summit (which is usually Scafell Pike), a bit of music can make the world of difference.
You do not have to have it in both ears blasting out but a little light music in one ear, while still using your other ear to listen to everything else around you. It is even good to help you relax and rest between mountains in the transfer.
- I listened to my gym playlist that was great to create a rhythm in my step, which also helped with my breathing.
Take a Day Back up the Summits
I definitely know that you do not want to be carrying any unnecessary items. Take a small comfortable day backpack with you to carry your water to keep hydrated, sweets to keep your sugar level up, your mini first aid kit and maybe energy drinks.
I saw a few people using the emergency foil blanket (also known as the silver blanket) to keep them when they had given up and were waiting for their team to return from the summit.
I have an Osprey Backpack which I use for both hiking and skiing. They are not cheap but they are super comfortable and I have not had any problems with it.
Be prepared Physically
This is a tough event; people participating should have the necessary fitness. You have to remember you are in a group and others are relying on you to make it. You need to make sure you train and prepare and if you can familiarise yourself with the three peaks beforehand, I suggest doing so.
Look up various leg strengthening exercises, climb stairs instead of taking the lift, anything really to build your strength.
- Create set goals of where you want your fitness level to be before you begin your challenge and a table to watch your progress.
Remember to have fun with it
With all the training and work that you have done to prepare, remember to still have fun along the way and don’t be hard on yourself especially if you do not make it in time.
You can always do it again or you can do one of the many organised groups who offer the Three Peaks Challenge over the course of a couple of days or week.
I am always happy to help
A special Thank you to Dataquest UK for donating towards our Three Peaks Challenge, which paid for our van hire.
Thank you for reading this article ‘Helpful Hints for tackling the Three Peaks Challenge’. I hope that I have been helpful in helping you achieve your goal of completing the challenge.
If there is anything more you would like to know or want further tips on, please do not hesitate to message me. Good luck with the Three Peaks Challenge and enjoy your adventure 🙂
Have you done the Three Peaks Challenge before or there any other tips you would want me to add to the article? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
Useful Guide Books for the mountains involved in Three Peaks Challenge.
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Disclaimer: All views are my own based on my own experience.