Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Greece Part One: Mount Olympus, Sea to Summit to Sea

Tom Hill and Rob WM recently took a trip to the mountains of Northern Greece, here is Rob's take on the beginning of their trip:
Mount Olympus, the home of the Ancient Greek Pantheon, Visible from the cities of Larissa to the South and Thessaloniki, in the old Kingdom of Macedonia across the bay. Its summits often wreathed in cloud, the mountain rises up out of the blue waters on the Mediterranean Sea and soars in to the heavens. About its feet the little pan-tiled villages and shady olive groves that lend rural Greece a picturesque quality, rather like Cezanne’s paintings of France and Spain.
Seaside ghost town
Camping Chalets
View of the mountain
At 2918m, Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and stands about 18km from the coast at Plaka Litochoro as the crow flies. The first three days of our trip to Greece were spent walking from the edge of the sea to the summit of the highest of the major peaks of Olympus, Mytikas, and back again.
Olympus is a big mountain massif with several refuges on its flanks. Most of these are not open in the early spring so it was decided early on that we would make use of refuge ‘A’ which is the closest to Litochoro and low enough (2100m) to make a sensible target for a first day starting from the sea at Plaka. (The open refuges are on the Muses Plateau at 2700m). The way to this refuge follows the Enipea river through a limestone canyon of gargantuan proportions and should provide a dramatic entrance to the range. From refuge ‘A’ we would summit, and then descend on the third day, possibly by crossing to the higher ridge on the north side of the Canyon to begin the descent.

A frenzied week prior to leaving saw various pieces of equipment being acquired and organised and myself and Tom packing our shared hold-luggage bag in my lab in Queens Building on Wednesday. On Thursday evening we left on the latest possible train to Stansted and spent a miserable few hours in the airport before the gate to our flight opened at about 5 on Friday Morning. Friday afternoon was dull and slightly rainy as, exhausted, we threaded our little hire car through the deserted streets of a sea-side resort ghost town. Out of season we found the only cheap accommodation that was still open, organised our food and gear and tried to make up for the night spent in the airport.

By the sea
Saturday morning dawned clear and fine and at a little bit after 0820h we set off from the seaside verandah at the bottom of the campsite, pounding up the main road to Litochoro in our heavy mountaineering boots, already baking in the Mediterranean sun that beat down on the olive groves and isolated houses and workshops to either side of the road. From the town we were already looking down at the sea behind us, but the snow capped summits of Olympus appeared no closer ahead.

Litochoro lies at the entrance to the Enipea Canyon, from which some of the waters collected by Olympus are drained towards the sea. The gorge is about 8km long before it opens out into a valley head below the main summits and cuts its way through outlying mountains well over 1000m in height. Down its length tumbles a steeply descending river, whose waters form beautifully clear pools, lightly tinted blue. The less rocky sides of the canyon are covered by beech woods and forests of larch, spruce and cedar, clinging on to the hillsides, whilst the steeper parts form sheer walls of variously tinted limestone, often many hundreds of metres high and punctuated by dramatic pinnacles and vast hanging caves. The path cannot follow the river because the terrain is often too steep, so it winds its way up and down the shallower southern flanks of the canyon, occasionally descending to the river and crossing timber bridges to the northern bank for a short time. In this way, an extra 750 to 800 metres of ascent (and corresponding descent) is added to the route between Litochoro and Prionia, where the tourist road up the valley ends. At the roadhead there is little sense that one is in meditterranean Greece, as steep fir tree clad mountainsides give way to the snows and the cloud base hangs in the trees, concealing from us the high peaks towering overhead.

Enipea Canyon
The river
Clear pool
In the final 3km, the path winds its way up 1000m of ascent to refuge ‘A’ which nestles just below the tree line at 2100m, perched atop an outcrop in the forest. We could just make it out in the clouds looking up from below and as the trail petered out just a few yards in to the first real snow, it became apparent that no-one had visited this place for at least a month, perhaps far longer, the hordes who climb Olympus each year are clearly mostly summer visitors.

Reassuring information
Signpost in the forest
Refuge in the clouds

We set up the tent on the hut platform and ate and melted several litres of water from the snow. As the sun sank behind the mountain, the temperature dropped dramatically and the clouds cleared. The twinkling lights of Litochoro seemed very distant and the sea and sky seemed to merge together in a blue haze.

Distant lights

That night was very cold, but gave way to clear blue skies in the morning and with much lighter packs we set out, climbing at first through the woods before finding a way to cross the steep gully separating us from Chonderomesorachi, the ridge leading up to Skala and Skolio. At this time of the year, the snow has already melted from the south side of this ridge, exposing grey limestone scree, but mostly we walked on snow, up away from the trees. To the south, a group of snowy, remote 2500+m mountains, and ahead a heavily corniced ridge carrying us North towards Skala and Skolio.

Outlying Hills
In the snow

Still occasionally passing waymarks for the E4 long distance path, the ascent seemed to take far longer than its 2km and 800m suggested, and as we trudged ever higher, through every type of snow, the cloud we’d been watching on the hills over our shoulders started to creep up upon Mytikas and Skolio.

At Skala peak the ridge turns a corner once again and the thickening cloud told us we would not have time to visit more than one of the three big summits of Olympus. Mytikas is the highest and from here the Kaki Skala route looked every bit as inviting as had been suggested. There were some teams ahead of us now who had come up from the military ski-centre or Christakis hut on the South Western slopes of the mountain. So we decided to head for Mytikas. The other teams had clearly roped up here and we did the same, thought the route ahead was not supposed to be difficult, it was better to have some security on the descent to the saddle.

The Kaki Skala

At this point a couple of things became apparent, the architecture of this mountain was on a far bigger scale than either of us had imagined and we were racing an unknown force in the weather. The clouds brought warmer air that softened the snow and then snow as they lifted, this went in cycles.

The descent to the saddle was not hard but it was sensationally exposed, a slip here would have seen us being funnelled into the first snowy gully we crossed on the way to the hut the previous evening, some 1000m below. Protection was hard to come by in the shattered limestone, but the occasional bolt had been fixed by guides working on the mountain.

North face of Skala

From the col, the sense of scale and grandeur of these mountains is again heightened as the dramatic, steep, North face of Skala comes in to view and the South Flank of Mytikas looms up ahead. For a strong team, the face on Skala would hold dozens of long steep ice and mixed lines when conditions were good. We traversed another area of steep, soft snow to the right hand side of the ridge and began the ascent of a couloir to another smaller col. Here we had to cross the first of the teams in descent, of which there were three, each three men to a rope. The ridge here wound steeply about the top of a large chasm to its left and up steeper loose mixed ground on the side of a subsidiary spur. There were bolts which the guided parties were using, and provided convenient crossing points, but even so we lost probably an hour or more to the process of negotiating them on the most technical section of the route.

Looking down the route

Visibility was poor now, and as we climbed a short 45 degree snow slope, thankfully still quite icy, leaving the last of the guided parties below us and came to the summit of a large pinnacle. For a while we stopped, puzzled, unable to see any continuation of the ridge in the cloud, and with steep drops all around, for a while we thought we were stood on the very top of Greece. As another thin patch of cloud passed through, we realised our mistake and spied the main summit of Mytikas, with its metal Greek flag away to the north, not much higher, but perhaps 100m distant. We were separated from it by a narrow technical ridge blocked by a bulky Gendarme. The going would not be too hard, but it might take us an hour to bypass the difficulties and that would certainly mean undertaking most of the walk out from Skala in the dark. It was snowing again, but quite warm, and with no certainty about the weather, and only our tracks to guide us safely across the gully far below, benightment was not a thought either of us relished.

Tom at our high point

So we boldly turned tail and fled. From sub-Mytikas, about 20m shy of the true top of Greece, descending soggy, dubious snow interspersed with awkward rocky steps, using the occasional fixed gear or dodgy axe-belay where our 30m of rope would not carry us to the next rock. On the final exposed turn before the ascent to Skala, I placed three poor nuts in the chossy blocks, though I knew the ground ahead was easier.
Safely back on top of Skala, we quickly unroped, and eating on the move began descending the way we had come. The snow was much softer now, both melting and being covered by a new layer during the day, meaning we sank deeply or slipped sideways where we hadn’t done on the ascent. The mountains all around were no less magnificent, but we had learned new respect for them. The craggy peaks of Olympus are very much alpine in scale and deserve the same kind of treatment.

Halfway between Scotland and the Alps
After the gully crossing, a final short descent through beautifully atmospheric cedar forest brought us back to the hut platform at about 1930h, twelve hours after we left that morning and with about half an hour of daylight left, longer than our enormous walk in. Wearily we ate lunch and dinner in one sitting and put ourselves to bed. We had come a very long way from the sea to within a few metres of the highest point in Greece, before being driven down by the weather and lost time.

Back in the Forest

Exhausted

Neither of us savoured the idea of crossing the Zonaria to the far side of the canyon for the descent, especially having seen it strafed by large avalanches the day before, so we returned on the Monday, via the beautiful Enipea canyon, revisiting the holy spring of St. Dionysus and marvelling once again at the sheer scale and beauty, and loneliness of this place. The descent was long and warm and humid, with occasional outbreaks of rain, and quite long periods of ascent as we wove our way down out of the canyon and back into Litochoro, where we ate, filled our water and resupplied whilst the cloud finally lifted off the mountain and allowed us to see where we had been.

Shrine of St. Dionysus
The E4 path
The final hour or so back to the sea passed quite quickly, we were barely aware of the guard dogs, though on the descent of the canyon we noticed many things that we had been too exhausted and working too hard to see on our way up.

At the entrance to the park
Olympus dwarfs Litochoro



The final walk to the sea
Back at the coast

The receptionist at the campsite made us fruit tea, and failing to find an open bar or taberna by the coast, we ate some of our supplies and went directly to sleep, aware of a very hard job well done, but frustratingly not quite finished. Olympus will call us back, but whether we shall walk the entire length of the canyon again remains to be seen. There are easier approaches to the hill that would allow more time to be spent on the mountain itself and easier routes to the summit, though the harder looking, more technical ways, of which there look to be plenty hold more appeal. We shall return, and perhaps we shall meet the man whose path we crossed on a motorway bridge about 1km from the shore who had ridden his laden mountain bike there from Venice, through the Balkans and had allowed himself three days to cover the 450km or so to get his flight from Athens; he certainly seemed excited by our adventure, as we were by his.

Free of cloud
Provisions: 'Squeeze and Tap'

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Climbing on up!

 
 
This year has seen the climbing scene within UBES undergo something of resurgence in both strength and depth.

The year started with intro to climbing which saw a large number of UBES freshers make the journey down to the Avon Gorge and those with more experience to nearby Goblin Combe; see old blog post, These were quickly followed by gear nights at Dicks Climbing with record turn outs!……This is where the outdoor scene took something of a hiatus as poor weather severely affected the ability of individuals to gain experience climbing outdoors.  Whilst the rock was wet, all of the new UBESters were busy pulling on plastic indoors at Redpoint. This early dedication has undoubtedly aided the rapid progression of individuals in the Spring term.
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In November last year we had a one day trip to the Peak District after the conditions in Snowdonia had led to a cancelled weekend. This weekend seemed to provide the opportunity for many new and old UBESters to experience their first lead whilst acting as a springboard for some serious climbing psych!
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Since November lots of climbing has been done and in various forms, with a new winter route (Aquilo, II/III, St. Sunday Crag), ice climbing in Rjukan, sport climbing in some long lost Somerset quarries along with multiple trad outings. IMG_0003
In March we ran a trad climbing trip the Cornwall coastline where we visited Sennen and Bosigran. Despite initially damp conditions that made for some rather intimidating climbing the weekend saw a number of classic climbs ticked. IMG_9708

 
This year has undoubtedly seen it’s fair share of leader falls that range from slipping in the wet, sliding down slabs through to lobs onto No.1 nuts. A special mention must go to Laura Shaw for contributing more than most to these incidents.
Falls aside, this year has also seen witness to a large number of individuals climbing HS and above, with five people who have lead VS and three who have managed to break into the HVS range! The older members within the society have also managed to find time to escape work and regain their climbing prowess, whilst getting ‘classic rock’ ticks at the same time. I am sad to say that on a personal level I am still trying to achieve this.
So where does this leave us? Well, there is no doubt in my mind that UBES climbing is in a strong position and I am glad to say that this looks set to continue into at least the next few years. It is without doubt that the strength and depth of those who currently enjoy climbing within UBES combined with their continual psych that put climbing in such a healthy place within the society.
So what’s next? Well as the sun begins to warm the limestone of the gorge, I am sure that the climbing scene will only grow in strength before academic year is finished. Alongside this there are number of experienced and new members heading to the Swiss and French Alps in the hope of gaining experience and reaching a number of 4000m peaks at the same time.
Will
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Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Dragons Back: On two wheels.

Duncan looking out at the rain
So there we were, in our bivvies in a little stone built shelter beside a narrow gauge railway in the heart of Snowdonia. The morning chorus awakening the redwoods and maples of the arboretum and not being entirely drowned out by the fat drops of spring rain soaking the woodland floor. It wasn’t cold, far from it, but at just gone seven in the morning the rain was not a good omen. We had arrived in the dry late the previous evening, the result of an evening spent in a craft-beer house in Bath a few weeks previously.

Duncan had booked the trains to Bangor for the Friday afternoon. As we had battled the lack of space for our bicycles and sometimes for us on the four hour journey North through the Welsh Marches, we both knew that this weekend had a lot in store for us. We also knew that we were being fairly ambitious thinking that we could cover the entire length of Wales on the sleep we were likely to get in what would surely be rain-soaked bivvies on the journey.

Still on the Friday evening we had set off southwards from Bangor into the hills at about 6pm, giving us about 2 hours of daylight. We thought we might get dinner at the famous climbers inn at Pen y Gwyrd, and as we climbed the long almost alpine style col of the Llanberis pass the fading light fell on dry roads and lit up the lakes and slate tips at Dinorwig to perfection. The headwind was light and warm but we knew that the weather was set to deteriorate by the morning.

Duncan reaching the top of the Llanberis Pass
In Beddgelert



In light of this we pushed on to Beddgelert that evening before looking for food, sweeping down the winding mountain road through Plas Gwynant as the very last of the light drained from the sky, leaving occasional patches of weak blue light between soft clouds. The dinner stop turned into something of a pub-crawl since outside of the high tourist season the hostelries had stopped serving food by the time we arrived at quarter past eight in the evening. The proprietor of the Prince Llewellyn was persuaded to re-open his kitchens for his fourth and fifth customers that day and we ate extremely well before retrieving our bikes and heading South again into the night; down through the pass of Aberglaslyn and left over the narrow stone bridge on to the road that skirts the coastal plain to Garreg and from there up and over the hill to the tiny railway station that now provided us with shelter as we peered out into the morning rain.

The Shelter at Night
The weather abated somewhat as the clock approached nine in the morning and we took advantage, dragging our laden racing bikes back through the wood onto the road and winding through sodden, mossy green lanes and rain-lashed highways to Trawsfynydd. Still it was wet rather than cold and the humidity hung about the woods and hills in great low-lying clouds of mist, giving the little cottages and village streets the gloomy atmosphere captured so well by the great Kyffin Williams. As we huddled in the porch of the closed hostel at  Trawsfynydd, drinking coffee bought from the post office in a polystyrene cup, we contemplated the journey southwards. First it would carry us East over remote moorland, then South over the Berwyns via the notorious Bwlch y Groes, of which we should have to descend the steeper side. Then South through mile after mile of Cambrian mountains to, we hoped somewhere near to Builth Wells where we should make an overnight stop.

Once again we waited, perhaps too long, for a gap in the rain. The first little mountain road traversed very remote, open hills inland from the Rhinogs, themselves hardly overpopulated, winding its way up remote river valleys, over greasy cattle grids and finally up to a pass over the shoulder of Foel Boeth at 531m. The country here is as empty and distant from civilisation as any in the UK and for miles the little strip of tarmac was ours alone, with no junctions or buildings in sight. As we dropped out of the clouds to the south of the pass we came back into the country of hill farmers, a roller coaster little road, with a surprisingly good surface crossing boggy fields between gates and winding between dark slate walls and ramshackle buildings.

The Road Ahead
Another Platform Shelter

The river we were following led us down to the Southern end of Llyn Tegid where we tried to dry our soaking clothes in the poorly heated cafĂ© on the terminus of the Bala lake Railway, one of the tiniest of the many tiny railways in the welsh hills. Another prolonged and shivering pause later we pushed on for the less steep side of the Bwlch y Groes, climbing steeply out of Llanuwchllyn and making the tight right turn on to the mountain road. At first the road winds gently up the side of the Afon Twrch, climbing all the while until after some miles it begins to climb more steeply up the precipitous hillside of Cwm Cynllwyd, seeming to cut across the crags and steep heather on a narrow ledge before swinging round to the left over the open moor to the summit at 545m. From here the descent (the side normally climbed) contains no fewer than eleven warning arrows on the ordnance map before turning a tight hairpin through a wood and winding through more farmland out to the main road at Dinas Mawddwy. I don’t remember much about the descent, save that it was very wet and the cloud seemed to sit low in the valley so we were never able to see far around us. We both found ourselves concentrating hard to control machines not intended for carrying luggage and on regaining terra firma, both bikes were streaked with black smears of wet brake-dust.

The Bwlch y Groes

From here another lower, but still atmospheric and rather beautiful little pass followed, on a very minor road linking across a watershed in farmland in Cwm Tafolog, which brought us along a daffodil-lined lane and under a sturdy, stone-arched railway bridge to Llanbrynmair and the B-road that would carry us South over mid-Wales.

The showers were more intermittent now and after leaving Llanbrynmair we were rolling along the undulating sides of a valley of deep green fields and farms on another daffodil lined road. In spite of being a more major road there were still very few cars as we began to climb once more into the hills. At first it was unclear which way the road would turn to escape the hills that seemed to hold it trapped on all sides as we approached the valley head, but escape it did, climbing ever higher on to the high ground East of Plynlimon, source of both the Wye and the Severn. Even on the high ground we were still not free of the relentless ascent, swooping down into a village or across a dam only to be confronted by the road rearing up again in front of us. This is big open country, with a similar feeling of remoteness to the Cheviot in Northumberland and is dotted with little hill farming communities. In the winter this place must be very bleak.

Reservoir on Plynlimon

The descent into Llandiloes once we had finally reached the end of the high ground was fast and open, and we took the opportunity to rehydrate in the Mount Inn, a chilly establishment, serviceable enough but somewhat tatty in keeping with the town it served. We were, however, finally beginning to dry out and after forcing ourselves to eat multiple packets of ready salted crisps we set out from Llandiloes knowing that we had but two hours of daylight left and unsure of what we would find at Rhyader and Builth – we did not want to be left to sleep out in the open with no food after this day for it probably would have finished us.

The top of the final climb of Saturday
Up out of Llandiloes we climbed and over yet another high moor, albeit a less undulating one, under skies that were trying to show us little patches of blue. The dafodils in the roadside now replaced with celandine, who in turn began to nod their heads and close up for the night. The temperature was dropping as Kites from the feeding scheme at Rhyader circled over the hills. It seemed like a long while before we at last stood on a hilltop gazing down at the interlocking spurs of the Wye valley South of Rhyader and knowing that after this last descent of the day we should be on level roads and racing the clock to Builth, knowing that having come this way we would be making it in time to find food and shelter and dried out at long last it was most uplifting to gaze over the wide open hills of mid-wales for the last time before descending to the river.

We proceeded though, not without trepidation, for the valley of the Wye seemed to recede into fog and gloom, indicating that yet more threatening weather was in store for us. We barely stopped in Rhyader, riding close together and fast down an almost empty A470 to Builth Wells. I took in very little of the thirteen indicated miles of increasingly wet A road, concentrating solely on not losing the tow from Duncan’s rear wheel, while at the same time wincing every time the road surface changed to harbour more standing water that would inevitably shower me – a small price to pay. We were both stiff and sore from the day’s riding and frequently standing to stretch backs, limbs and seats as we closed in on the tangible goal of reaching our desired overnight halt.

Warm in Builth Wells
In Builth, the hospitality of the Welsh did not fail us, we found two meals for £10 (each – 4 in total) at the Fountain Inn, live music and the barman pointed us to one of his regulars, the proprietor of the Cedars Guesthouse, a short walk away, for which we were very grateful as it was now pouring with rain again and we would have had a very sorry time trying to find any suitable place to sleep rough in a town the size of Builth – neither of us was in the mood to continue cycling that night.

On that Saturday we covered about 135km and over 2900m of ascent.

Sunday dawned rainy and grey, and after a good breakfast prepared for us by Vic, we re-packed all of our newly dried things on to the bikes and set off towards Hay on Wye and territory that almost felt like a home stomping ground. As we spun along the relatively level roads of the wye valley and began to loosen up, the weather also began to smile on us, at least for the time being and as we left Erwood following a refreshment stop, things seemed to be improving.

We approached Hay on the banks of a much broader river wye than the one we had followed out of the mountains the night before and the fields and spring leaves glowed in the sunshine before a deep charcoal grey sky. Once again there were daffodils by the roadside and we were looking forward to our final high pass of the trip, at 549m the Gospel Pass is the highest paved road in Wales and we had climbed it together in the past on the way back from a UBES Brecon Beacons trip. The road climbs between Hay Bluff and Lord Hereford’s Knob and then descends a beautiful valley all the way to Abergavenny, from where it was both misleading and satisfying to believe we were on the home stretch.

Roadside Daffodils
Approaching the Gospel Pass

However the mountains had one more trick in store for us. This might be on the border with Engand, but the pass was not prepared to suffer fools gladly and fools we were as we began to climb in glorious sunshine with a light breeze towards the hills.

Through the woods the breeze stiffened until forwards progress was tortuous and staying on the road required as much concentration as the climbing itself. Once out of the shelter of the trees and the cwm they lined, the upland moors unleashed on us driving hail and conditions as bad as any I’ve experienced in the beacons. Still we pushed on, cowering behind banks to add layers and breathing a sigh of relief every time a car passed without incident induced by a sudden gust of wind. We arrived at the summit soaked through once again and cold, and stayed that way for the whole of the streaming, muddy descent to Abergavenney, barely admiring the still-skeletal larch trees that overhung the road or noticing the D of E groups from Burnley that we stormed past in a single minded pursuit of warmth, dryness and sustenance.

Gospel Pass


We pushed through Abergavenny and followed another of Wale’s great rivers, the Usk, to the town that bears its name. Through rolling fields that could easily belong in the home counties and past the old windmill outlined in white against the green and yellow fields. Over the dramatic iron bridge and beneath still wintery trees on the steeper bank to roll into the centre of Usk in the middle of the afternoon for our first proper break since just after breakfast.

Between Usk and Chepstow there is one particular hill that we remembered from our last encounter with it about eighteen months ago. It is long and steep and climbs through a beautiful wood rather like a south downs beech hangar. It hurt us then and as it continued in steepness and savagery around every corner it hurt us now, but that did not seem to matter. We were going home, along the ridge that follows the Severn estuary between the outflows of the Usk and the Wye, with wide views down the Bristol Channel to Barry Island and across to the two Severn crossings, we knew as we traversed this that but for a race back across the levels on the English side of the river in the gathering darkness we had succeeded.

The Severn Estuary


So as we parted ways at the top of Parry’s Lane on the edge of Stoke Bishop it dawned on me that we had ridden home to Bristol from the furthest North West corner of mainland Wales through all the hills that I have loved to walk over for years (and many I’ve not yet ventured to) and for the introduction to those hills I can only thank UBES.

The Bridge
Home Again

Over the course of the weekend, we crossed three major passes at over 500m and climbed any number of smaller hills adding up to a total of 326km and roughly 5700m of ascent.

Write-up by Robert Wragge-Morley

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Yorkshire 3 peaks

On Friday 7th March 33 keen UBESters headed to the Yorkshire Dales to attempt the 3 peaks challenge. After a few minor hiccups such as me forgetting all the paperwork at the Union and Sarah's car leaving without being full, we ended up in Selside at about midnight. The Bunkhouse, owned and run by Leeds Uni is more than adequate, with a large kitchen and good washing facilities (if the showers get hot!). The walk leaders were decided and we all settled down to try and get a few hours kip.

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Saturday morning got of to a shaky start, as we spent half an hour trying to work the enormous hob. Eventually after deciphering the mammoth instruction manual, everyone was fed and we set of for Horton-in-Ribblesdale down the road. The groups were as follows:

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Fast: Tim/James and co

Medium 1: Emily/Tom/Ollie and co

Medium 2: Anna/Thom/Duncan and co

Slower: Jon/Rhodri and co

Runners: Hugo/Duncan

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We set off at 0822, making some good pace through the mist over Pen y Ghent and through the bog to Whernside only going slightly off course in search of a waterfall, instigated by James Hassall. This turned out to be dried up, but the views were spectacular nonetheless. After the Lunching at the base of the Ribblehead viaduct, we began the seemingly never ending slog up Whernside, our 2nd peak. This proved long and challenging but the weather clearing our spirits lifted and the thought of completing the challenge in under 10 hours spurred us on down to the pub.

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The skies were clear as we began trudging fast up the slopes of Inleburough. We were aching now. The previous 18 or so miles had taken it's toll. But soon enough we found ourselves at the base of the very steep section to the 'summit ridge'! The Summit plateau was windy but spectacular. Whernside and Pen Y Ghent could be seen far off to the north and east and it began to sink in how far we had actually come.

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There was no time to linger however as we only had 1:40 to descend before the clock hit the 10hr mark. 7km in 100 mins seemed easily doable - it's downhill along a path all the way right. Well it wasn't as simple as that. The 'path' early on was very rocky and awkward, and later it was as though we were back trudging through the Pennine way bog experienced ~5hrs previous. Seeing a 2.75 mile signpost with 1hr to go we knew we had our work cut out, but nevertheless we found ourselves at the car park at 1818. Challenge complete.

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The day was not yet done, however. It was only before chopping veg, driving back to Horton with James in search of the final group, intercepting them at 11pm, picking up a hilarious drunk Sarah from the pub and enjoying some well-earned curry slop, the lone Corbra, and some table traversing, that I finally got some glorious shut eye.

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Sunday on the 3 peaks means only one thing - The Malham Bimble. This didn't get off to the best of starts when Malham car park was overflowing at least 2 fold. We ended up at Malham Tarn and decided to walk down to the Cove and up the waterfall via the pub. An excellent day, capped off by a record breaking lake bag (19 people) and some naked photographing, was had by all. Leyland spoons provided some much needed coffee and food and after a few ours in the company of Hugo and Emily and our many vocal renditions in the van, the day ended at the Students Union at midnight.

Tim Lewis

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Team on the final summit: Ingleborough (723m)

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The beautiful sun kissed grass on the descent to Horton-in-Ribblesdale

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Malham Cove

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Gordale Scar waterfall