On Saturday 3rd August team Siabod rendezvoud at the café at 6am. Dorina & I had camped outside the café to avoid the long journey up from Dolgellau, it was Dorina’s first night in a tent but all went well as I gave her my Andes 1,000 sleeping bag (comfy at -23 degrees) which some might say was a bit over the top for an August night in North Wales. We were awoken at 5am by the neighbouring sheep complaining about our snoring. Chris stirred from his relative Palace, the spare bedroom above the café, Mark stirred from his camper van in the car park, Fraser was bang on time travelling in from Chester & Will ambled in from Plas Curig next door. So 5 out of 6 of us were in place, minutes passed by & more minutes as we waited for Nick to make his grand entrance. At 6:30 with no sign of Nick we sent our advance party on to get their kit weighed in whilst Chris & I turned into the Siabod Mountain Rescue & went looking for Nick. Our hunch & knowledge of the mountains proved invaluable as we found him at our first port of call, his caravan, where a sleepy eyed Nick had overslept & woken up just as Chris’ car pulled up outside. No problems as we still reached the start with time to spare & to grab a pre-race (I mean challenge) team photo.
At 07:00 the Challenge started with a Flare shooting into the sky & 19 teams headed out onto the Carneddau in fantastic light & the promise of reasonable weather for at least the morning. Team Siabod reached the ridgeline in our targeted one hour, a good start & then headed on towards Yr Elen as the 3 leading teams headed for Llewelyn. The 3,000 route suggests Yr Elen is best tackled first but next year we’ll be doing a bit more recceing to see which way would suit us best. We reached Yr Elen after 1 Hour 30, Llewelyn in 2 Hours & Daffyd in 2 Hours 30 well on track to get near our target of 9 Hours. By now though there were a few concerns, Mark had cramped climbing Daffyd, Nick was dreading the forthcoming climb up Y Garn & I was almost literally coughing my guts up on every summit. It seemed that my two week chest infection took exception to every exertion the climbs forced upon me & I was seriously thinking I’d have to pull out at Idwal. My thanks here to my ‘team mates’ who decided that 5 minutes of coughing on Daffyd were not enough & so decided to break out their sandwiches & crisps so that I continue the coughing chorus for 5 minutes more (I’m guessing it was payback for my getting them involved in the challenge in the first place). As we reached Pen yr Ole Wen we were in a clear 5th place which we still held despite a slightly slow decent & trek into Idwal Cottage. A great feed station welcomed us as Mark & Chris applied Compeed Plasters to their Blisters before our arch rivals from Prestatyn strolled in less than 5 minutes behind us. We soon set off up Y Garn with the plan that we each ascend at our own pace & meet up at the summit. This gruelling climb after already more than 4 hours on the hills takes a lot of committing to & the fact that we all 6 managed it showed a stealy determination by us all. Alas it would be the un-doing of Mark who’s feet & energy levels were waining. On the decent towards Glyder Fawr Mark took the extremely hard decision to bail out & with kindly Marshalls it was agreed that he could decend the Devil’s Kitchen alone leaving the remaining team members free to carry on, it would be great to see him later cheering us into the finish & re-uniting the team. Glyder Fawr is never an easy climb but our route over to the left is the easiest line (I discovered this in last years Pedol Peris Fell race) & pulled back some time on those in front & helped us to lengthen the gap on the Prestatyn team. Glyder Fach came & went but the traverse of the Miners Track to Bwlch Tryfan began to eat at the legs of Fraser & Chris. Chris had a look of ‘well guys are you going to carry me up Tryfan’ & being the well knitted team that we were we all glared back along the lines of ‘not bloody likely mate’. Will led myself & Nick up Tryfan at good speed as we caught (not for the first time) the 4th placed team at the summit. Fraser & Chris were not far behind so as we left the summit we believed with increasing competitiveness that 4th place was now possible. Alas 5 grown men with more than a degree of experience on the hills failed to spot that the route card led one way & our minds led us another. That was onto the Heather Terrace, not an easy decent at the best of times whilst the teams in front & behind us correctly descended via Cwm Tryfan. Chris, now supported by my Walking Pole, hobbled down as if he was auditioning for the part of Long John Silver whilst I made sure that I was more than a daggers throw ahead of him & kept my new found knowledge that we were on the wrong track firmly to myself.
10 Hours & 24 Minutes after we set-off our team crossed the finish line to the sound of Cheering & Clapping from other teams & Ogwen Valley support crew, a great feeling despite seeing those cunning guys & gals from Prestatyn waiting there ahead of us. 6th Place out of 19 was not bad though & as the beer flowed the pains began to subside & talk of ‘next year’ sprang into the conversations.
A great event, superbly organized, big thank you to all the Marshalls for their friendliness, support, Jaffa cakes, jelly babies et al. Also a big thank you to OVMR & their fund raising support team ‘333’ for all of their input & a great welcome at the end of a long day, the Fish & Chip van at the end was in the words of Chris Lloyd a stroke of genious to round things off perfectly. Hope they meet their fund raising target, OVMR it goes without saying are a great team & need our support wherever we can give it.
As for team Siabod, my thanks to all the guys for their support & I hope that the event helped to open their eyes to the fantastically mad challenges these mountains can inspire us to. There was a great feeling of Commaraderie throughout & the other teams had better watch out we may be a year older next year but with age comes experience & sub 9 hours is on our radar!
Finally my thanks to Gaby for baking a cake for the event although be ware Gaby some team members believe in the rotation system & that next year their place is in the Kitchen & yours in on the Mountains!