The following post is from our colleague Tom Lambert, who was lucky enough to join Acer UK and various members of the UK technology press on the Three Peaks Challenge.
In Tom’s words…
My life changed for good and for the better when I received this brief regarding the Acer 3 Peaks Challenge:
“ We will be guided by 4 qualified mountain leaders. The team in charge of us are from The3PeaksChallenge.com. The group will be assessed every morning to check that everyone is fit enough for the day ahead. Please ensure that we know of any existing medical conditions, or if you have any aches/pains after any of the walks. A physiotherapist will also be accompanying the group so we can ensure we keep in tip top condition! “
My first reaction to being invited to be a part of such a rare opportunity was one of excitement and anticipation. I knew that it would be a true test of my physical and mental strength the likes of which I had never experienced, but I looked forward to the opportunity to discover my potential. The event carried the tagline “Explore Beyond Limits”, and the prospect of climbing 3 mountains in 3 days promised to lead us into doing just that.
The mission set forth in the event was to venture outside the cultivated concrete cocoon we humans nestle ourselves within and enter the domain of Mother Nature, submitting ourselves to her mercy with only our Acer E1 Liquid smartphones as allies. These, along with social networking, would be used to make record and account of our quest for posterity.
Even better, the adventure would benefit others, as the 3 Peaks Challenge was also a fundraiser for Mountain Rescue UK. Naturally, I seized the chance to participate in such a unique and remarkable endeavour, and chronicled my personal experience.
Thursday 4th July
London’s Heathrow Airport was the site of my first encounter with the Acer climb team. Press and PR were also in attendance. We celebrated our undertaking with a drink, and then headed to Terminal 5 for our flight to Glasgow, the closest large-scale civilisation dared to sprawl toward the untamed wild.
From there, we met our guides and loaded up into the minibuses that would transport us to our first climb. I found time to consider the formidable task before me on the ride. I suspect others in the group were of a similar mind, as anxiousness was heavy in the air during our nearly 2 hour excursion. Our anxieties would have to wait until the morning to find foundation, as we checked into the Ben Nevis Hotel, named for the peak it sat near the foot of and the location of our first trek.
After an equipment check and team meeting, we enjoyed an evening meal and eventually retired. I attempted to take a restful nights’ sleep, but my enthusiasm for the trial ahead delivered the insomnia of a child on Christmas Eve. My mind was ready to take on the mountain. In the morning, I would find out if my body was as well prepared.
Friday 5th July
After breakfast, we set out to Ben Nevis Visitor Park. This was approximately a 7 hour ride in two 16-seat minibuses, but that challenge withered in comparison to the one we would soon face.
Ben Nevis was the first peak in the Challenge, and yet was the hardest to scale. The ascent started innocuously enough, beginning as a steady walk. The team took this opportunity to become acquainted with one another and enjoy the camaraderie inherent with such a shared exploit, but gradually the hike became quite demanding. About midway through, the realisation of what we were doing slowly set in, and the difficulty required and facilitated a renewed commitment to our mission.
We scaled further up the mountain and eventually entered the clouds. Walking through a cloud is an incredible experience, but also comes with a significant temperature drop as well as the requisite precipitation. Undaunted, we slipped on gloves and hats, braving the conditions in pursuit of our final objective. After what seemed like hours in the brisk and ethereal floating fog, we emerged at the peak of Ben Nevis.
The entire team took great pride in reaching the peak of our first mountain. A sense of fellowship and achievement permeated our group as we all admire this unique perspective on our home planet. We took every opportunity to immortalise this once-in-a-lifetime moment with our Acer Liquid smartphones. We basked in the feeling of accomplishment for a time, some members of the team enjoying a victory smoke with the sandwiches we enjoyed on our extraordinary picnic, and then set off on our decent.
On the way down, our heavy boots suffocated our weary feet as we trudge in the direction of our home for the night. The descent is far from easy, with its’ tricky, often transient footing. Regardless, we all make it to the bottom safely. After a long day of duelling with Ben Nevis, crisps and pork pies are well in order. We enjoy them without guilt in peace and quiet, a welcome transition from the hardest climb we would have to endure on the 3 Peaks Challenge.
Saturday 6th July
Another day, another breakfast, another adventure. Our team enjoys a new sense of confidence, having already conquered the most difficult pure challenge the event could throw at us. Of course, the fatigue left over from yesterday’s ascent could certainly ensure that today’s climb up Scarfell Pike would be far from a leisurely stroll.
After a 5 or 6 hour ride to the base of the mountain, we are reminded of the larger meaning to our expedition when we don our red Mountain Rescue UK shirts for a photo op. We have raised over £4,600 for the organisation to this point, which could be considered a success on its’ own. However, we’ve come to do more. After the PR photo, we started toward the day’s conquest.
It wasn’t long until the stresses of our last climb made themselves apparent. Aches and pains given far too little rest rebelled angrily against our feet with each step. The weather presented a separate challenge from the previous hike, as the blazing heat bore down on our group all day. Thankfully, we were aided in navigation by our Acer smartphones. It’s one matter to be battered, bruised and baked, quite another to be all three and lost as well.
We benefited from a good, solid path up, but the incline was steep and each skyward hoist came at a physical price. The hike up Scarfell Pike was a long, uncomfortable one, but we took solace in the fact that the sunny conditions would afford us the most picturesque panoramas once we reached the summit.
We paused to regroup at the halfway mark and were rewarded with a refreshing mountain breeze that, along with the already spectacular views, restored our resolve to recapture the sense of wonder that only resides at the crest of a hard-fought climb. After a bit of regrouping, we gamely resumed our march up the trail in order to keep a good pace and have ample time to savour the experience.
The second half of our hike presented totally new challenges. Our group had to scramble over large boulders and navigate tenuous footing to make our approach to the summit. The afternoon brought a much-desired nip to the oppressive heat, the cool wind washing over our group like a healing balm. Fighting exhaustion and an ever-increasing chill, we pushed on toward the top of Scarfell Pike.
In time, the apex of Scarfell Pike revealed itself to us in all its’ splendour. We took a group photo at the peak to commemorate our accomplishment. The breath-taking vantage point offered an amazing view of the adjacent mountains and the surrounding landscape. Crepuscular rays burst through the clouds as if some divine source approved of our efforts. It was a truly magnificent and humbling experience. We spent a regrettably short time atop Scarfell Pike before we had to make our way back down while daylight was still on our side.
As we descended, the sky darkened with night’s approach, taking on a beautiful sapphire hue as the sun slowly drifted down over the horizon. Sheep and cows joined our cavalcade, escorting our group back to the waiting shuttle back to the inn. Upon our return, we revelled in our day’s journey over some well-earned snacks and beverages. No pint of hard cider I had ever before imbibed compared to the one after such an incredible and taxing adventure. We eagerly anticipated day 3 and the completion of the challenge, and returned to our sleeping quarters spent but enthusiastic about tomorrow’s climb.
Sunday 7th July
Day 3 starts much earlier than the previous days. Our day is well underway by 6 a.m., but the early rise is slightly easier to digest with a full English breakfast in our stomachs. Remarkably, my legs had become somewhat accustomed to the rigors of the hike and were more than ready to get started…after yet another hours long van ride. (Naturally, sitting idly in a stuffy van for hours at a time while the Challenge beckoned was everyone’s favourite part of the trip.)
A jovial mood ruled the day as we exchanged happy banter and memories from the past few days regarding our arduous passages and all the wondrous sleep we did not have. It’s almost as if we’ve already scaled the mountain and are enjoying a raucous victory lap. The approach to the mountain was a sobering reminder that we still had one final task left unfinished.
As we arrived at the foot of Snowdon, the final leg of the 3 Peaks Challenge, our guides pointed out climbers who had already arrived and were making their way up Snowdon’s face. They appeared to be having a fairly rough go at it, and as we stared into our own future we each were forced to search within ourselves to find the will to triumph over both the mountain and our own drained bodies. Exploring beyond limits was indeed the order of the day, as the struggles at hand reminded each of us that we did have them.
Yesterday’s intense heat made an encore appearance with renewed vigour as we started our final ascent. I had the opportunity to speak with some press about our technology, which was an interesting experience that honestly was long forgotten as we made our laborious advance up the trail. It’s somewhat difficult to appreciate a bit of newfound fame while clambering up an unforgiving incline, besieged by the raging sun.
Speaking with the guides about the mountain on our climb was tremendously educational and took my mind off the toil of the climb somewhat. In what seems like no time at all, we arrived at the Snowdon house, which is located about halfway up the mountain. We appreciate the view overlooking a picturesque lake for a while before heading inside to rest. It is there we learn that we will be taking a much less difficult path down the mountain once we have completed our climb. Vivified by the prospect of an easy descent, we packed up and carried on with our hike.
After struggling our way up the remaining trail, we finally reached the peak. We reached Snowdon’s zenith in 3 hours, which we were told was an outstanding time. We watched as the train that took non-climbers to the top of the mountain, and for a second I thought I had done things the hard way, reaching the top on foot instead of taking a leisurely and scenic ride up the mountain. However, as I stood at the end of my climb, taking in the majesty of the summit, pain pulsing through my body as a rich repayment for three days spent chasing my goal into the heavens, cherishing victory, I knew this was a feeling that was impossible to obtain any other way. We had survived the 3 Peaks Challenge, and it was worth every blister.
The parade back to earth was one of jubilation and relief. The trail down took us back past the lake, and we took this opportunity to soak our tortured feet. Some members even jumped in for a quick celebratory dip. The water was cool and refreshing, and it improved the already surging morale of our exultant group.
We continued down the trail and encountered some members of the Rescue Team the Challenge was to benefit on the way. They were patrolling the area in their Land Rovers as they typically do, but after we explained that our hike was to raise funding for them, they stopped for some impromptu photos.
They were very grateful for our efforts to support them as well as the Acer B1 tablet PCs we were able to donate to them. We were once again reminded of the larger success we had realized through completing the Challenge, which only added to our feelings of elation.
After a stress-free final stretch, we finally reached the shuttling area, the final destination before our returns to everyday life. We all congratulated each other on our perseverance and will as we rode in the direction of familiar society like conquering heroes. As a group, we dared nature to give us her worst and were able to endure. This was the kind of experience that transforms lives and creates eternal bonds in those who share in it. The Acer 3 Peaks Challenge was a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the power of technology. Truly, the experience allowed us to explore beyond our limits.
Get inside the Acer 3 Peaks Challenge:
• The Acer blog: http://acer-3peaks.tumblr.com/
• Hashtags: #aceruk3peaks #acerukthreepeaks
• Instagram: http://statigr.am/acer_uk