Three Peaks With
A Difference - Bank Holiday, May
Boulton, climber. David is employed
byTrailwise in Ashton under Lyne.
The thought of doing
the three peaks, Snowdon, Scafell and
Ben Nevis is one which a friend of mine
Mark Smith has tried for years to persuade
me to join him in. The of walking up
the tourist paths and all that time
cramped up in a minibus filled me with
dread. No Thanks!! was always the reply
Then in March whilst
he was trying to persuade again (he's
persistent for sure), we hit upon a
new idea, well new to us anyway. Why
not try to complete the routes via scambling
and climbing alternatives. Two others
were to attempt the peaks with us, Russell
and Ken. We all had different levels
of experience, Paul is a Mountain Leader,
Mark is a regular climber, Ken a novice,
Russell has done the KIMM and myself
with a few years of climbing and walking.
Two other friends, Derek and Chris volunteered
to be our drivers.
The routes we eventually
decide on were all ones which Paul and
I had done before. The Crib Goch Ridge
was the obvious choice to reach Snowdon
and was to be our first peak. Scafell
was to be more problematic, the drive
would lead us to the head of Borrowdale
valley and thus on to Sty Head. With
no direct lines to the summit of any
appeal we decided to go via Great End.
Skew Gill presented itself as the best
route up, which could then be followed
by Cust Gully above. The final summit
on Ben Nevis was to be reached via the
'classic' Tower Ridge.
We set out with
no intention of completing the routes
within 24 hours as per the usual Three
Peaks challenge, the routes we had chosen
would not allow it.
At 3.30 am on Saturday
morning we parked up at Pen y Pas and
prepared to set off (after the obligatory
group picture!). As we pulled on our
sacks we were joined by a group from
Lytham St Anne's, oh no! were they going
to dog us round all weekend?? No luckily,
they were doing the Welsh 3000's and
with a mutual sigh of relief we passed
them and headed up to Crib Goch in the
pre dawn murk.
Day broke as we
started allong the ridge, sun tingeing
the clouds which surrounded Llewid and
Snowdon with a red glow. We reached
the summit at around 5.45 am. The summit
cairn was all frosted with ice and with
strong winds chilling us we soon took
shelter in the nearby tramway. We stayed
there a few minutes eating and waitng
for a break in the clouds to give us
a view, the clouds stayed and we had
to continue without the view. By 7.30
am we were back at the minibus walking
the drivers for a brew.
Time was lost on
the way to Scafell, firstly McDonalds
was on the wrong side of the carriageway
and we all wanted Mcbreakfast. Secondly
we hit the Blackpool Bank Holiday traffic.
Nearly two hours of the schedule slipped
to 1.30 pm we were on our way up to
Sty Head. The day was becoming pleasant
with the temperatute reaching the mid
70's (or 20 something if you're in Celsius).
We passed a family with a daughter aged
only seven on their way up to Scafell
just before we entered Skew Gill.
The Gill passed
with little incident. Cust Gully was
more entertaining with a squeeze under
a chockstone and a tricky headwall which
required a rope for Ken.
Back in the open
again we headed for Scafell and passed
the same family again as we climbed
the final steps to the top.
The route back to
Sty Head and Borrowdale was more of
an amble however Paul twisted his knee
and Mark was suffering with arthritis
in his knee. Back at the bus Derek and
Cis returned from a trip to the icecream
van to make us a brew.
was the next item on the agenda and
the Little Chef at Gretna Green beckoned.
An impromptu but interesting sight-seeing
trip around Glasgow follwed. Cis was
driving and Derek got full blame for
the navigation errors. We eventually
decided to wake Mark from his slumbers
to get us out of Govan and on our way
to the highlands.
At about midnight
we bivied down at the end of Glen Coe
and tried to sleep. The plan was to
set off at 4.00 am but this didn't deter
Mark from pitching his tent. Soon after
5.00 am we set off from the distillery
towards the CIC hut, our pace was slow
largely due to fatigue and constantly
snapping pictures of the ever improving
view of Tower Ridge. We headed up agreen
bay making for East Gully which separates
the Douglas Boulder from Tower Ridge.
At the top of East Gully we roped up,
Paul took the lead with Ken leaving
Mark and myself to climb below and help
Ken if needed. We progressed swiftly
up the ridge and were soon on the traverse
beneath Great Tower.
covered gully leading up was at first
site daunting, dark and filled with
snow. Looking closer steps were cut
all the way up. Only Tower Gap barred
our way. Clouds came down and in seconds
visibitly was down to 20 yards. Unfortunatly
Ken's visibility wasn't vertically affected
and he could see the corries hundreds
of feet down on both side of the gap.
Paul and Mark beleyed as I guided Ken
across and down the gap, a few minutes
later he had stopped shaking and we
were on our way to the summit. We topped
out at 11.45 am just 30 hours after
we had stood on Snowdon.
The day was rounded
off with a celebratory meal and a beer
at the Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe.
Summit to summit
the route would have been six hours
quicker if we had started in Scotland,
also we would have missed the holiday
traffic and another bonus, McDonalds
is on the right side of the road! Doing
the peaks in reverse we reckon would
bring it inside 24 hours, Good Luck
if you give it a try.
Best Wishes David
Boulton June 97.