It's been a very long time since I did any walking or climbing in Wales. I have been to a couple of meetings and workshops but the last time I set foot on a hillside in Wales was on my BMG summer test, about 15 years ago. So I was very excitied to go to Snowdonia to be part of the Girl Guiding Walking Week. I was running a Summer Mountain Leader Assessment Course and it kept me on my toes doing it in an area I only had distant memories of.
We got off to a very wet start! Monday was wet all day with drizzle and persistent light rain. It has been very wet for the last few weeks and the ground and streams were full of water so we were all soaked through in a few hours. We walked up the brilliant Cnicht and discussed emergency response, practiced self-rescue and went back to base in Nant Gwynant for some stream crossings. However with the streams being in spate condition we decided to leave the practical stream crossing for the next day!
Carl took the team to Tremadog on the second day to avoid the winds gusting to 50mph. They stayed dry(ish) and covered all the aspects of safeguarding people in awkward, steep terrain, route choice, group management and emergency ropework to safeguard individual group members and the leader. No planned use of the rope is covered in the syllabus or scope of this award but mountain leaders need to know how to deploy one if an emergency situation arrises.
The main part of the assessment is the three day expedition with two wild camps. We walked from our base and went round the west side of Snowdon before reaching the summit and returning by the Watkin path on the final day. The first day was spent on Yr Aran navigating to lots of little wrinkles in the contour lines. We found a lovely camp site near the disused works and the llyns at the col to the north of Yr Aran and this gave us access to Cwm Llan for several hours walking around in the dark finding more small features on the map.
The weather was definitely getting much better and the second day of the expedition was a bright, dry day with a couple of misty moments as we went round the cwms on the west side of Snowdon. It was another day of continuous concentration finding little contour features and sharing knowledge of the environment we were walking through. There are many similarities between the landscape here and what I am more used to in Scotland. However, the rocks are definitely more slippery in Wales!
Our last day was planned and led by the candidates with the single task of getting back to base by 2.30pm. We went over Snowdon and went above the cloud just before reaching the top. With the sun shining brightly down into the mist below us we were treated to a brilliant brocken spectre, the first that most of the candidates had seen. Snowdon was at its best, basking in the sunshine above the wandering clouds and it was a fitting finale to a great few days. All four of the candidates passed and it was a pleasure to spend a week in their company. Well done to Sarah, Mark, Jo and Andrew. You will be an inspiration to the groups you lead in the mountains.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.