Snowdon Horseshoe

Last week myself and fellow mountain leader Neil headed off to Snowdonia for a CPD day in the mountains. The main focus of the day was to practice movement on steep ground. In this regard we looked at the weather forecast for several days prior to the trip and decided on climbing Snowdon via Crib Goch and continuing around the classic horseshoe route.

On arriving at the car park at Pen Y Pass there were not many spaces left indicating it was going to be a busy day on the mountain.

Pyg Track looking towards Crib Goch
Pyg Track looking towards Crib Goch

We set off along the Pyg Track to reach the saddle below Crib Goch. At this point we were greeted with fantastic views across the waters of Llyn Llydaw and beyond to the summits of Snowdon and Y Llwiedd. From here we started the steep climb up onto the beginning of the knife edge ridge on Crib Goch.

Looking across Llyn Glasyn towards Y Lliwedd
Looking across Llyn Glasyn towards Y Lliwedd
The start of the Climb onto Crib Goch
The start of the Climb onto Crib Goch
Half Way up to Crib Goch
Half Way up to Crib Goch

Upon gaining the ridge we continued enjoying airy views below our feet as we traversed along towards Crib y dysgl.

Crib Goch summit and the knife Edge ridge scramble ahead
Crib Goch summit looking along the ridge to Snowdon in the clouds
Traversing the pinnacles with a long drop below
Traversing the pinnacles with a long drop below

After a steep scramble up a short rock face we carried on up to join the Llanberis path and the final easy ascent to the summit of Snowdon. On top we had 360 degree views.

Final climb towards the end of the ridge
Final climb towards the end of the ridge
Looking back across to Crib Goch
Looking back across to Crib Goch

After a short stop sheltering in shadow of the summit cafe (closed) we descended steeply to the saddle below Y Llwiedd where the Watkin Path joins the ridge. After ascending steeply to the summit it was then a long descent back down onto the Miners track and back to Pen Y Pass.

A truly fantastic day in the mountains on one of the classic mountaineering routes in the British Isles.

Looking down from the top of Snowdon to Llwiedd
Looking down from the top of Snowdon to Llwiedd
Snowdon Railway and the train ascending to the summit in the distance
Snowdon Railway and the train ascending to the summit in the distance
Snowdon in the Clouds
Snowdon in the Clouds

Sky Ride – Great Barr Express

I led my first skyride of 2014 in conjunction with British Cycling. On the morning myself and two fellow leaders were greeted by 24 hardy other souls who had signed up for the spring ride series.

The route took us from Great Barr into the Countryside North of Birmingham and in to Staffordshire. We then looped back round and breaked for well earned refreshments in Sutton Park stopping at the beautiful Bracebridge Pool.From Sutton Park we continued back to the start having completed 24 miles in total.

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Sky Ride 2014 – Sunday 23rd March Birmingham

Im involved on this ride as a leader. Still a few places left

See more at: http://www.goskyride.com/Search/Details?eventid=36262#sthash.8Eb9bPmq.dpuf

Spring Series 2014 – The Great Barr Express

Sunday 23rd March at 10.00am

Cycling time Ride distance Suitable for Challenging

130 Mins 24 Miles 11+ (children 11-15 with adult) 15 Miles

Birmingham

5 Free places remaining
Sky Ride Local

Starting Point & Postcode
Great Barr Leisure Centre, Aldridge Road Great Barr B44 8NU
Overall Duration
3 hours 10 mins (2 hours 10 mins cycling)
Bike Type
Any

Mountain Skills and Wild Camping Course

Last week I spent two days with Adie working on the skills required to safely travel in a mountain enviroment. We spent 2 days walking around the Moelwyns in Snowdonia which included an Idyllic Wild camp.

The weather forecast indicated snow lying above 750m so ice axe and crampons were packed just in case.

We set out from Dolwyddelan on a cool and sunny Thursday morning and headed up through the forest onto the lower southern slopes of Moel Siabod. During the inital part of the walk we looked at revision of basic map and compass skills as we navigated along tracks and open moorland towards the base of the Daear Ddu ridge on Moel Siabod.

Navigation in the Forest
Navigation in the Forest
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Moel Siabod in the Distance

Upon reaching Llyn y Foel we stopped for lunch and took time to admire the scramble ahead on the ridge.

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Llyn Y Foel

From previous experience the best scrambling is to be had out on the right side of the crest which gives awesome views back down towards the Lake and beyond.

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Looking back down the ridge to Llyn y Foel

We made steady progress along and up the ridge picking an airy line towards the summit. The weather gods were very much in our favour with the rock being warm to touch and the views stretching out to the horizon.

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Scrambling on the Dear Ddu Ridge

Upon reaching the summit plateau we were greeted with one of the best mountain top views in Snowdonia and on this beautiful day the panorama in front of us extended to views across to Snowdon, The Glyderau, Tryfan and beyond to the Carneddau.

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Glyders, Tryfan and Carneddau in the distance
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Looking back across to Pen Llithrig Y Wrach and Pen Yr Helgi Du from January’s walk
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Well earned rest with the summit trig in the background
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Glorious views from the Top

After a short break on the summit we continued down the south west ridge towards Clogwyn Bwlch-y-maen with lovely views of the the Snowdon horeshoe in front of us. Upon reaching the Bwlch we then continued over Carnedd Y Cribau. As we walked along the ridge the clouds parted and rays of sunshine broke through to bathe Llyn Gwynant in the late afternoon winter sunlight.

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Adie descending the West Ridge of Moel Siabod with Snowdon in the distance
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Sun rays through the clouds overlooking Llyn Gwynant in Nant Peris

As we stood and looked back towards Moel Siabod I thought back to the last time I had walked over these hills a couple of years previously. On that occasion I was a few weeks away from my mountain leader assessment and had spent 6 hours walking through the night across the area practicing night navigation on my own in wind,rain and fog. Today was a lovely contrast.

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Looking back across to Moel Siabod

The last hour of the day walking into camp was spent walking across some of the boggiest moorland I have ever encountered.Upon reaching the shores of Llynau Diwaunedd we pitched our shelters and quickly settled into our camp routine. During this time myself and Adie discussed the pros and cons of various kit from shelters to rucksacks. As a result I think Adie will be investing in the near future in some new kit.

My Trailstar tarp provided a spacious and comfortable night under the stars.

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Idyllic overnight camp by Llynau Diwaunedd

After a good nights sleep we left camp early and walked on a low level route back into Dolwyddelan consolidating the skills we had looked at over the previous 24 hours.

A great trip and I look forward to getting out again in the future with you Adie.

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Return to Dolwyddelan with Moel Siabod shrouded by cloud

Gold D of E Training – Cannock Chase

I have spent the past 3 days working on a Gold D of E training refresher course based on Cannock Chase. During the weekend there were 30 pupils from Windsor High school undertaking a refresher weekend prior to there qualifying expedition in April.

During the weekend we covered all aspects of the gold syllabus and  the  pupils spent the majority of there time navigating around Cannock Chase on foot honing there map and compass skills.

The weather during the training was a mixture of blue sky’s and sunshine and stormy weather resulting in a large tree falling down in the grounds of the campsite.

The weekend was a great success with the pupils leaving in the knowledge they are all ready and prepared for there assessed expedition in the Brecon Beacons in April.

Im looking forward to meeting up again in April in Wales to continue on from the last few days.

Winter Wild Camp – Snowdonia

This was my first outing with the Bremex Mountaineering and Climbing club – http://www.bremex.org.uk.

At 09-00 am on Saturday morning I joined Jim, Claire, Kent,Julia and Graham in the Pinnacle Cafe in Capel Curig. After a chat and a cup of tea we split into two groups and started on our journey into the mountains.The aim of the trip was to walk up and over the Carneddau mountains and walk into a high wild camp below the east face of Carnedd Llewelyn next to Ffynnon Llyffant.

Myself,Graham and Julia walked out from Capel Curig and headed on up into the Carneddau whilst Kent and Claire drove round to Bethesda to start their journey into the mountains. The inital part of the route was over rough and boggy moorland to reach the lower slopes of Pen Llithrig y Wrach.

Looking back towards Capel Curig
Looking back towards Capel Curig

Once here we ascended up a steep and pathless climb onto the summit. We then walked along the ridge line and dropped down onto Bwlch Eryi Farchog. To our left we had a great view into Cwm Eigau and out towards the Atlantic.

Cwm Eigiau and out towards Conwy Bay
Cwm Eigiau and out towards Conwy Bay
Looking down from the Lower slopes of Pen Yr Helgi Du to Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir
Looking down from Bwlch Eryi Farchog to Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir

At this point the weather started to close in and the clouds moved rapidly in from the South over Snowdon.In the near distance we could see snow on the upper slopes of Carnedd Llewelyn and beyond.

The steep ridge up towards Carnedd Llewelyn
The steep ridge up towards Carnedd Llewelyn

We continued down and then up the narrow ridge towards the next summit and at around 800m entered the snowline. As we progressed towards the top of Carnedd Llewelyn the weather started to close in with high winds and hill fog enveloping us.

Graham walking the final few steps towards the top of Carnedd Llewelyn.
Graham walking the final few steps towards the top of Carnedd Llewelyn.

After a short break on the summit we continued over the plateau and descended towards Foel Grach on a compass bearing and pacing the distance. As we left the summit we encountered very strong winds and were regularly being blown sideways and struggling to make forward progress. After zig zagging along trying to not get blown off our feet we reached the saddle between Carnedd Llewelyn and Foel Grach. From here we dropped down into Cwm Eigiau and walked the final kilometere into our planned camp by Ffynnon Llyffant.

Its a bit chilly
Its a bit chilly

On arrival at camp Kent and Claire were safely tucked away in there tent having enjoyed there own mini epic climbing up the Crib Lem Spur and then at one stage having to crawl along on hands and knees due to high winds between Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn.

After pitching my tent I walked to the nearby lake and collected some water. Upon walking back to the tent I noticed the remains of an old crashed aircraft dotted around the immediate area.

The following link explains the story behind the aircraft wreckage http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=21158

The forecast for overnight suggested snow may fall above 800m. We were not disappointed.

After a good nights sleep I woke up to the weight of a snow laden tent flysheet. Upon stepping out of the tent we were greeted by the sight of a fantastic sunrise looking out towards the east.

Sunrise and Snow at Dawn
Sunrise and Snow at Dawn
Happy Campers
Happy Campers

The plan for Day 2 was navigation practice and then to re trace our steps back over to Pen Yr Helgi Du and down Y Braich to the A5 and Capel Curig.

Footprints in the Snow
Footprints in the Snow

After several micro navigation legs looking for small contour features we climbed steep broken ground above the face of Craig yr Ysfa and were greeted with a beautiful view across the Snowdonia mountains.

Top of the climb out from Cwm Eigiau with Carnedd Daffyd in the background.
Top of the climb out from Cwm Eigiau with Carnedd Daffyd in the background.

The remainder of the route was a reverse of the previous day however this time the cloud and wind had disappeared to be replaced by sun and great views.

Looking across to Pen Yr Helgi Du and the descent off the mountain
Looking across to Pen Yr Helgi Du and the descent off the mountain

It was a fantastic weekend spent with a great bunch of people and Im already looking forward to my next club weekend trip in March.

I can highly recommend the Bremex Club for anybody who is working towards Mountain NGB awards and people looking to gain the knowledge and experience to venture out into the mountains for the first time.

Scafell Pike

In November I spent a great couple of days up in the Lake District with a group of 5 friends on their annual walking weekend. The objective for the weekend was England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike.

The walk started off at Wasdale Head and we slowly ascended the footpath that runs alongside Lingmell Gill up towards Hollow Stones. This is the normal route for walkers ascending Scafell Pike as part of the National 3 Peaks Challenge. During the months of April-September each year thousands of people will ascend/descend Scafell Pike using this route during day and night-time.

Looking back towards Wasdale Head and Wastwater
Looking back towards Wasdale Head and Wastwater

On this occasion the route was fairly quiet and we made steady progress towards Hollow Stones. During this initial ascent a couple of the group began to struggle with old sporting injuries (knee) from there football playing days. As part of my Mountain Leader kit I always carry walking poles and these proved to be indispensable in alleviating some of the pressure the guys were putting on their knees and thus allowing the group to continue at a steady pace.
Scafell Buttress
Scafell Buttress from Hollow Stones

After reaching Hollow Stones we stopped for lunch and were rewarded with stunning views looking back over Wastwater and beyong towards the Atlantic. We then continued up towards the Col between Lingmell and Scafell Pike.The Col offered a fantastic view across towards Great Gable and the Northern Fells beyond.

Lingmell
Great Gable

The summit was then reached as we continued over a rough mountain top plateau to the large summit cairn and trig point at 977m.

At the Top
At the Top

After a short stop at the summit allowing us time to soak up the stunning panorama we continued over the top and descended steeply on a rough path to the col below Broad Crag.

Scafell in the distance
Scafell in the distance

From here we descended a loose and rocky path down Little Narrowcove Gill towards a beautiful U-shaped glacial valley. We then continued along the valley floor to Great Moss.

Descending Narrowcove Gill
Descending Narrowcove Gill
Looking back up Narrowcove Gill
Looking back up Narrowcove Gill

Great Moss
Great Moss
Scafell Pike and Scafell
Scafell Pike and Scafell

After wading across the River Esk it was easy walking along the valley floor following the River out towards the road and Eskdale.

Crossing the River Esk
Crossing the River Esk

Upon reaching the road we walked a short distance before being collected our B and B’s own American Army Truck.

Multi Activity Day at Great Brampton House

On Saturday I spent the day at Great Brampton House in Herefordshire, working with Simon from Phoenix Leisure Events.

We were running a multi activity event for a private party who were staying at the hotel.

The events consisted of Archery, Air Rifles and Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting.

The party guests ages ranged from 8 to 80 years old. All of the quests participated in the activities with a competitive element shining through between the men in the group.

The Archery and Laser Clay Pigeon shooting were particularly popular with the guests and both events ran into a shoot out to decide the overall winner.

I really enjoyed the day spending time working with a lovely group of clients.

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Multi Activity Day

I have worked on a multi activity day with year 7 pupils from St Matthews School in Birmingham on Thursday this week.

The event took place in the grounds of Southfields Farm, Coleshill and included team building tasks, mountain biking , archery and traversing.

I was involved in leading groups of children around on mountain bikes utilising the permissive bridleways and tracks around the farm land.

After initially spending time setting up the bikes to each individual child we set off to explore the fields around the farm. The children had chance to stop at a small pond and watch as dragon flies flew and hovered above the pond.

We were also lucky enough to observe a small turtle swimming around the pond. Upon seeing the turtle the children all fell silent as they were transfixed by the turtle gliding through the water in front of them.

Another lovely day spent in the outdoors.

Team Building and Problem Solving Days

For the first 3 days of the past week I have spent time delivering team building and problem solving challenges to local schools in the Birmingham area.

The very hot weather has made it particularly challenging for the pupils as they undertook the tasks in blazing sunshine.

After every activity we had a break as the 30 degree heat made each individual task more challenging than normal.

All of the groups coped really well and it was nice to see the children pulling together in there respective teams to complete each challenge.

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