5 Tips I wish I would have known before taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge
Thinking of taking on the mighty 3 Peaks Challenge or have you already signed up with a group or charity? I am a passionate Mountain Leader who has been guiding people up mountains for many years. Here are my 5 top tips for those preparing to take on the 3 peaks.
When I was 18 I completed my first 3 peaks challenge and it was one of the hardest things I had done at the time, physically and mentally. Looking back on it now, I wish I had done more extensive research and known more about what I was taking on. Knowing that this isn't some challenge you rock up to and complete within 24 hours without any physical training or time spent looking at the routes and how long each stage will need to be completed in. My advice would be to read up as much as you can about the challenge, speak to anyone you know who has done the 3 peaks and get out as much as you can into a mountain environment and start walking. This is a highly physically demanding challenge and with little or no training you will suffer!
You will have a general kit list of what to take, (which is a lot more than what I had all those years a go) and I would encourage you to read through it. One thing I wish I'd known on my first attempt was bring spare kit. I remember finishing Scafell Pike in the pouring rain and strong winds, getting soaked through, but I had no spares of anything. When I started Snowdon my clothes, hat, gloves and boots were still quite damp, which made the experience pretty miserable and also dangerous. Ensure you have waterproofs suitable for a mountain environment, warm gloves and walking boots that fit properly. Wear layers of clothing, a base layer, warm mid layers and a soft or hard shell jacket depending on the weather. Also, try to avoid wearing heavy cotton as this will absorb sweat or rain more than other materials, increasing the weight as well as causing you to feel colder or worst, going on hypothermia, especially if it gets windy.
3) Food & Drink
Taking on the 3 peaks challenge will involve between 4-6 hours of constant walking for each mountain and that's with both ascending and descending rocky terrain. It is vital that you take plenty of water and food. High energy foods are ideal and energy drinks can give a much needed boost during the challenge, just ensure that you also eat good wholesome foods whilst travelling in between.
You don't have to be super fit, however I would strongly recommend doing as many mountain days as you can, before tackling this challenge. The more your body gets used to walking between 4-6 hours a day on mountain terrain the more you will enjoy this challenge. Why not go to Snowdonia for 3 days and walk up 3 different mountains each day or stay in the Lakes for a long weekend ticking off some popular Wainwrights.
5) Expect the Unexpected
When you're finally there, mountains waiting to be conquered, don't make the mistake of expecting this to be a breeze! I would say the weather conditions are the single biggest factor affecting your pace, risk of accident and injury, motivation, morale and overall enjoyment. Do not expect settled conditions and sunny blue skies for each mountain area. You will more likely experience mist, rain, hail, wind and even snow! Ensure that you are mentally and physically prepared for any condition.
If you're thinking about taking on any of the 3 peaks challenges, whether raising money for a charity or achieving your own personal goal, I would highly recommend using Challenge Central. You will be given plenty of advice and support, have transport throughout the challenge and guided through each stage with mountain guides and a qualified mountain leader. This will take away the stress of all the logistical stuff and give peace of mind when tackling this fulfilling and rewarding challenge.