The forum to discuss the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge
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Post by sophiehardcastle » 28 Mar 2013, 11:43

Hello, my friends and I have been planning to do the 3 peaks for ages - the date has come - the 31st of march (this sunday) and the weather isn't looking promising. Some people are experienced, some are not at all. There are 17 of us aged between 18 and 20. Please may we have some advice? Thanksss!

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Re: 3 PEAKS 31st MARCH

Post by mac.hawk » 28 Mar 2013, 19:55

Email me for March edition of 'The Guide'. Includes directions for all the route plus 'jump out points'.

It's late in the day but I'd suggest you get everyone to have a pair of cleats (also known as ice grippers) for their footwear.

Your main problem will be the compacted snow/ice, particularly on the paved sections. Without the appropriate equipment (i.e. the cleats) people are veering from the paved route and using the adjacent moor, not something I'd recommend as the erosion simply gets worse.

The actual forecast for the weekend isn't too bad, with a moderate wind & no rain/snow forecast. Temperatures in the valley just above freezing during the day but well below at night. On the hill tops you'd imagine it will be sub-zero temperature throughout the day. People need to be adequately clothed for the cold - it's a very long walk at the best of times but in sub-zero temperatures you have to be properly prepared.

You also need to consider food along the route. In the temperatures as forecast it will mean that if you stop for 'lunch' wherever on route you will become cold very rapidly. If starting from Horton the only option you have to eat your own food 'indoors' along the route would be to detour and visit Ribblehead railway station - you might need to use both waiting rooms in a party this size.

The Station Inn at Ribblehead will be open (but I'd keep off the beer) and the Hill Inn at Chapel le Dale will probably be too (again I wouldn't touch the ale until I'd finished the route).

If you started from Ribblehead or Chapel le Dale you could similarly use the railway station at Horton (no detour needed) or just vist the PyG Cafe in Horton.

You don't HAVE to stop for food, you could eat along the way , but you do need fuel to keep the energy up.

Finally, whoever is 'leading' this group should also have the courage to abandon the walk if the conditions prove to be too severe or individuals are struggling (or lead the latter to a safe point).

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Re: 3 PEAKS 31st MARCH

Post by Broseph » 29 Mar 2013, 15:36

Hello there,
Me and a friend are gonna attempt the walk this Sunday too! The Guide from mac.hawk is really helpful so be sure to have a read through that. And also upon mac's advice, we have both invested in a pair of ice grippers. You can get them quite cheap online (Amazon had a pair for £2.50) but I doubt they'd last a 25 mile trek. We bought a set of Yaktrax Pro from Cotswold for £20.

I've been keeping an eye on the Ingleborough webcam and the snow has definitely receded somewhat and the sky's looking clear too which is a good sign! With that said, the wind chill is forecast to be around -10 so it would be wise to be wrapped up. The melted snow would probably contribute to muddy and boggy conditions so be sure you're waterproofed!

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Re: 3 PEAKS 31st MARCH

Post by mac.hawk » 30 Mar 2013, 18:34

Have just returned from a clomp over Ingleborough (30/03/2013) and if you want to make life easier for yourself cleats (ice grippers) are essential tomorrow and on Bank Holiday Monday. Whilst I came from Clapham and ended up at Ribblehead it was very obvious that over approx 500 metres height the compacted snow and ice was a real problem on the ascent and in particular the descent if you didn't have these additions to your footwear.

I passed a number of much younger people than me basically because they were struggling with just basic boots and some people on their way down looked petrified.

The summit plateau was fine. The (higher) routes up from Chapel Le Dale and down into Horton looked very snowbound too (I had the binoc's with me) as did the ascent of Pen y Ghent.

Another point to make is that as you summit the Ingleborough 'staircase' (from the Chapel le Dale end) and go through the gate at the top to turn right up another two sets of steps - well you do normally but at the moment this is simply a rise up (mainly) compacted snow.

The route at the top of the second set of steps that turns to the right after the vertical 2 ft high boulder is snowbound an inaccessible. Instead head directly uphill - the uphill should be fine, the return downhill is a bit more tricky

When the sun was out it was fabulous but when you pushed past the 500m height mark a moderate but cold wind got up and when the sun went in it was VERY cold.

If you do attempt the route, let us know how you got on.



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Re: 3 PEAKS 31st MARCH

Post by H_Ian_M » 01 Apr 2013, 14:30

Just copied from my reply in the current conditions thread:

I did the 3 Peaks yesterday with two mates. I think two of us had done it twice before, and one once before, although all previous trips had been in the summer. None of us have much experience of proper winter mountaineering. To summarise (Starting Horton, anticlockwise):

Pen-y-Ghent ascent: physically tougher than usual up the early sections, due to soft snow on the ground (not helped by taking a slight wrong turning due to the path being less obvious in the snow - ended up heading somewhat cross country until we hit the wall on the ridge, than hanging a left). The final steep section was largely snow free, but in places was a bit slippy. Overall, slightly trickier and maybe took 20min longer than normal.

Pen-y-Ghent descent: Initially soft snow, no real issues. Coming over the bank, grippers would definitely have been appreciated, as the path was very slippy with compacted snow and ice, and was 'off camber', threatening a long slide down the bank. The additional care required probably added 10min

Pen-y-Ghent to Ribblehead: Took the new path - some snow lying on the ground, but generally fine underfoot. If anything was easier than expected as the ground was less boggy.

Whernside ascent: Up to about 400m ground largely clear of snow, no issues. From this point (just at the turn back on yourself), there was a mile or so of compacted, slippy ice, but this gave way to softer snow with much more grip. The wind, however, really picked up, probably to 35-40 knots, all along the summit ridge. Made for quite hard work. In all, the ascent probably took 15min longer.

Whernside descent: Initially not too bad, as the soft snow provides a lot of grip if you are comfortable chopping foothold with each step. Again, however, there was a 1-2km period, just as the descent got steeper, where ice had formed and going was very slow. The always tricky rocky descent was not helped by patches of snow, ice and very slippy mud. Probably took 20+ extra minutes in total.

Ingleborough ascent: Initial section had some patchy snow, increasing with height, and the steps were a bit tricky in places, with some large ice patches. The steep section of the route, however, was very tricky. Snow was soft with a hard crust and about 1ft deep at least. The path was impossible to see, and everyone appeared to have gone straight up to the left of the fence. There was approx. 200-300m of steep climbing that was just possible without using hands, then a small ledge where it was possible to have a break. Above this ledge, the final segment was around 100m that required hands as well. There are well-cut hand/foot holds in the snow, but they were not all secure, and it felt very exposed without a rope - it would be very easy to slip, and there would be little chance to arrest a fall on the hard packed snow without an ice axe. The final climb to the summit plateau was a bit exposed with a strong wind this time trying to blow us off the path around the Northern side of the rocky outcrops. Again, 10-15min were probably added in total.

Ingleborough descent: Very hard packed snow made the initial section off the plateau tricky - we decided discretion was the better part of valour and bumslid a lot of the way, reasoning that it was better to sit down than fall down. Once below the snowline, the path was similar to normal for this time of year. Probably 5-10min added in total.

Overall: We managed fine without grippers/crampons/rope, but there were definitely sections where this would have been appreciated. I am not a M/L, so obviously no expert, but I would have appreciated a rope for the ingleborough ascent, but only if all had axes and crampons - otherwise there is no way those that had not fallen would have been able to hold on. We ended up taking 10 1/2 hours, when all of us managed the route in around 9 1/2 hours in summer conditions. Of note, I would have felt very uncomfortable descending Ingleborough by the route we ascended - I'm very glad we went anticlockwise.

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