Undertaking the challenge was the idea of one of my colleagues, and we took it upon ourselves to organise a trip that involved two minibuses and support crew, enough food to feed a small army and overnight accommodation on the Friday evening, ready for an 8am assault on Ben Nevis the next day.
Investigation into this first peak mainly revealed a host of safety warnings of the danger of walking off the summit plateau and falling thousands of feet down the various gullies below. So we were very relieved to wake on the morning of the challenge to a clear, still day, with some cloud covering the top of the Ben. If anything the conditions were too good – the lack of a breeze in the valley bottom meant we’d soon all worked up a sweat as we made our way up. We made the summit 5 minutes inside our schedule, which was a great start and very encouraging.
The rest of the mountain passed without incident, however traffic and perhaps an optimistic estimation of the descent time by various online sources meant we finished Ben Nevis 25 minutes over schedule, in 5h25.
Sca Fell Pike
We arrived at Wasdale Head having elected to take the shorter, more direct approach to the summit of Sca Fell Pike and we could see that the cloud base was low – within an hour or so we were in the cloud and with night falling it was time to get the head torches out.
It was vital to stay disciplined on the approach to the summit as it was by now very dark and foggy, and there were a number of other parties so this meant regular stops to re-group. We made the summit in good time having managed to claw back approximately 45 minutes that had been lost on the previous summit and the subsequent journey. The time to summit Scafell was 2h15 minutes – a great achievement.
We almost made a common mistake on the summit – heading off to the North for a few paces until we re-orientated ourselves to get on the path back down. We later met a team on Snowdon who had started at Borrowdale and instead of turning round at the top, had carried on down to Wasdale, 2 hours away from their support team and leaving their 24 hour challenge in tatters.
A review of our GPS track showed that we made a slight deviation on the way back down, but this was to be expected crossing the boulder field in thick fog at night. Our choice of Wasdale as a start point was vindicated as once we’d dropped below the cloud base we could see Wast Water shining in the moonlight below us.
I didn’t have much choice in the matter of sleeping between Sca Fell Pike and Snowdon, we’d been awake all day and climbed two of the highest mountains in the UK.
We were all pretty strung out by this stage and so it was decided to form a breakaway group to ensure we made the Snowdon trig point inside 24 hours.
Suffice to say we go the job done and in the end we raised over £4,200 for our charity, blowing our original target of £3,000 well and truly out of the water.