As promised here is an update on our successful attempt at the Welsh 3000s. To recap briefly, the mission was simple: there are 15 mountains above 3000ft in Northern Wales, we had to get up and down all fifteen within 24 hours over an approximate distance of 50km - not an easy task it turns out…
So, on Thursday we trekked up to the summit of Snowdon in preparation for the day ahead. We were blessed with an incredible sunset and some blissfully calm weather as we hunkered down for the night. It’s something of a tradition to sleep on top of Snowdon so that you’re in good shape for the start as the dawn breaks and we were no different, but I think we can all say it wasn’t the best nights sleep imaginable. However, we were up and ready at 4.00am and that’s our first photo on top of Snowdon.
Luckily the weather held for us and we’d soon made our second summit of Garnedd Ugain. What followed was quite frankly spectacular. The ascent of Crib Goch is probably the most dangerous part of the entire challenge - sharp rocks and even sharper drops greeted us in equal measure as the sun really started to bask us in an early glow. It soon became obviously that this truly was going to be a much greater challenge than last years 3 Peaks… Naturally this merely stiffened our resolve as we began the descent from Crib Goch. Things got tricky on the way down as the scree slopes and more sharp rocks threw up some nasty surprises, but we quickly made it off the high peaks and into more comfortable terrain. Unfortunately it was at this point that our team of four became three as Lee took a tumble and had to airlifted out by Mountain Rescue. We were well prepared and the professionalism of both the Royal Air Force and Llanberis Mountain Rescue team was exceptional; they are a remarkable volunteer organisation and we will naturally be donating to what is a truly invaluable service. So, after a three-hour delay (and importantly with Lee’s blessing) we made the decision to continue.
Elidir Fawr had been described by the mountain rescue team as “Straight up and no rest” and they weren’t wrong; a tough old slog in blistering sunshine for well over an hour took us to the top of our fourth summit. A quick descent and more splendid views took us around the valley to Y Garn and our fifth summit (one third of the way). The high ridges of Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach were next on the list as the legs really started to ache, before another steep scree slope took us to the base of Tryfan and our half-way point. Tryfan had it own nice surprises (more rocks) and actually proved more difficult to get down than up as we descended right the way to 300m.
Pen Yr Ole Wen was our next nemesis as the sun began to go down; we’d walked through the heat of the day and were keen to make it to the peak of the next mountain before we were forced to just work with head torches… Pen Yr Ole Wen didn’t let us down in the difficulty stakes but we made it to the top (I suspect via a slightly unconventional route) as night fell. Now, suffice to say that the next few were tricky as darkness made navigation difficult and the addition of mist kept things interesting! We were down to the good old fashion map and compass technique for a while but knew that if we kept level heads time was on our side. Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewleyn were all ticked off as we stayed at high altitude.
As the wind picked up and the hours passed we made it on to Foel Grach (and the temporary refuge of the emergency shelter for a bite to eat out of the elements) before pulling ourselves together for the final push. After the last thirteen peaks the gentle approaches of Carnedd Gwenllian and Foel-Fras provided a welcome relief and a final picture. We completed the challenge in 23 hours and 50 minutes - taking into account the 3 hour emergency it means we were all done with a little over three hours to spare.
Now, for anybody thinking of having a go then a) good luck, and b) watch out for the final slog. In fact the final trig point at Foel-Fras was far from the end, we still had a 3-4 miles trek to get down and off the mountain. As exhaustion worked it’s way through our small group this was easier said than done – it took well over two hours when under normal circumstances we’d have been looking at half the time.
So, a successful challenge – at least 50km walked in the 24 hours and well over 3500m of climbing done. We learnt a lot about ourselves and owe a debt of gratitude to the Mountain Rescue team and Royal Air Force. However, aside from a desire to get out and about and stretch ourselves, our real challenge was to earn a bit of cash for Cancer Research. It’s an amazing charity you can read a lot more here: www.cancerresearchuk.org
We’re still trying to meet our target and would be really grateful if you’re able to help with a donation here:
Thank you for reading and I hope you can help a little,