"The most gruesome day of my life" – why did three men crawl up Britain's highest mountain?

Three Peaks Challenge: Ben Nevis looking down from the summit
The men crawled through deep snow and near-freezing temperatures to reach the summit of Ben Nevis (Image credit: Alex Foxfield)

Of the tens of thousands of people who climb Ben Nevis each year, the vast majority do so by lacing up their best hiking boots and putting one foot in front of the other until they reach the summit. This week, however, three men ascended Britain's highest mountain in a highly unusual manner indeed – on hands and knees.

Adam Davies, Mark Davenport and Alex Rawson, all from Basingstoke in the south of England, are three UK gymnasts who set off in the pitch dark at 5 a.m. on Monday to complete the five mile climb wearing knee pads in an attempt to raise awareness of men's mental health. 

"When you are at your lowest point in life you feel like you're on your hands and knees," Rawson explains in an interview with the BBC.

"So we thought to ourselves what's the best way to show we can go from our hands and knees and push our way through life and get to the top?"

Climbing Ben Nevis, a Munro in the Scottish Highlands near the town of Fort William, is the equivalent of climbing nearly 700 flights of stairs. The peak towers at 1,345m (4,412ft) above sea level and as is typical for the time of year, the men ran into deep snow upon their approach to the summit, making the grueling endeavor even more tricky.

Davies, a former Team GB gymnast made it to the 1,158m-mark (3,800ft) before falling ill and having to bow out, while Davenport and Rawson carried on until they were close to the summit, walking the final stretch for safety reasons.

"Was by far the most gruesome and challenging day of my life. I wanted to quit so bad, tried to stay hyper focused on the goal and managed to do it," writes Davenport on his Instagram page.

The trio, who have been friends for 20 years, raised over £1,800 ($2,200) for the London-based public helth initiative Men's Minds Matter.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.