About the Challenge
The challenge is to climb the highest mountains in each of the 3 constituent countries of the island of Great Britain. Although there is no official time limit (it’s not even an official challenge), it is common to aim to complete the challenge in 24 hours. A team of fit and reasonably experienced hillwalkers, with additional support for the driving, should be well capable of completing the challenge within this time. The challenge has become attractive to many of the larger charities who organise events involving up to 200 people. The big organised challenges are not run to a strict 24 hour timetable – it isn’t logistically possible. Instead, teams are staggered and the 24 hours is divided into an assumed amount of driving time (10 hours on the one I did) with the rest being the total walking time allowed. Each team is then timed on the 3 walking components and the times added together with the fixed driving time allowance to get the overall time.
The mountains are always climbed as Ben Nevis – Scafell Pike – Snowdon, or as Snowdon – Scafell Pike – Ben Nevis. And a common timetable is to start Ben Nevis (via the Pony Track) late afternoon on day 1, returning to the vehicle 10-11pm (this is why the challenge takes place in June/July to take advantage of the long days), then driving to the Lake District to begin the ascent of Scafell Pike (from Wasdale or Seathwaite) for dawn. The team are then back in the vehicle later in the morning and drive to Snowdonia for the afternoon, where Snowdon is climbed (commonly via the Llanberis Path, but sometimes the Pyg Track) late afternoon. For independent teams trying to achieve a strict 24 hour timetable, these timings are compressed, but additional faffing about time is needed for the big organised events.
An interesting twist on this challenge is that organised by the charity Railway Children. In their version the transport between the mountains is by rail on a specially chartered train (from London to Wales, then Ravenglass, then Fort William). I have to say this appealed to me quite a lot as a better way to do the challenge.
The challenge can be extended to 4 Peaks by including Slieve Donard in Northern Island, then to 5 by including Carrantuohill in the Republic of Island, and ultimately to 6 by including Snaefell in the Isle of Man. However, these bigger challenges are also accompanied by an increased time limit.
Story of My Challenge
2. Ben Nevis
3. Scafell Pike