At the beginning of 2019, Liam Chase from Leicestershire set himself the unfathomable challenge of climbing the 120 600m prominent mountains in the British Isles within the calendar year to raise money for charity, alongside working a full-time job! Liam tells onlysupernews.com his story:
'I’d always enjoyed a challenge and being outdoors, so combining the two to raise money for a good cause seemed like an obvious choice.' Liam told OSN. 'The scale of the task ahead of me was an exciting prospect, especially with the vast amount of the British Isles to be explored with the 120 peaks being split into; 82 – Scotland, 24 – Ireland, 8 – Wales, 4 – England, 1 – Northern Ireland and 1 – Isle of Man.'
Liam's previous experience of hiking was limited compared to what lay ahead of him, having done hikes through Duke of Edinburgh and also an expedition to Vietnam, which involved some training in Wales before hiking in the Sapa mountains. He had also done some hiking in the Peak District at weekends before taking on the Yorkshire 3 peaks in 2018 for the British Heart Foundation, which was the catalyst for his search of challenge in 2019.
'The charities I chose to support with my challenge were the British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Society, both of which supported causes close to my family.' Liam said. 'The British Heart Foundation was chosen due to losing my grandad to heart disease 16 years ago. This was also the charity that all my grandparents had always supported with over 50 years volunteering combined between them. Now at an age where they are unable to continue their support, I feel an obligation to continue this myself on behalf of my family. I also chose the Alzheimer’s Society due to my grandma currently suffering from Dementia for the past 3 years. Throughout her battle I have witnessed her going from being completely independent to requiring 24-hour care and struggling to even remember my name.'
The challenge for Liam started on New Year’s Day 2019, climbing Cross Fell in Cumbria with a couple of his friends from work. 'Just before this I had posted news of my challenge on social media' Liam recalled. 'As soon as I had done this, I felt a sense of accountability to complete it. At the start of the challenge I was picking off a few of the more southerly mountains due to the snowy conditions up in Scotland and my minimal winter mountaineering experience. The 3rd peak I completed, Aran Fawddwy in Wales, proved to be one of the most testing with horizontal rain battering myself and a friend for the four-hour round trip to the summit and back. From there I gradually started to complete the more southerly peaks in Scotland and then proceeded to buy a campervan to help complete the challenge. The acquisition of this helped massively with accommodation expenses and saving time as I was able to sleep at the bottom of the required mountains. After acquiring this, I organised a two-week trip around Easter to Ireland and Northern Ireland to complete all 25 of the mountains over there in a single trip. By the time I had returned I had completed 42 of the 120 summits. I had also endured what turned out to be the worst of my climbs, Mweelrea in the Galway area, where Storm Hannah, which devastated areas of Wales, hit earlier than forecast whilst I was walking the ridge by myself. Out of all my climbs this turned out to be the only one I ever considered turning back from, but I was grateful I didn’t as this tested my mental state more than it had been ever before.'
After completing all of the Irish peaks, Liam proceeded to start focusing on the Scottish ones on his list as the weather was starting to improve and the hours of daylight lengthening. From mid may through until the end of August every weekend for Liam, bar three, was spent driving up to Scotland either on a Thursday evening or Friday afternoon and rushing back on a Sunday afternoon to be back for work on Monday morning. 'A common weekend during this period would involve at least an eight-hour drive to the mountains before catching a few hours sleep at the base of my first planned climb.' Liam exlained. 'I would then proceed to climb this first mountain before driving to a second and often third one during the Saturday, often resulting in me hiking 25+ miles during the day. After travelling to the planned mountain for Sunday morning, I would again only get a few hours sleep before starting the climb early and then starting the long drive back to Leicestershire. My longest day of hiking occurred on the summer solstice which in the north of Scotland meant I had daylight from 4am right through until 11:30pm. During this day I ticked 3 big summits off my list; An Teallach, Beinn Dearg and Sgurr Mor, hiking 36 miles and ascending over 10,500 feet before climbing Ben Wyvis on the Sunday morning.'
At the start of September, having completed 97 of the 120 mountains, Liam had a small break from the challenge to visit Peru, where he was booked onto a multisport tour which included mountain biking, kayaking and hiking the Inca Trail. 'This wasn’t a relaxing break' Liam said. 'It was still nice to get away from the relentless mid-week routine of route planning, sorting equipment and meal preparation as well as the endless hours driving during the weekends.'
'Upon my return I felt refreshed and focused on completing the remaining Scottish mountains before the weather started to turn wintery.' Liam continued. 'Within the first 3 weekends back, I completed a further 14 mountains on my list, leaving the remaining total in the single figures. At this point I selected the date of my final climb, Pen y Fan in South Wales, for the 9th of November 2019 in anticipation of being joined by family and friends to celebrate. Over the next month I continued to complete the final mountains on my list at a slightly slower pace due to them being more spread out. During this time, I joined a group of over 50 people to climb Ben Lomond, my final Scottish mountain, to celebrate 2 people I had met via social media completing the 282 Scottish Munro’s in just six months. I also climbed my final English peaks with a couple of friends, in what was some of the best wintery conditions I had hiked in and travelled to the Isle of Man with my dad for the penultimate mountain of my challenge, Snaefell.'
'For my final mountain, Pen y Fan, I was joined by 21 family and friends to celebrate with me as I reached the summit. Conditions weren’t ideal with the climb starting in rain and cloud cover not allowing a chance for any views, but it didn’t dampen my mood when I saw that final cairn. A few celebratory beers were shared between us in the cold conditions at the summit, but they were by far the most earned ones I have ever enjoyed.' Liam concluded.
By the end of the challenge Liam had driven over 31,000 miles, hiked 1050 miles and climbed over 350,000 feet, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 12 times from sea level! The donations for both charities also started to roll in, with the current total between the two charities almost at £5300!
Liam wanted to add 'It's total I’m incredibly proud of and grateful to everyone who has donated so far. My Just Giving pages for both charities are still open, so if there is anyone who would still like to donate it would be massively appreciated following the amount of time and effort, I committed to the cause this year. Currently for 2020 I have yet to make any definite plans for further challenges, with a possible climb of Mount Olympus in Greece being discussed but I am open to any ideas for what I can do next. If you’d like to follow my next adventures feel free to follow me on Instagram @challengechase.'
We are sure you will agree that this was an incredible feat. The team at onlysupernews.com are flabbergasted at the amount of time and effort Liam has put into this challenge. If you would like to donate to Liam's worthy causes, please see the links below.
British Heart Foundation