Big Hex Challenge: Raising Money for Scottish Mountain Rescue

A team of three climbers - Fraser Brown, Alan McIntosh and Robert Hastie, all members of West Lothian Mountaineering club - completed the Big Hex challenge last September in 34 hrs and 45 minutes, becoming the first team to beat the 36 hour target and one of only two teams to successfully complete the routes.

Alan, Fraser and Robert on the Summit of Carn Dearg
© Alan McIntosh

Bobby Motherwell started the Big Hex challenge in 2013 to give climbers a version of the “3 Peaks Challenge” and to raise visibility and funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue. Bobby's team was the only other team to finish the climbing routes, prior to the West Lothian team's attempt.

Fraser's team completed between September 18th and 19th with a total of 23 hours en route - not travelling, eating or sleeping - raising almost £4000 for Scottish Mountain Rescue in the process.

Fraser on NE Buttress, 149 kb
Fraser on NE Buttress
© Alan McIntosh

The routes are (in order of completion):

Ben Nevis, Fort William
Ascent:  North East Buttress 300 metres (1892 Sept) J, E, B, & C Hopkinson, Very Difficult ***
Start Point:        The North Face Car Park           
Descent:            Tower Ridge 600 metres  1892 Sept) J, E, B & C Hopkinson, Difficult ****
Finish Point:       The North Face Car Park           
The Northern Cuillin, Isle of Skye
Ascent:  Pinnacle Ridge (1880) C and L Pilkington, Difficult **
Start Point:        The Sligachan Hotel
Descent:            West Ridge (Sgurr Nan Gillean) and Coire a’ Bhasteir (Unknown), Moderate **
Finish Point:       The Sligachan Hotel
Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe
Ascent:  North Buttress (West Route) 300 metres (1895 July) W Brown, Rose, W Tough, Moderate *
Start Point:        Lagangarbh (222 560) SMC Hut Just over the River Coupall opposite Altnafeadh on the A82 road
Descent:            Curved Ridge 240 metres GB Gibbs, Moderate **
Finish Point:       Lagangarbh (222 560) SMC Hut Just over the River Coupall opposite Altnafeadh on the A82 road

Alan sending the Man Trap, 146 kb
Alan sending the Man Trap
© Alan McIntosh

Accoding to Fraser, the following Tweet from Bobby initiated their challenge:

"In 2014, the interest in Big Hex grew, however no one was prepared to do the challenge. We will make donation to @ScottishMR and review status." 

Fraser told UKC:

"That 34hrs and 45mins was in itself the best time I've ever had on the mountains. The challenge is tough and takes commitment but to do it with two guys who gave it their all and were still able to laugh all the way through was great.

Alan, Robert and Fraser on the finish line, 89 kb
Alan, Robert and Fraser on the finish line
© Alan McIntosh

"For me the challenge was not about the three mountains, it was about three friends' love of the outdoors. I can safely say I'm so proud of the team and the support we had. The effort everyone put in was great. Please come and bring our time down - it's there for you to have if you can folks!"

Alan commented:

"It started with a mention about a mythical/insane climbing challenge from a friend Peter Dorrington who was getting me started on rock in early 2013. I thought "I'd never be able to do something like that"...then in Spring 2015 Fraser called me and said he was putting a team together to do it and asked if I wanted to join. I knew he was a cracking leader and that Robert was great on a hill so decided I was in.

Robert and Fraser in a cloud inversion on Skye, 36 kb
Robert and Fraser in a cloud inversion on Skye
© Alan McIntosh

"I came to the mountains late and am really trying to accelerate myself to something bigger in 2017, so this seemed a great way to push my comfort zone and gain good mountain experience, as well as providing a great opportunity to raise funds for MRT. I'd been involved in calling in the Glencoe team to a fatal fall on Aonach Eagach in September 2014 and really wanted to be able to give something back.

"On a training run I really struggled on the Man Trap (NE Buttress, Ben Nevis) and Fraser basically pushed me over it (check his helmet for a size 10 footprint). This led to me being really stressed for the remainder of the route and questioning whether I could make the challenge. After a night's sleep, some pep talking from my wife and some coffee I was back in!"

Alan, Fraser and Robert on the Summit of Carn Dearg, 114 kb
Alan, Fraser and Robert on the Summit of Carn Dearg
© Alan McIntosh

Summing up the challenge, Alan told UKC:

"The 34 odd hours were incredible - we had a brilliant time, climbed well, laughed a lot and pulled each other through. we started climbing as a team and ended as brothers. These guys are are a part of me now!"

More information on the BigHex Challenge here.

Read a UKC interview with Challenge founder Bobby Motherwell here.

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