March 2012 Hill Hunter

March 2012

Well the fantastic weather, didn’t lead to fantastic climbing!  however I was pleased to get out and about on the bike and get my first outdoor swim done.   It has to be said that the swim was cold, like boxing day cold!  couldn’t get my face in for any more than 10 strokes or so, and it was a bit of a wake up call as to how it feels in open water.  With no side gutters, lanes or lifeguards the sea  freaks me out!

The “hill hunter” ride in the vid – was indeed “hilly”   4 huge hills, somewhere around consett etc  and back.  Im not one for huge fast downhills so I made my excuse of catching some video and brought up the rear.  Who can blame me when Mick Rich is travelling at 62kph balancing on 2 strips of rubber, the size of half a finger!

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26 February, 2012 20:59

Hello blog readers. We are back as I know you have missed us…

Anyway, with the end of a long winter fast approaching I thought it was best to get some climbing in at the indoor wall and therefore on a recent trip to Sunderland wall I noticed that the huge barrel shaped wall had an F6a graded climb which looked a possible.

When I first started climbing my one ambition was to do the big barrel wall at Sunderland but I never thought I would be able to do it. Obviously I developed other targets and ambitions since I discovered that I could also climb on real rock outside but years and years have passed without me ever being able to climb the barrel.

Well, on 23rd February 2012 Angela and I headed to Sunderland wall and after a few warm up climbs I unfurled my rope which hadn’t seen action since Spain and started my barrel climb. It was a tough start but I got to the top without any problem. Angela got halfway on the second but she has now added it to her project list and I reckon she will get it soon as she was showing some really good form (and her climbing wasn’t bad either).

Hopefully this will be the first of many climbing achievements this year as I still need to tick an E1 and a 7a at Shaftoe.

What’s everyone else’s targets?

Dave x

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QE2 Duathlon October

No doubt everyone has their own story about the cross country feel to the run, and the puddle that made the event almost a triathlon.  For me it all went well, with no excuses re training etc I gave it my all and came out well pleased.   Mark Head, who hadn’t really trained for this entered and did himself proud too.  Paul exclaimed he was “Super happy” and so he should be coming in 4th with tough opposition.  Dave “Cooperman” Cooper got his first event under his belt and was no where near as bad as he thought he would be, well done mate!  Im sure George will have won some age group prize, as well as Paul – however the timing wasn’t quite working so any times on the vid are a bit rough, although mines near to that of my watch.    A great day out, met some great people – especially the runner who entertained my daughter with his bounding stride that proved most effective.  Some thought he was away with number 1 spot given his lead on the first lap,  his bike was not quite so effective and he dropped back a bit,  but he really was a sight worth seeing!

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Calpe Special – October

October, boys holiday started a long time ago in the planning.  Cheap digs n near the climbing was the booking criteria, and we couldn’t have done much better.  Maryvilla, Calpe hides under the back of Sierra de Toix, and hosts a maze of modern villa’s and apartments, with pools, tennis and the kind of thing you would expect from a package holiday.    The weather was hot and the climbing hours were short, giving plenty time to drink rum floats whilst singing obscene lyrics to “Your much too young girl”   Day 1 was spent ticking off easy climbs, however the time spent on triathlon training was pretty useless  whilst standing on dime edges, slowly balancing up slabby limestone, I did wish id put a bit more time into sport climbing!

Couple of days in and we were multi-pitching no problem, some new routes had been extended up the very amenable  Toix Far Oeste.   A wild night out in Calpe was a little more like a few quiet ones and a discussion about whether luck existed, however it was 3am when we rolled in Spanish style,  and a day at benidorm was in order to recover.  Swimming a mile didn’t really help, and the walk back saw more spaniels ears than a veterinary otolaryngologist.

No climbing  trip is complete without an epic and on day 6 we had to take on the giant pillar of rock that made up the high buttress of the Toix.  Id love to name the climb, but im really not sure which line of bolts was actually lead.  Dave first, then Steve and finally myself multi- pitched up with the hope of a walk off, or an uncomplicated abseil back down.    On nearing the top Dave disclosed that he had just had a “Spaz out”  and we had completely lost sight of the lower belay positions.  After we all gathered our thoughts we tied the ropes together (double double overhand with reef and double fishermans in case anyone wondered)  and young Steven bravely went off first.  Now usually Steve heads into danger the same way he heads into tackles, no regard for anyones safety, but at this point he was white and Elvis had taken his legs.   “We could die”  was what I thought as Steve took ages to find a place to make the next point.  The lad did well though and Dave lost his “Spaz”  followed down, as did I.   After a little technical debating we got down the rest of the rock without bother or loosing any gear, although we never did find the belay points!

Its worth a mention that we did try the north and the Crag facing the sea, but both were too rusty for my liking, and on the whole the Oest provided enough entertainment for a week so we didn’t leave.  I learned allot on this holiday:

Use red light at night if you want to keep your night vision when you turn it off.

Steve speaks quite good Spanish, good enough to understand that the shop assistants use pineapples as err “marital aids” in his interpretation

Ice cream takes the colour out of rum n coke.

It is true that your hand luggage has to be in 1 bag

Dave is a genius and invented the rrrrrrrrrrrum float

Steve’s fingers are twice the size of Dave’s, he pours a great 3 finger measure

 

 

 

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September round up

 

I (Mark) turned 40 this month and indeed I made the most of it, with 3 parties and 2 events and a Spanish climbing hol on the horizon.   Newbiggin Triathlon was my first open water Tri and we had the tail end of a hurricane in america blowing up our coast!  I couldn’t complain though as I came out of the water in a decent enough time given the conditions.  Swimming out was like having your head battered with a wet towel, and swimming in was like falling down a river.   Transition 1 was awful, I tried to put a jacket on fearing the wind, numb fingers ensured I wasted about 50 seconds on a zip and ditched the idea!  Cant say I was ever cold on the ride either, so I learned from that.  The ride went well and I managed to strike up a rapport with another athlete as we passed each other many times.  I couldn’t stay with him on the final lap but felt like it had paced me well.  T2 wasn’t so bad, a quick change of shoes and I was into the run.   A 2 lap course meant I saw the faster athletes in my group and some were doing really well,  Michael Doyle was in quick and Mick Rich was a good few minutes ahead of me.  On the last stretch I caught sight of the man who left me on the bike, and gave it a blast going past him in the last 200m – I was well happy.

 

Other things to note were: how quick the first females were to pass me after they started 15 mins after our group.  After a good event, how blue Mark Head’s lips went.  How despite the wind, all the people id met in preparing for the race had put a good time in.

We partied into the night and from the 11th to the 12th (My birthday) dancing as the clock struck 12!!

The following weekend was the Great North Run, and after 3 pisses near the start line, Myself and Dave set off to the inane ramblings of Alan Robson.   Now we had put our times in as 2hrs, so therefore started with the 2hr pace runners.  By the tyne bridge people were packing in, slowing down and walking! The rest of the race was like trying to get to the front of a gig! If I ever do it again, im putting in 1:30.   I came in at 1:47 having lost Dave in the rain somehow.  We all met at the end, Dave, Julie, Charlie, Julie n Ken and myself – a  fantastic moment that I had only enjoyed once some 25 years ago.

Mark n Dave all foiled up

Overall, turning 40 was great.  I was happy with my times and felt fitter than ever.  Apart from the actual 12th when I was at work for 10am, a little errr tired?

We did get a little climbing done in preparation for Spain next  month…..

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August 2011 Samoens bouldering

After the weather, shifts, fitness and all the other excuses it was very nice to get out on rock again.  The fact I was bouldering in the Mountains of Chamonix made it all the more pleasurable.   A drive to the Swiss border and a small scattering of boulders made up a very interesting area.  I actually only stayed around 1 rock, but this was easy enough as it provided a shed load of quality problems.

The immediate line had to be the arete, from a low pocket in the centre of the overhang.  Straight away I got on it, and got spanked!  a few easier problems later and a little intro to the rock, I got it!  6B I was informed by the sensible lad with a guide n mat!   felt harder like, but hey Im happy wit that!

There were many impressive highball, easy routes and the local ladies made short work of em – I have to say I bottled it, no mat and a gypy knee take the blame!

Back home there’s been   the usual trips to Shaftoe,  and im sure Dave will get his 7A if he sticks in.  Colder weather means better friction,  but he’s not keen on cold rock – Dig deep mate!

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Stockton triathlon 21.08.2011

 

 

 

And again its some form of none vertical action that takes the first post this month – however I will envy the climbers with pics of Chamonix at the end of the month.   Stockton tri was what Dave thought would be an ideal way to prepare for an open water tri next year.    Joanne, Dave and I (Mark) entered the Mini Tri  – 260m swim 13k bike and 3k run – a nervous start to the day was had by all.  The usual “Christmas eve” insomnia was had the night before and the sickening thoughts of un preperation lingered on the next day.

Both Dave and I finished ok – id love to say without problems but a wet vest / crop top,  a bouncy clown bike and some poor marshalling / going my own way spoilt all that.  Id aimed at completing in 50 mins  and managed 47.42 – 5th in my age group n 21st overall out of 160+  I couldn’t complain, in fact I was over the knot!   But a real victory was won for Joanne, who had never entered any kind of physical competition, and before doing so had never really ran or swam at pace.  However with a good base of mountain biking she went for it.   First target was to finish the race, last or not – to come in mid table was enormous for her, I don’t think any of us pushed it as hard.

The Tri lads did really well too, with Micky Lavender coming 9th overall in the sprint and Mark Head completing his first Olympic – il post the position soon.   With a sunny day to go with the racing, it was indeed a fine day, well worth a few lost hours sleep!

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Sun City Triathlon / Duathlon – July 2011

After doing the 3 peaks I felt that the my next challenge (Stockton Tri) was quite far away, and with me doing a few sea swims – I entered my for my first Triathlon.  The night before,  I sent 2 picture messages to Mark n Mick who inspired me to doing this, back in May when I saw them do Keswick. The pics were of the waves crashing over the pier.  I hoped it would settle.

I stepped outside at 5:30am on the morning of the race, I could hear the sea from my house (and no, I don’t live in JET amusements) The organisers made the right decision and changed to doing a Duathlon.  Run, Bike, Run – The atmosphere gathered right away for me, everyone seemed friendly and making the best of an uncontrollable situation.   Joanne, Mya and my Mam turned out to see us take part and took a great viewpoint around the transition zone to cheer us on.  Mark Head n Mick Rich gave good advice – like errr.. racking my bike the right way round!  etc!

The horn sounded and we were off, I ran the first leg not bad and came in the transition with some of the Sun City lads.  As we got onto bikes I saw the same lads and lasses piss past me before we hit roker!   After a while I got into my stride and targeted 1 person in front of me.  I never went past him!  I was heavy legged and light headed in the second run but finished with a huge smile.

As most people know, Il have a go of most things and see what it has to offer.  A bit like climbing, Triathlon or so far Duathlon has good craic and plenty people happy to help the inexperienced.  Cheers to all who took part and in particular to:  The guy who helped sort my bag out,  The bloke who put the holes in my number sheet, The many marshals who cheered us along – but the Lad who pointed out we were “at the top!” was a star,  The bloke from Cycle world for the elastic laces tip!   and a thank you to Joanne n Mya for putting up with me banging on about it all day long!!

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3 peaks Joanne’s View

Well the 3 peaks challenge just sort of happened one day. I blame Dave! Obviously since turning 30 and with Mark turning 40 this year he felt that they both needed a challenge. And this was it. Straight away i said NO i’m not doing it. But i will do the driving, at this point not being entirely sure what that entailed. A quick look online found a lack of sleep just about summed it up. Well i thought, i don’t sleep particularly well anyway so why not! I think the other option was getting Charlies mam to do the driving!
So came the preparation. Or lack of it! I think most things – routes to walk, roads to drive, food and drink to take and clothing to wear was organised on line via email. We even booked places to stay for before and after online. Thank god for computers! With all our lives being so busy sorting out a weekend just to do the challenge was a challenge in itself so meeting up beforehand was nigh on impossible!
But we did manage to get all sorted with Mark and i only an hour or 2 prior to leaving sorting out some sort of itinerary. Thank god for computers! Google maps and sat nav devices saved the day! But at least this put my mind at rest so i knew what time we should be places and how long they would take to climb each hill. Or is it a mountain????
So we set off on our drive to Glasgow. Paisley Road Travelodge her we come. Not the nicest of areas i said but a comfy bed to get a good nights sleep. Or not! After a couple of beers and a chat about the challenge it was off to bed for all of us. However Mark decided that he couldn’t or wouldn’t sleep. And instead of just going for a walk, or playing on his phone or reading a book, he huffed and puffed his way around the bedroom getting himself in a right old state. And taking me to the brink of murder! I honestly could have killed him! lol! But instead i ignored him and he ended up on the extra pullout bed saying ‘he didn’t want to disturb me!’ Too bloody late for that! So at about 3am on the morning we plan a 24hr no sleep, climb 3 hills, or is it mountains challenge, we finally got to sleep 🙂
The drive up to Ben Nevis was canny. Mark insisted he drove. And with me thinking great i can relax gave him the keys. Big mistake! He complained about everything! From the seating position, to the size of the car, to the indicators, and anything else he could think of. There were also a few ‘hold onto your seat moments’ with Dave and Charlie thinking what the hell! Note to self…do ALL the driving next time!
On arrival at Fort William, where there was very little except the hugest scone with jam and cream we had ever seen, we had a quick wander round and filled up on an Italian lunch. Yes we were little piggies and had this straight after our elevenses 🙂 Then it was off to the car park to get prepared. Unfortunately it was then that the heavens opened. And i mean OPENED! The rain was bouncing off the cars and the roads and paths. There was thunder and lightening and Mark was still in a grump because of his nocturnal huffing and puffing! I did at this point wonder whether the challenge would take place.

But 4pm arrived and it started to clear up. The suggestion of maybe getting ready now and starting a bit earlier was obviously one that everyone had as suddenly from cars, vans and buses hundreds of walkers/climbers started getting ready for their own 3 peaks challenge.

And so our challenge began! At 16.34hrs on Friday 8th July 2011 Mark, Dave and Charlie set off to climb Ben Nevis. I tried to go with them but they set off at quite a pace so i resigned myself to watching them walk up and out of sight. A very strange and lonely feeling. But i’d wished them all luck and hoped to see them soon.

While they were gone i sorted the car out, had a bit of a wander, a bit of a read and a bit of a snooze. Trying to fill the time in was so hard. I pretty much watched every minute go by constantly wondering where they were and how they were doing. Then as per the itinerary i set about boiling some water for them so they could make porridge and pot noodles en route to Scafell Pyke. Then my phone rang. It was Charlie. Yeah, they are still alive i thought! Thinking that they were on there way down and some way away Charlie said ‘we’ll be with you in 5 minutes!’ Bloody hell that was quick, i wasn’t ready for them. Not that i was complaining. A brilliant time of 4hrs 48mins and first back to the car park was a great start!
Then came the long drive down to Scafell Pyke in the lake District. About 4.5hrs mostly in the dark and ending on narrow country lanes 😦 Luckily for me Dave reckoned he wouldn’t be able to sleep so suggested coming in the front of the car as navigator and to help me stay awake. We talked about anything and everything! Good job as well as Mark and Charlie were soon snoring their heads off! We arrived at about 2.20pm and as we’d stopped en route to refuel and get ready the 3 of them were up and out the car and on their way in a matter of minutes. Now it was my turn to sleep! But it was hard. Other people kept arriving in cars and returning from their climbs and i was nervous thinking about how they were managing in the dark. So after preparing more hot water loads earlier than the itinerary stated at 6am, (i was bored and a bit on edge) i walked through the farm ready to meet them. About 30 mins later i could see them come round the corner. It was Marks purple pants that gave them away! But they still had miles to go. I was looking through the binoculars and thinking, hurry up! It took them ages to get back and when they did they all looked knackered.
Another quick turnaround and i started the drive down to Snowdon in Wales. And was i tired? YES! But we were making good time for us to complete the challenge within 24hrs. So on we went. I dropped them at the Pyg track on Snowdon and arranged to meet them at the end of the Railway track at the bottom. I estimated they had a max of 4hrs. So my time was filled having a healthy lunch of alf alfa sprouts and seeds with raw vegetable coleslaw and some strange vegan/veggie stuff followed by a proper 99 ice cream, monkeys blood and all! Very yummy!

Chalie’s mam and dad had arranged to meet her at the end of the challenge so after i met them, Stef and i walked the dogs, Ruffy and Gingy up the track. Thank goodness Gingy only has small legs as i was knackered having already scoped the end of the challenge out earlier. So while Stef and Ruffy carried on up we took shelter in the shade and waited. But not for long as i could see Marks purple panto’s come round the corner of the path and Charlie give her mam a big hug. Not far now. Dave walked past focused entirely on finishing the climb, Mark hobbled on as his knees were killing him, and Charlie hopped about about between everyone quite excited 🙂

And that was pretty much it. Mark, Dave and Charlie all walked down the last bit of road to the car park and finally finished at 15.21hrs on Saturday 9th July 2011. I was so proud! I thought everyone would be hyper and celebrating but the whole thing ended with a bit of an anti climax and people complaining how knackered and sore they were. Stef and Steve fed us a bit of homemade fruit cake and a slurp of water then it was off to Bobs Bunkhouse for a 15 minute power nap and a wash before heading out again to meet up for a meal. Sounds goods. That is until we get to the bunkhouse and find its at the top off a very steep rubble track that only the car and driver would just about manage to get up. Meaning everyone else had to walk. Not what they wanted after getting through the last 24hrs. This was definitely the 4th peak! But once there we found the bunkhouse entirely to ourselves. The showers were hot and the mattresses and settees comfy and after an hour or 2 everyone pulled themselves together for a celebratory meal and drink!

Still can’t quite believe we did it! But what an achievement!
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3 peaks Davids View

David’s View

Ok, so apparently it was my stupid idea to take on the three peaks challenge and aim to do it under 24 hours. But I blame Charlie as she took me on a walk up Scafell Pike and also mentioned about the infamous challenge. Well since I have passed the age of 30 I felt compelled to prove that my ever increasing age would not be a barrier to pushing my physical limits and so the gauntlet was thrown.

I mentioned this challenge to Mark and he seemed well up for it and Charlie then felt compelled to join us (probably to make sure that we didn’t get lost!!!!) and so we had our party of three for the climb with Joanne kindly volunteering to do the driving.

Charlie and I had done Scafell the once and decided that it would be a good idea to take Mark across to the Lakes so he could get one of the Peaks under his belt so he understood what was involved, what could go wrong and what he needed. Fortunately, Mark made all his mistakes and learned all his lessons on this first trip to Scafell including, not bringing gloves, learn how to use and carry the walking poles, deciding that sandwiches are not the easiest of foods to eat when on the move and finally layers are key.

As further preparation Charlie and I visited Snowdon back at Easter time and managed a quick climb up and down in well under 4 hours so at least we knew that we could tick one of the Peaks in the time allocated.

As time grew closer to the challenge beginning the training had been stepped up (pardon the pun) although work commitments had made this difficult but as I knew that my stability on walking downhill wasn’t good, I had to build my quad muscles up and therefore months of work on the stepper had improved my balance and stability and I was going to rely on my general fitness to get me up and down. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

On Thursday 7th July 2011 at 17.10 (10 minutes late, not a good omen) Charlie and I were picked up my Mark and Jo in Jo’s car. It was raining and therefore we shuttle runned our gear into the boot and back seat. It felt like we were going away for a month long expedition rather than a weekend in the UK.

The mood in the car was good although Charlie still had that look of trepidation and Jo looked more nervous than any of us (but that may have been down to Mark driving her car and taking us on a triangular route around Consett before heading north). I felt really good and tucked into my cold pizza as at the moment the more carbs I could get down my neck the better.

Around 8ish we arrived in the armpit of Glasgow and checked into our Travelodge and after a few drinky’s we had an early night to rest up ahead of our challenge.

The next morning after a quick breakfast we drove up to FortWilliam which was like a poor mans Keswick where we had a giant scone between us (obesity problem in Scotland? Cant think why that is!!) and some coffees and then did the obligatory wander round the outdoor clothing and gear shops where fortunately we found a good map of the Ben Nevis. We also found a little pasta restaurant where we each had a large bowl of pasta to fuel us for the challenge.

The time had now got to about 13.30 and Mark was getting a little ratty as he hadn’t slept well the night before and wanted a power nap. So we headed to Ben Nevis car park where he settled down to grab 40 winks while the rest of us had a little wander around. By 14.00 we were all huddled in the car together as the end of the world begun. The rain poured from the sky flooding everything while we each looked at each other to work out who had taken a photo, only to realise that a thunder and lightning storm had begun.

We all now looked rather pensive as the thought of starting the walk in a thunder storm with torrential rain was not appealing, but in the back of our minds we knew the weather had 3 hours to improve before we needed to set off.

As 16.00 arrived we started to get ready, by changing our clothing, checking our packs and Charlie decided to remove about 20 coats from her backpack as she didn’t think she would need them all. By now the carpark was filling up with lots of other cars and vans and we realised that we were either at a dogging site and the action was about to begin or everyone else was arriving to do the 3 peaks challenge.

It had now got to 16.30 and we decided that we needed to get away before the trail got too crowded, so Mark and I hooded up (with our midge hairnets) and after no stretching or warm ups we headed off.

Looking back, I think we were a bit too full of adrenaline as we set off at quite a pace on the flat but I think that was also to do with the climbers mentality of get as much as you can done before it rains. But it wasn’t long before some of the super fit had caught us up and passed us. This felt really frustrating as I really wanted to do the challenge in the 24 hours and from all the articles I had read, you needed to do the walks in 14 hours with Ben Nevis taking 5 hours, Scafell also taking 5 hours and Snowdon taking 4 hours. Watching people go past us made me feel that we weren’t going fast enough and were going to fail the challenge (and as you may know I am a little bit competitive and HATE to fail at anything), but Charlie was already red in the face so I knew we couldn’t go any faster and I just hoped that we could make up time coming downhill.

The views while climbing Ben Nevis were amazing and it was already my favourite of the mountains as not only were the vistas great but the terrain was good and the sun was out. I was amazed by the number of people who were evidently also doing the 3 peak challenge and it did give me the security in feeling that we would never be alone and stranded at any point with so many people about.

After a long slog we knew we were nearing the top as we encountered snow for the first time (July in Scotland and there is still snow on the ground, no wonder the locals are always pale) and my heart lifted although this was when I took my first tumble as I repeatedly slipped on the snow.

I turned to Charlie and said “one last push and we are at the top of the first one”, we regrouped and pushed hard to the top. On reaching the summit we scrambled across loose rocks and lots of people to touch the top had a quick photo and we were off again. It took us 2 hours and 48 minutes to reach the top and I felt that we had blown it as we were never going to make it down in under the 5 hours and I knew we needed a little extra time in the bank for Scafell which would be the toughest leg of the climb.

This is where all my stepper training would come in as I knew I was generally the slowest going downhill but I also knew that this is where we could make up the time. So I pushed on and was amazed to find myself the leader of the 3 of us for quite some time. The journey down Ben Nevis was a little slippy but generally the footing was good and apart from the odd slip we made it down in one piece and headed to the car park to meet with Jo and head off for stage 2.

On getting to the car park we discovered Jo putting the kettle away and on looking at the time we had managed to do Ben Nevis well under 5 hours (4 hours 48 minutes) which I was over the moon about. We were on for the time limit and after a quick change we set off towards Scafell.

I had been promoted to the front seat between peaks as I cant sleep in cars so Mark and Charlie were huddled in the back seat and they were asleep pretty quickly. I looked on jealously as they got some well earned rest while I played navigator (well watching the sat nav) to Jo. The roads were pretty slow going at first but we seemed to be heading the convoy of 3 peaks traffic and we soon hit the motorway where Jo made up for the lost time on the country roads and we were on schedule for our 10 minute comfort break at the service station.

After a quick stop at the services I settled down with my porridge pot and tried to psyche myself up for Scafell. This is the one I had been dreading as the two previous attempts of Scafell had been frustrating events with poor weather and ankle and knee jarring descents. To start this in the dark after no sleep and being cramped in a car for the last 5 hours wasn’t appealing.

We set off at 2.30 and it was pitch black with no visibility and the air was really damp. The ground was really wet and Mark was freaked out by the light reflecting sheep eyes that suddenly appeared only 3 metres away.

We seemed to be making really slow progress as we just couldn’t walk fast due to it being really dark and our footing never felt secure. I had my lowest point on this walk as I felt really nauseous and tired and all three of us seemed rather sombre. I had a good whinge for most of the uphill journey and that seemed to make me feel better so when Mark started to believe that we were lost I was calm enough to look out for some tor’s and keep us in the right direction.

This was a really lonely walk as it was just the three of us for a huge majority of it and due to tiredness, the ungodly hour and the fact that this is the one we had all been dreading, our spirits were low. On seeing another set of three peakers near the top, we seemed to be given a little boost as we march to the top which was again covered in cloud therefore we could have been anywhere at that moment in time.

We didn’t hang around long for pictures and started our descent which although we hoped to be fast was never going to be the case as both Mark and Charlie were struggling with their LT bands and the terrain was awful and treacherous.

Mark repeatedly shouted out in anguish at the uneven ground never ending and Charlie looked dead on her feet, we were all really tired by now and a bit of panic crept in when Charlie was adamant that we were lost and had taken the wrong path.

They both must have been tired when they took my word that I knew where we were and we were on the right track and to just trust me as they will soon recognise something soon. Fortunately I was correct and Charlie even allowed me to choose which route we were to take when we came to a fork in the path, I again chose correctly and we were soon on the flat and heading towards the car.

This is no exaggeration to say that this was the hardest part of the 3 peaks and I really didn’t believe that we would get it done as I was really worried about Charlie going uphill as she lost all colour in her face and looked like death and when both her and Mark had become “lost” and I had to make decisions I thought that when we got to the car I would have the horrible decision on whether I would do Snowdon on my own.

On seeing Jo I think all of our hearts leapt a little bit as this felt like the longest walk ever and if she said it had taken us 10 hours then I wouldn’t have been surprised, but the fact that it had taken us 5 hours and 14 minutes meant that we were only 2 minutes over our target to do the walks in 14 hours and I felt sure that we could do Snowdon in less than 4 hours.

Jo was really positive and cheery when we got down and she had hot water already brewed for us and the car was ready to go. I had another quick change and settled down with my pasta while Mark and Charlie again hunkered down on the back seat and were soon asleep.

I was buzzing again now as the sun was up, the hardest walk was done and I had loads of pasta in my belly and the effects were instant. I was again playing navigator and put my small talk skills to the test as knew that Jo would be as tired as we were and preventing her getting tunnel vision when driving would keep her alert.

Jo did really well on this drive and we ate into the miles as the ETA for Snowdon got earlier and earlier to the extent that we had time for another rest stop and I had a quick poo while the drinks were prepared and people were changed so we could have a quick start for Snowdon.

As we headed into the country roads of Wales I looked back and both Mark and Charlie looked really focussed, just one more peak to go.

I think we left the car at around 11.30 which meant we had until 15.28 to make it to the train station in Llanberis. This was to be the easiest and shortest of the walks although we were now physically and mentally tired. I had been awake for well of 24 hours and was running purely on adrenaline, I was just hoping that I would hold out mentally and physically but I was worried that my decision making would start to deteriorate.

We arrived at the bottom of Snowdon and the sun was shining so I stripped down to just one layer and we headed off.

We were immediately caught in a queue of people heading up one of the narrow passes and so I squeezed my way through the crowds, closely followed by Mark then Charlie and the way ahead was clear.

We made good progress until the first really steep bit came into view. Charlie was running on empty and I felt for her with every step she took. Mark and I seemed to be still quite fresh and powerful on the ascent although once we hit the final push to the summit, we both slipped a lot scrambling up the scree and almost vertical rocks.

We were working harder than I thought we would need to at this point as for my previous trip up here I thought this would be easy. It clearly wasn’t.

We made the summit and immediately the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees as damp clouds rolled over us. Therefore I stripped off my damp top and put on a couple of warm dry layers while we joined the queue to reach the top.

On reaching the top we were all really happy as that was the last of the uphills and we just had a 7 mile walk downhill to go along the train track and we had just under 2 hours to do it. The race was on.

It was only on starting the downhill section that I realised how much pain Mark and Charlie were in. I gave Mark my pole to ease the burden on his legs as he seemed to be suffering most but I was concerned that reaching the bottom may take longer than the 2 hours we had left.

The initial descent down a gravelly scree followed by steep steps that seemed to sap everything out of Mark and I turned round at one point to see him moonwalking down the mountain (thank god he wasn’t wearing white gloves), I turned to look at Charlie and she was staring intently ahead clearly focussed on reaching the bottom.

By now I was in my own little world as I was physically shattered and all I could think about was getting to the bottom and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I think we had stopped talking to each other by now as we were each fighting our own little battle and the 7 mile walk was one of the longest 7 miles of my life.

Every curve in the path I believed would allow us to see the train station but I was disappointed again and again and never thought we would ever make it to the end.

Charlie then received a text stating that her mother and Jo were coming up to meet us. I cant pretend that I wasn’t disappointed by this as didn’t want the distraction of stopping before the end to exchange pleasantries as just wanted this to finish.

I vaguely remember meeting Steph and then Jo but I had to push on and hoped that Mark and Charlie had enough in the tank to make it all the way with me.

We ploughed on and soon reached a road leading to the station, we were on the home straight. Charlie and Mark were with me and we were going to finish together. My chest had filled with pride at this point as this was the most difficult thing I have ever done and to have these two with me meant a lot.

Typically I got lost right at the very end and walked straight past the station, only to be called back by Charlie and we entered the car park together where we saw Steve sitting waiting for us.

We didn’t have the big celebratory finish with back slapping, handshakes and hugs, we just passed around the hip flask of whisky and then sat down on the ground to recover.

After this it is a bit of a blur as I was completely wiped out and just wanted to shower and sleep. But we got to the bunkhouse where I had the deepest one hours sleep that anyone has ever had. Steph and Steve kindly bought us dinner and we then had an early night.

It was only waking up on Sunday morning that the realisation of what we had achieved really sunk in. 3 peaks, 14 hours walking, less than 9 hours driving, several porridge pots, innumerable packets of dried fruit, nuts, flapjacks and magic bread and we had done it.

Champions!

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