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Ridge challenge volunteers scale new heights

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Three Ridge Charity Challenge

Hardy volunteers who took part in the Three Ridge Charity Challenge scaled new heights in personal achievement and raised valuable funds for Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre at West Baldwin.

Participants tackled three mountain ridges – Crib Goch on Snowdon in Wales; Striding Edge on Helvellyn in England and Aonach Eagach Ridge in Scotland – in three days.

Jo Chapman, Kevin Madigan, Gareth Hinge, Dexter Heath, Alan Macnair, Lucy Connors, Josh Rowlands and Patrick Creer formed the first group to undertake the challenge.

After overcoming intense vertigo on Crib Goch, the group motored up Striding Edge, completing the route before the mountains became covered in unseasonal snow. However, following a blustery drive up to Glen Coe in Scotland, the group discovered Aonach Eagach Ridge, the most treacherous of the three ridges, covered in snow.

Jenny Lantry and Paul Melling, group leaders, deemed it unsafe to attempt the ridge and devised an alternative route up one of Glen Coe’s many munroes (a Scottish mountain over 3,000ft), Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.

Lucy Connors said: ‘This route was a gruelling 967 metres of ascent but was well worth it when we arrived at the summit and were greeted with panoramic views of the snow-topped mountains.’ Paul Skillan, Yvette Hollows, Rachel Kelly, Kezia Lightfoot and Tara Leneghan, who attempted the challenge a week later, found Crib Goch presented a different challenge in that it still held icy and snowy patches. The team completed the ridge in good time, however, and headed on up to the Lake District.

Jenny said:

‘The following day brought clear skies and a snow topped Helvellyn. With growing confidence the group all but danced along the ridge and even opted for a slightly longer route down off the mountain, allowing them more time to take in the spectacular views.

‘There was little hope that Aonach Eagach would be clear of snow but, driving through Glen Coe, we were surprised to see what appeared to be a relatively snow-free ridge line on its southern slopes. We decided that we would make the ascent to the summit of Am Bodach (943m) with the intention of attacking the ridge if conditions were suitable. The team made the ascent in good time and was full of enthusiasm for the challenge but was regrettably also thwarted by snow on the top and north side of this epic ridge.

‘An alternative 10km route, following the line of the peaks to the east of Am Bodach, was plotted and the group set off for an adventure thought the snow-topped peaks on what was again an stunningly clear day in the mountains.’

Rachel Kelly said:

‘This challenge was probably one of the hardest I’ve done to date. It was both mentally and physically gruelling. Having only climbed Snaefell before, the knife-like edges of the ridge on Crib Goch appeared terrifying at first. I could feel my knees shaking with fear as I looked at the sheer drops below.

‘The weather conditions made it even trickier to get a good grip on to the tiny rock edges. With a great team of people along the way it was hard to give up; we all cheered each other on and had such great banter. The vertical ascents were worth it as the views at the top were incredible.’

Rachel added:

‘Probably one of the best feelings ever is doing something you thought you never could. Hopefully all this walking will help towards the Parish Walk in June, which is my next challenge.

‘I’d recommend Ardwhallan’s courses to any thrill-seeker looking for an adventure as this challenge has wet my appetite. I can’t wait to get back to Aonach Eagach to tackle the ridge – minus the snow, that is.’

The participants have raised £3,000, with more pledges still to come. The money will reduce the cost of the off-Island trips offered to young people by Ardwhallan, which is run by Adventure Education, part of the Department of Education and Children’s Youth Service.

‘Thanks to the money raised we have been able to slash the cost of these trips by £100 per participant this year,’ Jenny said. ‘From a personal development and educational point of view, these off-Island trips are invaluable and we are delighted that we can find ways to make them more accessible to young people. We are now looking to the future and are keen to ensure that we can keep the cost of our trips down for next year.

‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers and everyone who supported them,’ Jenny continued. ‘Our next charity event will be walking the West Highland Way in Scotland and we are welcoming expressions of interest for this at the moment.’

Ardwhallan hosts tailor-made sessions for primary and secondary school parties and runs on and off-Island, out-of-hours, courses and expeditions for students in Year 9 and above. Activities include sailing, paddlesports and climbing.

A full list of what’s on offer is available via or via the facebook group Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre. Jenny can be contacted via

Photo: Looking back along Striding Edge. L-R - Rachel Kelly, Yvette Hollows, Kezia Lightfoot, Tara Leneghan, Jenny Lantry and Paul Skillan

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