WILL I DO THE NATIONAL THREE PEAKS IN 24 HOURS?
So you are here on the internet searching about the National Three Peaks. First off its brilliant. DO IT. For me it was LIFE CHANGING and I can't recommend it enough.
I had never set foot on a mountain till 5 year ago, never heard of the 3 peaks. To me going up a mountain was what I now know as rock climbing. I never knew you could walk up a mountain! I started training and fell in love with the mountains. I completed the National Three Peaks and on that day decided I was going to qualify as a mountain leader and help others share and accomplish this experience. I started trying to raise a couple of hundred pound for charity and now I have set up my own three peak challenge company in order to help others, I have been on both sides of the event, a newbie to the mountains to guiding week in week out on them. Working freelance initially for some great companies and alongside some great mountain leaders whilst observing some 'questionable' ones.
The question I get every time, which is why you have landed here is "will we do it in 24 hours?".
The answer is YES, MAYBE and NO confusing right, let me explain.
As you know its a 24 hour challenge, the clock starts and of you go full of enthusiasm.
Many say they have done it in 24 hours or less
BUT where did they start? Ben Nevis visitor car park? The Ben Nevis Inn maybe? or the cairn or a bit further along the road at the Glenn Nevis Youth Hostel?
AND where did they finish when you get to Yr Wyddfa? ( previously called Snowdon) Which route did they go up and down? PYG/PYG, PYG/Miners, PYG/LLanberis, Miners/PYG Miners/Miners Miners/Llanberis, Llanberis/Llanberis, Llanberis/PYG or Llanberis/Miners. Did they stop the clock at the summit of the third like Amanda Holden, at the metal gate at the bottom of Llanberis or the car park? if so which car park?
So as you see there's lots of variables already, lets add another
Transport. Are you in a car that can do 70mph? Are you in a minibus? Is it a mate driving or are you in and on professional organised trip where a professional driver is used? Now be aware most minibuses used will have to stick to the 60 mph speed limit and by law the driver must take 45 minute breaks after so many hours of driving and they can only drive for so many hours a day so a driver change is needed, this usually takes place between Scafell Pike and Snowdon sorry Yr Wydffa as its now called.
So lets break it down
Ben Nevis 5 hrs Scafell Pike 4 hrs Yr Wydffa. 4 hrs = 13 hrs walking time
RAC & AA route planner 10 hrs 08 minutes
So we are on 23 hrs 08 minutes, now add in drivers legally required breaks and driver swap over THEN YES a 24 hour is achievable If everything goes like clockwork, as you can see theres not much time left.
GREAT the driver and guides will do their part they have the experience to achieve this so the rest is down to you and a bit of luck.
YOU must be fit enough to do each mountain on time, as its a timed challenge some companies will have a cut off time/point so if you are not at a certain point on the mountain you will be turned around for the good of the groups timings, harsh but it is a 24 hour challenge.
YOU must have zero FAFF time i.e straight on the waiting bus, faff on the drivers breaks, faff is getting kit ready for the next mountain, having everything you need on the bus, time is wasted with FAFF and it adds up. 5 min faff after Ben Nevis, 5 min faff at rest stop, 5 min at start of Scafell Pike 5 min after Scafell Pike 5 min faff at Yr Wydffa theres 25 min min wasted of your 24 hours. YOU must be ready to start the next mountain as soon as you arrive. Also there could be injuries, blisters and sore knees, weather maybe bad so rocks are a bit slippier and we can't go as fast as usual.
TRAFFIC is out of your control, an accident, a slow moving vehicle taking in the scenery of Glencoe, or roadworks can all have a detrimental effect on you completing the challenge on time.
BUT you can make up time on the mountains. Ben Nevis my fastest group was 4hrs 19, Scafell Pike my fastest group was 3hrs so we gained 1hr 41min back. Remember though the bus can't leave till the slowest person is on the bus.
So when people ask "will we do it in 24hrs" the answer is YES, MAYBE and as the day unfolds NO.
This is if you are going for a 24 hours time from the clock starting. At Orange John we always go for it and most the time we finish under 24 hours start to finish however we have an alternative, which you'll need to read my next blog 'The Orange John National Three Peaks Challenge' to see how we do it, which I feel is a better way of getting the 24 hours.
So if you are part of an organised group have a blast its great, if you are doing it by your self with friends have a blast too but get a designated driver, don't break the speed limit and please get the driver to take a rest its a tiring drive and not worth getting points on your license or crashing because the drivers tired just to say 'we did it in under 24hrs'
Have fun and if you are not with me but you see a guide all in orange lets have a high 5 and a cheery hello