Father and son tackle PTSD climbing UK’s 10 tallest peaks in 100 hours
- Lee and Ryan Powles raising money for veterans living with PTSD
- Will cycle hundreds of miles over four days to complete mountain challenge
- RAF serviceman Lee has lost four friends to suicide
- Lee believes his late father lived with PTSD
Lee Powles (47, currently serving in the RAF) and his son Ryan (just turned 17) from Cupar, Fife, Scotland, are taking on the incredible challenge next week to support veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is estimated that a veteran in the UK commits suicide every four days. With official data on veteran suicide rates in the UK significantly lacking, it is understood there have been 49 veteran suicides so far this year, with nearly one a day last week.*
Lee’s late father served a full career in the Royal Marines, and he believes he was struggling with PTSD following service in Borneo and other traumatic war zones.
Lee says, “My dad saw too much in his younger years in Borneo. I didn’t realise how much until I had his medals remounted for his funeral. I think Dad did struggle, it’s only when looking back that I realise the signs were there. His friends have placed a plaque at the Commando memorial for him, which we visit each year and hope to during this challenge.”
Lee and son Ryan have set themselves the challenge of climbing the 10 highest peaks in the UK within 100 hours, cycling over 150 miles between mountain ranges to do so. They start their challenge – weather permitting – next Monday (3 August) and hope to raise £3000 in support of The Mountain Way charity.
Explaining what the challenge means to him, Lee says, “In the past three years I have lost four friends to suicide – three serving and one civilian. We want to ensure that when veterans do ask for help, the most effective support possible is available to them. My father never asked and so never received help with the demons he carried”.
Understandably, training during Covid-19 has been difficult for Lee and Ryan, but they have kept up their fitness through running, cycling and strength sessions in their garage. Since restrictions have lifted they have spent a few days in the hills, but their endurance will only be fully tested when they start the challenge in the coming days.
To support Lee and Ryan, head to https://www.gofundme.com/f/nh6rp-zenith
About the challenge
The UK’s 10 highest summits are all situated in Scotland. Lee and Ryan’s first peak will be Ben Lawers in the Perth and Kinross region. They then cycle 125km north, and spend the night in the Cairngorms.
Day two will see Lee and Ryan climb a whopping five of the 10 peaks (Cairn Gorm, Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Cairn Toul and Sgòr An Lochain Uaine (aka Angel’s Peak).
The following morning, they will cycle 105km to reach the base of the Nevis range near Fort William, where they will camp for the night. The final day will be the hardest, summiting Aonach Mor and Aovach Beag before a steep scramble to reach the penultimate summit, Carn Mòr Dearg.
After this, the challenging ascent of Ben Nevis will be made via Carn Mòr Dearg arête. They will then reach the summit of the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, as they complete the challenge.
To enable them to maintain the momentum required to complete this challenge within 100 hrs, Lee and Ryan will have a support vehicle offering assistance, should it be required.
Ryan has titled the challenge ZENITH – as it refers to ‘your most powerful and successful form’, which he hopes every veteran supported by The Mountain Way will return to. It also embodies the mindset Lee and Ryan will need to complete the challenge.