The Man, the Plan, the Challenge – this weekend

Tim Lebbon is an award-winning, New York Times-bestselling writer from South Wales — and he’s looking forward to two big events over the next two months. One, dare I say it, is Orbit’s publication of his amazing gritty fantasy Echo City (UK | ANZ) in July. But the other will be rather more dangerous …

You might wonder how fantasy writers do their worldbuilding, and Tim Lebbon will be gathering a LOT of new material this weekend. Today, Tim and four of his friends are driving to Fort William in Scotland, ready to begin the Three Peaks Challenge – the challenge being to scale all three peaks in three days. OMG.

The adventure will commence with the ascent of Ben Nevis tomorrow at 5pm, with the team hoping to descend before 11pm. This sounds dangerous enough already to me – mountaineering, in the dark?! But this is only the start. They next drive to Scafell Pike in Cumbria and start that climb early on Sunday morning, head-torches on full-beam. Then it’s on to Snowdon where, if everything goes to plan (…) they’ll finish their descent by 5pm, thus completing the challenge in 24 hours. Tim seemed very sure that no part of the climb would take place on the train either, definitely not. So, the group are aiming to collect some foot-miles of almost 10,000 feet of ascent and descent, with 27 miles walked, as well as about 500 miles in a mini-bus. As I write this, it’s thundering here in London, so fingers crossed for him up north.

Easy … or maybe not so much. At the foot of Ben Nevis it could be glorious sunshine, while at the top there could be white-outs. Snowdon has ‘snow’ in its name for good reason. And Scafell Pike has slopes of loose rock and shale. But Tim has trained for months and will be spurred on by the fact he’s doing it for charity — and here’s more on the St David’s Foundation and Tim’s just giving page here if you want to support the cause. Tim has also climbed a mountain a week for the last few weeks: the Blorenge, Sugarloaf, Skirrid and Pen-y-Fan – all in South Wales. He’s run more than fifteen miles per week, with cycling and walking every day too. But his training has taken place in reasonable weather, with no snowstorms, and he’s always known where he’s going.

But that’s (so I’ve been told) part of the fun. Five men against the wilderness (although there is a cafe on top of Snowdon). Five men battling the wild (although there are lots of food stops between mountains). But it will be one huge adventure, and upon Tim’s return I’ve been promised a full report, with photographs. This all sounds highly demanding and, all in all, rather dangerous. But that’s why it’s a ‘challenge’. Sometimes an author needs more than just a walk in the park.