Winter Skills Weekend!

Posted on February 28, 2016

The 20th and 21st of February was our winter skills meet. For this new meet, 6 enthusiastic mountaineers met up at the hut in Tremadog to learn how to brave the elements and dominate vicious snow and ice. Kim and Paul were first in, and wasted no time in getting the fire going to warm up the atmosphere. This has little effect since when Ken and Annelyse joined them a few hours later, the core temperature of the building was barely above freezing. Thankfully, Ginge turned up half an hour later and suddenly the five of us seemed to generate sufficient heat to avoid hypothermia. However, anxiety spread among us when we realised the wood supply was running low and the nearby shops had seen a wave of hooligans wood grabbers, leaving us with no chance of replenishing our stock. Someone suggested sacrificing the dinner table but this was dismissed in favour of cosying up in our respective sleeping bags for the night. Everybody went upstairs, except for Annelyse who decided to persist with the pure winter experience and slept in the downstairs bedroom. She soon regretted it but stubbornness got the better of her, and she finished the night with multiple layers of clothes in order to survive the creeping cold. In the meantime, Ollie arrived sometime in the middle of the night (8am I was told) and was welcomed by Kim and a warming cup of tea.

The weather forecast predicted intense rain and strong westerly winds, so it was decided to take shelter in the Ogwen valley and to undertake the Cneifion Arête. Paul and Ken teamed up on a 30m rope, while Ginge led Annelyse and Ollie on two 60m ropes. Ken and Paul made quick progress despite their shorter rope, and were soon waiting for the trio at the summit. Making best use of their group shelter, they were eventually joined by Ollie, Annelyse and Ginge. All were soaked but happy to have braved the elements, and started walking back to the car with thoughts of hot shower and hearty meal. Back at the hut angel Kim had been hard at work : the drying room was hot, steaming cups of tea were waiting for us, the fire was roaring, and the shepherds’ pie was on its way. All looked for the best until Paul came back from the shower with icicles hanging from his nose, claiming there was no hot water. A quick inspection revealed the worst : there was a problem with the showers. The challenges of the day were not over yet, and only the bravest got through the test of the cold shower. Thankfully, the shepherds’ pie was a success and everybody soon forgot the cold as the table welcomed hot comfort food and a few bottles of wine. For this second night, Annelyse admitted defeat and shared the club room with Kim, Paul and Ken, while Ollie and Ginge occupied the other upstairs bedroom.

2016_0220Photos0001Sunday morning saw more extreme weather, but nobody really looked forward to spending three hours in the car wearing wet gears. So it was decided to do a quick risk assessment of the hut. This was hotly debated as Ginge suggested among other ideas to install a stair lift to avoid the risk of falling in the steep stairs…We decided to use his knowledge of outdoor equipment instead, and headed for the shop in Capel Curig after Ollie drove home to secure a house sale. We said goodbye after a “light” brunch at the Moel Siabod café in Betws-y-Coed. This was another fantastic weekend meet for the BRMC. We’ve had a wonderful time in the great outdoor, made new friends, and enjoyed good food : a recipe for success !