The Three Peaks Challenge

There are two Three Peaks challenges, both of which include Snowdon (‘Yr Wyddfa’): the National Three Peaks Challenge and the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge. The former is by far the better well known and consequently the more popular event. These events are often undertaken as charity events.

Because of the distances involved between peaks, walkers usually have a dedicated driver who does not take part in the walking.

The National Three Peaks Challenge

The Three Peaks Challenge is Britain’s most well-known mountain challenge, and it is estimated that some 30,000 people undertake it every year. The Three Peaks concerned are the highest peaks in Scotland, Wales and England, namely:

    • Ben Nevis (1,345 m / 4,413 ft)
    • Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m / 3,560 ft)
    • Scafell Pike (978 m / 3,209 ft)

(Ben Nevis, being higher than Snowdon, both takes longer and has more in the way of ascent.)

Snowdon is often tackled last, simply because many people choose to start with the furthest away, then work south towards home.

Many try and complete the challenge with 24 hours, which means that one mountain has to be undertaken in the dark, and walkers are rushing the whole time against the clock. We would recommend doing it at your own pace and taking more time to enjoy the respective mountains in daylight.

If you’ve heard stories of long queues at the summit and are concerned about having to waste time doing this, note that the queues are only for the summit pillar; you can by-pass any queue to reach the summit area, which is good enough for your needs (and anyway, if you go round the back of the summit cairn you can easily touch the base of the pillar, this being 1085m).

If you’re visiting Snowdon as part of a Three Peaks event, you’re likely to be walking up and down the Pyg Track from Pen y Pass, this being the shortest and most convenient route. There are also toilets here (and a seasonally open café), with space at the car park entrance for vehicles to stop briefly to drop off walkers (if they are not parking here).

Have a look at this website from the Three Peaks Partnership and this advice from the BMC.

And if you get time, you might want to read this BMC discussion article on the Three Peaks (from 2013, and it’s got a lot worse since then!)

An example of a commercial website with information includes this one.

Sign at Pen y Pass

The Welsh Three Peaks Challenge

The Welsh Three Peaks Challenge takes in three prominent peaks in Wales, and is often undertaken over a weekend. The three peaks concerned are:

    • Snowdon in the north (1,085 m / 3,560 ft)
    • Cadair Idris in mid-Wales (893 m / 2930 ft)
    • Pen y Fan in the south (886 m / 2907 ft)

The peaks are either undertaken from north to south, or south to north, often dictated by where the participants live.

As with the national challenge, the Pyg Track from Pen y Pass is usually the path taken on Snowdon.

An example of a commercial website with information can be found here.

Other challenges

Snowdon is also tackled as part of the Welsh 3000ers Challenge, also known as The 15 Peaks, which involves ascending all those peaks over 3,000 feet (914.4 m). Three of these peaks are on the Snowdon Massif, namely Snowdon itself (3560 ft / 1085m), Carnedd Ugain (3494 ft / 1065m) and Crib Goch (3028 ft / 923m).

A similar race is the Welsh 1000m Peaks Race, which includes Snowdon and Carnedd Ugain.

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