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Over half term, five boys from Eton’s Shackleton Society and two teachers took on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge in under 10 hours, fundraising for a spinal injury foundation.

Having been inspired by Claire Lomas MBE’s talk only a few weeks prior, Ludo M, Hamish B, Oli A, Alex M, and Oscar L, all Year 12, braved the Yorkshire winds to summit all 3 peaks in the 40km route in 9 hours 50 minutes.

Thanks to guidance from Mr Couchman and Mr Mackenzie, the trip went smoothly, with the team camping at the base of Pen-y-ghent before ascending it, Whernside, and Ingleborough in turn. The entire challenge involved 1500m of total ascent, with some tricky scrambles and steep boulders to climb. Press Officer and budding explorer Oscar L was part of the team of 7 and reports back.

We as the Shackleton Society take on a physical challenge every year, and this year it was good to get back together for a proper adventure. For the past two years, the challenges have been solo events at home so a whole society trip was wonderful. The 3 peaks challenge was in aid of the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF), which Claire Lomas has been fundraising for over the past 15 years. We have so far raised over £1500 for spinal research in our challenge, and the donation page is still open if you want to support us and the amazing work of the NSIF. https://www.justgiving.com/team/shackleton

The first peak, Pen-y-ghent, was deceptively quick to summit, as we completed it in only an hour and 4km of walking. After a quick blustery photo at the top, along with our mascot (a duck dubbed “Ernest Quackleton”) we started back down along the road to continue the challenge. Little did we know how exhausting the next couple of hours of road walking would be before catching sight of the second summit, Whernside. The second peak was a longer slog to ascend with stone steps alternating with a more well-worn path. It had started to get warmer so we were all peeling layers off as we ascended to the 730m summit for a well-earned lunch stop. Not wanting to let lethargy set in, Mr Couchman encouraged us all on down the steep side of Whernside, which was not easy on the knees after over 23km of walking.

Ingleborough was our final challenge, looming large as we neared it. The final ascent was the steepest of the challenge, with 200m of ascent directly up a boulder path which involved a lot of grit and leg strength. We hoped to channel Sir Shackleton’s family motto “Fortitudine Vincimus”, through endurance we conquer, a phrase which got us through the tougher parts of the day. It felt amazing to summit the third peak after just 8 hours, but after a couple of celebratory photos and a moment to admire the view and the accomplishment, it was still an almost 8km walk back to the campsite. We completed the 40km loop in 9 hours and 50 minutes, 60,000 steps, and more than two days’ worth of calories burnt up. A hot meal had never tasted so good but we were all exhausted and had one more night of camping under canvass before heading home. It was a super trip, a challenge worthy of its name, and we are all chuffed with how much we managed to raise for Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

Thanks go especially to Mr Mackenzie and Mr Couchman for guiding us and encouraging us through the tough bits.

Fuelled by their achievement, the boys of ShacSoc are already considering plans for an even more adventurous expedition further afield in years to come. Watch this space.

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