Mike’s 3 Peaks Challenge Team Battles worse conditions in 5yrs

| 21/09/2012 | 2 Comments More

Last weekend Mike Buss lead a small team of 8 local people from Swindon round the National 3 Peaks…  Mikes Company put this challenge of as a not for profit, just covering costs and donating the rest to military charities.  The money raised from this event was £500.

September can be up and down weather at the best of times, but with 3 mountains in 3 locations around Great Britain and the fact that mountain weather can be clear skies one minute and then the next you can be down to almost zero visibility and extreme temperature drops, meant the team were in for an uncertain expedition.

Starting on Saturday 15th September at 0845hrs at the foot of Ben Nevis, the skies were clear, and the temperature was above average for this time of year, even when the team reached the half way point the sky was reasonably clear, though the temperature was dropping fast.  The summit of Ben Nevis was a different story, the weather was closing in fast, cloud cover was low, visability was down to no more than 20m.  Heading down the mountain the weather was getting worse, the cloud cover getting lower and the first sign of rain was coming.  The team made it up and down the mountain in a respectable 5.5hrs.

The journey to Scarfell Pike in the Lake District was good, with little traffic, but as Mike and his team got into the Lake District and onto the country lanes in the late night of Saturday, disaster struck! The mini bus had a tyre blow out, and with no signal to call for recovery the team attempted to change the tyre, but with the spare welded to the undercarriage of the mini bus, Mike had no choice but to head for the nearest civilisation as there was no mobile phone reception.

After making it back to the mini bus, Mike and his team were stranded on the mountains foothills for 3hrs, blowing any chance of hitting the target of 24hrs for all three mountains.  Once the recovery RAC man had sorted the spare wheel, the team had decided that due to the loss of time and the weather reaching extremely bad conditions, it would be best to go straight onto Snowdon and miss out Scar Fell.

Reaching Snowdon by about 7am on Sunday, the team in OK conditions started the climb of Snowdon via the Pyg Track, a very boldery and in many places a very steep climb was hard enough but within 30mins of climbing, weather took a turn for the worse, winds half way up the mountain were hitting the team at over 50mph and rain was coming down hard, the conditions were about o get far worse as the climb went on.  The point of no return had past and it was a climb to the summit as fast as possible, the mission was on.

For a group of novice climbers, Mike said that even with injuries that the team really attacked the mountain! With a 2hr climb to the summit.  However the summit showed its true force with possibly the worse weather Ive seen o Snowdon in 5yrs during normal climbing season.  A couple of the team showed signs of being extreme cold and without getting extra warm gear on and moving down the mountain fast then they may have slipped into hyperphermia, so it was a race to the bottom of the mountain which hit us with new weather issues, including a hail storm hitting us with a cross wind of over 60mph!

The group made it down against all odds in a good time of 3hrs, several of the group came to me and said they had totally under estimated the challenge, thinking a bit of Sunday league football would be good enough for training.  I had given them an idea of what they needed to do, especially time on their feet walking with packs on over hilly terrain.  Snowdon alone kills 20people on average a year, mostly ill equipped people, not respecting the mountains.  It is a challenge in the grasp of everyone, whatever level of fitness you are, but when bad weather comes in, its really only the experienced mountain walkers that get through this challenge.  The team in my eyes did great to summit two of the three mountains, and the two toughest mountains at that!

I run my 3 Peaks Challenge at cost so to pass on the profits to Soldier Charities, so anyone interested in coming on our next challenges, I have an extreme 3 Peaks Challenge on 1st February, which is only open to very experienced mountain walkers and must stick to my equipment list, and for the normal average person we have two 3Peaks challenges going on in May 2013, which is probably the most popular time of year for people doing the 3Peaks.  We will be doing these charity challenges for ‘The Soldiering On Trust & The Royal Marine Association’.

A big thankyou has to go out to a number of local companies that have supported this challenge and commited to supporting future challenges, Lime Square Vehicle Rental Ltd who donated the mini bus free of charge, ISO2 Nutrition who provided all the sports nutrtion and energy drinks, Aligra Recruitment who provided the drivers and to Mikes personal sponsors such as Hi-Tec, OMM, Craghoppers and Leki.

For more details and to book your place, call Mike on: 07791 356 482 or email: activelifeuk@hotmail.com

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  1. Ian says:

    I’ll take the ‘Sunday League’ comment on the chin, as this was definately no training or preparation for the 3 Peaks !

    I don’t want to make any excuses, as I know in myself I was unprepared, however to say we’d been fully briefed is a distinct understatement; a 30 minute meeting 4 months before the challenge started isn’t what I call full debriefing !

    Personally, for novice climbers like ourselves I would recommend seriously more than just ‘breaking in your boots’ and ‘hilly walks’ in the lead up, I’d highly recommend a strict training schedule where elements from Nevis and Snowdon are tested.

    That said it was a fantastic adventure, not helped by the weather up Snowdon, but that’s the one factor that can make or break a Challenge like this………..that and a tyre blowout !!

    Bring on Scarfel in a few weeks time, I want to say I’ve done the 3 Peaks not the 2 Peaks !!

    • mikebuss says:

      The comment of sunday league football training was mentioned to myself, not something I came up with, as for the whole teams fitness, you having got back from the challenge with you all, I believe you wre definitly fit enough for the challenge, what went against you was the weather.

      The weather was the worse Ive seen it in 5yrs during normal climbing season, and if there was clear weather, you all would have managed it.

      As for meeting you at your office, that was 30mins more than you will get anywhere, people do 3Peaks from all over the UK, if you book onto one of the major UK 3Peaks Challenge events, they maybe based in London and you in Swindon and so the only advice you get is whats on their website which is very limited, or what they send you in the post or via email.

      Most people will never have the opportunity to actually get on hills and especially mountains to train for 3 Peaks, especially living in cities.

      My role as a mountain leader is to get you round safely, for which I did. The weather your event was thrown at you was so bad that even ex-military teams with lots of experience never completed the 3Peaks that weekend, fitness wasnt the problem, but with the weather conditions hitting you as well as going up a mountain hits you more than you would imagine and zaps lots of energy from you.

      3 Peaks is almost a lottery, you can have great weather in October and storms in May, a member of a recent military team said to me this week, the 3 Peaks is much about pot luck and not something you can really train for and you can just get on with as much fitness training as you can, going to the gym, playing team sport like soccer.

      I did mention to you guys that you would need some time on the Ridgeway, and getting on some hills around the area, getting out as much as you can and also by the time you leave for the 3 Peaks to have had at least one trek where you had at least 10hrs on your feet on the hills.

      Personally I feel your team against the worse conditions weather could throw at you in this time of year did awesome, it was obvious 3/4 of the way up Snowdon weather turning colder that climbing came slower, the first half of the mountain you guys were reasonably quick, but the worse the weather got the slower everyone got, and close to the summit and the weather hitting up to 50mph winds and then summiting Snowdon and getting over the other side of the mountain, the easy walk down the tourist route became a battle with 60mph winds, hail and heavy rain hitting you, that takes the energy out of the best person, so what can take only 90mins to get down took over 3hrs.

      It may not of been fun for you all on Snowdon but to have done it under such conditions you should all be proud.

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