So as promised, after a 2 night absence, the blog returns with an update on Mountain Murph. This blog will focus on that, as opposed to the normal format and layout.
We had a rocky start. We set off on time to head to our accommodation on Tuesday night, but got bogged down in heavy traffic very early in the journey, setting us back a lot. This threw out the plans to shop for food for breakfast the following day and other supplies on arrival. As it was, we arrived not long before midnight, and had to make do with what we could buy from the services. On the journey fast food had to suffice, against the original plan to have a pub meal when we arrived. We did manage to get bacon and eggs for the next morning though so we could set off well fed.
On Wednesday morning, at 5am, the 2 person support crew set off up Ben Nevis with the pull-up rig. The weather was decent, just a light misting of rain, and temperatures were good. At 6:05am the challenge proper began with the pair of us attempting the challenge setting off. The first two thirds of the climb was pretty straightforward. Initial niggles were easily worked through and we both found our mountain legs pretty quickly. The view were stunning, the weather stayed reasonable and clear, and the going underfoot was pretty comfortable. The final third saw a change in conditions though. The fog came in, temperatures dropped, and the wind picked up to the point of us having to shout over short distances. Just under 2 hours, we summited, but realised we had caught the support crew, as they too had just summited. We decided to set to work on the push-ups and squats while the pull-up rig was built. This only took a few minutes, and then the support crew went to find shelter. I was amazed that I couldn't perform a single pull-up to begin with. I put my down jacket on, and carried on performing squats and push-ups to warm my arms up, and was soon able to get moving. They stayed painful, but I was able to complete the calisthenics in around 35 minutes of work. Unfortunately, my workout partner suffered debilitating cramps, and was left unable to finish. For safety reasons we needed to descend. We set off, leaving the support crew to dismantle the frame, and make their way down too. I stayed with my partner for safety reasons until we were down out of the clouds, on the easily navigable footpath, and around plenty of people now beginning to climb. At this point the plan changed; he would make his way down more slowly, and join the support crew in their vehicle to head straight to Snowdon, while I ran ahead and set off to begin Scafell Pike.
Predictably, the descent was much quicker, although I did slip over 3 or 4 times. Once down, I spent ten minutes changing into dry clothes, and we set off. There were several delays on the route, however we managed to arrive and meet my partner for this peak at around 4:30pm, setting off around 15 minutes after that. The support crew for this even had set off a couple of hours before, albeit carrying a much more demanding pull-up rig. We ascended pretty quickly, taking just over 2 hours, we summited a little after 7. We met the support crew a few hundred metres short of the summit as they were ferrying parts of the rig to the top. The weather here was harsh too, however it was certainly warmer, and we managed to shelter from the wind for the most part. I was around a third of the way through the push-ups and squats by the time the pull-up bar was built, so I then played catch-up to finish on a round of 5, 10 and 15 as planned. The calisthenics this time took around 35 to 40 minutes, and felt much stronger.
The descent from Scafell was much more challenging. The vast majority, some 90+% required me to stare intently at my own feet the entire time to avoid slipping on the wet rocks that formed the path. Despite not being able to build up any speed, it was a comfortable descent that took just over an hour. Once at the bottom, I bade farewell to my buddy for this peak, and set off with my driver for the last mountain.
Several navigation issues on route to Snowdon saw this leg take over an hour more than it could have, seeing us arrive at 3:30am. To compound the issue, we had no phone signal and struggled to find the other vehicle, with my climbing partner from Ben Nevis, who would now rejoin me for this climb. By the time we made contact, and set off, it was 4am. As we climbed the first third, the sun rose behind us, so that we were never really in darkness from the beginning, and were lucky enough to have the fantastic views well lit for us. We climbed well, albeit at a steady pace for the first 90 minutes, before slowing for the much steeper, rockier and foggier last 30 minutes to the summit. Once there, I was able to get straight into my routine completely on plan this time, and had the fog clear to afford us spectacular view in all directions, but particularly to the North across Wales and to the sea. You can't really give up with that view! We had summited 5 minutes before the 24 hour mark, travel woes having denied me the opportunity to sneak in under 24 hours, however that was only a secondary target. I had now completed my third "Murph" with just the descent to go. There was now no real requirement for speed, so we descended a simpler route in around an hour and 15 minutes, bringing the event to a complete close at a touch over 26 hours.
Although there were a couple of small transport delays, and the need to change plans on the go for a couple of moments, altogether the event was a success. The aim was to complete the 3 peaks in a weight vest, with 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats at the summit of each. That was achieved, and is something I already feel proud to have done. I'm not at all oblivious to the fact that this simply could not have happened without some very dedicated volunteers who delivered on every level. It makes me very grateful and humble seeing friends, and even people I don't know, taking time off work, travelling and completing demanding tasks in their own right, to support events like this. I'm very glad they did decide to though, because it was one hell of an experience!
It ranks within the top 3 hardest things I have done, and my legs will continue to remind me of that for the next couple of days at least. If I were to do it again? I would better plan food, as i've lived almost entirely out of service stations for 3 days (which doesn't help energy levels, performance or recovery), and I'd have the support crew ascend the day before and leave the rigs there ready to be used. Additionally, I'd take a sat-nav that didn't require phone signal as the places you need to go have notoriously poor reception. In terms of my approach to the speed of climbing, breakdown of repetitions or training, there would only be minor teaks. All told, it worked, and for that I'm extremely happy.
Until tomorrow, when normal service will resume!