Darwinian Processes

Family of four - No Ice Axes - they were later seen traversing above Clogwyn Coach
Family of four – No Ice Axes – they were later seen traversing above Clogwyn Coch

Well I was utterly baffled when I went up snowdon today. People must know that they need Ice Axe and Crampons on the hill at the moment, not to mention the ability to use them. Although it is quite nice at the bottom of the hill, but as soon as you reach the old snow line, there is deep, bullet hard snow/neve.

I was amazed that so many people had managed to slip there way to the top, and then slip down again, and at the time I write this there hasn’t been a call out. I did however question walking down the mountain as I fear only having to head back up there to help one of these hapless fools. Which kind of got me thinking that if I knew that someone who call out the team was so badly equipped would I still bother attending the call out.

I probably would, but there would come a point. Today though I was disgusted by a family of four (see photo). With two kids about 9 and 11 with no ice axe and crampons between them. They then head straight down the railway line towards the killer convex and clogwyn coch, which took so many lives last year that you’d think people would be aware of the risk by now.

They were lucky, I headed down there to see what it was like and the railway isn’t totally banked out, but it is very close to being deadly.

Top of the Pyg Track - About Grade 1 at the moment.
Top of the Pyg Track – About Grade 1 at the moment.
Five hillwalkers and not a ice axe or crampons between them!

Winter Returns

Cryn Las - Sargents Gully and Face Route starting to form again
Cryn Las - Sargents Gully and Face Route starting to form again
Cwm Glas - Parslay Fern and Sinister Gully to the left
Cwm Glas - Parslay Fern and Sinister Gully to the left

After getting an early call from a from a friend and turning him down on the offer of some winter climbing, i eventually changed my mind and headed up into Cwn Glas for a slap up Parsley Fern. Simon decided we should climb Sinister Gully instead and grade III.

I had only taken my light weight axes meant for ski touring, so i was like trying to climb with two toffee hammers, the winter climbing equivalent of turning up for a knife fight with a twig! As we got to the crux pitch, which was quite thin, I had almost decided to traverse into the easy gully, when I realised that the person belaying the leader in the gully was another Simon, both Simon and I knew. So I managed to blag a rope round the waist for this pitch.

At the top I meet Will, so there were three member of the Llanberis rescue team in the same gully. It was almost social! We eventually met up with Simon and Will later, and walk to LLanberis. Not before we joked at whether it was worth us descending looking at the general way some people were equipped!

Simon who i was with went down to solo up one of the Trinity’s, whilst I was going to head down. Instead I was drawn to see how badly equipped the people on the hill were. I was so shocked I ended up meeting Simon back on the summit. Walking down I had to actually laugh at some people. Jeans and Silver Shadow trainers didn’t seem appropriate, Unfortunately my camera batteries had died.

Here are some piccies! I will do another blog on peoples incompetence.

Rhime Ice and Verglas
Rhime Ice and Verglas
The Trinity Face of Snowdon
The Trinity Face of Snowdon
Approaching the Summit of Garnedd Ugain (Crib Y Drysgl)
Approaching the Summit of Garnedd Ugain (Crib Y Drysgl)
The Ridge back to Crib Coach and the top of Sinister Gully
The Ridge back to Crib Coach and the top of Sinister Gully

Is Alfred Wainwright worth £200000?

Having seen the UKC News item the other day, I have been a bit stumped by the exact story that is going on. It appears that Cumbria Archive Services (CAS) are wanting to buy the Alfred Wainwirght Paper to stop them leaving Cumbria. Now the CAS are part of the County Council, but it doesn’t say what the £200000 is for.

Does the CAS need the money to be able to continue to house the papers or has the Wainwright family fallen on hard times and looking for a £200000 cash injection? Either way I am not neccessarily in agreement that it is a good use of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Is anybody else actually interested in buying them. If the lot is going up for auction who else is going to spend that amount of money? If its an American I can see them being rather disappointed as they probably think that it is the other older more famous Wainwright, and it will be like selling them London Bridge rather than Tower Bridge.

I guess for me there needs to be a bit more rational cost benefit, rather than simply keeping them in Cumbria and allowing them to be used for research. Basically as we edge ever so slightly out of recession, £200000 is too steep a price to pay for his papers.

Prince William Helicopter Conspiracy

Is this a Special Forces Helicopter clearing the Cwm?
Is this a Special Forces Helicopter clearing the Cwm?

Well I have probably been reading too much into the events of Tuesday Night, when I was out on a Mountain Leader Training Expedition. At the time I thought very little about the sheer number of helicopters in this remote Cwm, after all the need for pilots trained in mountain flying is at a premium.

However it was announce earlier in the week that Prince William had pass his advance flying course elsewhere and had returned to RAF Valley to convert to the Seaking, and if successful go operational in one of the 6 Search and Rescue flights across the country.

This go me thinking, was the first PUMA aircraft i saw actually special forces checking the valley for Scally Ban Agents of Terror (Caernarfon Branch Obviously), before HRH came in for his training flight?

I then remember a quote from Williams father when he was interviewed about flying helicopter in the Falkland Conflict. He said that it seemed whenever he came into land his was always the most popular aircraft for soldiers to get onto. So he asked a soldier why was his the most popular aircraft? “Is it because I am the Prince of Wales?”. To which the soldier replied, “No, it because your the Prince so your aircraft will be better maintained than the others!”

Is this Prince William coming into hover?
Is this Prince William coming into hover?

Mountain Leader Training Course Photos

Mountain Leader Training - Night Navigation Exercise
Mountain Leader Training - Night Navigation Exercise

Well I have work on two different Mountain Leader Summer Training course this weekend. One for Plas Y Brenin and the other for Andy Newton. Whilst i did the ropework and the two day expedition for Plas y Brenin earlier in the week.

Today I did the ‘Mountain Day’, which was rather challenging having learnt that it is winter on the tops, so was restricted to staying under about 700 meters to keep out of the ice line. Also I like to add a lot of environmental and other aspects to this day. Given that most flowers aren’t flowering and the fact that it snowed just after we left the car, hiding many of the plants I can identify from leaves alone, not to mention lichens and mosses. (see here for previous ML environment days there are links to photos of plants etc...)

Anyhow we had a good day out despite the weather you can see that it cleared up, and managed to cover some leadership scenarios in the evening.

I have attached some photos from the week. If you have done a Mountain Leader Training Course and would like a refresher in any of the skill from the course then you can do so through Snowdonia Mountain Guides.

Above Clogwyn Y Crouchan, Llanberis Pass, Mountain Leader Training
Above Clogwyn Y Crouchan, Llanberis Pass, Mountain Leader Training
Walking down to camp - Mountain Leader Training
Walking down to camp - Mountain Leader Training
Looking up the Pass from above Dinas Cromlech - Mountain Leader Training
Looking up the Pass from above Dinas Cromlech - Mountain Leader Training

Cold Night

I have been well and truly off the radar, there wasn’t even a phone signal where I have been over the last couple of days. Although saying that I did manage to get a text at some point during the night I was camping. I guess the signal must have bounced off Uranus!

Was fairly cold out, with the snow line at about 700m, we headed up Yr Aran, but turned back from making a dash for the summit, due in part to the time of day and part due to the wintry conditions ahead, it was a summer ML after all.

We camped in Cwm Llam, and were just setting up our tents when the first of our unwanted visitors arrive in the form of a Puma, no not the cat, but a blood big Helicopter that insisted on circling the cwm endlessly and coming to a hover just away from the campsite.

Just as I thought the filming of Apocalyspe Now Millenium remake was over, and silence fell to the cwm. It was rudely interupted by the RAF 122 Rescue Helicoptor doing some training in the cwm. So much for the peace and quiet of the mountains.

We headed out at darkness, to do a little night navigation circuit before heading to bed. Now I am proper nesh when it comes to getting cold, however looking at my 5 season sleeping bag before I headed out, i decided that it was too much so switched to a 3 season. Mistake, Big Mistake, I spent the night shivering. Still it was only for one night.

We managed to navigate out the next day to Rhydd Ddu, and the Cwelleyn Arms, where I enjoyed a much needed coffee. The afternoon was spent reviewing the exped, and giving individual feedback for the students who were all on Plas Y Brenins Fastrack Instructor Scheme.

Hopefully they all know what they need to work on, and can now make a little action plan for themselves.

Mini Break

Busy packing for my five star mini break to the mountains of Snowdonia. After spending today doing ML ropework for the Plas Y Brenin Fast Track Instructor course, I am at home packing my rucsac for a couple days in the hills so have dug out my 4 season sleeping bag.

I went out this afternoon with another instructor to look at the snowline, and think where we can go that will keep us inside the Summer remit of the award. Hopefully we have come up with a good plan to keep us off any snow, as the old snow that was thawing is now bullet hard neve again.

We also have to fit in a night navigation tomorrow, before walking out.

There is more Snow predicted for thursday, hopefully it won’t be too bad as I am supposed to be doing a security on steep ground day on friday. I guess we’ll have to watch and wait.

Champagne and Canapes

I spent Saturday night at Blue Sky in Bangor, enjoying Ursula’s 40th Birthday Party, by tucking into some Champagne and Canapes. Hence my last post ‘Didn’t We Have a Lovely Time….The day We Went to Bangor”. Ursula’s party was awesome the food cooked by Blue Sky’s Chrissie Corner was awesome.

I mean as a bunch of foodies, we all found the canapes simply incredible, inparticular the mini Bangers and Mash was stunning, although the Thai Fish cakes and Mango Chutney was ruin by a friend Duncan, when just as we put them in our mouths he utter. I tasted a girl like that in liverpool once.

The pudding was a light lemon cheese cake as a kind of pallet cleaner (No not a wooden pallet!). However the main pudding was a the biggest Tiffin Cake I have ever seen. I was totally filthy, I ever there was a choice for the pudding of the last supper i would have this on top of the list. I had one or two or three or four piece. I lost count in conbination with the booze.

Happy birthday Urs, it was ace.



Getting to Blue Sky on Public Transport. We would have turned heads if there was any normal people on the Buses.


Me trying to look smart in a Tuxedo, with a very drunk friend vicky stealing the limelight!


Go Girls

Cramp on the Red Dot Path

Well having pulled myself out of bed, and looking forward to another day cragging I was rather disappointed to see rain streaming down the window. I should have stayed in bed! Several coffees, paracetamols, slices of toast, and a trip to the bathroom for one of last night revelers almost saw us to the climbing wall.

Unfortunately the pager went off, and I headed to Nant for a walker with Cramp on the Red Dot path up Glyder Fawr. We rushed up the hillside to make a daring rescue of the stricken walker, where the team first aider altered the guys blood pH curve to the right with what i see as the MR equivalent of the Magic Sponge, Hypo-fit.

Anyway the walker managed to make a quick recovery with the administration of the magical gel, and walked the rest of the way down to Pen Y Pass.

We were all back in time for tea and medals. What a glorious day for the team!