Mid-summer weekend is surely the perfect time to undertake a challenge and enjoy beautiful mountain scenery with friends while getting fit and raising lots of money along the way. Well, that is how Nuevas Esperanzas Director, Andrew Longley, convinced four willing friends to join him on the Three Peaks Challenge. The target: climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in 24 hours. That means a total distance of 42 kilometres and a total climb of 3,000 vertical metres in 14 hours, not including driving time. Surely the summer weather and the longest evening of the year will help?

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It all began well with the team meeting up in Fort William. The guides’ dire warnings of wintry conditions on Ben Nevis did not cramp their style as they enjoyed an evening in the pub and the advice to eat a hearty meal wasn’t hard to heed. Halfway up Ben Nevis the next morning Stephen, charity treasurer, commented to Andrew, "I think I've now worked off last night's chips. By the time I get to the top, I might have burned off the chocolate pudding too". It was a busy day on the mountain; as hundreds of walkers filed their way up the mountain it felt strangely familiar to the Londoners in the team accustomed to rush hour on the Underground. As the team disappeared into thick cloud, it became apparent that the guides had not been exaggerating – with poor visibility and several metres of snow on the ground, all hopes of summery weather were quickly dashed. It was a tough climb with little reward at the top in near whiteout conditions.

Everyone survived, and there was time to sleep on the coach heading south to the Lake District for an evening on Scafell Pike. The climb started well with stunning views of the setting sun over Wastwater but the slow times on Ben Nevis meant that even the longest day of the year was not long enough. As the team climbed into the cloud on the second peak, night was setting in and the descent of Scafell was completed in pitch darkness in the middle of the night. Two down, one to go. Exhausted, the group piled back on the coach to head to Wales.

The next morning in Wales was something of a blur after an uncomfortable night on the bus. Once again the climb began well, with some good views of the Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn, the lakes on Snowdon’s eastern flanks. But once onto the Bwlch Glas ridge, the team was welcomed by icy winds and zero visibility all the way to the summit. Cold, damp and windy were maybe not quite the conditions everyone had imagined and by this stage it was a challenge just to put one foot in front of the other. Nevertheless, for three of the group the lure of the finish line overcame the exhaustion and they ran the last half hour down the mountain. All five successfully completed the challenge raising an incredible £10,000 in the process. The clouds over Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon certainly had their silver linings.

30/06/2015

MartinMartin Gallagher
“It was a really enjoyable challenge with three very different walks which added to the unique experience. Wonderful feeling to achieve all three and a definite surreal feeling to have walked in three countries in 24 hours and not really know quite where you were!”

NeilNeil Burns
“Beautiful countryside. Weather was very kind to us, except for the views, which were all clouded in on the peaks.”

DaveDave Hawker
“I was just pleased in the end to get the top of all three. I thought I was reasonably fit, but this really was a challenge greater than I expected: Ben Nevis with 2 m snow; down Scafell Pikes in the dark; windy Snowdon with tired legs on 2 hours sleep. I'm honoured to have been included in such a great team effort...but I'm not doing it again!”

StephenStephen Webb
“It was a sobering thought that one of the peaks was maybe equivalent to what the Telica villagers used to do every day just to collect their water.”

AndrewAndrew Longley
“I have wanted to do the Three Peaks for a long time so this was a great opportunity to have a crack at the challenge with a great bunch of people for a very good cause. I’m delighted that we topped £10k and I love that thought that five guys climbing three mountains in the UK can help hundreds of families who live on mountains in Nicaragua.”