Mountain Leader Award (summer) Blog.
Old page kept for completeness – some of the links probably don’t work..
The following pages will contain my notes on acheiving the above qualification. I’ll try and explain what the training involves (once i get around to it), what kind of walking I did for the log book and so on. In fact, it seems to be turning into a wild camp sort of blog / diary now
Finally updated the site. I’ve managed a fair few walks in since the last update, including a couple of trips not written up. Still to come is a trip to a bothy in Snowdonia, definaltely an experience we should all try out at least once.
We arrived, and the maintainance officer was busy at work. So impressed with the work that had been done, we helped out for a few hours before going off to explore for a few hours, then settle into the Bothy.
It was an ideal opportunity to get some night walking in, and we took a midnight stroll up to a nearby lake. The full moon helped! Just beware that bothy life is very sociable, VERY. So either take earplugs, or go with the flow and plan an easy walk the next day.
We managed to squeeze a final night’s wild camping on the weekend. Not as cold as you’d have imagined, and we managed to sit outside until about 9pm. We’d even managed to get a Friday night in on the 16/10 on the flanks of Siabod. 30 mins to walk in, and the most incredible views of the Milky Way at night and the Horseshoe in the morning. Tried out the new Exped down matress, which is comfy and warm but a pig to inflate. It still provided a superb night’s sleep. Looks like winter is finally setting in and we might manage a snowy walk this weekend. I’ve managed a day off the renevations when i really ought to be doing some Thesis work.
And on another note, i’ve decided to get the ML training done next year. I’m going to be chaging careers too, so as it says on the homepage, bear with me if the site stagnates a little. That said, i really can’t see myself being so busy as not to walk. I’m going to make time for that, more than likely.
Has it been so long? Been wildcamping again, in the Moelwynion this time. I like Llyn yr Adar. It’s familiar, and useful to know there’s going to be a decent pitch at the end of the day’s walk. Unfortunately, some others seem to ‘like’ camping there too. Unfortunately the ones who’d been there before have no respect for it. It was strewn with bottles and they had attempted to burn their litter. Not pleasant. Apologies for the poor picture. I wonder how many people have camped here this year? I reckon it could be in the hundreds (there was over 20 tents last time) and there’s no trace of them there.
These hills are also superb to practice navigation as they’re so complex. Hoping to get out next Friday night too, just have to find a campsite within 45mins from the road. Importantly, the TN Voyager Ultralight has proevd its worth this weekend. It put up with some nasty winds, and was being blown all over the place. In the morning, all the pegs were still in and the tent had performed well. Especially as it was rain and strong winds, the worst combination. My Alpkit Wee Airic sleeping mat is starting to show why it only cost me £15. I had to inflate it 3 or 4 times during the night 🙁 I now have an Exped Down matress in the post that’s 9cm thick and not too much heavier. In summer, i might try and use it with a top bag (sleeping bag with insulation on top only) where i’d actually be saving weight compared to my current system.
Another wild camp this weekend. Camped at Llyn y Caseg Fraith in the Eastern Glyderau. Lots of the area was boggy, but there was the perfect pitch, just above the lake and facing Tryfan. No river, so had to make do with filtered or boiled lake water, which looked and tasted ok. Above all, it was a quiet site. The last couple of times i’ve had to share my wilderness with lots of other tents, and i hoped this pitch was too high for most. Thankfully it was. Looking forward to a couple more now through the autumn. As far as getting the days in, I did the Carneddau last weekend and i’m looking to doing many more walks in the 20-30km category. Shame it’s coming into winter now, as i’m more likely to have to shorten my walks to make up for the shortening days.
It’s probably not escaped your attention, but it’s been raining a fair bit recently. So that’s limited the walking i’ve done as i wanted to do a couple of overnight trips, but it’s disheartening to set off in the rain. I dont mind waking up to it, but having to set off in it first off isn’t much fun. So, i decided to bite the bullet and finally walk the Eryri Way in one big lump. Tuesday, the first stage from Tremadog to Beddgelert and yesterday, the longer stage to Dowlyddelan. Fine. First section isn’t feasable, paths are too overgrown, so it looks like the first section is waiting on the WHR to replace their bridges. Second section was great, a definite little leg stretch. But, i’m peed off. It’s started to rain again, so i chickened out today. Well, i’d end up in the Bull at Llanbedr at lunchtime and stay there! But that’s not just why i’m peed off. I’ve just seen the forecast for Saturday. Look, then you’ll know what i mean.
Oh, and next week? High bloody pressure… (Atmospheric, but i think it could be my blood).
Nothing interesting happened in Arran. Gutted. I was too knackered to get the hills in, but at least i got some rest. All i managed was a 13km ramble (at a fair crack though!), in humid weather. No problem, i’ll have to get as many in over the next three and a half weeks. Managed Moel Hebog today in some rather grotty weather. Reasonably pleasant hill with some extra peaks thrown in. Only the final descent is a bit crappy (steep and then forestry). Hopefully, i’ll get to 500km walked this year with my weekend 2 dayer to Cadair Idris and a day walk next tues. That is, if my blisters recede. I think that as you get fitter, you’ll always hit a new wall. Now my knees are much better, the extra walking i’m doing is affecting my feet. I’ll get over the blisters (a much more minor problem than gammy knees) soon, and then i can really have some fun!
A Belated update. 2 night’s wild camping in on the weekend. You need to get 10 in before you can do the ML assessment., which seems a very low figure IMHO. Found it very difficult to find a decent pitch, and ended up pitching on the tightest of spots. What was worse is that many of the high level streams had dried up, something to take into account when wild camping in such dry conditions. My problem for the week is blisters. I’ve never had blisters from hill walking, but the balls of my feet are getting sore and showing traces of blistering or at least becoming hotspots. I’ve replaced my insoles so it’s not that anymore, but the old insoles might have made my feet sore. Someone on OM said that boots with waterproof liners are a cause of this, so i think i might be trying out my Scarpa Heliums on some walks this summer.
Did try out the Reiter dried meals and i found them to be more than up to the job. Beef stroganoff, peppered beef and the chocolate mousse all had the seal of approval. Now i’m going to try out the spaghetti and the curry next time, but if only they weren’t so damn expensive. Two pounds a shot would be manageable, but at twice this, they’re too expensive. A dehydrator would be no good for me either, as you need to soak the meals for a while before eating. That means you’re carrying the wet weight with you for most of the day, making it pointless for an overnight trip. If i went for week long trips then i’d get one.
Getting the QMDs in this summer! Another decent route across some high tops that should be good preperation for Arran in a forthnight. Ok, my knees feel a little knackered on the descent, but i will have over a week to recover from next weekend’s three dayer before i go.
Beware little old ladies with walking poles. Especially when they leave the summit shelter, and swing them about. Good job my reflexes are still sharp or i’d need a Paramo Eyepatch (obviously in Navy, what other colour would they do it in?!)
Got a nice walk in over the weekend. Takes me to 200km of logged hills this year, which is quite good. Nantlle ridge is always good for a scramble, and the return route through Cwm Pennant was straightforward enough to follow. My knees suffered a bit on this one, and i reckon it’s down to my footbeds being worn out. That, and the bottom laces of the boot having got stuck and allowing the foot to move. Little things eh? Found out how useful the water filter can be on a walk like this. I’m glad i bought it.
Sometimes you realise that you need to get some more hill days in no matter what. Arran is gettign closer and i don’t feel fit enough. So i’ve stolen a Friday evening to squeeze an extra hill in. Appropriately, Aran. Managed quite a quick ascent of the peak, if you take breaks on top and a lengthy attempt to cross barbed wire without ripping my pertex trews. Oh what fun.
Here’s a pic of me from last weekend, i bet you really wanted to see this didn’t you? Well, i’m not paying for yor councelling.
Managed the Dolwyddelan Circuit (30km) this weekend. Up to Moel Meirch (but not quite the summit) and parts of Ysgfell Wen before camping down at Llyn yr Adar again. The incredible thing is that we shared it with 19 other tents (we had 2). I’m starting to worry that the lake is getting over used as a wild camp if that many people can be found here on one night. There’s a pic to the right.
The only other thing of note was that the weather really went bad overnight. Forecast had it totally wrong. This time even the usually infallible MWIS was way off the mark. I had an old forecast from Friday, but checking tonight online, they said no rain until the afternoon (it rained early this morning). The point i’m getting to is that i’d packed ultra-lightweight as i assumed the weather was a no brainer. It was meant to be fine. Of course, i realise as I’m sat in my rocking tent in the rain that I have no overtrousers. Oh well. The zero-visibility on the tops meant i could at least practice my nav. I was also able to give the tent a good test in foul weather. I reckon that it would struggle in stronger winds, and it would be impossible to sleep in (as opposed to the merely ‘next to impossible’ it was last night).We finally arrived in Dolwyddelan in time to catch the pub’s food serving hours, after a bit of a forced march (it was too miserable to stop for a break). Probably the last bit of wild camping I’ll see for a month or two now, August if I’m lucky. So at the very least i now know i can’t skimp on the waterproof leggings and the drybags for inside the rucsac. I will likely use a larger sac next time. We also failed to complete the circuit, as it was too grotty to bag Cnicht this morning and we decided against a return over Moel Penamnen.
Oh, and another thing. I tried a Raven dried meal last night. It was meant to be spiced chicken, but tasted like rice in parmesan cheese. I was so glad of my one luxury on the trip, hipflask of whiskey to wash the foul taste from my mouth! Food that did impress was “Mug Shots”, that you throw in a mug to make a pot noodle like snack. Not haute cuisine, but tastes like chicken soup with noodles and even better on the hill. What’s more, they only cost 45p, so don’t break the bank like many dehydrated meals. My companions, Dave and Wendy, had a Reiter meal which they at least managed to eat, so i’ll try those next time.
Arggggh! Stuck indoors, and i slept all weekend, missing 2 glorious days walking. So i’m busy packing for a 2 dayer this weekend. You need to get a few nights wild camping in for the ML, and the more the better. My current challenge is to pack it into my 35 litre ‘sac. So far, I’ve fit most of the gear in, and what’s left will easily squeeze in somewhere. I’ll post a gear list on the site somewhere once i return, just to give people an idea how to cut pack weight and bulk down. Some people manage to pack it all into a 25l ‘sac! That i’d find very difficult, unless i was sharing the tent or bivvying. There’s a slim chance that we might bivvy Saturday night, but i’m going to jib on it i think. I tested the Rab Survival Zone out last night and I reckon i’d be too warm. Watch this space for a report on the trip. I’m also off to Arran in five weeks, so i’m training for a couple of long days there. How to fit all those hill days in can be a problem, so i’m going to go up Snowdon after work next week too – it doesn’t get dark ’till after ten so that’s plenty of time to get up and down the Rhyd Ddu path.
Had an excellent night wild camping in the Moelwynion on Friday night. This was sandwiched by a day up Cnicht and a day exploring the lesser known Ysgafell Wen and the small lakes around there. It’s complex terrain and would be ideal to practice your nav. There are small lakes at each turn, and you need to concentrate to keep track of location.
Still, it was a nice practice to see what foods are good and bad on a trip like this. Winner = tesco soup and pasta for starters. Loser = Beanfeast (whole packet), which can cause a rather unfortunate and antisocial side effect, an effect magnified by the gluttony of consuming an entire pack to oneself. Fortunately for my companion for the night, we had seperate tents. Did a 10km speedwalk (to the pub in Waunfawr) today to loosen up after the 2 days walking (also did 10k the day before going, i think it’s helping a little).
Drum and Foel Fras easily made a QMD today. Add to that the length of the walk (26km), and it was a good un. Must be the longest walk i’ve ever done. The last couple of hours wasn’t knackering, except for literally the last Km to the car. I think all those after work 10km strolls are having a positive effect. The most surprising thing was the cold. I doubt it was much colder when i was up here in February, especially the windchill.
This was also a bit of a practice walk for next friday’s overnighter in the Moelwynion. That will cover just a few Kms more than today, but over two days. Should be easy! Today was useful for a friend who isn’t hill fit, to check on his fitness. In the words of Jim Royle, “My Arse are you not hill fit”, and it was me playing catch-up all day!
Finally another QMD under the belt. A misty stroll over Elidir and Garn, with some nav involved, but nothing too taxing. Practised pitching the tent, and i think it’s pitched a little better now than it was. Damn thing has silly strings either end to pull vents up and down, no wonder it pitches weird. I am yet to work out what the two velcro patches at the base of each door are for. I can see nothing to stick them to, or around…
Well, i’d expected to keep this more up to date than this! I did get a couple of short walks in after the last entry, but none were QMDs. I’ve been busy recently with work, and then a throat infection. Still, I’ve managed to get a load more Kms under my belt by walking the low level paths around Caernarfon. I’m sure it’s paid off though, as I managed a 13km walk with a high point of 441m in just over 3 hours. Assume 5km/h speed and you’re looking at 2hrs 40min for the distance, plus 45 mins for the height gain, giving a grand total of 3hrs 25min. I did it in just under this. The real test will be on the proper hills, see how my stamina copes. But i’m quietly confident. Compared to this time last year, it’s a vast improvement.
20th Feb 2006
Excellent day out yesterday with 3 other guys from Outdoors Magic. There was Darren, Lawrence and Richard. I managed Pen Llithrig and Pen yr Helgi, while they went on to do Llywelyn too. Lots of issues and point raised today. I realised I really need to work on my fitness, but I’m confident that will be OK this time next year. Timings were mentioned, how important it is to look at the map, the next objective and estimate an ETA at that point. Had excellent food and beer at the Bryn Tyrch to finish off a great day. Camped out too, and the tent froze! Slept really badly, I think due to the uneven ground I’d pitched the tent on (in the dark, I hasten to add). See the pic above to see how NOT to pitch a Laser. Lets see if I can get 2 more walks in this week.
Oh yes, i also gave my Kimmlite Mountain Mover it’s first outing today. It’s definately too large to use in summer, and probably too big for winter. Despite this, it’s a better carry than my current Berghaus 38l ‘sac, and if it’s not full, the compression straps bring it all together tidily. It has massive pockets on the hipbelt, where i can keep the things i need to hand (compass, A4 map, GPS, chocolate). The main downside with the ‘sac is the closure mechanism for the lid. It’s a flimsy drawstring, that i’m going to replace with 2 buckles once i find someone with the skills to do so. That, and the fact it’s Orange. Ho hum… Oh, and check the sunrise out, that’s the plus side to being frozen overnight. And it clears the head, not one of us had a hangover or any sign of drinking the night before (miracle cure!).
12th Feb 2006.
Had a decent QMD yesterday over Moel Ysgyfarnogod in the Rhinogydd. It was useful walking with Chris, who is also training for his ML. He’s done his Training so it was good to pick someone else’s brains! Roll on next weekend for another training session, there should be 4 ML Trainees on that weekend.
3rd Feb 2006
After some deliberation, i decided to re-write my log book. Afterall, I am off ill with the flu and need something to do. Apparently, you don’t have to stick to the frankly, quite useless format given in the logbook. I n my experience, anyone who bothers to keep a log of walks, will include such data as length, time, ascent, etc. There is no room in the logbook for this. I thank Paul Cummings again for his assistance in this matter, and I have adapted an Excel spreadsheet he provided, into a new log-book.
So an entry that read:-
Mynydd Mawr from Rhyd Ddu, descent to Rhostryfan. Very windy to the point of being pinned down. Cold, snow lying >600m. Some horizontal hailstones. 4.5 hrs/9km
Extreme weather for one! Some nav was required on descent only, to determine proper route. Slipped and injured myself near summit. However, as my ankle was twisted (and my pole now bent), and still able to take my weight (albeit painfully), i decided to go over the summit and finish my route. To descend the way i came was too steep and dangerous.
With all the weather and other details placed in other columns it makes the whole log easier to read. It also gives space in which you can justify that walk as a QMD to the assessor (or even to yourself). A copy of the file can be downloaded here.
1st Feb 2006
Ok, here’s a start. I registered end of last year, and am yet to do my training course. If you want background information about the ML award, then visit these sites. The BMC page here, seems to direct only to the ENGLAND page, however the syllabus is the same. You have to have BMC membership to do the ML leadership. Again some dodgy geography, as the BMC doesn’t include Scotland, just England and Wales. Don’t ask where the Northern Irish must enrol (MLTNI, but no site).
www.mltuk.org appears to have all the info you need, including a link to the home boards and the relevant syllabus.
Ok, the nitty gritty. It cost me £27 to register for the course, plus a discounted rate to join the BMC of £22.50. You get the lovely folder pictured above in EBAYESQUE photo shoot.
If you want even more information, then click here for a detailed account of the ML Training and Assessment by Paul Cummings who passed recently. The file was originally a post on the uk.rec.walking usenet forum and i thought it was so useful, i asked to put it on my page.
My next step is to gain enough Quality Mountain Days, (QMDs). I have plenty, but not enough in the last couple of years. This isn’t an official rule, but i’d rather have 20 QMDs there as recent experience and not in 1988! And how will I ever get these days in when i need to tidy my kit up?!