Last week, a few mates and I headed up to Snowdonia to take on the Welsh 3,000’s Challenge, a not altogether sensible escapade that entails bagging the 15 peaks in Wales of greater than 3,000 feet in 24 hours. To invest this hare-brained endeavour with some worthy purpose, we took on the challenge in aid of Merlin, the same worthy cause I’m supporting over the course of my 5 year bike ride which starts in January.
I quite enjoy pootling about on mountains and I hoped it would be easy to pull togther a sizable donation for Merlin. This afterall was not one of those irritating instances where someone asks to be sponsored for doing something pleasant on a Sunday afternoon, like when a crazy woman in my work asked me to sponsor her for walking two miles through an autumnal wood to provide cats with earmuffs during the firework season. There were 8 of us taking part and the combined generosity of our nearest and dearest enabled us to obliterate our collective target of £2K.
On the day, we scrambling and scampering over more than 30 miles of scree slopes and knife-edge ridges, incorporating a dizzying rise and fall of some 4,000 vertical metres – it’s the equivalent of walking from Charing Cross to Luton, and clambering over the Eiger in the middle. It seemed like a good idea in the pub.
None of us died, but there were times when death would have seemed the easier option.
We took wrong turns; we got a bit scared; we considered giving up; we bemoaned gelatine legs, wind-cracked lips and blisters big as the O2 arena; we each consumed approximately 8,000 calories-worth of German sausage-cheese sandwiches, Aldi flapjacks and Kitkat Chunky Caramels. All in all it was a magnificently amateurish effort, based on the entirley inaccurate assumption that two months spent walking up and down stairs at lunchtimes would prove adequate preparation for 24 hours of wading through peat-bogs and slithering down steep scree inclines on our backsides.
Alas, common sense did infiltrate proceedings at one juncture when, in deteriorating weather and gathering dusk, we turned our backs on the intimidating shark’s-tooth summit of Tryfan, reasoning that to continue upwards would have been tantamount to suicide. In the end, therefore, we came home with a mere 14 lofty hills in the bag. In an attempt to assuage the indignation some of our many generous sponsors may feel at the news that we only achieved 93.33% of our target, I should add that in spite of this hiccup the trip still fulfilled the principal criteria of the legitimate charity challenge in that it was, for the most part, wholly unenjoyable. We all came home pretty much hating Snowdonia and more or less despising one another.
Were it not for the fact that we were all labouring under the added sense of obligation instilled by the charitable flourishes of friends and family, we would almost certainly have capitulated at around 5am on Friday, as we stood shivering on the summit of Snowdon in a 40 miles an hour gale, stricken by the realisation that this was going to be really bloody hard.