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Had a great weekend with Phil George and the rest of the group. Small group, but means that contact time was maximised.

Day 1.
Met at Pete”s Eats. Didn”t know there was a flexibility to the 9am meeting time, so missed out on breakfast (will do me good). Met up with a couple who looked equally lost as me, who were also on the course; Paul and Christine. Before long, we”d met the fourth member – Fiona and most importantly – Phil. Fiona had a problem with her car, brakes dodgy, so after sorting that out we were all ready to get cracking. We all went in one car, which Phil tries to do anyway to minimise impact and the number of cars taken into the mountains.

The morning was an introduction to the scheme, and generally to why we wanted to do it. A subject that could easily be dull, but the banter and rapport in the group kept us going. We discussed gear before finally getting out onto the hill.

Moel Berfedd was the target today. Four hours of micronav – great! I wasn”t looking forward to this, i expected counting paces and so on to be really, really boring – a distraction to the enjoyment of the hills. It”s not that i get lost; often. The micronav though, wasn”t what i”d expected and i really enjoyed it. Pacing is a lot easier than you”d imagine, and in the conditions where such skills are required you”re more likely to be in zero viz and more concerned about getting down safely than the view. We looked for tiny map features, ring contours of less than 10m across and confluences in tiny streams. This really was using the maps to the absolute limit. It was good that all of the group appear to be of a decent level of competency, and the dynamic was good too. Last thing you need on this sort of thing is a clash of personality hampering your training.

We got down to the Pen y Gwryd, had a swift half (yes, just a half!) and then had a talk on mountain weather. I teach weather to A-Level, but there”s always stuff to learn. It”s refreshing to see something from a different angle too. There were loads of paragliders about too, some event (will add photo soon).

I was happy with the first day, and returned to the camp site. Gutted that i”d forgotten my rice i had to be satisfied to have just curry. Ok, so no carb loading. Then the wind picked up. We got back from the pub early, and a couple of tents were already flat and many more were due to follow suit. It was a gusty wind, building from nothing to a strong gust that was surely 40-50mph and flattened my Voyager a number of times. It popped back, but two poles are now bent (but the tent has kept it”s shape so i presume are OK).

Next morning i packed up, wind was forecast to increase (which it didn”t) and i didn”t want to risk the locally windy conditions. I was also absolutely shattered, having barely slept the night before.

Day 2 was a leadership day, so we concentrated on what makes a good mountain leader and the legal aspects. We managed a longer walk today, but Phil was happy we”d got the summit of Y Garn in. It”s more important to get the training sessions in, it”s not a fitness test. In fact, it”s not a test at all, it”s training. Enjoyed this day too, doing a bit of nav and finding out the names of some of the plants. We all had sections to navigate and lead, and i was fortunate to get one i knew some ”facts” about too, so got a bit of that in too. I found out i was the only one amongst us who”d never climbed as we started a bit of rope work. Fortunately, it was straightforward enough and what we did today will come with practice. Next week we use the ropes for abseiling and so forth, so i”ll have a better grasp of i then.

The talk that night was about mountain hazards, and some was what we knew already, but while i might have known it, it was sketchy knowledge and it”s always good to get it fed into the brain verbally as well as reading from a book.

Looking forward to 2 days next weekend, which are more skills based – with ropework, hazards and mountain rescue covered.

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