If you have followed this blog for any period of time, you may have noticed that if I was a super-hero, my mortal weakness would be mountains – see here and here for earlier examples of my epic fails. So when Chris decided to attempt the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge last weekend, my head told me just to wish him luck and let him get on with it. Unfortunately my heart had other ideas…
welsh three peaks challenge snowdon 5
The Challenge
The Welsh Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing three of the highest peaks in Wales within 24 hours. That means getting your backside up Mount Snowdon (3,560 ft), Cadair Idris (2,930 ft) and Pen y Fan (2,907 ft) at a pretty rapid pace, covering over 180 miles of driving and 20 miles of trekking, with a cumulative ascent/descent of around 10,000 ft. You might wonder why anyone would do such a thing. Well for us, there was a very good cause…
welsh three peaks challenge snowdon sheila and tammy 2
welsh three peaks challenge snowdon train

Sadly we were not allowed to take the little train up Mount Snowdon

 The Cause
Since we moved to Ghana earlier this year, Chris has been working for a wonderful NGO called the Ghana Health and Education Initiative (GHEI). Detectives amongst you might be able to work out the type of work GHEI does (and in which country too), but suffice to say we were trying to raise money for some of the fantastic work of GHEI which, amongst other things, helps prevent malaria, promote maternal health, and provide educational opportunities to local boys and girls so that they can lead themselves and their communities out of poverty.
The Team
Because climbing mountains with Chris is no fun – partly because he is always in a hurry and partly because he is generally no fun – I decided to invite along some friends to keep me company on the trek. In response to my kind invitation I received a number of excuses ranging from dubious-sounding medical conditions to even less believable stories about unavoidable family commitments, but one young lady, Sheila Benjamin, was brave enough to take up the challenge – so off we three set, in pursuit of fame and glory, which we never found, and blisters and aching joints, which were far more forthcoming.
welsh three peaks challenge snowdon summit sheila and tammy
welsh three peaks challenge tammy and sheila
Summit One – Mount Snowdon
We initially planned to climb all three mountains in one day but, due to a bad weather forecast for the Sunday, we decided we’d get Snowdon out of the way Saturday early-evening, leaving us with a very early start to get Cadair Idris and Pen Y Fan done within 24 hours.

 

We started climbing Snowdon at 3.45pm on the Saturday. By this time most people we encountered were (somewhat smugly) on their way down which wasn’t great for our morale, but on the plus side meant the path to the top was soon relatively quiet. This, combined with beautifully clear skies, meant we made it to the summit of Snowdon by 6.15pm, or in Chris’s case 5.59pm – because once we’d heard from trekkers on the way down that the summit cafe closed at 6pm, we made Chris jog to the top to order us a well-deserved cup of tea. He made it in the nick of time!

welsh three peaks challenge snowdon 4

welsh three peaks challenge chris on snowdon

Chris racing up to the summit (left) and with our well-deserved teas (right)

welsh three peaks challenge snowdon and cadair idris  beer

Chris even managed to buy a bottle of beer at the summit

Summit Two – Cadair Idris
As the 24-hour clock was ticking loudly, we rose at 4.15am Sunday morning so we could beat the traffic, arriving at the foot of Cadair Idris around 6.30am. Due to our very early start we had the mountain to ourselves, which was nothing to boast about really as the weather ranged from quite grim to very grim during the whole ascent. Nonetheless, after a brief moment of geographical embarrassment when Chris’s map and compass ‘stopped working’, we’d made it to the top by 9am, and back down again by 11am, ready for the drive to Pen Y Fan.
welsh three peaks challenge cadair idris sign and path

The weather was still okay at the bottom of Cadair Idris, but the wind, rain and fog was so bad towards the top that we couldn’t take any decent pictures

welsh three peaks challenge cadair idris paths

Summit Three – Pen Y Fan
We started our weary plod up Pen Y Fan at 1.45pm, meaning we had exactly two hours to get to the summit and back down to be within our 24 hour target. Thankfully the path up Pen Y Fan is nothing like the rocky beast that we took up Cadair Idris, meaning we made it back down to the end of our challenge at…
welsh three peaks challenge pen y fen summitwelsh three peaks challenge pen y fen tammy and chris
 …3.37pm, with literally eight minutes to spare! Which, considering we’d covered 20 miles of trekking, over three peaks, with 180 miles of driving in-between, was a pretty close call. Nonetheless 23 hours and 52 minutes is definitely less than a day and so, in spite of getting very cold and wet and ending up achy, blistered, and generally exhausted, we made it – meaning, I hope, my mountain curse is finally lifted!
welsh three peaks challenge tammy on snowdon
For anyone who wishes to celebrate our physical accomplishment while supporting the great work of GHEI, it’s not too late to sponsor us. You can sponsor us here and any donations will be very gratefully received and go a long way towards supporting and empowering the beautiful people of rural Ghana.

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

18 Thoughts on “Surviving the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge

  1. Congratulations again – very impressed with your precision timing under the 24 hour mark – a bit of German timekeeping perhaps? Fantastic photos too! Hope you reached your fundraising target, a great cause.

  2. Looks like a good hike we will have to look into it more.
    David recently posted…7 Reasons Every Adventurer Should Head to VenezuelaMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on May 30, 2015 at 3:19 am said:

      It is great. Tough but perfectly doable. If there is no rain then it is more enjoyable, but you can never be guaranteed that in the mountains.

  3. Very impressive! I’ve climbed Snowdon twice, including once in the snow with some pretty scary passages… and you guys were lucky, the cafe at the top was closed each time!
    Camille recently posted…Blown Away at Torres del Paine, ChileMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on June 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm said:

      Wow, Snowdon in the snow doesn’t sound like fun. That cup of tea was THE best after all that uphill climbing. 🙂

  4. Wow, I got worn out just reading about your treks. I’d probably quit after one. Congrats in doing all of them in 24 hours.
    Connie Reed recently posted…A Day in Downtown Rapid CityMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on June 8, 2015 at 2:21 pm said:

      I really didn’t feel like climbing two more mountains after the first one, but the fact we had a nights rest made it a whole lot easier actually.

  5. What a sense of accomplishment! Congratulations. Don’t think I could’ve mastered this but for the good cause.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted…Avoiding crowds, selfie etiquette and safety when travelingMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on June 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm said:

      All I kept saying to myself when the rain and wind pierced into my face was: “It is for the children!”. That kept me going.

  6. Carol Colborn on June 7, 2015 at 8:24 am said:

    Wow you do have lots of energy! Thanks for the vicarious experience!

  7. Just imagine, once upon a time, roving brigands crossed those same mountains and valleys to harass the Romans to the point of making them give up and leave. Fantastic landscape.
    Milosz Zak recently posted…Egyptian Sidekick & DenderaMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on June 8, 2015 at 2:25 pm said:

      I know, it is crazy to think what kind of stories must lie buried in those ancient mountains. I loved the landscape. I kept thinking that any moment now a dragon is going to fly past. We were in Wales after all. 😉

  8. Wonderful images. What an adventure! I loved it.

    • Tammyonthemove on June 29, 2015 at 8:22 am said:

      Thanks so much Bruno. I am glad you liked the post. It certainly was an adventure. Exhausting, but so worth it.

  9. Amazing, spectacular scenes! We would definitely grab the opportunity to hike on these mountains.

    • Tammyonthemove on July 8, 2015 at 3:39 am said:

      When it was sunny it was gorgeous, when it rained and the wind picked up-not so much, ha ha. Seriously though, Wales is beautiful and if you ever make it there I can highly recommend it for hiking. It feels like a different world.

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