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December 2005 - January 2006
A Tale of Three Peaks
by Parmod Jolly
Here is a brief review of my experience in completing the Three Peaks challenge. These are the highest points in Wales (Snowdon 1,085m), England (Scafell Pike 977m) and Scotland (Ben Nevis 1,344m).
Thursday 7 July was an ignominious day for all of us following the loss of innocent lives in the London bombings. I felt both mentally and physically drained. I had planned to leave for Bristol at 4:00 pm but could not muster sufficient energy until 7:30 pm to drive to Crosby Travelodge for the following day’s pick-up from Bristol.
I, with five other volunteers, boarded the double-decker coach at 6:00 am, and drove on to Cheltenham to pick the remainder of the volunteers. The coach was almost full with 44 participants, safety marshals and organisers.
After a five hours drive, we reached Pen-y-Pass car park near the top of Llanberis Park in North Wales. We hurriedly kitted ourselves in the coach and were on our way to climb Snowdon, considered to be the easiest of the three peaks. The path was uneven with slabs of stone formed into a never- ending progression of steps. We all walked at our own pace, stopping frequently to wipe off sweat, drink water and occasionally nibble nuts and chocolates. The participants, who started as strangers to each other, were now busy discussing their various adventures. I reached the summit in about two hours with the first group, and after the customary photographs at the triangulation point and a brief rest, descent began.
At about 4 pm, after some tea and light refreshments, we embarked on a long drive to the Lake District. After a brief stop at a service station for dinner, we reached Seatoller, a little sleepy village at 9:30 pm. After kitting ourselves and checking our head torches, we were on our way to climb Scafell Pike. Walking on uneven paths with scree and boulders is quite demanding in daylight and became a real physical and mental ordeal at night. After about four hours, luckily with just a few minor bruises, I reached the summit at 2 am on a beautiful starlit night. I was simultaneously sweating and freezing, felt too tired and walked unsteadily as if inebriated by copious quantities of alcoholic beverages. The safety team instructed me to join the slow group on the descent. Our small group reached the coach at 6 am after enjoying a beautiful dawn serenaded by birds welcoming the arrival of a new day.
After a brief stop at a service station for breakfast and a change of clothes, we headed for Fort William in Scotland to scale Ben Nevis. I tried to sleep in the coach without success and in the end decided to tackle Su Dokus to while away the time. The ascent of Ben Nevis started at 3 pm in dry and sunny conditions. The path is very steep and it felt steeper and longer as some of us were both physically and mentally exhausted. A few, very wisely perhaps, abandoned climbing Ben Nevis. I reached the top in just under four hours greeted by sleet, mist and cold wind. The descent was speeded up by a promise of cold beer, hot shower, dinner and bed (sadly without a kiss or a cuddle).
the end, I felt very tired, elated and relieved in not letting down
my generous sponsors.
In May 1996 a group of adventurous Meningitis Trust supporters took part in our first ever Three Peaks Challenge. They completed the challenge successfully, had a lot of fun and between them raised in excess of £12,000 for the Trust. Each year since, further Three Peaks Challenges have taken place and have raised over £320,000 to date to help fight meningitis.