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352nd SOW's POTFF program hosts National Three Peaks challenge for Airmen

The group returned to the third mountain base - drained, freezing, and yet invigorated by the win of completion

The fierce ambition of everyone enduring to the top of the third peak was impressive by any standards. The winds and dangerously low temperatures encountered on Mt. Snowdon’s summit kept the group from a proper celebration of this achievement once it was reached. High fives recognized the accomplishment, followed by a hurried descent out of the torrential downpour that threatened further anguish.

After four hours up the rocky incline, crystal cold mist floated just above the rocky terrain at the top with gaps giving way to intense sunlight and views across the Scottish Highlands. Selfies and staged photos were plentiful to record the triumph. The march down acquainted them with light fatigue, hunger for a warm meal, and a vague idea of the exertion expected ahead

At daybreak, with fog still heavy in the River Nevis valley the group began a lighthearted hike up the tallest Scottish peak and the first climb of the enormous undertaking. While the length of the initial trek was taxing there were only a handful of sections steep enough to limit conversation. POTFF trips build bonding experiences and the participants spent time on this mountain getting a feel for each other’s histories and personalities while exercising their newly enlightened emotional intelligence.

The trip culminated in this simple truth - struggle enhances the conquest - of enduring those three summits. Revealed in this trip, wasn’t what could be achieved if you overcome obstacles, everyone knows greatness lies in persevering through adversity. The typical POTFF trip includes a lot of talking while walking around cities or bonding over beers at dinner. In the quiet group dynamics of this expedition allowed for something more profound. Every hiker met moments of inward reflection on what was taking hold and pulling them to the top. 

In these mountains, each member found the understanding that experiencing negatives contributes to enriched positives. The prices paid in aching muscles and self-doubt amplified the sublime elation of standing over the clouds.

Over the first weekend of fall, a group of 14 active duty members from the 352d Special Operations Wing joined POTFF to conquer the National Three Peaks Challenge, paired with another separate excursion to Mt. Snowdon. The goal of the Three Peaks Challenge is to summit Ben Nevis - Scotland, Scaffel Pike - Lake District, and Mt. Snowdon – Wales, all within 24 hours.

RAF Mildenhall --

In the history of military culture, the idea of seeking out support in the form of counseling, education, meditation or therapy was unthinkable. It would also be unimaginable to pursue mountain pinnacles on foot, once considered the realm of gods. They were enchanting, but physically elusive. Now mountaineering is a favorite pastime that only requires a sturdy pair of boots and few simple odds and ends for contingencies. With changing times and implementation of the Preservation of the Force and Family program, the special operations community can now embrace and explore the hills and valleys of life. Mountains of the mind can be the new frontier of alluring adventures and discovery.

Over the first weekend of fall, a group of 14 active duty members from the 352d Special Operations Wing joined POTFF to conquer the National Three Peaks Challenge, paired with another separate excursion to Mt. Snowdon. The goal of the Three Peaks Challenge is to summit Ben Nevis - Scotland, Scaffel Pike - Lake District, and Mt. Snowdon – Wales, all within 24 hours. The hike covers 25.2 miles with 10,052 feet of ascent, a pilgrimage for those in search of illuminating their own internal limits. It is physically punishing, mentally demanding and, by all accounts, miserable to endure. The team finished one hour past the allotted 24, still considering the endeavor a success.

POTFF, is an embedded group of professionals specifically designed to build resilience, improve operational performance, and ensure SOF readiness. The program’s goal is to build and implement a holistic approach to address the pressure on our force.  Along with immersion in the units, the POTFF team has the luxury of providing lodging, transport and meals for retreats to increase resilience. These are opportunities to experience something new and learn about oneself in the company of others from the wing.

Overwhelming requests for outdoor adventuring prompted the execution of the Three Peaks Challenge. The excursions always integrate tailored education, and this trip had a focus on emotional intelligence meant to shed light on how the individuals interact with others and lend awareness to areas of improvement for social interaction.