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Greg Smith | 13:58 UK time, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Kate Silverton and Phil Packer experienced an epic start to their Three Peaks Challenge for Sport Relief.

Donning crampons and using ice axes, the two set off at 6am on Friday and tacked sheer slopes and ice sheets to try to make it to the top of their first peak - Ben Nevis - the highest in Scotland.

Kate tackles a snowy slopePhil, who only two years ago was told he may never walk again, hoped this might be a chance to improve his mobility, but he found the going tougher than he imagined. "The snow was much deeper than I had anticipated and I did not expect the conditions to fatigue my body as quickly as they did and so early on," he said.

Kate said: "Today was an extremely tough climb and the whole team were tested."

Phil pushes on"Phil was extraordinarily determined and was clearly never going to give up. But the weather was against us in so many ways and we encountered some of the worst conditions anyone had seen on Ben Nevis in a while. After over ten hours of solid climbing, just 100 metres from the summit and faced with a complete white-out, we made the decision based on safety to come down."

Conditions get tougher

"Five hours of climbing in the dark followed and we were all utterly exhausted by the end of it. Having said that, we've had a tremendous day, surrounded by a magnificent team of Phil's friends - all professionals in their field and all determined to ensure we complete our next two climbs of Scafell Pike and Snowdon."

Listen: Kate broadcasts from Snowdonia with guests Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Clive Woodward.

Kate and Phil take a break

A big view on Ben Nevis

Photos by Alastair Humphreys.

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