Friday, 31 July 2015

The weather finally breaks

Boulders! Thousands of em!

What was the weather like? W3K15

The weather was abysmal when we started out. A tad windy too :)

W3K15 in all its goodness

So after much planning (ahem) there we were in a windswept car park on the side of a Welsh Mountain trying not to get too wet before we set off on our epic trek. We as in yours truly and my buddy John, with Keith and Lorraine in Gerry with all the supplies seen in the previous posting. And so as with all major expeditions this one started by taking the first step.
I shall spare the dear reader with tales of daring do as we battled the climate and darkness for two hours but as sure as eggs is eggs the sun came up at 5.12 am and revealed much progress, we had in fact claimed three peaks in the darkness and were contemplating a fourth. For an idea of how bad the weather was look at the video in subsequent posts. Anyway heres John exploring the summit shelter on Foel Grach as we head off into the storm again.
Yr Elen sees yours truly in suitable heroic pose, wet through and grateful that he has had the foresight to pack Gerry with three sets of climbing gear as well as marmite sandwiches and Vimto. Yr Elen proved as tricky as the guide book siad she would be in having three summits, the middle being the highest. So in the fog we found the second summit but then saw in the distance another that was definitely higher so off we trot only to find once on it it was substantially smaller and a waste of effort.
Effort that needed to be saved as there was much more to do, like navigate down Pen Yr Ole Wen, rather than off the side of it. Unfortunately we got a bit off track here and ended up in a massive boulder field that took an hour or so to negotiate without breaking limbs. Several sense of humour failures later we made it to the real path where
to our amazement (and luck) the weather broke revealing the mountains before us.
Keith and Lorraine scanning the mountain through binoculars could only watch helpless as we made our way down the wrong side of the cliff and terracing but they cheered us up no end with bacon sarnies and hot tea.
Suitably refreshed we posed in front of Tryfan, top left and set off
making the summit around an hour later and then lost all the height
we had made on our approach to Glyder Fawr. We thought long and hard about our approach here (1.7 seconds max) and binned the idea of Bristly Ridge and took the scree slope to the left

which is where we met Tony, the only other person stupid enough to be doing this hike, but he was doing it the other way round, hence he is now approaching Tryfan as we leave the pointy rock way behind. Let hope he made it as he had no support team.
The Glyders were ticked off.
We were halfway and happy, thats Pen Yr Ole Wen background right, nasty nasty mountain adding an hour to our walk!
There are, or were 14 peaks in this challenge, 14 peaks over 3000 feet in the three mountain ranges linked by a 27 mile "path" but since the original traverse in 1908ish there has been a discovery that a 15th peak exists over on the Carneuds, well we did that one (name escapes me at this point) but there is also the distinct possibility that there are 16 peaks as this one, Castle of the Winds might be included at some point, so rather than have to come back and do it all again we did that two. Nice!
But it wasnt all easy, heres John having a moments reflection, the type you get after 12 hours solid effort and finding you have no drink and 6 hours ahead.
So we enjoyed the views and
put on a smile, especially when we got to Elidr Fawr as that was 1 hour away from resupply point in Nant Peris and also meant only 3 peaks to go. True they were the most difficult and we were really tired but hey, lets go, if it was easy everyone would be doing it!
Gerry was a welcome saviour, clean clothes, clean socks, good food, hot tea, cold Vimto, I felt like a new man. But as none were available (boom boom!)
the final chapter was set to be written with Crib Goch wanting to spoil the party.
There are no photos of Crib Goch, well there are a few, but mostly my time was spent hanging on for dear life and promising to be good if only I could get off this sodding mountain. As a reward at the end of the knife edge arĂȘte the last ray of the setting sun singled me out and showed me the way home.
Over this, the path in in the centre leads to Crib y Dsygol, which as it turned out is even worse than Crib Goch and substantially longer. There was one tricky moment when yours truly got good and stuck on a ledge with no way up, or down, and it took a lot of inner reflection, swearing and resignation to the fact that falling off would not be so bad as not finishing and eventually I was back on the trail reaching the summit of Garnedd Ugain in the dark. That meant that there was 900 metres between John, me and victory on the summit of Snowdon, achieved 17 hours 25 minutes after we started. The small matter of descent in the dark was a separate issue. On the summit we were met by Keith and Lorraine, curry and a wee dram. Spirits were high. So we wended our way down the mountain, meeting several groups involved in a three peaks challenge. Mentalists.
Here I am, back at the gateway to the world, 5 am, the sun rising. In all a brilliant day and very hard challenge, not one to be undertaken lightly. I really meant it when I sai I would never do it again, and here I am a few days after looking forward to organising doing it again just for a laugh next year. Keith from the support crew wants a go and it looks like two other people I know are keen, so hey...why not.

This challenge could not have been done without the essential support from my beautiful and oh so patient wife who looked after everything while I was away and put up with my  falling asleep for most of the week after the event.

Keith anf Lorraine were all you could wish for in a support crew, they had an adventure too so thansk to them for making mine a much easier one.

Thanks to John who once again proved to be a trusted mountaineer and good friend.

Finally thanks to all those who sponsored me, I think I have raised around £1500 for Myeloma UK, thanks everyone.

2016 challenge is going to be huge :)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Travel light

This is the kit you need to be able to complete the Welsh 3000's, and yes the green tractor is a vital component. There are four rules with the 3000's, cardinal rules that if broken lead you to a world of pain.
Start early
Start Slowly
Drink lots
Eat lots

Well I think this picture covers the last two. Start time is 3am tomorrow the 25 July, we hope to be on the start line of Foel Fras at 5am, sunrise is 5.12am.

Weather is appaling at the moment, its set to improve.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Good clean cut

The Ryelands have had their annual wool cut. Bit later than usual but they are happy now and yes as soon as it was done it started raining.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Good to be back

 There are a few reasons as to the sporadic nature of recent postings. A combination of lack of time caused by training for the W3K15 next Friday, research work for University, poor to non existent internet connection and most recently The Gower which is a peninsula under the pigs snout on the map of Wales.  
 This was the location for last weeks family holiday, which on the face of it began in very poor weather, but which was well suited to mucking about on a mountain bike first thing every morning and sometimes last thing as well.
 The apprentice and rug rat MkII were treated to the delights of the Welsh Maritime Museum which for some reason had a Sinclair C5 as an exhibit of the wonders of Welsh engineering and design.
 There were some proper maritime exhibits
 but the apprentice was more interested racing or spreading bits of racing cars over a wide as possible ground space.
 On the beach we found some interesting wildlife which deterred swimming, not wanting to share the water with jellyfish bigger than our toddlers we paddled the waters edge
 which at times was a way away
 so traditional beach pastimes were followed such as fish and chips and sand castles.
 Despite years of experience a late evening recce for the following days mountain bike adventure led to some interesting challenges like convincing myself that the growling sound in the trees was in fact the wind and not an escaped dinosaur.
 And that the footpath closed sign as you entered the swamp after the Jurassic forest did actually mean
 closed for a very good reason and no matter which angle you viewed it from
 this was not an obstacle crossable by a fat bloke with a bike.
 So a huge detour later saw yours truly in a Gothic environment ready to out sprint zombies.
 Preparation paid off though with amazing routes found
 that provided new challenges every day along steep forest trails
 or wide open empty beaches (apart from humongous Jellyfish)
 Everywhere you looked there were impressive vistas
 or giant dead things.
 Rug rat MkII was pressed into service as a training aid, he was very happy with this role and worked up a huge appetite sitting there hitting me with a plastic drinks bottle and shouting faster.
 The apprentice also had a huge appetite following a 4 mile walk and demolished a massive portion of sausage and chips and still had room for ice cream and chocolate brownies.
 Playtime afterwards was a low key affair primarily due to his inability to keep his eyes open!
 I exercised off most calorific excess, heres my bike stood up unaided in soft sand.
 On the salt marshes there were lots of ponies for horsey types to drool over
 and I waited for a really low tide to get to a structural wonder, the last ever cast iron lighthouse.
 Which was miles away and far out to sea.
 Luckily we were able to stay a day longer which meant more beach time both on bike and on picnic blanket.
 Back home the washing had to be done
and a different sort of riding done. I prefer bikes, they don't think.