An intrepid trio from Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has battled through exhaustion, injury and atrocious weather to conquer three mountains in three countries.
The three – visitor services manager Izzy Warren, membership coordinator Justin Fuller and senior mammal Keeper Craig Gilchrist, who works with the gorillas – overcame mental and physical highs and lows, including a fall that nearly ended the whole venture.
They tackled the Three Peaks Challenge to conquer Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon to raise money for Paignton Zoo conservation projects.
The three started at the foot of Ben Nevis in Western Scotland, which is 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) high, at 4pm on Wednesday, June 9.
Izzy said: “Ben Nevis was beautiful, with breath-taking views. But on the way down, Craig had a serious fall, injuring his leg and knee and piercing his side with his walking pole. At one point we thought he would have to go to hospital and that it was all over.”
They were then driven to Scafell Pike in North-Western England (978 metres, 3,209 ft) by Julie Gibson from the Paignton Zoo front of house team and her husband.
“We climbed Scafell Pike with a gale force wind in our faces, zero visibility and freezing temperatures. We kept losing the path even with GPS. That was our lowest point emotionally and physically. We got to the top at 5.15am,” said Izzy.
The last peak was Snowdon in North Wales, at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft).
Izzy said: “We climbed the mountains in the times suggested, but we were defeated by the traffic. We got stuck behind trucks and caravans on narrow, twisty roads. We gave it everything on Snowdon, but by then our legs had gone and we couldn’t quite make it down in time.”
They finished just 40 minutes over the 24 hours. They have raised in the region of £1,200.
Izzy said: “I now know why they call it a challenge. We had to dig so deep. It was harder than cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Thanks to Julie and Adam, who drove over 1,500 miles and looked after us so well – it was a tremendous effort.”
The National Three Peaks Challenge is a mountain-endurance challenge with a 40-year history. Participants attempt to climb the highest peaks of each of the three countries. While the challenge has no official rules or time restrictions, many participants try and complete it within 24 hours.
The challenge involves some 42 kilometres (26 miles) of ascent and descent, with a total distance travelled approaching 765 kilometres (475 miles).
(from a press release)
(image: Izzy, Craig, Justin at the start of their challenge)