PBR - 34hrs 42 mins (over 4 days)
BGR - 26hrs 06 minutes (over 3 days)
CRR (minus 2 summits!) - 25hrs 37 minutes (over 3 days).
For summit splits see the RESULTS tab at the top of this blog.
I have successfully raised over £2000 for the John Muir Trust and WaterAid.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who has sponsored and supported me but especially to my parents, Ben, Jim and Arlene and to all my good friends who came to meet me on Ben Nevis!
Below is a summary of the last few days of the challenge...
LEG 3 of the CRR (Grey Corries to the Ben) - 27th May
|Stob Coire an Laoigh|
After pulling up onto the Grey Corries ridge, I was relieved that the wind was tolerable and the snow showers, (albeit it bitter) were mostly brief. Between blizzards, the views were spectacular and the sun shone through.
In the distance, I could see the Aonachs, which were pretty white with snow and brooding under heavier weather than I was currently experiencing. The dark clouds seemed to stick there despite the strong winds.
|Stob Coire Claurigh, with the snowy Anoachs in the background|
|Ridge of Sgurr Choinnich Mor|
|Aonach Beag summit|
|Anoach Mor and my final summit!|
As I began to ascend Aonach Mor, I was blown to my knees several times and I sometimes struggled to get back up in the wind! I used my walking poles to brace against and to give me extra grip. I staggered onwards to the summit cairn, where I fumbled out my phone and called Ben; "I'm on Aonach Mor and i'm bailing!!!" I figured that although I felt quite energised, this was probably due only to adreanlin. Beneath this I was undoubtedly tired and would surely get cold very quickly in the event of any problem. It was definitely not sensible to push on in this weather, alone and fatigued.
Unaware that 9 friends had secretly arranged to meet me on the summit of Ben Nevis, I scampered down the ski tows of Aonach Mor with my tail between my legs.
Safely in the cafe (and rewarded with chips and hot tea) I was devastated to hear about the surprise gathering on Ben Nevis and was embarrassed to have failed so publicly (not to mention worried for those still up there!!) To console me, Jim and Arlene offered to accompany me to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis the next day and to help me complete the UK Big 3 Challenge.
So this morning, I set out AGAIN! This time in boots, with an ice axe, a rope and company. Sadly, the rain was torrential, turning to blizzards above 800m and the wind was gusting even more strongly than the day before; 75mph (and apparently 90mph on the summit of Ben Nevis). Needless to say, we repeated my earlier decision and headed down instead of walking ourselves into trouble. I could finally hear the fat lady singing.....
I am obviously gutted to have failed so close to the end of the UK Big 3 Challenge but feel happy in the knowlegde that I gave it my best (safe) shot. Ultimately, I have raised over £1900 for my chosen charities and I feel confident that people's donations were well-earned. This money will make huge difference to the endeavours of WaterAid and the John Muir Trust.
|The end of my attempt at the CRR!!|
LEG 2 of the CRR (Loch Trieg hills) - 27th May
The weather on this day was mostly pleasant. I even had some sun!! From Stanoineag bothy, I ran along the track towards Corrour Station but striking up the SW ridge of Beinn na Lap before reaching it. High cloud meant that I could see all the surrounding hills but it also afforded my a worrying view of the snowy Anoachs in the distance...
|Snowy Anoachs in the distance|
|Beinn na Lap summit|
|Wet but mostly still upbeat!|
By the time I reached the summit, the wind strength was worrying and I had to stagger down to the col. To avoid being blown over the crags on the NE face of Stob Coire Easdain, I took a more southerly line (avoiding the ridge but also the track!) This slowed me further. I pretty much crawled into the summit shelter (which is only a few feet from the cliff face I noticed!!!) before scrabbling down the N ridge and escaping to the delights of the bothy and the company of Ben, Jim and Arlene, who were waiting to cook me up a pasta feast! (notice the wine too!!!)
The day started claggy and drizzly but otherwise not too bad. Visibility was terrible on the ridge and navigation turned out to be considerably trickier than 'just follow the ridge'! This is the longest and hardest single leg of the whole challenge and took me about 10.5hrs in total (from the car to the track alongside Loch Eilde Mor). It pretty much rained all day and so I got no views and my photos are awful. Thr first part of the day passed swiftly but from Am Bodach, things started to feel a real struggle. The scamble along to An Gearanach was more exposed than I was expecting and in the wet (and in trail shoes) it took more effort than I had hoped it would. On Na Gruagaichean, I had a few compass issues and from the summit accidentally traced by steps back towards the col from which I had just come (doh!) before sorting out the correct bearing. The ridge towards Binnein Mor from Na Gruagaichean is narrow and crag-lined, which took some nerve in the growing wind. By Binnein Mor i'd had enough really and was disappointed to have too far west off the north ridge during my descent down steep scree, necessitating a traverse into the col at the foot of Binnein Beag. Binnein Beag seemed to continue uphill forever, despite being relatively small compared to Binnein Mor. I was seriously starting to flag now! There is fortunately a nice runable track taking you down to the river Allt Coire an Bhinnein, after which there is a steep pull up a grass slope to the foot of Sgurr Eilde Mor. I ascended the western ridge, which passed quickly and I was soon at the top (totally done in). It was still raining of course and in the wet, I descended to the track running alongside Loch Eilde Mor, where I met Ben. Together we walked the final 8km along the track to our bothy (Stanoineag). It was a long an depressing day!
|Wet on the Mamores ridge|
|An Gearanach ridge|
|Binnein Mor summit|
|Coire an Lochain|