After seeing too much failure (and hatred for certain sections) on the classic Lakes 3000's in 24 Hours challenge I thought there had to be a way to tick off all the English 3000ft peaks in one day without it taking 24 hours - well here we have it, the Lakes 3000's Sunset Challenge, and yesterday we had our first ever group complete it in excellent fashion.
In summary, the group were to start at 5am and traverse Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and reach the summit of Scafell by 21:28.
We set off at 4:55 from the northern side of Skiddaw and entered the 'field of dreams' - a steep field that is quite possibly the worst way you could start such a challenge. The group were quiet as I think the trpidation of what lay ahead was still strong. This trepidation was soon to be blown out of their system (literally) as we reached the Ullock Pike Ridge and experienced some rather bracing 50mph winds. My mind was whirring and I really wasn't sure we'd be able to continue - the summit plateau of Skiddaw would be nuts and suicidal. WE said we'd 'tag' the summit plateau and then head to Dodd Wood to descend out of the wind, but as we reached the plateau it was OK! We could even stand up!
We bagged Skiddaw and made a rapid descent to Keswick where we met the support van for bacon sarnies and fried egg sandwiches.
A short drive to Glenridding brought the start of leg 2 - Helvellyn via Striding Edge. I was glad I could weave some scrambling into this challenge and Strriding Edge is always a blast. The team did excellently to get up to the edge in good time and the traverse was dry and fairly wind free too. Before we knew it we were atop Helvellyn with a swift ascent to Swirls waiting.
The support crew were waiting once more, time for sandwiches and crisps. Briggsy from Mountain Massage Therapies was also there to give the team a quick leg massage to help them on the final section. These were very much enjoyed!
Another short drive took the team to Seathwaite - a heaving Seathwite. The team set off for Scafell Pike via the Corridor route. The final miles now but arguably the toughest leg. The group did well and made fab progress to the summit of Scafell Pike on what was a stunning evening to be on the high fell - 3 down, 1 to go! Scafell Pike to Scafell is never easy. Considering there is only 14m difference in total height, it takes a lot of effort. However, James and Geoff treated the group with an ascent of Lords Rake and the West Wall Traverse - a real treat and something I'm sure they will remember.
The group reached the summit of Scafell at 20:35 - a whole 53 minutes ahead of time. The group descended to a lovely sunset into Wasdale where again the support crew were waiting, this time the menu was pasta and beer - Magic!
A huge well done to everyone, and a big thanks to guides Geoff and James as well as my parents for helping support the team.
Are you a fit hill walker and fancy giving this a go? Join us on the 14th July to have a bash - it's epic!