Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
Paul’s Blog

If you are wondering how to get back into trim after the coming festive season visit our Events page where I have just up-loaded somer local fell races for North Wales in January. Due to other commitments I am sadly going to have to miss Michael Corrales ‘new’ Conwy Mountain race which is a great pity because last year I took part in a pre-race recce led by Michael, loved the route but couldn’t make the race itself, maybe next year unless it again clashes with the Buff Winter Trail Half Marathon. Sorry Michael but the Buff is just a trot away from my House in the CyB & I have run it every year to date. Alas I’ll also be giving the Tarren Hendre a miss, the thought of cancelling Dorina’s & My ski trip to Bormio, Italy just can’t be contemplated.

So that just leaves me with the by now standard outing of Llyn Llydaw on New Year’s Day, an excellent way of clearing the also standard hangover, bad weather probably standard too & just adds to the post race talking points.

Did you enjoy the snow? Didn’t last long at lower levels but hopefully the first of a good winter season. We took what turned out to be a wise decision & stayed at the Cafe on Saturday & Sunday which meant we could actually open up on Sunday morning. The first 3 hours were deadly quiet, snow continued to fall, the feet itched so at 11:00 a.m. I was running out the door to break trail through the virgin snow suitably donned with bag filled with emergency food & clothing.

My early strides brought disappointment, the trail had already been trodden by walkers & there were plenty of shouts of ‘coming behind you’. Soon after crossing the road after Plas y Brenin wilderness was almost found as the tracks reduced to a lone walker & their dog, this was becoming more enjoyable. As I turned right towards Joe Brown I passed the woman & her dog only to look ahead & see a hoard on the slopes I was running to, sledges & shouts filling my senses, where was my splendid isolation?

Thankfully as I surmounted that hill I ran away from the fun & laughter, the trail had still been broken but I was now alone. The next hour saw me only pass one couple walking as I kicked my way through 3 to 4 inches of pure soft snow through a forested landscape that would do any Christmas Card proud. After almost 2 hours & 11 Miles I returned to the Cafe invigorated, I’d even found a few short sections where I actually broke the trail too.

Then the guilt appeared, the Cafe was now full, we were half-staffed due to the weather, 4 in all excluding me, it was time to roll up my sleeves & work. This we all did for the next 4 hours until things finally began to subside. It was a great effort by Titi, Dorina, Nick & Katy so a reward of a pub meal at the Tynny seemed a good way of thanking them, they rewarded me by keeping the walk home (well back to the Cafe) snowball fight amongst themselves.

Monday dawned, busy again with Snowseeyers but this time I got it right leaving my repeat 11 miler until late afternoon. This time quieter as I ran into the Snow white night with headtorch hardly needed. Sadly the Snow’s gone for now but I’d made the most of it from a running point of view at least.

But the weekend had another highlight as Dorina & I had attended Maggie’s 70th celebrations at Mynydd Llandegai, I wisely chose not to lower the dancing tone until the last dance at least & will avoid naming & shaming some who should have known better. In truth everyone had a thoroughly good knees up so thank you Maggie & Alwyn it was great to join you.

Snow is forecasted higher up again today, will we get home or will it be another night at the Cafe, one thing I can say, apart from Christmas Day we will be doing our best to stay open & serve as fast as we can whatever the circumstances.

Next week I have a plan to run the new Snowdonia Way over 3 days which if done will be rewarded the next day by knuckling down to finalise our End of Year Accounts with our Accountant, very tempting to get deliberately lost & take the run into a 4th day, is Her Majesty’s Government really that important? Watch this space to see if common sense & I prevail.

OVMRO Quiz Night Saturday 16th December

Final reminder that this coming Saturday sees us welcome back Mike Lees to host his charity Quiz Night to raise funds for our local Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation. Further details are on our Events page, it’s a great way to get into the festive spirit so we hope you can come along & enjoy the fun.

The fun doesn’t end there this weekend as Sunday morning sees Eryri Harriers Fun run around Padarn Lake with fancy dress encouraged but not obligatory, better still you don’t have to be a club member to run. For more details visit Eryri Harriers web-site.

Both events also have a raffle with proceeds going to OVMRO & Eryri respectively.

TGO Awards

Just a word of thanks to all who voted for us in this year’s awards, much appreciated. Also congratulations to Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation/ Llaberis Mountain Rescue Teams for being Highly Commended in the ‘Extra Mile’ category as well as to our friends at our local Cotswold Oudoor store in Betws for being part of the reason for Cotswold Outdoor winning the Chain Retailer award, well done to you all.

Xmas & New Year Opening Hours

With our December Christmas Specials now available it’s time to confirm our Opening Hours over the Festive Period, so here goes:-

Christmas Eve: 09:00 to 16:00
Christmas Day: Closed
Boxing Day : 10:00 to 17:00

Saturday 30th Dec: 07:30 to 11:00 (Open MIC Night)
New Years Eve: 09:00 to 16:00
New Years Day: 10:00 to 17:00

All other days we will be open as our usual hours, hope to see you at some point for one of Dorina’s homemade Mince Pies or something more.

Paul’s Blog

Running has taken a bit of a back seat in the last week but hopefully a number of chores will be out the way by Monday so that I can step it up again. That said I did manage to get to Bangor to help support our (Eryri Harriers) local Cross Country (XC) race.

First of all well done to Becki Law for great organisation & of course to the whole team of people who helped her.

The weather was cold & underfoot conditions wet & very muddy, is it just me or do the ladies like pre-ploughing the course in readiness for us guys, to be fair not all were smiling as they struggled up that hill, as I was thinking me next!

Eventually just after a cold shower had further dampened my spirits 2:45 arrived & we were off. I had at least had a similar experience in Wrexham a couple of years ago so knew I’d be up against a competitive field & that it would be surprisingly tough, Bangor proved to be no different.

To help enjoy it I went off slower than some & was pleased I did, with two short laps sandwiching 3 long laps there was plenty of justification to keep a little in reserve. On the first of the long laps people finally stopped passing me & the remainder of the race saw me not being passed & picking up the odd place or 8 (by my rough reckoning). Sadly a 9th place was just beyond me so I missed the top hundred by a frustrating one! On the last lap I’d finally got past Meirionnydd’s Arfon Hughes who commented well done & I reciprocated. Having thought I’d well & truly ditched him from there on my focus was pulling in Phil Hayes of Denbigh, by the last hill I thought this is my chance only to see him pull away on the home straight whilst Arfon’s slurping feet began ringing in my ears, thankfully he timed it just a little too late & my Goose wasn’t quite cooked.

Thoroughly enjoyed it with the hail storm on the 1st lap just adding to the atmosphere of a bunch of running nuts ‘enjoying’ themselves.

O.K. so I missed the top two thirds but only just, my time of 44:45 was only a little over 10% slower than the likes of SPJ & as ever I’ll ignore the fact that he’s giving more than a bloody decade! The winner, Callum Rowlinson, time of 32:02 is also not being strongly analysed as he had less mud than me to run through, now that’s positive logic for you!

Thanks again to everyone who helped us have a great afternoon of mud & guts in Bangor.

Paul’s Blog

Firstly a quick pointer to or Events page which I have recently updated to include several new Events at the Cafe, we hope you can make our Mike Lees Quiz Night in aid of OVMRO. Unusually for the Christmas period we will be holding our Monthly Open MIC Night on 30th December so help give you more than one night to celebrate in Capel leading into the New Year. Into the New Year itself we are excited to be hosting Alex Kendell’s presentation covering his recent book ‘The Snowdonia Way’ on January 6th.

Next up is the welcoming back of Bandabacana in February & then in April a night of variety with Filmuphigh’s Film ‘Playing on the Pinn’ accompanied by Musicians & Poetry.

This hopefully provides something for everyone in the coming months at the same time as raising money for a couple of local good causes.

As usual I will update with other local events & races so watch out for more Events in the weeks to come.

Paul’s Blog

Before I bore you & you stop reading a couple of points for the diary.

Firstly this Saturday sees Eryri Harriers host the latest round of the North Wales Cross Country (XC) at Bangor. As I write this I am sure that Becki Law is marshalling her troops be they runners, cake bakers, helpers & supporters, if you want to turn up & cheer us on as we plough our way around a muddy track (yesterday’s rain will have now made this doubly inevitable) simply go to the Eryri Harriers web-site for more details. It’ll be only my 2nd XC race, my memory recalls the first at Wrexham 2 years ago being particularly hard work & very muddy but it’s speed work I’m after so this is a great way to both return a favour owed to Becki & get my plans for 2018 off to a kick start.

Saturday evening will see our next Open MIC Night hosted as ever by Alan Mannouch, with the cold dark winter nights firmly upon us why not record Strictly & spend a night with us in a relaxed atmosphere, more details on our Events page.

Now a race report on last Saturday’s Penmaenmawr race, it was WET underfoot, the bog didn’t disappoint but as far as I’m aware we all got out of it one way or the other, so here is what happened from my point of view.

As ever this classic end of season saw a great turnout & many familiar faces at the start line, here I made my first mistake. Feeling less competitive than normal (here I mean frame of mind rather than physical abilities) I made no effort to start near the front, within moments of Chris Near completing his very humorous pre-race briefing I was regretting this with frustration. A serious log jam climbing the road already made any chance of a decent time negligible. From here things began to improve but I was unable to pass Richard Borne, my mind telling me ‘come on Paul you normally can’, in this instance I definitely couldn’t!

At last we reached the trig point & turned back towards the infamous bog, my mind still asking me ‘why, why, why’. It was wetter than usual which is saying something, it is approximately 1 mile wide & increasingly saps the legs as you try to push off against little resistance but over halfway through it I had escaped the worst of it’s clutches but then it happened. Richard was 5 metres ahead, yelled & plunged in up to his waist, I looked right & left, there were no options, legs sank, no bottom, survival instinct saw me dive head first to spread my weight, arms stretched, hummocks grasped I slowly pulled myself to safety. Wet, cold & clearly in shock I couldn’t run for the next 5 minutes as I trudged forlornly through the remaining bog & up & over the next climb.

Slowly by body settled, I began to run having amazingly only lost two places, no doubt many of the runners behind suffered at least Richard’s fate but hopefully not mine.

You like me might well ask why, well here’s the answer. The second half of the race went from terrible to great, Kean & Sandra out in the middle of nowhere cheering us on, Judy smiling at the 2nd Marshall point calling out ‘Paul you look like a Parachute’, not flattering but memorable, she has been reprimanded & almost took it without offering justification…., & to cap these my legs started turning at last.

The long run back is a classic, I finally got past Richard & improved a couple of other places too, reaching the final steep descent my new Mudclaws gripped un-believably well, I was enjoying every moment. Then crossing the line Rebecca Roberts & her Mum & Dad gave me a loud cheer, this is what it’s all about, remember the good & learn from the bad. 65th out of 202 wasn’t bad despite my time being well down on previous years. As I told Stuart MacDonald of my boggy experience Chris Near’s face appeared a bit ashen (there were still a lot out on the course), he had put a Marshall nearly in the right place, probably just a lost in translation issue & of course we are running at our risk.

Thanking Rebecca afterwards I was delighted that her brother, Eryri’s Richie Roberts, had narrowly won ahead of the ever fast Gareth Hughes, well done Richie!

Both Adrian Williams & Richie later advised of an alternative line which misses the worse of the bog so message to memory, next year recce, but not alone!

Sunday saw me talking to John & Marion about a new possible walk for the Cafe to offer, on a beautiful day thoughts turned once again to running, why not go & recce some of it. Needing no excuse to escape an increasingly busy Cafe I was soon changed & running out the door. Cwm Idwal, Llyn Ogwen, The Old Road all came & went but I baulked at the Reservoir Road & the Leat making up for it slightly by sticking to the final loop up & behind Capel. Almost 3 hours later with 17 miles under my belt I walked into the Cafe with a smile on my face. After a quick shower the smile disappeared as I cleared tables for 2 hours on increasingly heavy legs, sadly the least I could do to make up for being AWOL again. This was a recovery run to beat all others or maybe I just hadn’t tried hard enough in that bog?

This week has seen me get carried away with race entries for 2018, if all goes well before the first half of the year is gone I will have done my 1st 10K (yes 1st), 3 Half Marathon’s, 2 Marathon’s & my 1st Ultra race plus no doubt the odd fell race or 6. There are some serious goals within this but most off all it is just about being out & about, the best drug man has ever created.

Hope to see you at Bangor together with Gaby’s & Dorina’s Cake.

Doug Scott’s ‘A Crawl Down the Ogre’ Presentation

Over a week has passed since we welcomed Doug Scott OBE back to the cafe to give this year’s presentation ‘A Crawl Down the Ogre’ & what a night it was. My apologies for not writing earlier but there were a few loose ends to tie up in order to make my reflection on the night more complete.

The night itself was a tremendous success, the feedback we’ve received has been unanimous praise for the enthralling tale delivered in Doug’s unassuming humorous style, the great work of Doug’s charity CAN & for the sitting room fireside atmosphere which our venue provided. We were packed to the rafters with 100 (exactly) people in the room.

For those who haven’t seen Doug’s presentation this year you still have the choice of seeing him in other parts of the U.K. simply go to CAN’s web-site for details. However if those venues are too far afield do the next best thing & come into the Cafe & buy his newly published book which covers both the Mountains Origins as well as Doug’s & Chris’ amazing retreat & rescue. These copies are all signed by Doug with 100% of the £20 price going to CAN.

Now for those loose ends:-

On the night we handed Doug another cheque for the Melamchi School, this was for £8,900.00 bringing the total raised by Reach Out for Nepal to £25,666.78. This is a little over the funds budgeted to fit out the Hostels, Main School Buildings & Science Lab. but of course budgets are just that so we will be meeting with CAN over the winter to review actual costs & assess where any left over funds can be allocated.

But CAN’S general funds also received a boost on the night, firstly we handed a cheque over for £2,365.00 covering 11 signed prints of Doug’s photography. Ticket sales through the cafe contributed a further £1,460 again all going to CAN with potentially up to another £700 of ticket sales through Eventbrite. On the night Doug auctioned a variety of prints (I was outbid 3 times before I eventually secured one & am still kicking myself for not putting in one final bid for Broad Peak which reached the highest price on the night). These together with books & artefacts sales exceeded more than £2,000 so well done to everyone who contributed to a fabulous bonus for CAN. A word of thanks to the glamorous boy & girl helpers whom Doug pulled out of the audience to help with the auction aka Nick & Andy respectively. The good news for those who haven’t secured a print is that we still have 5 prints left to sell, with signatures of some of the mountaineering legends on them they are in my opinion great value.

Some friends have said to us that they’d wished they’d seen Doug here rather than at a bigger less in-formal theatre, I can thoroughly understand why & rest assured we both hope & expect next year they/you will have the opportunity to do so once again.

We look forward to extending our relationship with Doug & all of his wonderful team at Community Action Nepal.

Defibrillator Campaign Launch

Today we formally launch our campaign for a Defibrillator to be located outside our Cafe.

This campaign has the support of both the Welsh Ambulance Service & the Achub Calon Y Dyffren who approached us with this idea a few weeks ago.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED) are essential to help save lives, there is a wide ranging campaign to help install these in Schools & in places to help local communities & vistors alike. Our campaign is to riase £1,500 to purchase & install a ZOLL AED, this is the same brand used by The Welsh Ambulance Service itself thereby giving familiarity & speed maximising the chances of making a difference.

You can donate simply by locating Achub Calon Y Dyffryn’s collection tin which is located just inside the cafe internal entrance doors. There will be an un-related presentation at the Cafe in April next year where all proceeds will go towards this campaign so watch this space for details in the coming weeks.

Defibrillators save lives, it’s as simple as that, it could be yours or someone you know, your support would be great.

Paul’s Blog

I’ll talk about Doug Scott’s presentation separately, an amazing night, very well supported & raised a great deal for CAN, icing on the cake next year is being discussed…………

With the first dusting of snow on the tops last weekend, a couple of frosts & another ‘coldish’ snap arriving yesterday morning it is almost feeling like winter, or at least more seasonal late autumnal weather, has arrived in Snowdonia. We must keep our fingers crossed for the months ahead & our hopes for a decent winter season which is becoming long overdue after recent years.

It felt good to get out on the mountains with Neal yesterday. Having delayed our start until the rain had blown through we had spectacular views under clearing skies during our circuit of Y Garn, Glyder Fawr & Glydar Fach. The light at times was stunning but my over-riding memory was just how long it’s been since I last took in these mountains at a more casual pace. Indeed it’s been so long that it had me scratching my head on the best descent line of Glyder’s Fach’s rocky summit dome. I got there in the end, found the familiar ‘rocker’ but come on Paul, no excuses get out & walk a bit more! We arrived back at the car just before Dusk, a day intended to help Neal prepare for his forthcoming trek to Toubkal had awakened my own need to walk just a little more in these gloriously ‘familiar’ mountains.

Of course running is mainly to blame but cannot be sacrificed so time will have to come from elsewhere, Dorina, Gaby, can’t we find someone else to replace me?

My running is still on a high after that negative second half split in the Snowdon Marathon, the miles have been clicking by at a healthy rate ever since & plenty of variety including some new hilly circuits (in reality amalgamations of the best bits of old routes). Goals & targets are swirling through my mind, races booked & more to do. At the moment the running highlights for 2018 are my first Ultra race in May, 42 miles along the Annadale Way, followed in June by the Stockholm Marathon, 3 hours? dream on, no don’t dream just train hard & then harder.

My running bubble may take a temporary set-back in tomorrow’s Pen. fell race which I’m returning to after a year’s absence, the bog awaits & Chris Near’s pre-race e-mail warns it’s very wet this year (of course being a bog when was it ever dry?) & the final descent is very slippery, not my forte at the best of times. But this great end of season event is one to be savoured among so many like minded runners.

A few words now regarding Mike Blake, stalwart organiser of so many fell races in Snowdonia, the list is endless, his work for Eryri Harriers, his support to other race organisers (me included) etc. etc. All of this has led him to be shortlisted for this year’s Welsh Unsung Sports Personality of the Year award. Mike may not be able to run down Tryfan in 8 minutes any more (yes 8 minutes is his race record, when I believe the infamous ‘Mike’s Leap’ was born) but he would be a more than worthy winner of this award so good luck Mike, will the bandanna come off?

A final word, a drive to Sheffield on Wednesday saw Dorina & I talking to Tom of Jagged Globe for an enjoyable couple of hours, two inevitable things resulted. Firstly, I have been reminded just how much I don’t miss this country’s busy roads, how lucky I am not to be one of the unfortunates who have to drive through the log jam of the Stockport & Glossop area on your way to & from the Woodhead pass more than once a lifetime? Secondly, I’ve finally taken the plunge, deposit paid, Cho Oyu Spring 2019 awaits!