back to archiveCPU RMP charity challenge
The challenge for the team from CPU RMP was to reach the summits of the 3000 foot mountains of Wales in a single magnificent journey within 24 hrs. The length is about 24 miles from Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to Foel Fras, but the walks to the start point and down from the finish point can take it to over 30 miles in total, it's certainly not a mountain journey to be under-estimated. Most opt to take a few days, using facilities en route or zero impact wild camping, which is also possible. Given the quality of the scenery there is a good case for a two or three day expedition over the roof of Wales. The nature of the traverse and the ground covered means that this is not suited for mass participation mountain events or fund raising challenges by inexperienced hill walkers.
A team of 5 from CPU RMP are undertaking the Welsh 3000 challenge on the 27/28 Apr 11. In order to complete the Welsh 3000s Challenge Capt Kirk Davies, SSgt Micky McLean, Sgt Andy Harden, Cpl Kris Hubbuck and Cpl Ben Slater are required to have been at the top of all 15 of the mountains over 3000 ft in Wales within the space of 24 hours, without using any form of transport.
On Tuesday 25th April 2011, a 6 man team from the Close Protection Unit Royal Military Police arrived in Betws-Y-Coed, Wales to undertake their second charity challenge for the Central Benevolent Fund, with the Welsh 3000s. The Team, Captain Kirk Davies, Staff Sergeant Micky McLean, Sergeant Andy Harden, Corporal Kris Hubbuck, Corporal Ben Slater and our driver/admin and standby runner Corporal Steve Rowbottom carried out an initial recce of the start point, which was going to be from the Llwybr Pyg track up to Crib Goch, the actual start for the challenge. The weather was dull and overcast with the occasional flutter of rain, but this did not dampen our spirits, infact we were starting to buzz with anticipation at what lay ahead. We left the hills full of excitement and returned to our base at Capel Curig to carry out final kit check and get some rest, we would need it.
At 0800 hours on Wednesday 26th April 2011, our 5 man Team set off along the Llwybr Pyg track and started the ascent to Crib Goch, and what a first peak! If we were nervous, excited or just eager to start, then the sight of Crib Goch made everyone stop and admire it's amazing sight. An truly unforgettable summit with steep slopes both left and right, topped by a ridge which seemed to be only feet wide. Cautiously we moved along the ridge to the start point. What was to be a ritual at the top of each of the 15 peaks, we sat atop the summit and had a photograph taken. At 0908 hours, Kirk gave the 3, 2, 1.....go, and we were off! The stopwatch had started and now we were moving. Cautiously we traversed Crib Goch's ridge and once we were off it, we moved to the next peak in earnest. The first section of the Welsh 3000s is called the Snowdon Massif, our route started with Crib Goch (923m), Garnedd Ugain / Crib y Ddysgl (1,065 m) and Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m). After successfully summiting Snowdon we made our way along and down the hills towards Llanberis where we were met up with Steve for our first rendevous (RV).
A short stop to replenish water and food, then we set of on the second section of the route with is called Glyderau. On the climb towards the first summit, Elidir Fawr (924 m), Andy began to get severe cramps in his left leg. No matter how long we stopped or how well he had stretched, the cramps just would not dissipate. We carried on and finally made it to the summit, but it was clear that Andy was in real pain on the uphill climbs. As we moved on towards Y Garn (947 m), the cramps became unbearable and moved into both legs. A call was made for Andy to decsend to the next RV, where Steve was, and try to rid the cramps. Radio messages between them both, guided them to a meet point about 2 miles from the RV at the base of Tryfan. With one man down, we had to regroup and continue. This was a blow as Andy is not a quitter. So onwards we went and we successfully summited Glyder Fawr (1,001 m) and Glyder Fach (994 m). As we descended towards Tryfan, Ben also began to struggle with the shear pain of the downhill sections. The impact on his knees and legs was excruciating and again, a tough decision was made to send Ben forward to the RV and allow Kirk, Micky and Kris to summit Tryfan (918 m).
At 1800 hours, Once we were all at the final RV, we discussed the challenge so far and it was unanimous that we continue and successfully complete the 3000s today. A final replenishment of all necessary food, drinks and clothing was made for the last section. It was now obvious that we would have to complete the last few peaks of the challenge in the dark. Up until this point, the challenge had been harder than anyone expected and everyone was feeling the effects physically.
Andy rejoined the team, so now Kirk, Micky, Andy and Kris set off for the final peaks. This section is called Carneddau. Our first peak to summit was Pen yr Ole Wen (978 m), which we finally managed to reach, after a long and hard climb, at 2000 hours. However, once there we all there the mood lifted, a much needed second wind arrived and the buzz to finish was apparent. Eagerly we set off and managed to summit Carnedd Dafydd (1,044 m) and Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064 m) before the darkness came in. So head torches were donned and with GPS in hand we set off towards Yr Elen (962 m), Foel Grach (976 m) and Garnedd Uchaf (926 m). So now there was one left. We moved fast towards Foel-fras (942 m) and as we approached the trig point the camera was out and the GPS reading was counting down. The team all reached the final trig point at 2319 hours. The official statistics on the GPS read: Time 14 hours 11 minutes, and distance 23.8 miles.
A huge sense of achievement flooded throughout the team. We had struggled at times, lost some of the original team at critical points, but now we were here. It may not have been the fastest time ever, but we arrived in Betws-Y-Coed to compete this challenge and we did. We had joined many before us and it felt good to have succeeded.
But now we had to get down, so for the next hour and a half we descended towards the final RV where our support vehicle with Ben and Steve were. We established communications and kept in contact via radio throughout the descent. Just before 0100 hours we reached the RV and finally we could celebrate the completion of the challenge.
This was an extremely tough challenge and it was much harder than anyone of us had expected. Throughout the day we ensured that we kept spirits high among the team with the usual 'squaddie' humour, taking in the breathtaking views and ultimately remembering that we were doing this for people who need our help.
Thank you for your time reading our journey and it was a pleasure to come to Snowdonia and hike through it’s amazing scenery.
Staff Sergeant Micky McLean