Summit Weekend, North Wales, October 2014

Posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

“Summit” has become a bit of a hidden asset. Perhaps most of the District does not know that City District has a very strong team of experienced and qualified mountain leaders who take Explorers and older Scouts to the rugged Mountains of Snowdonia every autumn. It is a tradition that has continued since 1970 and one that we should be very proud of. The usual venue is Hafod a Welsh Scout Council Hostel in the Ogwen Valley. Last year through a booking problem we had to go to a hostel near Cadair Idris but this October we were back in our old haunt.


Ogwen Valley and the Glyders from Pen Yr Olwen

Numbers were down a bit, still enough for three good teams on the hill. We met at the 22nd HQ for the hardest part of the weekend – the 250 mile minibus trip, soon after the end of school, with arrival close to midnight. On arrival one thing became apparent; the Wind. This was nothing to do with excess of burgers at the Service Station. They, after a hot drink slipped off to their bunks. The leaders adapted their routes to suit the warnings of high wind. Morning broke, breakfast and the hustle to get ready for the day. Flasks had been put out the night before and had been filled according to their wishes.  The troops were checked to see they had the right kit and necessary adjustments made.


The view down onto Llyn Ogwen

I  must mention team Rutherford – apart from organising the whole thing and making sure everyone had got away safely, our leader and his wife Kirsty took their two young children onto Pen Yr Ole Wen the high mountain opposite the hostel. It was a very windy day radio reports said that the wind speed on the tops was 60mph.


In Safe Hands

Leaders left their route cards for Harold and me–we were two of the original Summiteers and stayed down to act as Basemen. Some went directly from the Hostel but at least one group were transported to a start point several miles away. For all Parties it was an act of commitment to hard mountains and high wind.

One Party had started from the North. It was a great route but unfortunately the route southwards was directly into the wind along a rising ridge line two big mountains lay ahead and the party were beginning to tire. Sensibly their leaders decide to come off early into the town of Bethesda. They phoned ahead to ask for collection. Harold and I haven’t got insurance for the minibus and he was thinking of making two journeys in his car. Just then the first party arrived back tired but happy. Their leader Paul immediately volunteered. We showed him the pick-up point on the map and off he went. The Rutherford Family walked in, fresh and happy and the children got back to their drawing books. Then the final Party arrived having walked in from the hill. Hot drinks were consumed and everyone got busy: wet stuff in the Drying Room; boots in the Boot Rack; and rucksacks unpacked. They all enjoyed the rest and the warmth of Hafod while dinner was cooking. A hearty meal and we broke into two groups: the Leaders relaxing and talking together and the Scouts talking about the day and playing cards. (Well, there was another group, Harold and me talking quietly together about Summits past and how pleased we were to see it all happening still.)


What 60mph Wind?

The next day offered the chance to do real rock climbing and the group drove off to Capel Curig with the intention of trying the Pinnacles. Unfortunately the heavy rain didn’t stop and climbing on wet rock is almost as bad as sitting waiting to climb in the wet. Walking isn’t too bad and the party had a low level walk back to Hafod. Meanwhile the non- climbers went up to Y Garn and the Glyders at the back of the Hostel. All arrived back early and after another good meal everyone tucked into packing and putting the Hostel to rights. By three o’clock we were ready for the off and the long drive home with a group of young people who had: got over their fears; tested themselves in a harsh environment; and had memories that will last a lifetime.


The Personel:

 Scouts and Explorers: Sam, James, Owen, Zak, Olivia, Nick, Greg, Dan, Matt, Patrick, Chris, Kyle.

Leaders: Ian R, Ian B, Paul R, Rob, Dave Mac: Sam T2, Kahryn.

Ex Officio’s, Kirsty: Fran: Rory: Geoff, Harold and Glyn the Sheep Dog.


Geoff Johnson

Active Support