Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
Reach Out for Nepal – An update

I did a reconciliation on monies raised this year for our Reach Out for Nepal fund & am pleased to announce that with your continued support we have raised over £6,500 this year. When added to the more than £3,400 raised by Ian Draisey’s MSS (Moel Siabod Sportif) that brings the total to £9,900 so thank you to all who have contributed again this year.

Since Phil & I set out towards Moel Siabod at Dawn in late June 2015 with no specific goal of how many summits of the mountain we could achieve before the clock struck sunset (we reached 10 in the end) the total raised by ROFN & the MSS has now just exceeded £120,000.00. All of those monies have gone to the late Doug Scott’s charity, Community Action Nepal (C.A.N.).

C.A.N.’s work has not only rebuilt all of their schools & Health Posts, many of which were raised to the ground in the 2015 Quake but also gone on to create new Schools, Health Posts & Community Vegetable Patches. Much of the work is undertaken by the locals themselves with C.A.N. providing the expertise to ensure that materials & designs are to rigid Earthquake Proof & Safety Standards.

Specifically our funds have been used to help re-fit the highly respected Melamchi School, completely fund an entirely new school in the village of Prok (at an altitude twice as high as Snowdon) & contributed to C.A.N.’s general funds. This years funds are now helping to re-locate a Health Post in the village of Lihi, the existing one being located below a hazardous slope at risk from future Earthquakes, the budget for which is £45,000.00.

On behalf of C.A.N., ROFN & MSS, I would like to extend a massive thank you & congratulations to all those who have provided energy, time & donations in helping us reach such a figure.

Moving forward I plan to do one more run next year to make it ten years of ‘type 2 pain’ before retiring but despite that the plan is to continue ROFN for many years to come despite changes to our Cafe circumstances.

Next up though is our Xmas raffle where again all funds will go to ROFN, for details visit our Facebook site or simply come into the Cafe & see some of the great prizes on offer.

Thanks again.

Paul

Paul’s Blog – GII Presentation Update

Just a quick note of thanks to all those who attended the presentation on Saturday, very pleasant surprise to see 70 in the audience with all that is going on & indeed other events the same night & of course Callum Musket just up the road at PyB which was very well attended.

On the night we raised £812.00 which means £406.00 will go to ROFN & £406.00 will go directly to the village of Hushe in Pakistan where Abdullah, Yousuf & Zakir will use it for repairs following flood damage which has again occurred in the last month.

These three men amongst others were instrumental in getting me into, up, down & out from Gasherbrum II so a small repayment of my debt to them.

Paul’s Blog – Reach Out for Nepal Day – 19th August 2023 – Blog 2

I got three pleasant surprises for Run 3, firstly Paul who’d been with me on Run 2 & despite not doing marathons offered to come out again (this would set him up for nearly 22 miles pretty marathon like in these conditions). Secondly Johnathan Fish who I know quite well but have never run with turned up un-expectedly dressed in running kit & thirdly Lisa, a road runner whom I’d only met on Tuesday (when I was at the Cafe prepping things with Twiggy & Peter) also turned up with some worrying road shoes on her feet. I made the relevant introductions & once again I had a foursome,

Conditions by now were better, the storm was reduced to a gale & rain was in the form of heavy showers only.

This run is mostly a mixture of forest tracks, roads & some easy slightly technical single tracks which had me a tad worried for Lisa’s shoes. We would head for Geirionydd first & then over to Crafnant before taking the new Motorway back to Capel.

Early on it became clear that Lisa was struggling a little for pace but Johnathan & Paul both took the time to run with her initially whilst I set the pace I needed. Later we would stop at either end of Geirionydd to let Lisa catch up as I weighed up what this was doing to my schedule & what were the options. At the second stop Lisa clearly wanted to continue rather than call hubby to collect her with her not knowing the area/route my mind went into overdrive for a way forward that suited everyone. Next up came the slippery tree-routed climb & descent over the rocky knoll on the lakes West shore. The three of us guys needed to take care with at least one slip so back on the safety of the track we stopped & I put my formulated plan into place, ‘guys we can’t just hope Lisa gets over that safely in those shoes, Johnathan could you wait here for?’, ‘yes’, he replied. ‘Then’, I continued, ‘keep her in sight & get her to the Cafe on Crafnant whilst we go ahead & circle the lake. Make her turn left on the road & ask her to stop at the gate at the South of the lake whilst you come & catch us up (he’s a distance guy with plenty of running in his legs compared to our tired ones)’.

We left Johnathan to wait for Lisa & moved onwards. We made decent progress from here despite a longer sharp & gusty shower but I remember feeling for the first time that I was beginning to feel a bit tired at which point I took a first sip of the half litre of Electrolyte I’d been carrying since 5:55 that morning. As we made our way along the West side of Crafnant doubts in my cunning plan came into my head ‘what if Lisa doesn’t get to the gate before we do?’. Basically if we ran on & Johnathan then reaches the gate before Lisa he’d run on thinking she was with us & she’d be alone not knowing the way back. You’ve guessed it Lisa wasn’t at the gate & my only sensible option if I was to remain on schedule for the later runs was to ask Paul to wait at the gate for Lisa & Johnathan whilst I moved on. Before doing so I gave Paul a briefing of the route back just in case he’d need to make it alone. I left him soon thinking more thoroughly ‘what if Lisa & Johnathan have had to bail, Paul’s got no jacket, how long will he wait, the cold………..’ but I’d cast the dye & decided to just hope for the best. Note to self, post blog, I must apologise to Paul.

From here I was hit by a strong cold wind at the top of the pass but could now run with ease down the new motorway & was soon running back into the Cafe alone with startled looks & questions of ‘what have you done to them’ before I could explain what had happened.

Johnathan, Paul & Lisa got back about half an hour later with quite a story to tell but as I wasn’t there I’ll leave that to them but in a Nutshell my plan which they’d needed to adapt on spec had got everyone back one way or the other. As for me I got the run done 5 minutes under my two & a half hour schedule.

Next I was alone with Dorina showing more concerns than me about my predicament, run 4 being a ten miler or so back down the old road & back via the leat, an isolated & bleak prospect that I actually felt quite good about. Paul & Johnathan clearly felt a bit guilty about not joining me despite having no need to at all.

I set off wet as usual but leaving the Cafe I felt calm & relaxed. My pace was steady as I monitored my K splits & did the maths to confirm I was always under my two & a half hour schedule. I also felt that I was maintaining my energy levels albeit I was now regularly needing to put in Electrolytes.

The walk up the steep reservoir road started with me passing a walker sat on the wall on the A5, usually I’d have to run past someone like that but today I was sensible for once & continued at the planned walk. The climb took 10 minutes & led me to some menacing looking cattle but thankfully they were 5 metres past the style that took me onto the leat & away from them. I was now on my way back & feeling good despite calculating I had probably 1K more to run than my earlier calculations. I made good progress until the un-thinkable almost took me out. There’s been a lot of ‘improvement’ works to the leat over recent years & one of these includes a two metre bright concrete level slab that then has a step down to another concrete slab, this one slopes downwards. Whoever designed this failed to take account of the CDM (Construction Design & Management) regulations because to a runner two bright new slabs look very much like one bright new slabs. I took a step down that I wasn’t expecting & as the second slab sloped away from me it was only my still surprisingly strong legs that stopped me from hitting the deck. All joking apart that could have not only brought my day to an abrupt end but I could’ve been up there alone in still pretty poor conditions for a very long time, guessing it would have been closer to two hours than one before the search even began. I’d been so solid on so much mountain terrain all day & then almost undone by a sucker punch. If anyone knows a member of the construction team please ask them to buy some yellow floor paint for the step.

Lets move on, the rest of the run went without a hitch, the long boggy descent from the leat saw bog-hopping return to my agenda before some road running brought me back into Capel. Next up & around the back of the Cafe where I was seen walking up a minor hill by a Cafe regular, of course when I saw him the following day I made my excuses for this poor performance very clear, well what self respecting ‘runner’ wouldn’t.

I reached the Cafe to more cheers in a pleasing 2 Hours 16 Minutes feeling strong & once again under schedule, good effort that one!

I always knew I’d have company for the last two runs as Becca Roberts, another perennial supporter, had informed me the day before that she’d be with me. Then Johnathan Fish who’d intimated to me on run 3 that once he’d picked his son up he’d try to come back for more & then Ellie Salisbury (another Perennial) had messaged Dorina that she was just on track on her journey back from Switzerland & was planning to join me too, she arrived with Gwil in the nick of time. This all meant that there’d be four of us again for runs 5 & 6, great company & support albeit the job was almost done by now. This also allowed me to persuade Dorina there was no need for her to come back out for the last run, she’d had as long a day as I had, we would both feel tired the next day.

Run 5 was simply the Junior Siabod race route, 1.84 miles which two ten year olds had stunningly run in under 13 minutes back in July. It’s a great little route of flat forest track followed by a lovely single track climb (I was pleased to introduce the others to this) before a fast descent back to the Cafe on another forest track (part of the seniors course). My target was 20/30 minutes thankfully there were no 10 year olds to force an adjustment to my plan. We ran the tracks & walked the climb but also did walk the final climb back to the bridge, still common sense prevailing. We completed it in just under 22 minutes with Becca’s & my watches agreeing to the second, a pleasant run & we would not have been last in the Junior’s race, well got to keep looking at those silver linings haven’t I. More cheers back at a busy Cafe before the quickest turnaround of the day (8 minutes).

By now the weather was distinctly better & I knew I was going to enjoy run 6. Having headed off over the bridge on four of the five runs I chose to do my 3.14 Capel ‘recovery’ run loop in reverse by going anti-clockwise. I’d done it this way when I put in an extra run in 2021 after completing my seven marathons in seven days. On that occasion it was a glorious evening with not a cloud in sight & the extra run got me over 200 miles in a week (the first & only time I’ve done that). On this occasion it was cloudy but I had Becca, Johnathan & Ellie for company so it again felt like a great little run. Once past PyB the final trip hazards were finally behind me so I was able to surprise the guys as I picked up pace to make the final Kilometre my fastest of the day, I even ran that final hill to the bridge. We completed it in 37:52 well within the scheduled 1 Hour.

Back at the Cafe there was a wonderful reception before I removed myself from the stage to take a much needed warm shower but here I got a rude but totally expected reckoning. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that late on run 2, many hours before, I realised that my bollocks were getting a serious chafing from my sopping wet shorts even though I’d applied vaseline from the offset. Despite re-applying dollops this came back to plaque me many times throughout the day, copious amounts of blood were a net result but the real issue that I was now facing was that water, salty sweat & chafing make for a high pain factor. Almost a week on Dorina has inspected the treated area & has confirmed no lasting damage:)

I rejoined the Cafe where Mike Lees had got the quiz underway, this was both very well supported (11 teams) & very enjoyable & included the draw for the raffle. Thanks to all who came along to it, hope you all had a great time too.

I also had more time to thank Claire (a CAN trustee) & her husband, Till, who were excellent company & part of our winning Quiz team, bit of icing on my cake!

Of course thanks to all those I’ve specifically mentioned within these two blogs but especially to the two Paul’s, Carla & Dorina for keeping me on track during those character defining first two runs which were truly daunting & brutal. Also thanks to everyone who came along on the day & supported us in any way, it helps in ways you may not fully understand. On the day itself we raised over £1,600 & that continues to rise as I receive more donations for my runs (this can be done at the counter). Put together with other funds we’ve raised over the last year together with Ian Draisey’s MSS it should take us above £10,000.00 this year which is simply an excellent pleasant surprise given that my runs & ROFN Day in general were planned to be a bit muted this year.

So I’ll end by summarising the runs & to state that I’d be happy to repeat one or more of them with any runners or walkers among you, just one Caveat though, we will need to sit-out any storms!!

The runs:-

Run 1 – Moel Siabod via the daear dhu ridge (well ish) – 7.21 Miles – 2:20:13.

Run 2 – Old Road, Cwm Tryfan & Y Foel Goch – 11.88 Miles – 2:58:34.

Run 3 – Llyn Geirionydd & Llyn Crafnant – 10.93 Miles – 2:24:27.

Run 4 – Old Road, Reservoir Road, The Leat & North Capel circuit – 10.56 Miles – 2:16:01.

Run 5 – Junior Race route – 1.84 Miles – 21:49.

Run 6 – Capel ‘Recovery’ Loop – 3.14 Miles – 37:52.

Total Moving time – 10:58:56 – 45.56 Miles with circa 9,000′ of ascent & 70 mph gusts.

Thank you for taking time to look a little deeper at our day.

 

Paul’s Blog – Reach Out for Nepal Day – 19th August 2023 – Blog 1 of 2

The week leading into this year’s charity day saw me finally learning a bit with age, basically I tapered better than normal. There would be only one easy run on the Wednesday (5 miler up to our beloved CyB Waterfalls) & no getting trapped at the Cafe on the pot-washer unlike 2020 where a full stint at the Cafe had me a bit whacked just hours before I tried & failed to do 100 miles in under 24 hours. There was however (as with me there seems always to be) one false step as on Thursday I got the Chainsaw out (well you can only sit down & read so much) & spent an enjoyable (& certainly unwise) amount of energy tending the garden. This slip was partially mitigated by a quiet Friday which saw us overnight at the Cafe after a restful day in preparation for the 5:50am start on Saturday. The forecast had been going steadily downhill all week with particular concern being the predicted winds of 60 mph gusts in the valley, heaven knows what that would mean higher up, my first two runs would be at the height of the storm & included summits. Still attention to detail saw me take a bearing for the crux of run 2 in preparation for what lay ahead.

Dorina & I rose at 4:00 am & were eating a good breakfast 20 minutes later to get us properly fuelled up (I hadn’t eaten since 6:00 am on Friday, my typical pre-race routine which despite any science seems to work for my ablution cycle, another bit of attention to detail).

Dorina & I would be doing the first run together but would anyone else be joining us? To put it mildly the wind & rain were battering the Cafe as Mike came down to join us with a pleasant smirk of resignation to the fate that lay ahead for us. Then things picked up in the shape of perennial supporter, Paul Jones, who’s face appeared at the front door, we weren’t going to be alone up there, thanks Paul big tonic that one!

John & Marion soon appeared as supportive as ever you can be from a warm & dry Cafe & to take the usual photo’s detailing the day as it progressed. Next & literally a minute before we were due to head off Carla Laura appeared. I knew she was planning to join me at some point but really, Run 1, in those conditions a very pleasant surprise so we delayed the start for a few minutes whilst she sorted kit, now we were four & that felt far better than two. That said I still felt more responsible than I was comfortable with if something went wrong it was unarguably going to be my fault.

The first (of six) runs was Moel Siabod via the Daear Dhu ridge scramble returning to the Cafe via the race route. As soon as we climbed out of Capel the wind hit us in the face, as I led on I’m not sure what my loyal band of followers were thinking, talk was of the small type & avoided the question at hand. By the time we reached the quarries I had serious doubts about the sanity so stopped behind a sheltered wall to soon be joined by the others. I avoided the ‘do you want to bail’ by muttering a less clever ‘are you all O.K.?’ To a man (well actually one man & two women) & to their credit the response was stupidly escapism ‘yes’, we continued on. Skirting the top lake Dorina would later relate to me that she felt she was making no headway (the wind was now even worse). Next we traversed to the ridge & it’s usually delightful scramble. I stopped again & explained ‘that’s the way I normally go but not in this I’m going left to pick up the path that climbs more-or-less parallel with the ridge. This was despite knowing that the path would be even more exposed to the wind but at least being blown off your feet there most likely bruises & a few cuts were the worse that could happen. The same thing happening on the ridge would have a lot more serious consequences. I was also contemplating what lay ahead on the summit as some years ago my mate Chris & I had been doing the same adjusted route in similar conditions (albeit with full walking & safety kit) & had both been blown off our feet from behind as we’d begun our descent (Chris twice in fact).

I led on frequently looking back as Carla then Dorina & Paul (bringing up the rear as point man) followed. Three or four times I stopped to let Carla close the gap simply a case of must keep within eye contact & making sure we all kept to the same route, these stops would include concerns of me getting cold but thankfully it would only be a matter of seconds before I could move on again. Of course by now we weren’t even considering the hope of a sunrise but at least ‘day’ light was upon us through the grey clag.

Eventually we reached the style which led onto the summit plateau where amazingly the wind was less brutal, clearly it was being funnelled around the mountain & not over it. At the summit we even had time for some selfie’s before common sense prevailed & we headed to safety but not before Carla confessed ‘it’s my first time on Siabod’, ‘well you’ll remember it ‘ I mused.

Now I know the descent line better than most but with Carla chatting away I did have to blurt a brief ‘I just need to concentrate a bit here’, she took the hint & a couple of minutes later we were safely on the descent proper & things felt a whole lot better. We enjoyed a running descent at an easy pace with no accidents or falls & at the penultimate style I looked at my watch to be pleasantly surprised to see we’d been on the go for 2 Hours & ten minutes. Carla asked ‘how are we doing’ to which I replied ‘good it’s only 10 minutes from here, we’re ahead of schedule (I’d allowed 2 Hrs 30 Mins).

Back at the Cafe a warm welcome awaited, Twiggy & Peter had set up their stalls for the day & I would have 40 minutes to re-charge my batteries (no not my watch), dry clothing, coffee, yoghurt…… Talk was of should I do an amended low route version of run 2 or stick to my original plan of the dual peaks Y Foel Goch & Gallt yr Ogof including the infamously isolated plateau that led to them. Now again I know this area pretty well but it’s a whole lot more daunting than simply finding the right line off Moel Siabod which is simply a walk in a storm.

There was also the question of would I be alone, Dorina was needed in the Cafe & Paul & Carla had family commitments, they had been stars & without them I’m pretty sure I would had taken Dorina behind that wall & said ‘WE ARE BAILING’.

Then Sonia turned up for work with her partner, Paul, in tow dressed in running kit. Now I knew he’d planned to join me at some point (this despite us barely having met before) but dare I hope he’d be coming out on run 2, well yes I did hope & got what I wished for. A quick hello, photo shoots & off we headed out into the gloom with me explaining we’ll be going slowly & walking most of the hills & Paul responding ‘that’s fine by me I’ll just do what you want me to’. Paul is a fell runner who has never run in this Ultra type of way but would play a blinder over the coming hours (I had 3 hours set aside for this bit).

During the descent of Siabod I had been formulating my two options. Original high route if the winds dropped a bit & the plateau wasn’t clagged, Bail option low route turn around at headwall of Cwm Tryfan still giving the distance (actually a bit more) but avoiding getting battered & potentially lost.

The run down the old road to little Tryfan was the worse I’ve seen it for many a year & probably ever (that’s saying something) & once up in Cwm Tryfan it was even wetter still, the path was a stream more often than not & once again we were head on into that wind. However as we climbed the ridgeline of the plateau was clearly in view, decision taken, Original High route was on.

I found my intended line to the plateau which Paul may have thought why is he climbing a river which popped out onto the Plateau but the path that I thought would lead us to Llyn y Caseg-fraith either wasn’t there or I missed it, worse still it was anything but clear we’d entered serious clag. I began moving right on a clear path knowing I was heading towards the Miner’s track, despite this leading us 180 degrees off line I initially reasoned I could navigate back from there correctly. However I soon took a reality check, went for my compass (already set at the 90 degree bearing I’d taken the previous evening in the safety of the Cafe), turned around & followed it into the un-known, with Paul (bless him) following me with ‘confidence’. It worked a few minutes later the lake came into sight & better still to it’s right lay the wide boggy path we needed. However it would still be an agonising 5 minutes before I was 100% sure I’d got things right, my concerns only waylaid once it began to rise away from the plateau towards the still out of sight summit I was aiming for.

On this climb the wind took over once again as my main concern, quite simply we were blasted from behind right, it was very unpleasant & once again had me thinking of adaptations for what lay ahead. We reached the summit of Y Foel Goch, in circa 2 hours roughly on schedule I surmised, touched the Cairn & headed on down out of the worse of the wind. I explained to Paul our two options of making the next climb of 30/50 metres to the summit of Galltyr Ogof or skirting around to it’s right to avoid another beating from the wind. It wasn’t a consultation as I’d already decided on the latter simply wanted to let him know my thought processes, Paul hasn’t been over this way before so ‘wisely’ just went with my flow.

I found the traversing path which I’ve only used once before many years ago & found it to be a bit more technical than I thought but it was clear to follow so I led on feeling confident I was both on the right course & that I’d made a good call. Once we were on the main path leading to Bwlch Goleuni we could pick up the pace & bog hopping became our next hobby. Finally the clag cleared & from the summit hump of Cefn y Capel I could finally show Paul where we were heading ‘that’s Capel ahead’.

On the final descent I picked a poor line getting us onto some avoidable slippery rocks & into some seriously tall bracken collecting a tick for my sins (found it two days later). Despite this costing us a few minutes we reached the safety of the old road by Gelli farm still on schedule & made our final 2 Kilometres back to the Cafe. We reached it in a total time of 2Hours 58 Minutes & 34 Seconds just a smidgeon under my 3 hour schedule, job well done & it was simply great to have the always cool & calm Paul alongside me all the way.

By now Claire & Till from Community Action Nepal had arrived at the Cafe & were being a great help to Twiggy & Peter on the stalls, thanks to all who bought something throughout the day.

A shorter turnaround of 31 minutes saw more Yoghurt, futile attempts to dry kit, full fat coke, salty crisps, the wind had beaten me up but not beaten me as I was still operating with logic which would unexpectedly be needed more than I could have guessed for run 3, Geirionydd & Crafnant.

By now I knew the high stuff was out of the way, the wind was gradually easing, basically the worse was behind me & simply digging in remained. Despite this I knew that run 3 would be a mental test as it would lead me past halfway (but still with a long way to go) & had been the cause of a mild case of hypothermia during a ROFN recce/training run back in February 2016. Still this was now the height of ‘summer’ I reasoned.

I’ll stop there so for those who wish to continue look out for Blog 2 to follow.

Reach Out for Nepal Day 2023 – 19th August

This year we are as ever raising money to help Community Action Nepal’s (CAN) excellent work in the remote villages of Nepal & more specifically to help them re-build the Lihi Health Post which was damaged in a landslide last year. CAN have been offered a safer piece of land on which to build on & they will be making a site visit in October to make sure that it is suitable for the project. Due to local agreement restrictions which CAN have to honour the project cannot start until 2025 but in a way that is a positive as they need to raise circa £45,000 to bring the project to fruition. We are delighted to confirm that between funds raised at the Cafe already since last year’s ROFN Day & Ian Draisey’s cycling Moel Siabod Sportif (MSS) in June we already have £7,000 to forward to kick start CAN’s funds.

We hope you can help us add to this this coming Saturday by either (or more) of the following ways:-

Support Paul on one of his 6 Runs (details on our Events page).

Buying from Twiggy’s stalls (at the Cafe), items include hand crafted bags made by Twiggy herself, Doug Scott’s prints (only £10 each), CAN Xmas cards & Nepalese artefacts & Energy Bars donated by Howard after this year’s Welsh 1,000 Metre Peaks race.

Buy Raffle tickets throughout the day, prizes will be displayed in the Cafe, the draw will be held on Saturday evening.

Come along & enter Mike Lee’s evening quiz, Entry just £3 per team member.

Or simply make a donation at our counter to show your support which will be as appreciated as ever.

We hope you can help us to help CAN & the community of Lihi in Nepal.