The SMCT adventure of a lifetime

29 March 2021
The SMCT team at the summit of Mount Bogong.
The SMCT team at the summit of Mount Bogong.

Earlier this month, four brave members of our SMCT team took on the Whitelion Three Peaks Challenge alongside 68 participants from across Victoria. The Three Peaks Challenge is a 33-hour hiking event where participants summit Victoria’s three tallest mountains—Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham and Mt Bogong – all to raise much needed funds for at-risk youth.

Our team, comprised of café manager, Wanda Reid; horticulture team leader, Lisa Brand; and Chief Financial Officer, Shireen Jahan and her husband Jahan Majeed, was guided by Three Peaks guide and SMCT’s very own infrastructure manager, Andrew Smith.

Together, our team managed to raise an amazing $6,926 for Whitelion, and they couldn’t be prouder of this achievement and their own success with this challenging climb. We caught up with the team to get the low down on this life-changing experience.

whitelion three peaks challenge smct climbing hiking

Why the Three Peaks Challenge?

For Andrew Smith, this challenge has been an important part of his life for almost ten years. ‘I literally got to the top of Mt Bogong on my hands and knees in 2011 and haven't been able to leave it since,’ he says.

Wanda set herself the daring personal challenge and quotes the difficulty of 2020 as the reason she signed up. ‘We learned last year that together we can make a difference, so I’m doing what I can do to challenge myself and give back to society.’

Shireen chose to participate to develop herself as a person and learn from her challenges and failures. ‘Challenge means that you chose to grow. And as I grow, so does the team I lead.’

For nature enthusiast Lisa, it was an easy choice. ‘I love the outdoors,’ she told us. ‘I had climbed Mount Bogong in January and couldn't get enough!’

The most memorable moments

From the rugged landscape of Razorback Ridge to the friendly support of fellow participants, the trip had no shortage of memorable moments.

‘It doesn’t matter how many times you scale to the top of Bogong,’ says Andrew. ‘It still brings up an enormous sense of emotional uplift - this year was no exception...or maybe I'm just a big sook!’

Importantly, Andrew believes that this year brought more awareness to Whitelion and the people they support, as they got to sit down and listen to two young people tell their story.

‘Apart from the incredible views and amazing team spirit, for me, the most touching moment was when Lisa, Wanda and Andrew waited back for me at Mt Hotham,’ shared Shireen. ‘Here we took a final picture of us at the peak.’

smct team summit mount bogong team teamwork

The lessons learnt

‘For me, it’s that nothing is impossible,’ shared Wanda. ‘I remember Andrew walking so patiently with me at Bogong. I was really struggling, but he gave me so much support.’

Andrew agrees, saying that for him the climb always reminds him about the power of the human spirit.

‘It’s not about reaching the top, but the journey that counts,’ Shireen shares.

The team walked away with an overwhelming sense of achievement. ‘It’s so satisfying,’ says Lisa. ‘and for me, it’s a reminder that success comes down to you as an individual - you made it, you raised funds - you changed someone’s life.’

A bond for life

The team talks about the amazing connection forged after the event and how they supported each other to complete the climb. They now share amazing memories and a sense of shared accomplishment (as well as few hundred photos).

‘When we step onto the mountain, we leave our professional lives behind and become equal,’ Andrew says. ‘We own our personal challenges but conquer them together.’

‘We now have this amazing memory that will stay with us forever,’ adds Lisa.

victory achievement climbing mount bogong

What would you say to someone thinking of participating next year?

When asked if they would once again take on Three Peaks, the team’s answer was a definitive ‘yes!’.

Andrew says, ‘If you don’t want to miss out on an experience that will not only change the lives of others, but also your own…then sign up for 2022!’.

Shireen observes that climbing three peaks dims in comparison to the everyday struggles of the vulnerable youth Whitelion supports. ‘It is an incredible life experience for a worthy cause.’

‘Do it! Do it! Do it! Just do it! It will be hard and a challenge in so many ways, but it’s spectacular and so rewarding,’ adds Lisa.

‘Walk at your own pace and focus on one step at a time,’ is Wanda’s wise advice.

The biggest problem of all may be the withdrawals you will have after the hike. ‘I definitely caught the hiking bug!’ says Shireen.

Now, who’s up for the adventure of a lifetime in 2022?

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