Monday, 11 June 2018

This is a big one!

 Be warned dear reader, this post is a bog one, as it needs to be to cover such a big adventure! After months of planning (weeks then, ok a day) the 3x3 Peaks man test begins. However, as a colleague had recently died we decided that our attempt to set a record time for the never been done before back to back 3 Peaks Challenge should be in his memory and hopefully raise some money to prevent future suicides in young men. So the Adam Hodges Memorial 3x3 Peaks challenge is a simple one, to complete the Yorkshire 3 peaks, The National 3 Peaks and the Welsh 3 Peaks as fast as possible and in any case under the 72 hours time limit. This will entail 12oo miles of driving, 9 mountain climbs, 64 miles of hiking/running and a combined climb of 7893 metres. What could possibly go wrong, well by the look on Mrs Bear's face, quite a lot!

 So after a stupidoclock start from Red Kite HQ with Mrs Bear, Keeef and Richard we find ourselves at the start of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, opting for the Old Hill Inn start point as opposed to the usual Horton village end. We posed for pics while mascots Eric and Ernie lazed about on the stone wall with Whernside looming in the background.
 Whilst in the car park yours truly confessed to a monumental error, namely forgetting all the maps. So after a bit of headscratching and lots of looking through the phones pics of the maps we decided to set out anti-clockwise up Ingleborough which was swathed in mist. The clock started at 08.40 am. We reached the summit super quick and
 pausing only to take on water we descended to Horton, a lovely village
 that was so welcoming. In fact the whole Dales seemed less that enamoured to walkers by the signage and closed cafes.
 As we headed up Pen Y Ghent the sun was really out and it was really too hot to be setting any sort of pace wearing a fur coat. The complete lack of water holes and streams added to Mrs Bears problems so we slowed down and over the next couple of miles
 made sure she was hydrated by giving her the contents of my water bladder, as afterall we would soon be back in civilisation and able to re stock.
 The climb was interesting
 and in places hard going
 for man and beast
 but we made it
 and Mrs Bear made it obvious she was over heating. It was now simply put a matter of her survival that we slow right down. The best part of 2 litres of water was poured over her
 and we basically leap frogged from one water course to the next
 making sure she
 stayed in the cool water until she stopped panting.
 Although we crossed the road we could not contact Keef and the support vehicle so there was no choice but to continue or abandon the challenge. Confident we would still find water we carried on past a huge railway thing at Ribblehead and along the railway line path onto the moor. Both yours truly and Richard were out of water and chanced upon a nice man working for the railway who gave us 500ml from his bike water bottle. Mrs Bear was kept cool by streams and puddles so
 pretty soon we were on the final summit looking down on the car.
 The whole route was visible from here
 but we were keen to get down and get a cold drink
 which was found in the local pub, The Old Inn, covered with signs telling support vehicles to clear off and no dog drinking bowls. Friendly place see. We had one pint of lager which was quite simply the best I have ever tasted and set off
 to Keef and our support vehicle Stan.
 Quite why Keef thought that curried eggs were suitable fayre for three men and a dog trapped in a metal box for hours is a side issue.
 Richard and yours truly tried to sleep while Keep pointed Stan in the direction of Ben Nevis.
 11.25 am Glasgow.
 1.50 am base of Ben Nevis and properly tooled up we set off to bag our 4th summit . Mrs Bear gave all indications she was as keen as we were and this time we knew it would be cooler and lots to drink along the way.
 She took full advantage of this but we noticed she was not drinking just putting her paws in.
 Dawn came early
 and by 3.45 we were crossing the patch of snow just before the summit
 the sweat on Richard showing how much effort he has put into this.
 Summit cornice still there above the gully, a 500 metre dead drop just steps away.
 Eric and Ernie on the summit trig point and Spotty, regular readers will know who he is.
 After performing the sun rise ceremony
 and taking the compulsory selfie
 Mrs Bear chose to wait until she was the highest land mammal based in the UK at 04.30
 we headed downhill
 which is when Mrs Bear got into difficulty again having cut her paws.
 The shadow of Ben Nevis on the glen.
 We made it down to the YHA car park and waiting for us was Keef, Stan, bacon and egg sandwiches and around 1.3 trillion midges all set on sampling bits of me. So we hastily packed up and headed south it still being less than 23 hours into the challenge. Confidence was high.
 Skafell Pike however you spell it is a nasty mountain and it was not on the top of my things I would like to do today list, but it had to be done and with a sinking feeling caused by nothing other than fatigue yours truly got ready.
 Mrs Bear was retired much to her annoyance
 and had to be tethered to stop her chasing after us.
 Halfway up the views are excellent but its still a git of a mountain
 and even on the summit with good views 360 I still hated every step.
 After precious few minutes faffing around
 and adjusting of equipment we baled off the top
 and to our surprise
 found ourselves back at the car park in 3 hours 31 minutes from the time we set out.
 Now all we had to to was to bag Snowdon and 2/3 of the challenge would be over.
 Thanks to traffic, fules tops and an attack of MacDonalds we rolled into the LLanberris valley at sunset and hoofed it up the railway track
 as fast as our little legs would carry us
 passing the time with discussions of when would we sleep and for how long.
 The summit was found
 bagged and recorded and so we headed back to the car, again making the 7.5 mile trip in 3.5 hours.
 Having decided to forgo sleep and spend the whole night walking up and down the same mountain we downed a cup of tea the first version of which had yoghurt in instead of milk, tired anyone?
 Plodding back uphill
 the moon giving way to dawn
 we were very happy, if not a bit tired.
 This oic has the moon on the summit, even when tired Im all over art me. At the summit we met a group who we had first seen on Ben Nevis and then Skafell and pissed all over their chips by letting them know we were on our second ascent of Snowdon in response to their "Oh made it then" comment.
 Alone on the summit we were treated to the most spectacular sunrise.
 It was astoundingly beautiful
 so much so that you expected an orchestra to start any second.
 While we were beasting ourselves there were moments for quiet reflection, and it is a true statement to say that both Richard and I were moved by this sunrise, the experience and the sadness that Adam would never see it.
 Quite a lot of time was spent faffing around on the summit
 taking as many pictures as we felt able to carry back down,
 Which lets face it was a long way down.
 But we made it , this time there and back again took a tad over 4 hours but that's in part due to messing about
 and yours truly forgetting to turn off the gps tracker until he had eaten his pouch of baked beans.
 Stan took us to a lovely Welsh market town called Dogethlau or similar where Cadir Idris lurks above it. To us it was lunch time, to everyone else it was too early to open but we found a nice hotel called The Ship where we had this breakfast.
 Or we would have had had Richard and I had any sort of appetite, both of us had lost the will to eat so most of this was fed to Mrs Bear
 while I found what I really needed. Yes worthy of a picture as it was soooo clean,
 Time to get back out and claim our 8th peak
 and as there was not cloud anywhere it was decided to ditch a lot of our gear and go super lightweight. One of us looks dressed for it, the other like his carer.
 It was incredibly hot and
 despite taking 4 litres of drink
 by the time we reached the summit
 both of us were nearly out
 an d heartily sick of orange squash.
 Lots more summit pics followed
 Eric and Ernie posed and then we set off hot foot, literally, back to base camp.
 Where Richard adopted his standard pose in the back while I played nodding dog in the passenger seat.
 At the base of Pen Y Fan we met Caroline who had conquered Kilimanjaro with us last January.
 She volunteered to look after Mrs Bear so Keef could do peak 9 with us. He was so happy. Bethan our daughter also appeared and made the summit with us
 getting to the top in under 1 hour.
 After a quick discussion at the summit
 and a realisation that we could get this challenge done sub 57 hours if we motored it down the hill
 that's exactly what we did.
 I turned the corner after crossing the footbridge and began the sprint finish to wonder why a small child in a yellow t shirt should be waving so enthusiastically at me only to find my beautiful and oh so patient wife and our two boys as a reception committee. They were treated to seeing yours truly cross the finish line first and claim a beer as a prize.
 It was all very exciting and we even had champers to spray about.
 So there you have it. Job done. 56 hours 25 minutes to the finish line. A record set. Adam's memory honoured. Team photo. Over 2k raised for The Cart Shed. If you fancy donating you can at

All the money goes to them.
 Systems check afterwards, two very badly bruised feet
 a few blisters and 4 toenails missing. But is was worth it.
Mrs Bear was fine 48 hours after. A true action Berner now!