Is this mountain abuse, a worthwhile charity event in the great outdoors, or a bit of both? It’s been a growing issue for years (2002 article).
Again we’re seeing headlines about the impact Three Peak Challengers have on the communities through which they pass and the hills they climb. Now the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre urges all would-be challengers to book their event with them and to use the Centre as the starting point for the Ben Nevis stage of the Challenge.
As someone who has scoffed at the regulation and permit system in US National Parks, I have mixed feelings.
3P challengers aim to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours. I'm told the typical itinerary is to start on the Ben late evening, which means reaching Wasdale in the Lake District around 5am. There are reports from disgruntled locals (especially the Wasdale Head Inn publican) of Challenger’s and their vehicles clogging up lanes, slamming car doors and, since they climb regardless of the weather, causing even more erosion than normal.
The people who monitor such charitable activities, the Fundraising Standards Board together with the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre are urging charities and fundraising organisations involved with the Three Peaks Challenge event during 2008 to carefully observe all the relevant codes of practice for this event. It doesn’t happen on one weekend like a mountain marathon, but is spread across the summer.
Jim Milligan, Manager of Glen Nevis Visitor Centre says "The majority of charities taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge already leave from the Visitor Centre as it is the ideal starting point offering good parking and toilet facilities. But we can only accommodate limited numbers and it is vital that groups contact the Centre to book their climb with us to avoid clashing with other organised activity and busy periods".
I don't like the idea of booking a place on a hill walk, but then I'm no great fan of these charity events either. I only hope the visitor centre keeps some places for people who want to climb the Ben in daylight. And that some serious money is raised.
If this Google search is anything to go by, 2008 will be a busy year.