This guy woke up one day and thought, ‘I’m going to do the Three Peaks Challenge’, but be the first person to ever walk the 407 miles between the mountains.
Now, I’m not going to lie, this is about 407 miles away from my morning aspirations of managing to poach an egg properly.
Just to clarify, the conventional Three Peaks Challenge is climbing the three highest mountains in Scotland, England & Wales in 24 hours, but with the luxury of a car to transport you from base to base.
Before you roll your eyes at the impossibility, Drew Collins is a pretty normal guy, who could only afford to go camping as a kid, now has a full-time marketing job in London and is married.
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So you don’t have to be some rich single rogue, unhitched from societal institutions. You, as you are, can unplug, get away, and do something extraordinary, all within the bounds of your annual leave.
I see the irony of ‘breaking free’ within the strict boundaries of your entitled leave, but hey, this isn’t Into The Wild.
Drew challenges people to ‘be in a place with no phone signal and just your own thoughts’ in this ‘modern age where we’re all fixated with our smartphones’.
He’s right. It only takes one look up from your Instagram feed on your morning commute to see everyone around you is plugged in, sustaining the addiction most of us have.
Drew is a self-titled adventurer. Regardless of his full-time job in the the city, it is his extra-curricular activities that define him – quite different in a world where most people’s jobs define them.
Like most people I have 26 or so days for big trips whilst squeezing in all the UK has to offer at weekends. I’d love to take pictures and climb things for a living but at the moment it’s a slow process because, like everyone, I have bills to pay.
Taking it slow is frowned upon so much in our high speed, 24-hour society, but Drew hammers the importance of going slow and how it can help us to really appreciate what is around us.
The guy practices what he preaches and decided to slow down the Three Peak Challenge. Instead of rushing to the end in a day, he took 24 days to really appreciate the walk… and also told me he despises running.
When I asked Drew why he was doing this mammoth challenge, he said:
I want to show that anybody with a full-time job and commitments can do something extraordinary, even if it means using all your annual leave in one wallop. Being on autopilot in life is an incredibly dangerous thing, not to mention it’s bloody mundane, sometimes you just need to shake it up with a world record attempt.
In a comfortingly human comment, Drew expressed how he hates failing.
The fear of failing is something that stops many people from beginning anything in the first place. I suppose that fear is very natural, and is present for most people, but it is how we react to it that really counts.
The 30-year-old photographer explained times he had failed in the past like the ‘first time I tried to climb the highest mountain in North Africa I failed and I never want to feel that way again’. He did not give up though, and after more preparation, Drew went back and got to the top of the mountain.
Before this expedition, Drew’s biggest challenges were when he camped on the side of Eyjafallajökull (no idea) volcano in Iceland last April and was hit by a pretty moody storm.
Nothing puts you in your place on this earth more than thunder, lightning and heavy rain from above whilst knowing that there is molten lava below.
Aside from that I had a nasty bout of altitude sickness the first time I attempted Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, I went from sea level to 3,000 metres or so in 6 hours and felt like I’d had my head bashed in by mother nature. Deciding to return and try again after that was pretty difficult.
Here’s an artistic and immersive video he made, documenting his 2016 feats…
Of course a huge accomplishment like this requires a decent amount of training, and after a Christmas of indulgence, Drew is working hard with a Fitbit to get ready.
He said that over Christmas, his ‘diet has consisted of red wine, ale and more pigs in blankets than you could throw a pork chop at! But that’s Christmas for you and it’s the one time a year everybody should indulge’.
Crimbo aside I keep in good shape, I workout as much as time allows and I regularly sport climb. I have Fitbit as a partner brand for my training and they’re superb in keeping me motivated.
— Fitbit UnitedKingdom (@FitbitUK) January 4, 2017
Now that you’re all appropriately inspired to climb a mountain this weekend, here’s Drew’s advice for people attempting one for the first time:
It’s a slog and it’s hard to not look at your feet the entire time whilst you wonder what the heck you’re doing here, but lift your head up and take in the views because that’s what will keep you going, that and coffee.
Drew’s Instagram is filled with very pleasing photography of beautiful scenery and a motivational caption of ‘seek adventure and explore often’…
All of Drew’s family members will be meeting him at the top of his last mountain, Snowdon, and he said he’ll be eagerly awaiting his celebratory beer at the summit.
If you want the facts and figures of the challenge, Drew will be climbing Ben Nevis (4,412ft), walking 242 miles to Scafel Pike (3,208ft), before walking 165 miles to and climbing Snowdon (3,559ft)… we’re looking forward to the before and after photos.
The intrepid traveller is already looking ahead to his 20-year-plan to climb a mountain every year, with his sights set on a Russian mountain next, with possible TV coverage.
Do we have our next Bear Grylls here?
Armed with nothing but a ‘keen sense of adventure, a tent, and a pair of hiking boots’, Drew will climb three peaks and walk 407 miles in 24 days.
The adventurer plans to set off in April 2017 after as much training as he can fit in. You can support him on social media using #WalkDrewWalk (I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before).
Maybe this weekend, get out of the city and try challenging yourself. It costs nothing and the mental and physical gains are invaluable.