That’s exactly what they did recently, when 19 volunteers and four support drivers took on the colossal Three Peaks Challenge to conquer the heights of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within just 24 hours to raise more than £10,000 for Combat Stress.
“There were good vibes from the entire team from the get-go,” said lead organiser Alex Hanham, a Support Engineer for L3Harris in Tewkesbury. “We had a clear plan of how we wanted to tackle the challenge with our first aiders spread throughout the group to set the pace, monitor hydration and keep motivation high. I brought up the rear to ensure the team was continually making good progress.”
How the Challenge Started
The idea formed in 2022, when several veterans from the business’ SERVE Employee Resource Group completed the March in March, a 10-mile walk around the Malvern Hills which raised over £1,200 for charity Combat Stress. It was such a success that at a following Mental Health First Aider meeting, Hanham suggested another challenge would be a good opportunity to inspire a focus on health and wellbeing within the workforce.
With the mighty Three Peaks Challenge decided upon as the next goal, the wheels were set into motion and training commenced. Climbers were taken to the Malvern Hills, the Black Mountains and the popular Pen-Y-Fan in Wales to prepare for the tough undertaking.
A veteran, first aider and qualified mountain leader, Hanham knew what it would take for the group to achieve their goal.
“I’ve done several climbing challenges myself in previous years, including the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, and as a teacher before my military career also ran the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award so have considerable experience in this area,” he said. “My military training helped hone these skills by giving me the determination to see challenges through as well as plan ahead to ensure progress is maximised.”
A Highly Rewarding Experience
Having started the initial climb of Scotland’s Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, at 6.30 p.m. June 9, spirits among the group were high and excitement was mounting. After a meal of pasta served from two frying pans, they observed a glorious sunset and incredible views as they ascended, fought off swarms of territorial midges and finished the descent by around 11.30 p.m. Next was a five-hour bus journey through the night to their next destination – England’s Scafell Pike.
Greeted by the sunrise, the team was grateful this was the shortest climb out of the three. The increasingly difficult terrain Scafell presented seemed to divide opinions about the group’s enjoyment of it. While the journey was completed in an impressive 3 1/2 hours, the tricky ascent only served as a reminder that there was still one peak left to go.
Their final and most arduous peak, the group tackled the Pyg Track of Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, over a distance of seven miles and 2,372 feet, a highly technical route made harder by the increasingly close weather, temperatures that ranged from 28-30 degrees Celsius and the fatigue which had already set in. With just over four hours remaining to complete it on a route that would usually take six hours, the team knew they had to knuckle down in order to achieve their goal.
“When we completed all three peaks, there was a fantastic atmosphere of celebration among the group,” said Hanham. “We had been receiving donations throughout the entire journey and that’s what largely kept us going. It was such an incredible achievement, but while we were all happy to have done it, we are also very happy and relieved when it was over! A few members of the team got into the lake near Snowdon’s Miners Track to cool off afterwards before we all headed to the pub for a congratulatory drink.”
The team raised more than £10,000 from nearly 300 individual donators for Combat Stress and a cheque was presented to the charity June 21.