5 Peaks Challenge (September 2014)

In September 2014, I decided to embark on a crazy climbing challenge called 5 Peaks; this is a challenge where one attempts to climb the five highest mountains in the UK and Ireland in under forty-eight hours, including travelling and sleeping time. The mountains were:

Ben Nevis, Scotland, 4,406 feet.

Scafell Pike, England, 3,204 feet.

Mount Snowdon, Wales, 3,559 feet.

Carrantouhill, Republic of Ireland, 3,414 feet.

Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland, 2,789 feet.

Backed up by two teachers from school who drove the minibus, the team of seven of us and our two mountain guides managed to complete the challenge in 47 hours and 53 minutes – just 7 minutes before the deadline. For the most part of it, we all had a really fun time. Morale was not always so high towards the deadline, however, which was an incredibly stressful affair, with the minibus restricted to 62MPH, the ferry to Ireland delayed, and general fatigue. Determination, patience, and teamwork were all vital in order to succeed. Our immense satisfaction at completing such a great physical challenge was not entirely outweighed by exhaustion, and we were soon congratulated in whole school assembly and the local newspaper.

Here is a brief article by our team leader from school:

“Having set out from Fort William at 5.00am in the morning on Friday 19th September, seven adventurous sixth form students were amongst the first climbers on top of Ben Nevis as the historic news of Scotland’s decision to stay in the Union broke.  The seven 17-year-olds, accompanied by two Welsh instructors, were all part of the Senior Adventure Club’s attempt to complete the slightly crazy 5 Peak Challenge, i.e. to climb the 5 highest peaks in the UK and Ireland, in under 48 hrs. The two teachers who organised and supported the challenge, said the students were amazing, completing the challenge in 47hrs and 53 minutes. The students climbed up and down Ben Nevis: Scotland (4406ft) in 4.05hrs, Scarfell Pike: England (3204ft) in 2.43hrs, Snowdon: Wales (3559ft) in 3.07hrs, Carrantouhill: Ireland (3414ft) in 3.25hrs and Slieve Donard: N.Ireland (2789ft) in 2.23hrs. On their way to achieving their 5 peak aim the students also completed the more well known UK mainland 3 Peak Challenge in under 24hrs in 23 hrs and 37 minutes before taking the ferry to Dublin for the Irish leg. The i/c of expeditions at college said it had been a crazy but achievable challenge with good planning, excellent mountain guides, but above all remarkably fit and determined sixth form students who were just going for it from start to finish. We lived out of the College mini-bus, (which is speed restricted to 62mph) for three and a half days and drove over 2000 miles, but it was worth it, they did it, with just seven minutes to spare. The teachers waited at the famous ‘Burning Bridge’ car park in Northern Ireland, below the last Mountain Slieve Donard, convinced, with ten minutes to go that it was all over, but we should not have doubted the team for a second, as suddenly out of the darkness at 4.53am on Sunday morning, head torches, shouts and running feet . . . they had made it, there was only time for a quick hug before getting on the bus with only two hours to catch the ferry back to Holyhead and the long drive home.”

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