Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge
A fantastic weekend completing the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge with staff from Bristol Zoo. The Welsh 3 CPeaks challenge – simple, climb the highest mountains in Wales from each of the three main mountain areas. Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan are the mountains and you have 24 hours in which to climb them all.
Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge
Snowdon – 1085 m
For this challenge I was working with Bristol Zoo and a total of 30 of there staff were trying to complete the welsh 3 peaks challenge over 24 hours. We left Bristol at 4 pm and had a rather epic drive up to Snowdonia taking much longer than usually arriving at 10:30 pm. We ate some food and hit the hay, ready for a 3:30 am start – never a nice time to get out of bed. We started the Welsh 3 Peak Challenge at 5 am from the Pen y Pass car park taking the Pyg track in the dark and light drizzle. We made good time and summited Snowdon 1085 m just as the the sun was coming up but the cloud and mist gave little in the way of stunning views. We headed down from the summit with the weather clearing and giving glimmers of stunning mountains views. We were blessed with occasional views south across Snowdonia but to be honest we were all to cold and wet to appreciate them and wanted to continue on to the next mountain.
I pointed out the famous Snowdon horse shoe route to the group when the cloud cleared but everyone was to focused on the Welsh 3 Peak Challenge and didn’t seem to care about the record time i was describing to the group. As we reached the car park at Pen y Pass we all had bacon sand witches and quick toilet stop. Mountain one was complete.
Cadair Idris – 893 m
The next mountain on the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge after Snowdon was Cadair Idris and standing at 893 m is not the highest mountain of the three but it is certainly the least summited of the three. Cadair Idris is how ever the most impressive. When viewed from Llyn Cau – the horse shoe route, the route we took, takes in the horse shoe ridge of Cadair Idris and is spectacular. This was the mountain we wanted to do in day light and therefore we wanted the views. From leaving the car park the weather cleared and the mountain cloud lifted and delivered just what we wanted. A cloudy, atmospheric ridge to the summit followed by stunning views on the way down of the horse shoe route we had taken and the lake we had passed.
For those mountain walkers that have not scaled the summit of Cadair Idris, the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenges gives a great chance to tick all the classic peaks in Wales in a day and unexpected is the superb and brilliant Cadair Idirs, pictured below.
Pen y Fan – 886 m
The longest drive on the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge is from Cadair Idris to Pen y Fan and according to sat nav takes 2 hours 44 minutes (time correct as of 00:29 am Wednesday 16/09/2015 – Google Maps). This time may vary due to traffic and that’s what’s fun about this challenge. The national 3 Peaks Challenge involves 300 motorway miles of boshing, right foot down of motorway miles up the outside line. This is boring. The Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge however is beautiful through out and as long as you can keep your eyes open, the journey from A to B to C, is spectacular and well worth starring out the window for. Yes, it may not be as quick as the M6 but this is peaceful Wales. The A roads are uncrowded, the B roads have cattle crossing every 200 meters and the lesser roads are not on OS maps – Wales, ah yes. It may be slow in the car traveling but you get to see magnificent sites that the M25 doesn’t show on the daily grind.
We arrived at Pen y Fan on the A470 at 8:30 pm just south of the Storey Arms and ready for a fast ascent of our last mountain – Pen y Fan. We had all climbed two mountains so far and the group were tired. A quick group briefing and we were off.
Wow – what a pace. We arrived at the summit just under an hour and 15 minutes after leaving the buses. One person pointed to me that the whole point of climbing a mountain was for the views, that starting up a mountain in the dark and finishing in the dark is slightly odd. It is I suppose but that’s why we’re here, for the challenge and the slightly different.
We stood on the final mountain summit of the day at 9:56 pm and with a completed time of 17 hours and 56 minutes.
It’s not about climbing the mountain or in this case the mountains. It’s about the challenge. That challenge that we face inside ourselves. It could be this challenge or any other out there. The unknown ability to push on, to go further and harder than previously thought. Try something new. If i had had 24 hours…The Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge is one of the best ways to spend 24 hours and have ever lasting memories.