Peak Performance: Bedfordshire pair scale Ben Nevis and raise £1,500

Tuesday, 06 November 2012

In June 2012 Bro John Pater of the Someries Lodge No. 5202 in Bedfordshire, and Mr Thomas S. Bennett who is to be initiated into the same Lodge in November, took on the challenge of the three peaks race and set themselves a target to raise £1,000 for the RMTGB in support of the Bedfordshire 2015 Festival. Together they raised in excess of £1,500.

Here is John's acount of their experiences:

We started the challenge on Saturday 23 June in appalling weather (the wettest June weekend for 100 years). The walks up and down each peak against the clock were tough, almost as tough being squashed into the back of my car for what seemed like an entire weekend surrounded by sodden walking gear, knees to chin, while we drove in a frighteningly (for my passengers) aggressive manner along the bends and hairpins through the almost deserted highlands, Dipping and weaving between caravans and coaches not prepared to match 'full speed'.

Ben Nevis was first and extremely arduous. It was a busy highway of climbers. The summit was still snow-capped and the freezing clouds, howling winds and hard rain took visibility to 20 yards, but I was happy to have made it in such a harsh environment. We and all the gear were saturated at the end of it. But we felt strangely full of energy and ready for the next peak - so we hit the road.

Scafell Pike was tougher. This was curiously empty of people, perhaps because it was 23:30 when the team went up. Not the most pleasant of experiences on a mountain for the lads, I can tell you. There were just a few headlamps in the distance that belonged to other climbers doing their own challenges. The rain did not let up for a second. There was a swollen river to cross that was knee deep with fast moving white water, and the route after was so steep. Also, it was pitch black with no reference points to guide us. At dawn we reached the bottom after crossing 1 million boulders, and even though fatigue was now a very real issue and the tormenting waves of midges were in constant attack mode, we had to push on (thanks to Michael and the GPS system for saving the expedition - again).

We hopped into the car and escaped at the best speed I could safely do in the tortuous conditions, dodging sheep on the narrow lanes. We continued on into the early hours of the morning, looking for somewhere to get dry. Apparently, I did get 3 hours sleep at this stage. I managed to get one of the others to take a turn at the wheel as I was breaking matchsticks with my eye lids and didn’t want to take any chances on the road - the rumble strips bringing on the cry "BLACK STUFF!!!" (asphalt).

We saw a rare sight when we arrived in Snowdonia: the Sun. It put in a brief appearance for the last peak. The quaint little railway up the pass looked appealing, but a challenge is a challenge – so we started up the Pyg route in high spirits.

I was impressed by the whole team at this stage. Tom and I were actually starting to enjoy the whole phenomenon, the fresh air and exercise. The trip back down was tough on the knees and between our blisters caused by sheer water volume after so much rain and my Achilles tendons being as tight as piano wire I was relieved to get back to the hotel in one piece.

We probably all looked comical as we tried to go up and down the stairs! I was comatose almost instantly and knew nothing of seized muscles and pain till the morning. The best and most well-deserved sleep I have had for many a year.

1,250 miles covered by road from Luton, 10,961 feet total ascent on our routes that spanned over 26 miles, and when all told the challenge took us 28 hours to complete.

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