Bespoke guiding, Aug 22 - 23, 2020

Andrew's Mountain Skills

  • Snowdonia
  • GB
  • Aug 22 - 23
  • 2020

A keen trail runner, Andrew was looking to push his skills to a new level & learn how to move safely in mountainous terrain.

The fundamentals

How to assess the weather, decisions on managing kit & nutrition, as well as considerations on route choice with regard to experience. These were all first discussed.

The forecast varied somewhat between service providers. The Met Office seemed quite optimistic in reflection. Andrew learnt quite quickly that you need to balance your assessment on a variety of information sources then evaluate what is happening in the 'real world' as you go. As it turned out, the wind speeds were erratic and subject to microclimate influences, meeting more to the cautious MWIS forecast that also warned of -6 degree wind chill at 900m, while the Met Office suggested a balmy 4.

As we first ran over the Moel Eilio ridge, the winds were a tolerable 30-40mph, and indeed quite refreshing, assisting at our backs as we ran along the roller-coaster of Foel Gron and Foel Goch to finally summit Cynghorion. However, on our ascent up the Rangers path, the winds exceeded 65mph, with gusts sufficient to forcibly push you off the path.

Andrew was challenged to try to put his warmer kit on in such conditions and learnt quickly that strategies and practice are essential to deal with the conditions. We discussed the risks of continuing along the planned route, considering the likelihood that the temperature on the high tops would likely be much more severe than anticipated, then devised an alternative route that would allow a more enjoyable run which also matched training goals.

During the day, Andrew showed initiative as well as openness to trying new techniques, applying them with rapid proficiency. He learnt the shifts in mental approach required, as a road runner used to fast flat surfaces, to deal with steep uphills that can demoralise if not correctly put in perspective.

A rewarding day as his teacher and guide to see such appreciation of the beauty of the area as well as the willingness to push himself both physically and mentally.

Navigation training

The first few hours were spent drinking coffee and learning how to interpret the map as well as take compass bearings.

The planned run was designed to expose Andrew to some more technical terrain as well as immerse him in a more committing environment.

Elidir Fawr is a long, steep ascent from Llanberis. After an initial push up the inclines, Andrew was asked to relocate at intervals as well as take compass bearings. While these moments gave a nice respite, he naturally took up the challenge of the pace I set between exercises, and soon we were on the summit.

The newly improved summit cairn provided a safe spot for Andrew to study the map and spend some time thinking about how he would now get to the summit of Y Garn. The engulfing cloud gave a nice learning experience, as he took a bearing then indicated the direction we should now go. His task successfully completed, we addressed technique on running through rough, technical boulders, then enjoyed the technical trails that followed.

The clouds parted through the day and wonderful views were provided. All in all a fantastic couple of days empowering a keen and dedicated runner to transition to a new skill level. Thanks, Andrew, for being fabulous fun!