Putting my Tesla to the test with the three peaks challenge

I took delivery of my Model S in March 2015 and loved every moment of driving it on a daily basis. Charging at home was a dream and the ride was the smoothest I’d ever experienced. After taking a few longer trips I was truly impressed with its capability and I soon thought about taking on a challenge that pushed past the preconceptions of what an EV was capable of.

My mind alighted upon using my Model S to complete the National Three Peaks Challenge, an event where participants tackle the three highest mountains in the UK within 24 hours. These being, Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales.

And so the event Three Peaks Zero was born, the zero alluding to zero tailpipe emissions. Along with promoting sustainable transport we wanted to raise money for charity, Save the Children and the MS Society.

Friday 14th October 16 – London at 08:00

Early on a dull autumn Friday, we set off for a challenge which had never been completed within 24 hours in an EV. On our journey from London to Scotland we recharged at various Superchargers.

Having arrived at Fort William on Friday evening, we were 143 miles away from our last Supercharger so we needed a top up before embarking on our quest at the crack of dawn the following morning. This was the first time we used a third party charging network which we identified using the Zap-Map. Although it did a good job, the convenience of using Tesla chargers is far greater.

Saturday 15th October 16- Ben Nevis at 06:05

In high spirits, we arrived at Ben Nevis to begin our challenge.

We were all relatively fit from Parkour, crudely known by many as the art of jumping off buildings, however, not long into the Ben Nevis ascent it became apparent that the mountain demanded a different type of fitness and we found ourselves stopping all too frequently eating in to our allotted time. Shortly before reaching the summit the sun rose, unveiling spectacular scenery.

Upon reaching the top we made for a speedy turn around and descent, when we got to the bottom we collapsed into the car for our first driving stint of the challenge. The journey south through Scotland involved the longest stretch of single carriageway of the whole trip which was prone to congestion. Overtaking was a breeze with Tesla’s instant torque and acceleration, however, gratuitous use of the throttle was not conducive to long distance driving. As a result, our overtakes had to be well planned to make maximum use of the regenerative braking feature.

Taking a Supercharger stop at Abington and then Gretna Green, where we charged to 90%. We then headed for the National Trust Campsite in Wasdale Head. The campsite was at the foot of Scafell Pike, where we had the facility of a slow but welcome charging option whilst we tackled the next climb.

Scafell Pike 17:25

Although we were on schedule, our team was worse for wear. Our pace was hampered by our frequent breaks but wanting to succeed in our challenge, we pressed on, opting to take the faster and steeper, but harder to navigate route to the summit.

By the time we reached the top it was pitch black, the wind was howling, it was bitterly cold and a blanket of cloud had formed so we decided to take the longer, less risky route down. Thankfully, we made good time down the mountain.

We leapt back into the Tesla with renewed optimism and set off to our next stop, Warrington Supercharger. We were still on schedule, but the car informed us that we would only have 6% charge remaining by the time we reached our destination. Once we escaped the Lake District and dealt with the inconvenient closure of a chunk of the M6, our battery gauge estimated that we would be at -2% on arrival at Warrington!

At motorway speeds, air resistance plays an increasing role on the energy used to move a car. The faster you go the greater the penalty. We dropped our speed to 60mph and soon, we'd recovered some range with our battery reporting it would be at 4% upon arrival. Once again, the game was afoot!

With approximately 170 miles gained in around 30 minutes, we charged up at Warrington and it wasn’t long before we had enough charge to make it to Snowdon.

Sunday 16th October 16 – Snowdon at 02:05

20 hours into our ordeal our trusty Tesla delivered us to our final destination. Its job was done and the rest was now up to us.

Only 4 hours remained to complete the challenge. With this in mind and despite our exhaustion we set off at a brisk pace.

Unfortunately, fog set in and darkness hindered our navigation.

As we neared the top we grew increasingly cold and fatigued, with no end in sight due to lack of visibility. This was definitely the most psychologically trying part of the challenge and we just wanted it to end.

At last we reached the summit, pausing briefly in the howling wind and rain to take a team photo before commencing our final descent.

Shortly into our descent and spurred on by the limited time remaining, we summoned our last drops of strength and ran.

We Did It!
23 hours & 25 minutes after our mission had begun, we hobbled into the car park, having successfully completed Three Peaks Zero with 35 minutes to spare.

Our adventure proved that despite the electric revolution being in its infancy, EVs are already capable of tackling tough challenges. If Climate Change concerns you then your switch to sustainable transport shouldn’t be hampered by range anxiety.

Some interesting figures:

  • 11,178 ft. climbed
  • 1,224 zero emission miles driven
  • £179 - fuel cost in a typical ICE car
  • £0 - cost in Model S
  • Approx. 0.62 tons of CO2 saved

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