Plymouth University Wilderness Expedition Medical Society
About the group
We are a University Society and we attempted the Three Peaks Challenge.
Here is a summary of our trip:
PUWEMS is a relatively new society and we already have 107 members! We achieved a lot as a society this year and wanted to finish with a bang, so we decided to attempt the Three Peaks Challenge! For those who do not know, it involves climbing the biggest mountain in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell Pike) and Wales (Snowdon) all within 24 hours including travel time in a minibus limited to 65 mph! The estimated total time to complete this challenge is 23 ½ hours, so no room for error.
We arrived at the foot of Ben Nevis and started the challenge at 12 noon. We had 5 hours to complete Ben Nevis. We started well, did not take long breaks and finished in 4 hours 20. We set off to the Lake District.
An hour into the journey, disaster struck! At Glen Coe, on the A82 there had been a motorbike vs car accident. The police arrived and closed the roads, then the air helicopter came, and ambulances followed. This was a big accident and we knew we would be here for a long time. We felt incredibly bad for those involved in the accident but could not help feeling stressed and that the challenge was slipping away from us. There was no alternative route as its Scotland, only one road in and one road out! We were delayed for 2 ½ hours.
We got to Scafell Pike at 1am, two hours behind schedule. It was dark, but we could see head torches up and down the mountain which was a lovely spectacle and quite reassuring that we were not alone up there! We made good pace and only had a couple of problems such as route navigation and sickness. But these were managed well, and we finished Scafell in 3 ½ hours so we had managed to claw half an hour back from our estimated time.
Everyone jumped into the minibus, there was no time to lose. We might just have enough time to complete this thing! However, we got caught behind a slow French car enjoying the scenery, then got ourselves a bit lost, had to fill up for fuel and then one of our team members felt travel sick and we needed to stop. All this added time to an already time pressured situation. It meant we had to complete Snowdon in 2 hours 50 when we arrived. It is estimated to take 4 hours, so this is a big ask. I oversaw pacing and I knew that to achieve this we would have to run. The Miner’s track on Snowdon is relatively flat, so it was possible. I put it to a team decision, I knew people were tired with sore knees and hips because we had climbed two big mountains already. However, the consensus was we would give it a go.
Up Snowdon, we blitzed it, we had 1 hour 10 to get down. We absolutely went for it. The mountain was busy at this point, and parts were narrow which only allowed one person to get through at one time. We managed this by shouting at everyone at the mountain ‘WE ARE DOING THE THREE PEAKS, PLEASE LET US THROUGH WE HAVE 45 MINUTES TO GET TO THE BOTTOM’. The public were so supportive and cheered us on our way. Once we reached the flat we ran. We all made it by running across the line at 11:58am taking 23 hours 58 minutes and 44 seconds. It could not have been closer and if it was a movie ending it would have seemed staged.
We managed to raise approximately £4,000 for various charities by doing this challenge and we all had the best time. We would like to thank Nick who kindly volunteered to be our designated driver, without him the challenge would have been much harder! He went to the shops to buy us food whilst we were up mountains, did the worst driving shifts and helped us keep up the team morale! It was such a fantastic experience and we were so lucky to have the opportunity to complete this. I would recommend this challenge, it a good one! Go PUWEMS!
Challenge registration number:
This challenge took place on Saturday, 4 May, 2019.
Time completed: 23 hours 58 minutes.
National Three Peaks Challenge
The National Three Peaks Challenge takes in the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, often in 24 hours.