Peaks, peaks, peaks, and more peaks……

Well I thought I’d update on my plans for which peaks I am attempting this year, as it is ever changing and increasing!

As of the date of my last post, I’d just signed up for the Welsh Three Peaks, the (GB) Three Peaks, Mont Blanc and Aconcagua, as well as Elbrus. So as my training seems to be going ok so far (touch wood), and as I know I have a long long way to go before I’m in good enough shape to do the latter three of the above, then I thought I’d sign up for a few more. So now we also have……

The Yorkshire Three Peaks, and, The 24 Peaks!

The Yorkshire Three Peaks consists of the (hills really I suppose) following:

1. Pen-Y-Ghent – 691m, 2,267 feet.

Pen-Y-Ghent - doesn't sound like it belongs in Yorkshire to me...

Pen-Y-Ghent – doesn’t sound like it belongs in Yorkshire to me…

2. Whernside – 736m, or 2,415 feet.

Whernside, North Yorkshire's highest point.

Whernside, North Yorkshire’s highest point.

3. Ingleborough – 723m, or 2.372 feet.

And Ingleborough, the last of there three, traditionally done.

So whilst none of these places will exactly install fear into the most intrepid mountaineer, (or even me), they do represent a really good challenge. The challenge itself is to complete the three within 12 hours, and this involves a trek of over 25 miles, plus the three ascents, which are about 1,600m (5,250 feet) in total. It is very doable, but depends upon conditions and the like too. I’ve decided to go next weekend in fact, so am sure the weather will throw at me all sorts of exciting stuff.

Then I happened to be googling away the other night and came across this:

The 24 Peaks Challenge

Now this sounds almost mad!

The schedule goes something like this – day one:

1. Bowfell – 902 m / 2959ft
2. Esk Pike – 885 m / 2903ft
3. Great End – 910 m / 2985ft
4. Ill Crag – 935 m / 3067ft
5. Broad Crag – 934 m / 3064ft
6. Scafell Pike – 978 m / 3208ft
7. Lingmell – 807 m / 2647ft
8. Great Gable – 899 m / 2949ft
9. Green Gable – 801 m / 2627ft

Day two is as follows:

10. Red Screes – 776 m / 2545ft
11. Dove Crag – 792 m / 2598ft
12. Hart Crag – 822 m / 2696ft
13. Fairfield – 873 m / 2864ft
14. Seat Sandal – 736 m / 2414ft
15. Dollywaggon Pike – 858 m / 2414ft
16. Nethermost Pike – 891 m / 2923ft
17. Helvellyn – 950 m / 3116ft
18. Lower Man – 925 m / 3034ft
19. Browncove Crags – 800 m / 2624ft
20. Whiteside – 863 m / 2831ft
21. Raise – 883 m / 2896ft
22. Stybarrow Dodd – 843 m / 2765ft
23. Watson’s Dodd – 789 m / 2588ft
24. Great Dodd – 857 m / 2811ft

Altogether to first day covers 28km and about 6,000 of ascent. The second day covers 25km and over 7,000 feet of ascent. So 53km (about 33 miles) and >13,000 feet of ascent should be incredible, if I make it. The appeal is severalfold for me, being firstly that it has got to be outstanding training for Mont Blanc (this will be in June, the month before Mont Blanc), and secondly that all of these hills are in the Lake District, which is just about my favourite place on this planet. I’ll be so glad to just be there, and give it a damn good go. Both days start at about 5am in the morning and involve 12-14 hour days.

 

I’ve been walking most weekends for the past five or six weeks now, and have notched up about 100 miles of walking, and about 10,000 feet of ascent. When you consider that the 24 Peaks alone has over 13,000 feet of ascent, it just shows you what I am up against. Well, faint heart never won fair lady, or something like that! I have my work cut out, I know, but am giving this my best shot. I’ll keep you posted re next weekend’s Yorkshire attempt – watch this space 🙂

 

 

More mountains are a coming :)

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking to try to get a few more trips booked into my calendar, and as I’ve done just that, I thought I should say so right here, so here I am :).

In May I have the Welsh Three Peaks already arranged. This consists of Pen Y Fan, Cadair Idris, and Snowdon – the former two being done on the Saturday, and Snowdon on the Sunday morning, bright and early, or 5.30am for those of you like me will not be very bright by that time of the morning. I haven’t actually been up Pen Y Fan or Cadair Idris before, so it will be nice to tick off two of Wales’ most iconic climbs, even if neither of them are exactly giant peaks. The whole challenge does however involve some 19,000 feet of ascent and descent, and about 20 miles of distance covered, so it should be a really good challenge.

But the news now, is that I have booked THREE more very exciting adventures, all firsts in their own right…..

First in June, I will be doing the Three Peaks (not to be confused with the Welsh Three Peaks). The Three Peaks involves the highest mountains in each of Scotland, England and Wales, done traditionally in that order, being Ben Nevis, Scafell Plike, and Snowdon. There is this time over 20,000 feet of ascent and descent, and 27 miles of distance to cover, and all within 24 hours. Add to this somewhat exhausting schedule the fact that there is about 600 miles of distance to drive between the mountains (about 13 hours on the road, these are not motorways in the main), and you have a brutal schedule ahead of you. Oh and just to add to all that, you need to do Scafell Pike in the dark :O. Should be a fantastic adventure, of which I will tell more as the time draws near….

Then comes even more excitement in July, with, wait for it, Mont Blanc! Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in western Europe, at 15,781 feet, and is a brute.

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Here is just one of the ridges that I get to face:

The Bosses ridge on Mont Blanc.

The Bosses ridge on Mont Blanc.

I’ve never been up Mont Blanc, and never had the chance to even try it, so this is massive for me. It is not to be taken lightly at all, and has a high fatality rate. In fact around 100 people a year sadly lose their lives trying each year. Alan Arnette has a great FAQ on Mont Blanc which I will post below:

http://www.alanarnette.com/7summits/montblancfaq.php

There is so much more to say here, but again I will leave that for another time, as it deserves a good few posts of its own. I’m more excited about this than I am Elbrus actually, as it is just one of the most talked about mountains in the world. One of the amazing things about Mont Blanc is that is has a massive prominence from the surrounding valleys – something like 4,000m in fact. To put that into perspective, Mount Everest has a prominence of 3,500m from Base Camp! I have also seen it many times, from many angles, but the main angle I wish to see it from is potentially there in July………:)

So whilst I had a busy week in booking up these two lovely trips, I thought to myself – why stop there? I therefore contacted International Mountain Guides and booked up for Aconcagua! Now as you may know I have had Aconcagua booked for each of the last two years, but had to cancel it on both occasions. So without tempting fate, I am hoping for third time lucky :). I was originally going to wait to see if I made it up Elbrus (booked for August) before attempting Aconcagua, but then I decided that if I can’t make it up Elbrus then I shouldn’t be doing this whole thing, plus I really need something to aim for at the end of the year.

This is my year of the mountains – the one to really test myself and see if I am up for maybe 6 of the Seven Summits…….if I do what I have just booked for then that’ll be three out of the way by the end of the year, or almost – Aconcagua will start in December and end in January. More, much more, on that to follow too. Nearly 7,000m more, in fact……..better get training, and hard.

Aconcagua - so far away still......but getting nearer.

Aconcagua – so far away still……but getting nearer.

A March Update…

I thought it (well beyond) time that I updated my blog, so here goes:

The year so far for me didn’t get off to a good start. In fact it was awful. In January, four days before my 50th birthday, my Dad passed away. He had been ill, as I think I’d said in a previous post, for some 6 months or so, with cancer. He (only at the end, at least) was in pain, and so I should to some extent be grateful that he is now in a better place, or something like that. But that doesn’t help at all really. Fact is that I’ve watched both of my parents die of cancer now, and it took them both from (far far better) places of apparently otherwise fitness and good health, to being dead in a matter of months both times. I therefore hate cancer, and in this case, hate is by no means a strong enough word. I shall dwell no more on this, and put it away now :(.

I haven’t had the appetite for cycling much so far this year, and let’s face it, the weather has been woeful. I think we’ve had three weekends where winds topped 50mph, and also the wettest start to the year since records began. For this admittedly fair weather rider, and coupled with all else that has been going on, that was too much of an excuse for the bike to stay locked in the garage. Oh and I did also suffer a broken toe, but I shan’t dwell on that one either – it’s healing now!

I have been out in fact, only on four occasions altogether. Once on a brief ride in January, twice (although only about 35 miles each) on a short trip to Northern California, where the riding was fabulous, and then last weekend, when I did my first sportive of the year. The sportive was the aptly named “No Excuses” around Huntingdon, so called because as long as you turn up, they refund your £35 entry fee, and if you don’t, they give the money to a worthy charity, in this case prostate cancer. They apparently raised £22,000 for the charity, which means a whopping 630 people didn’t show up having entered. The stats are copied below in case anyone wants to take a look, but suffice to say I was absolutely knackered by about two thirds of the way through. Over 80 miles had me cramping and not really having fun, but I was very glad to be out there, cold as it was.

http://www.strava.com/activities/116934691

I have cycled only 200 miles this year though, and it is scarily almost a quarter of the way through. I must get out more now….

The weekend that is now just ending (9th March as I write) has seen me decide to get my walking legs back, having done basically none of that either. I did join a gym a few weeks ago, but the attractiveness of a stair climbing machine has and probably always will be lost on me I’m afraid. So blessed with some rather fine sunshine at last, I went and put some good old miles in, with a smallish (10lb or so) pack on my back for good measure. Yesterday (Saturday) I got in about 12 pretty flat miles around Milton Keynes, and today I headed out to Woburn, just about 6 or 7 miles away.

Blessed with totally beautiful weather (and frankly if we get days like today in the summer I won’t be complaining) I put in just over 14 miles, making 26.2 for the weekend. Although that is not exactly a huge number, I cannot actually remember the last time I walked 26 miles in two days, so that has to be a good thing. I also saw so many deer it made my head spin – witness this shot below for example:

The deer at Woburn Abbey

The deer at Woburn Abbey

Here are some a little closer with part of Woburn Abbey in the background:

Deer in front of the Abbey

Deer in front of the Abbey

So with me planning to be back to full fitness as soon as I can, I am now starting to look forward with relish to the rest of the year. I have planned the Welsh Three Peaks in May http://www.thethreepeakschallenge.co.uk/welsh-three-peaks-challenge/, am trying to get a full Three Peaks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Three_Peaks_Challenge trip in June , and am also looking to try to get a Mont Blanch trip in in July, prior to Elbrus in August. I have also contacted International Mountain Guides to see if they can’t get me that Aconcagua trip back on for the end of the year. Third time lucky, all being well……….

More soon, I promise.

The Three Peaks!

OK so there had to be some mountains come back into my life before long didn’t there? Now I know that the Three Peaks are not exactly the biggest mountains on this whole planet, but it is a great challenge, pretty hard work, and it will be a whole lot of fun. So what is this all about then I hear you say?

Well, whilst I was on the mountain, one of the people who I work with (she can remain anonymous for now, although actually her name is Kerry:)) decided to suggest a Three Peaks Challenge for the members of our company. I think she also nominated me as ‘expedition leader’ since a.) I have a penchant for the odd hill or two, b.) She probably figuredthat if I was up for Kilimanjaro then the perils of the mountains of England, Scotland and Wales wouldn’t daunt me too much, and c.) I wasn’t there at the time so couldn’t object.

So after a week or so of regaling tales of my adventures to people who asked me about my recent exploits, (and regaling also to plenty who neither asked nor probably cared), the subject of the Three Peaks was raised. I so want to do this, and so I grasped the nettle and got on with organising it accordingly. For those of you who don’t know much about it, here are some facts and stuff, which is in fact it is an extract from the note that I sent around the office:

A.)   The Three Peaks Walk takes in the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales. These are Ben Nevis (1,344 metres or 4,409 feet), Sca Fell (978 metres or 3,209 feet) and Snowdon (1,085 metres or 3,560 feet). We will do the mountains in that order.

B.)    It should be pointed out that this is literally a walk, and that there is no climbing involved. The paths are however tough, and involve a mild scramble in places.

C.)    The tradition is to complete the challenge within 24 hours. This is no mean feat, as the driving distance alone between the mountains is some 450 miles.  It is non-stop, and unless you manage to grab a few hours sleep between Ben Nevis and Sca Fell in the bus, you will be very tired by the end of it all. We will also have to drive 480 miles to Fort William on the way there alone.

D.)   Normally, Ben Nevis is a 6-8 hour trek. Sca Fell is normally 5 hours, and Snowdon also 5 hours. In order to do this within the time however, we will need to do Ben Nevis in 5 hours, Sca Fell in 4 hours, and Snowdon in 3.5 hours. It is therefore important for you to know that you will be ‘pushed’ (though not literally!!), and that it is against the clock. It is by no means a race, but we are as slow as our slowest person, and some of us (me very much included) want to beat the deadline, and time will be tight regardless. The driving distance to Sca Fell from Ben Nevis is seven hours, and from Sca Fell to Snowdon is four hours. If we do everything to plan without a hiccup of any kind we have 30 minutes to spare!

E.)    You are going to have to be fairly fit, and have some reasonable walking gear (including good boots) and waterproof clothing, amongst other things. There can be bad weather on the mountains at any time of year, and this coupled with not being ‘ready’ can end in trouble. We don’t want to be calling out Mountain Rescue for anyone, so please don’t attempt this if you are not fully committed and prepared!

F.)  If you manage to do this you need to know that you will complete approximately 10,000 feet, or 3,000m of ascent, during one day, and you will also cover in that same day approximately 26 miles, or 42km, of walking, the same distance as a marathon. It is really not therefore for the faint hearted or unfit.

So there we have it – another new adventure! It looks also like we are set for early July, which is really fast approaching – I am just trying to sort out the logistics of minibuses, driver, guide, food, accommodation etc etc. It will be fantastic. Although each hill is not huge by any means, to do 3,000m of ascent in one day and 26 miles walking is no mean feat. I shall have to get fit again – I have certainly let myself slide somewhat over the last few weeks, and waiting for myself dithering over bike choices most certainly doesn’t help!

More very soon –  I am back in blog mood now, so this will get more regular again. Thanks to Sky for his biking advice last week, and so if any more of you out there are Three Peaks fans then let me know – any and all comments/advice are much appreciated. In particular I would love to know whether we should start Ben Nevis at noon or 5pm, and why!……….

Oh and finally some new news here for those of you who like the spirit of all things adventurous – as you will no doubt know I met six other wonderful people on that mountain, and I have been swapping photos with both Heather and Caroline of late, which is fantastic. It keeps everything more than hugely alive. I also invited Heather and Caroline (and also Ronan, Kamal, Tayma and Tamara if you are reading this, then you are now hereby invited too) to come and do the Three Peaks with me, but both have other commitments and so it cannot happen this time, which is a shame. However…..Heather has invited me to come over to New York next month (or did I invite myself, who knows:)), but anyway I am thrilled and delighted to be going there. Apparently it will also involve going to see ‘The Yankees’ or something like that – and here was me thinking that New York was full of them anyway;)

Until maybe tomorrow, who knows….