Arriva Drivers take on Three Peaks Challenge

  
  

85mph winds, wind-chill temperatures of -11 degrees Celsius, snow and hail, it was all in a days work for 3 Arriva London bus drivers who are part of a twelve strong team of London bus drivers raising money for the "Help for Heroes" charity.

Having battled their way through a gruelling selection programme to be chosen for the cancelled London2012 "Bus to Beijing" project, a spot of British "summer" weather wasn't going to stop them in their attempt to climb the highest peak in Scotland, England and Wales in under 24 hours.

Known as the 3-Peaks Challenge, this event is tough enough for the teams who use hired vans to race between each mountain at 80mph, but to negotiate a London double-decker bus along the 450 mile route added yet another dimension.

Setting off from the foot of Ben Nevis at 5pm on Friday 20th June, the determined team from 6 different bus companies in London, started the long climb to the top of the UK's highest mountain at 4,400 feet. Snow fell as they reached the summit and it was bitterly cold with wind-chill temperatures as low as -11 degrees Celsius.

Going down was as hard as going up, with knees taking the punishment of each and every step on the rocky mountain track. Using a satellite phone they relayed to the support team that they were approaching the bus, who were on hand to quickly feed them food that comes prepared in plastic bags.

The inside of the bus looked like a squat as bodies were strewn all around both decks trying to grab what little sleep they could before the next mountain was reached in the Lake District. Sleeping bags and mats were laid out between the seats and in the isles.

The weather on Scafell was kinder to the team, but Snowdon was to make up for that. A storm was brewing as they scrambled their way to the top and by the time they reached the summit, they were in the full force of 85mph winds, torrential rain and hailstones slamming into them sideways. It was no place to be and they had to get off the mountain before exhaustion set in. Hypothermia was a real risk as they battled their way down the mountain track to Llanberis.

By 11:00pm on Saturday 21st June, some 30 hours after starting, they arrived back at the bus cold, wet and exhausted, but proud of what they had achieved.

The event was in aid of the "Help for Heroes" charity and although the team only decided to undertake this challenge on the 7th June 08, they have already raised £21,000, with the ultimate aim of reaching £40,000. Managing Directors from some of the London bus companies have already pledged their support.

The drivers were led by Mac Mackenney, from the expedition company Max Adventure, who was originally tasked with leading the team to Beijing. Mac was the right-hand man to Sir Ranulph Fiennes on his last North Pole expedition.

  
  

Published : Mon 7th Jul. 2008
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