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GDI Team Climbs UK Highest Peaks

By May 11, 2009No Comments

The 3 Peaks Challenge was a “cracker!” I am sitting in a cabin on the coastline of Wales looking at White Horses (ocean waves) reflecting and getting ready to go climbing over the ocean this afternoon (shocker I know).

This event, the Coins 3 Peaks Challenge involves climbing the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales in less than 24 hours. WHY? It’s a construction industry event fund raiser that brings together people from all over the construction industry in an effort to build an inclusive world by building sustainable communities for those in need around the world. Details of the 3 Peaks UK story are below.

Wow what an experience and tons to share! The experience was invaluable for connecting with the COINS Foundation staff and in furthering our knowledge for an exceptional design of the 3 peaks USA challenge. Holly and I arrived in Glasgow after a long trip from Sacramento, and met up with the great Will Leggett who travelled from New York. After an evening tour of the city complete with some of the best karaoke (oxy-moron in know) I have ever heard and late night fun at Social Club, we met with Team USA the next day and traveled through the mountains of Scotland. On the way I indulged in a taste of haggis (yes this is the Scotish dish liver and “aweful bits”) which required a hike to shake off! We were situated at the Chachaig hotel. Oddly enough his very lodge was the place I had originally intended on returning to after our event to climb in Scotland! Cool. And they have an ice-axe as the door-handle – way cool!

The next night in Scotland was a great welcome reception where Larry, COINS President, reported the conditions on the mountain being “awful with ice pellets so hard they might bash your face in!” and minus 30 celcius temperatures. We began to realize that “The Ben” would present a worthy challenge. In the AM we headed to Fort William. I can’t say enough about how beautiful the country in Scotland is. Steep rock, flowing rivers and waterfalls and sheep everywhere! We have one word to describe Scotland… “Moist!” Ha-ha – It was pouring rain intermittently from when we stepped off the plane until we left the country!

At the base of Ben Nevis Will, Holly and I spent the afternoon interviewing and observing mountain operations, briefings and logistics before heading up. Our energy was high and we were so excited to finally be on the move. The hike was stopped 45 minutes as a woman was heli-evacuated by search and rescue after falling down a ravine near a bridge crossing! The hike continued through Scottish landscapes with bens and glens (mountains and valleys) in the distance. Mountain sheep were everywhere. The hike continued up past the snowline into foggy and icy conditions. We were eventually stopped by marshals who deemed the summit attempt too dangerous, as there are steep cliffs on each side and white out conditions. Hop, skip and a jump through shimmering sunlight and 4hrs 20 minutes later we made it safely back to base.

Then off for the 5-hour drive to England to Scafell Pike, arriving at 1 am. 2 and a half hrs later we were up and, after some confusion at check-in, we left 15 minutes late for the final hour – turned 45 minutes via back road race to the base for a 5:45 am start. This time Holly stayed at base camp to observe operations and mingle w the drivers and staff. Beautiful valley hike along a sweet river near gritstone rock and… more sheep! Will and I climbed with COINS team USA to support their effort. False summits and slick boulder fields highlighted the journey. Oddly enough, we returned to base right at 4 hrs 20 minutes! We “enjoyed” a British “recovery meal” of bacon on a hamburger bun. Good one. Another 5 hour drive in uncomfortable positions and we were in Wales – the land of magicians and dragons – and at the base of Snowdon for the final summit bid. A striking day! We enjoyed the hike with team USA again and I stopped on three occasions to administer first aid on the mountain for ankle and blister injuries (one was a nice young Welsh girl hiking with her family and they were all shocked and happy to receive help from a nice USA person.) We continued to the summit passing… you guessed it… more sheep! And amidst strong wind and thick fog along a narrow ridge, which made for a nice dramatic feel to the final summit. We arrived at the base at a remarkable 4 hours 20 minutes! (No kidding – totally weird) an outstanding finish with everyone celebrating and feeling great.

We DID meet the goal to complete the race in less than 24 hours and, even more importantly, observing the event, operations and dynamics. Nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in 13 hours and 10 hours of driving on about 3 hrs of sleep! We had a nice debrief and meeting with COINS staff and we provided them with several insights about how the USA 3 Peaks will be a bit different (all positive GDI elements which were not present in this race, but could be). Overall the whole event was “cracker!”

And what’s most important about this event is the incredible impact that is being made by the people in the construction industry. In the celebration closing event Ric Law, COINS Foundation CEO echoed Larry’s thanks and explained further that the COINS Foundation is all about construction but that the legacy is not the buildings themselves but thriving, sustainable communities. Ric went onto explain how funds would be spent this year. Project priorities this year include providing housing for hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique; physiotherapy, play and family support programs for disabled children in the UK and Zambia. Health programs combating HIV aids, Malaria and illnesses resulting from poor sanitation in Zambia and Tanzania; Projects to train and employ orphaned youth in Rwanda and disabled young people in Zambia and a place at school for over 1,200 children in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda. More information about the event and the Coins UK 3 Peak Challenge Course Report can be found at

For more information on the COINS Foundation projects keep an eye on the web site
3 PEAKS USA! Sound awesome? Well we’re creating the same type of event in the USA to take place this year September 19-20. Check it out at

We plan to follow up with them about the pr and other items on Monday at their office in London. More stories about the rest of our trip are soon to come!

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