Let’s be clear. The three peaks is a great event. Tackling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and then Snowdon is a challenge for anyone, especially if your target is to complete the feat within 24 hours.
It offers excitement, endurance and a huge sense of personal achievement. It really is something out of the ordinary, for all of us whose lives are very often routine, mundane and fairly inactive.
It also gives you the opportunity to tap your friends, family and colleagues at work for a few quid for charity, amplifing the feel good (and do good) factor for those taking part.
And for us at Climb it Range, we do very nicely out of it. Our 3 Peaks range of T shirts and hoodies are by far our biggest selling range. It seems participants like the designs and want a souvenir or trophy to wear reminding them – and everyone else who sees them – of their fantastic achievement.
The problem is the three peaks challenge is proving too popular. Mountains are there to be climbed, but can’t cope with thousands of three peakers drudging up and down in organised groups.
What’s more, there’s little economic benefit to local communities, as three peakers seldom stay at any of the locations for very long. The Lake District fares particularly badly as Scafell is usually the middle summit. Eventers therefore often only spend a few hours in the area, and sometimes in total darkness, before moving south for Snowdon.
The mountains are struggling. Footpaths are there to be used and enjoyed. They are not, though, designed to be super-highways for three peak challengers. Erosion is one problem. Rubbish and litter are another.
What’s needed is a sustainable event; one in which all those taking part really have a positive experience, charities can benefit and – most importantly – the tracks, the natural environment and the mountains themselves are looked after properly so that future generations can continue to enjoy them.
This weekend the Mountain Training Association (MTA) are supporting what they are calling the Real Three Peak Challenge which is being organised by one of its members. They are clearing up litter on the three sites and hoping to raise awareness and start a public debate about how the mountains can be enjoyed by everyone, as long as they are looked after and given the care and respect they deserve. The BMC would like your views….
You may also be interested in reading our blog “The National Three Peaks Challenge” posted in June under the events category… https://blog.climbitrange.co.uk/?p=192