/ Go Activities - Three Peaks Challenge, purely commercial
I spotted in a leaflet from Go Outdoors that they now seem to be acting as an agent for various "treat yourself to an activity" type things - you know, mucking about in a 4x4, laser clay pigeon shooting, paddling down a river. All well and good.
One of the "adventures" on offer is the "3 Peaks Challenge" - yes that one. I was surprised to see anyone offering it as a purely commercial venture given that even charity fundraisers come in for some flak. I left some courteous comments on their website, mostly linking to Jill Hudson's little piece she wrote for the BMC
Feel free to back me up (or indeed offer alternative views!)
where it is offered as "3 Peaks Challenge", "Open 3 Peaks Challenge" and "National 3 Peaks Challenge". I think the first two are with the same operator. The third even has the gall to mention that a lot of people at least do it for charity!
Given that the overall goactivities thing also offers up the Yorkshire 3 Peaks (much cheaper too!), I'm perplexed.
You're simply paying for the logistics of doing the challenge. You could turn your thinking on its head and see that small groups may well chose to join this rather than organising it themselves which potentially could reduce the overall number of vehicles and the volume of groups?
I looked into doing it with a friend last year but the logistics and cost of simply staging it ourselves was prohibitive. Had we known about something like this then we might have gone ahead after all.
I understand the problems that the 3PC brings with it but that doesn't mean that people shoud stop altogether, more to become more aware and minimise the potential impact.
Or GO are commercialising the mountains just the same as every outdoor centre or professional guide already are?
You make good points, thank you - I did say I'd welcome alternative views and that I was perplexed rather than vexed.
Aside from the impact issues, I think it's just an unsatisfying challenge. I am guilty of having done it myself, as driver of a yellow uni minibus and not even for charity, so that's as bad as it gets really (I was unaware of the sensitive issues at the time). I didn't end up thinking "wow, I've done a good satisfying challenge", it was more "wow I am glad we didn't crash the minibus"
FWIW I also didn't put a finger-wagging rant there - I just linked to the BMC article and made a comment similar to my previous one here (minus the "uni group / yellow minibus, 'glad we didn't crash'" aspect
It's not about my "approval", but yes I'd say the 24 hour aspect irks me - I know from experience that this makes it more of a driving-when-tired challenge than anything else. Maybe this goactivities thing is a GOOD thing in that respect, if there is organised driving arranged by the operators to run safely in shifts.
Environmental impact of driving so far (all the way to Fort William for a few hours walk)
Risk of accidents increased due to tired/dark
SO for me, it's definitely the 24 hour aspect that does not sit comfortably.
The market is there, why shouldnt a commercial company try to get their slice of the cake. This time of year the Capel Curig pubs are full of proud "3 Peakers" and "14 Peakers" finishing their challenge. WHo knows maybe some will return,get the bug and enjoy our mountains responsibly.
Im not defending the 3 Peaks,for reasons well documented elsewhere I find it pretty pointless, stupid and environmentally unsound.
But private company,niche in market, recession, good luck to them I say as long as they operate in as low impact a way as possible.
I think Jill Hudson makes a valid point in that the "real" Three Peaks Challenge should be done by sailing boat and on foot with no use of vehicles.
That is a real challenge - the only one I would be prepared to recognise as an achievement worthy of sponsorship for charity. As she very ably points out using vehicles and heavy footfall causes more damage than good.
Come on, it is a fair point. The 3 peaks is a pretty artificial challenge given the amount of driving involved. It also results in all sorts of problems due to the large numbers concentrated on one or two routes at the same time. Last June I was really shocked at the numbers on Ben Nevis (which given the track could just about cope - I doubt Sca Fell Pike is quite as robust.)
> Come on, it is a fair point. The 3 peaks is a pretty artificial challenge given the amount of driving involved. It also results in all sorts of problems due to the large numbers concentrated on one or two routes at the same time. Last June I was really shocked at the numbers on Ben Nevis (which given the track could just about cope - I doubt Sca Fell Pike is quite as robust.)
don't feed the troll..
Sir Chasm is an angry person who just likes to play devils advocate (how he may consider it but what is actually just making nasty comments in response to every innocent post made).
As for OP, I think it's difficult. As people who love the mountains we obviously want to see minimal impact yet enjoy them ourselves. It's not for us to say that the thousands of rookies/tourists (whatever you want to call them) want to enjoy them in their way too, and walking up a mountain isn't an overly destructive thing to do in comparison to what we do....walk up a mountain....
It's things like the litter that is the worst thing. It would be good to see these companies keeping control of their groups to minimise the impact, educating them on the right way to behave and if not directly putting money back in (lets face it, when money is tight it's often hard to feel charitable) then at least encouraging donations from their customers.
I wonder what proportion of 3 peak ascendees the 3 peakers make up.
> But private company,niche in market, recession, good luck to them I say as long as they operate in as low impact a way as possible.
therein lies the crux of the issue - there's no official guidelines that any company (charitable or otherwise) has to adhere to. they could conceiveably turn up at the carpark in glen nevis with 5 bus loads of walkers each paying near £300 (according to Blue's link) with no inclination to put anything back into the upkeep of the paths etc.
I understand the NT's reasons behind not accepting money off organisations as it's tantamount to condoning it but something has to give.
Indeed - but that is just your opinion, and mine too as it happens, but many others clearly think differently.
I can't find the exact quote, but does the Land Reform Act in Scotland not state that the Outdoor Access Code must be followed in order for the Act to have legal ground, and that the code mentions something about the maximum number of people in a group.
> I can't find the exact quote, but does the Land Reform Act in Scotland not state that the Outdoor Access Code must be followed in order for the Act to have legal ground, and that the code mentions something about the maximum number of people in a group.
It's here. Nothing about numbers but you have to be "responsible", which probably adds up to much the same.
Without going into any of the other issues, I think this is a fairly weak argument - the commercial organisations that are profiting from running these trips aren't just satisfying an existing demand, they're actively promoting it as an awesome experience and a cool thing that everyone should do.
And I think it's different from guiding or instruction, in that it's not encouraging people to develop their interest in the outdoors, it's getting them to quickly charge around it to get a tick on their "hundred things to do before you die"...
I think we should be targeting the people doing the 3 peaks to be a bit more imaginative with their charity challenges, done with a dedicated driver or two the three peaks isn't really much of a challenge, there are dozens of larger and less popular mountains than scafel in the UK (mostly in Scotland).
I think it probably is for those who do it. One man's walk in the park is another's goal in life.
A good article here about the pressure on Scafell Pike...
I met a middle-aged couple up there recently who were doing the 3 Peaks as part of a week's holiday.
Much more sensible way to go, imo.
> I think it probably is for those who do it. One man's walk in the park is another's goal in life.
That is a fair comment and it would do some of the apparently hardcore mountaineers posting on this thread some good to take pause and think about that.
This always comes up but as far as I can see the main arguments against the three peaks challenge are not of the "not proper walkers" type but far more pragmatic.
The fact is it generates much larger negative externalities than if the participants had just walked up the three mountains separately over the course of a year. Someone somewhere will end up paying for the extra path erosion, rubbish collection etc etc and it doesn't seem to be coming out of the profits of the companies promoting the challenge.
The latter 2 will be more fun!
I'm not really arsed but it's a shame someone can't get a hiking challenge that would be more fun and less artificial (IMO), to stick in the general publics imagination.
> I'm not really arsed but it's a shame someone can't get a hiking challenge that would be more fun and less artificial (IMO), to stick in the general publics imagination.
Alas, all your own personal opinion. One of my colleagues walked up Snowdon the other month. One of the best days out he has had ever! I challenge you to persuade him otherwise. It took him all day and he loved every minute. Just because you would find that dull does not mean everyone does.
how about then
all the companies offering this "awesome challenge" contribute to a trade body who organise monday litter collections over the summer period and donate some materials to local path repair volenteers?
would that help ease some of the strain, or would that actually make it worse by "legitimising" it? (ie it's already happening so atleast encourage / force the compaies involved to help manage the litter / erosion?
just musing really
Hmm I don't think I agree with this. I would suggest that the sort of person paying ~300 quid to do this is going to be someone who isn't capable (or isn't confident enough) to pull it off through their own planning and organization. I suspect a lot of people would therefore just find something else to do for their charity drive/office bragging/spare weekend.
Also I personally don't think its the absolute numbers that are so much the problem. More the concentrating of these numbers into massive groups, along with the attitude of "I've paid for this/doing it for 'a good cause', so I'll defaecate where I like."
> how about then
> all the companies offering this "awesome challenge" contribute to a trade body who organise monday litter collections over the summer period and donate some materials to local path repair volenteers?
> would that help ease some of the strain, or would that actually make it worse by "legitimising" it? (ie it's already happening so atleast encourage / force the compaies involved to help manage the litter / erosion?
> just musing really
it's a catch 22 situation as far as paying third parties to do the 'clean up' as it sort of is condoning it but it's not going to happen any other way. That said, I was halfway up Scafell last month and there was a small group of people with litter picking tongs and bin bags full of rubbish from the summit - they were true volunteers in that they weren't doing it for any charity or organisation, but these good samaritans arent going to keep doing it if big organisation are taking advantage of the situation.
1) Commercial venture = large group;
2) Commercial venture = lots of people littering and defecating
Someone mentioned legislation for organised commercial groups, which is a good point. It is entirely possible that the operators, being seen by the group as being "in charge", are able to MORE strongly communicate the sensitivity of the environment and the importance of "leave only footsteps, take only memories" than are 3 mates in a car doing it off their own back.
> I would suggest that the sort of person paying ~300 quid to do this is going to be someone who isn't capable (or isn't confident enough) to pull it off through their own planning and organization.
There is that, but then it seems these people have to be able to be at Fort William at 10am on a Saturday and to then make their way home from Llanberis a day later. That takes a bit of organising in itself! OK it's not the same as having to confidence to get up the mountains but still...
> Alas, all your own personal opinion. One of my colleagues walked up Snowdon the other month. One of the best days out he has had ever! I challenge you to persuade him otherwise. It took him all day and he loved every minute. Just because you would find that dull does not mean everyone does.
No, no no no no. I should have been clearer. The walk up Snowdon is great, as is all of the peaks. I'd rather be doing anyone of them right now than sitting here. It's the drive inbetween to fit this time limit that is silly and would spoil to the enjoyment of the walk (IMO).
> There is that, but then it seems these people have to be able to be at Fort William at 10am on a Saturday and to then make their way home from Llanberis a day later.
Oh good, at least they are promoting the rail industry :).
Can anyone get on the goactivities website? I'm worried that it has collapsed under the weight of my very mild and non-judgemental comments that I left on it!
I don't buy the idea that if companies/charities did not organise and promote the 3 Peaks large numbers of people would do it anyway. That's like saying that if holiday companies stopped offerring all-inclusive package tours to Cancun people would go anyway. A handful might but not in the vast numbers seen at the moment and it's the same with the 3 Peaks.
The other poor sods who are being forgotten in this are those who live in Borrowdale/Wasdale who because of the timing and logistics end up with their sleep ruined weekend after weekend in mid-summer. The charities and commercial companies who organise the trips need to realise they are cashing in on residents' misery. How would you like someone to organise an early hours sponsored walk outside your house every Friday and Saturday from June to August?I think I'd probably shoot someone!
I think I'd probably shoot someone!
Or possibly find you tractor breaks down repeatedly across the car park entrance.
Where there is demand, there is someone to serve that demand.
I'm suggesting anyone be banned from anything. By and large I'm not much in favour of banning things I am just hoping that some people might just stop and think for a minute (I think that really that's all it should take) and say: "Maybe this is not such a good thing after all and we really ought to find a less disruptive way of making money." I believe it's called Doing the Right Thing and surely charities at least oughtto be open to that idea. Of course I do have the option of cutting up my Go Outdoors card and posting it back to them with the reasons why.
> The other poor sods who are being forgotten in this are those who live in Borrowdale/Wasdale who because of the timing and logistics end up with their sleep ruined weekend after weekend in mid-summer.
Are they being forgotten? It's them that I am thinking about more than anything else - I thought the BMC article covered that?
> Are they being forgotten? It's them that I am thinking about more than anything else - I thought the BMC article covered that?
I stand corrected. The BMC article does mention congestion, noise and mess at Wasdale, and a lack of contribution to the local pubs etc, but does not mention the residents - it reads as if the only people suffering from the congestion, noise and mess are the participants (and I'm still wondering why 300 firemen would need 70 minibuses, unless they are all very very fat firement)
I was thinking more of this thread which (not surprisingly, given the nature of the site) was concentrating on the effect on the hills rather than the locals, including all those that have a stream of cars, vans and buses going past for much of the night.
Yes, good on you for you raising the issue - for me it went without saying so I guess I somehow assumed that people had been talking about (or I just tie it in with general "despoilment of environment")
> I don't buy the idea that if companies/charities did not organise and promote the 3 Peaks large numbers of people would do it anyway. That's like saying that if holiday companies stopped offerring all-inclusive package tours to Cancun people would go anyway. A handful might but not in the vast numbers seen at the moment and it's the same with the 3 Peaks.
Yes, agree. The fact that it's being marketed to people as a cool but accessible one-off challenge has to vastly increase the numbers of people doing it. And I think that if it turns out that there's money to be made offering people a Three Peaks Challenge package deal, and if people shrug their shoulders and say "fair enough, got to make your money somehow" then there are going to be more people doing the same thing and hence more marketing.
Of course not. Not only would a ban be impossible to enforce it would also be fundamentally wrong. But since a large part of the reason people do it is because they think its something they can boast about one approach would be to be generally derisive of it as an achievement (not all that hard since the organised walks are a test of walking in a line for 16 hrs) and a blanket refusal to sponsor any one doing it.
Of course the problem is that whenever anyone takes that approach on these forums they are accused of being elitist and derisive of others life goals :)
More links expresssing concerns:
http://www.wasdale-mountain-rescue.org.uk/3 peaks home.htm
http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/Resources/Institute of Fundraising/Codes/OFiUK Consultation Draft Nov 09.doc
(The last link is dead but someone might know where it went)
I dont care if its commercial or not: I think the climbing community should actively discourage this particular 24 hour 'race' because of the very vaid concerns raised. I have much fewer issues if its held over 2 days with good access to local services. There is of course almost a cottage industry around recongnising the concerns of the 24 hour version and taking your money to help alleviate some of them (the irony just pours out).
Why?? It isn't a real challenge any more. In the days when it was walked and sailed, then fine. Drive and walk?! Currently, it is all about the need to be able to say "I did this". Sad, springs to mind. Go and do a'challenge' that you have thought of. Or, if you haven't any immagination, and you haven't already done it, the Yorkshire Three. At least you are doing it on foot and not spending hours driving. Currently, the the national three peaks falls into a similar category as the 'climb' up Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail and Everest Base Camp!
But whatever you do, do it with a few people not 2-300! The mountains cannot cope!
While I agree that your impact will have been minimal in comparison (and it sounds like great fun) why specifically those three hills?
These big sponsored challenges aren't going to go away, but trudging hundreds of people up the same old paths is unsustainable, not to mention much of the original 'challenge' aspect is lost anyway. People simply need to be more imaginative.
A friend of mine works for a water company and wateraid run a Munro challenge which aims to put a team (of two or three people) on top of every munro on the same day. This seems to be the sort of thinking which is needed. Now obviously if every company or group decided to do the Munro challenge then this would cause problems with that challenge in the future but I commend Wateraid's attempt to do something different and minimise impact.
And finally, who are you to say that it is no longer a challenge? Some folks find simply walking a challenge. Others find climbing the hardest walls in the land a bit of a challenge. The Three Peaks, whether you like it or not is a challenge to many. If it wasn't, why would people want to do it? And please don't roll out the old "because they want to brag about it" trick. I know a number of people who have done it and none of them brag, but they are all pretty pleased that they were able to overcome what was, for them, a considerable personal challenge.
I think there should be a gate on the Wasdale road which is locked from 10pm to 6am - residents and emergency services would have the key/code, 3 peaks operators would not. That would stop the 24hr/48hr silliness.
This is a pretty interesting debate and one which reading through the chain has fair points on all 'sides'.
But for a range of reasons the challenge just seems 'wrong' to me. Possible because the groups involved are usually head down trying to tramp up a hill at some strange hour of the day oblivious to their surroundings. This is the nature of a 'challendge' however and I am sure we have all forgotten about the niceties of the environment in which we accept amd meet these challeneges during their undertaking?
But thats up to the competitior - I suppose I am more concerned about impact on the neighbouring communities - and here we really do need to take a more lateral approach to solving the issues.
Seperated car parks - access during certain times - applications for keys to gates etc etc.
If you are going to do this challenege then I dont see why it cannot be properly managed and designed so that it works in harmony with the environment it is utilising.
For other people, of course, not for me.
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