Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk
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!

Reach Out for Nepal

As we move towards the excitement of hosting Doug Scott OBE again this Saturday for his presentation ‘A Crawl Down the Ogre’ a further reconciliation was needed to finalise the amount raised for Reach Out for Nepal this year.

I am delighted to announce that the figure has surged to £10,723.69 beating our target of £10,500, together with the two previous years the total now raised stands at an incredible £25,676.78 more than a thousand pounds more than the budgeted costs for the fitting out of the Main School Building, it’s Science Lab & the Schools associated Hostels for it’s pupils who travel from far & wide.

On Saturday evening we will present Doug with a cheque for £8,900 representing the balance of funds not yet transferred to his charity Community Action Nepal. However the good news doesn’t stop there, through the cafe we have sold 9 of Doug’s iconic photographic prints which have brought in another £2,365.00, these proceeds also go to CAN to use elsewhere to support their other projects in Nepal.

All who have helped us throughout the time since the devastating Earthquake in April 2015 deserve to feel proud by at our collective achievement & the help it will bring to Headmaster Purna & all at the Melamchi School.

TGO Awards

Just a quick reminder that voting for The Great Outdoors Magazine annual awards closes in just one week’s time on 15th November. Snowdonia is well represented again this year, would you like to vote for us? it only takes a few minutes simply go to the TGO Magazine web-site & click on the awards to see all the categories. My votes also went to Joe Brown in the Independant Retailer category, Cotswold Outdoor in the Retail chain & of course our two most local Mountain Rescue Organisations, Ogwen Valley & Llanberis for their continued stirling work to aid people in need. Your votes would be appreciated by us all.

Early Closing on Saturday 11th November

A final reminder that due to our hosting Doug Scott OBE presentation this coming Saturday we will be closing earlier than normal.

For customers who haven’t reserved tickets for the presentation we will be closing at 18:00 with last orders for hot food being 17:30.

For those attending the presentation (note it is now sold out) we will be serving a restricted menu with last orders for hot food being 18:30, this will allow us time to re-organise tables & chairs in readiness for the presentation itself.

We apologise for any inconvenience but with all proceeds from ticket sales going direct to Doug’s charity ‘Community Action Nepal’ we trust you will understand.

Paul’s Blog – Snowdon Marathon – Posted 31-10-17

My tapering didn’t go exactly to plan, I did however manage to stick to my plan for almost 2 days starting with last Tuesday’s planned short sharp run on tarmac, a 4.5 miler at more or less race pace. This was then followed on Wednesday (as planned) with a couple of climbs in the company of Dave Ball & his partner Tamsin, it was good to re-unite with Dave having got on well during our adventures on Pik Lenin back in the summer. However the long steep descent off Tryfan’s Western flank did have me thinking ‘is this wise so close to the race’. Thursday the plan was abandoned & saw me out in the Coed y Brenin for a gentle 6 miler before Dorina & I headed off for an enjoyable night with Steve & Judy, think we might have talked about running at some point! Friday dawned, as we headed towards the cafe under clearing skies another run beckoned, soon I was doing the glorious circuit of Capel to the thoughts of ‘it’s only a 4.5 miler at gentle pace what harm could that do’. Tapering, who needs it?

Saturday, race day, dawned dull, at the cafe my final preparations were made, everything in place like clockwork, ‘Paul have you got your this, that & everything’ Dorina sang, ‘yes’ I replied. 20 minutes later with the car approaching Llanberis I realised everything I needed was in my running bag so carefully packed & now left at the Cafe, you nervous pillock!!

Thankfully a call to Dorina led to a friend called Janet (who’d been planning to watch me run) gulping down her poached eggs & setting off with my bag to Llanberis. 8 kilometres of brisk walking later (it’s a long story) saw me at the start line with said bag, gels, electrolite.. my mind was at ‘peace’, thanks again Janet.

I genuinely believed this would show me how much speed I have lost this year & had convinced myself that to get within 20 minutes of last year would in itself be tough but at least I felt I could go the distance, life is full of surprises & I was about to get another one.

The climb up the Llanberis pass is not feared these days but I was still pleasantly surprised to record a split at PyP of 37:59 exactly the same as last year. Taking a steady descent & pace to the halfway point I was shocked to see my split of 1:47:00 now some 7 minutes down on last year, This was now about damage limitation, could I reduce the speed of my decline? The Waunfawr climb (this one is still feared) saw me walking earlier than previous years but a combination of fast walks & steady trots saw me gain a few places & soon I was at the top. Looking at my watch I suddenly realised I might not be too far down on last year after all or are my eyes & maths deceiving me?

My trump card was also yet to be played, I run this ‘road’ marathon with fell shoes trading the inevitably sore feet for a fast but safe descent on the grass & mud. Invigorated by the reading on my watch I simply charged down the hillside (relatively of course) overtaking 15 or more runners who to be fair were on slicks & didn’t stand a chance. It was worth all the pain to feel so good as I stormed the final bend & reached the line seemingly still accelerating. My time was the icing on the cake, 3:32:55 beating last year by 2 minutes, just where that 9 minute reversal on the second half came from I have no idea but by God it made me feel very good. It was no pb, still 2015’s 3:31:51, but it was good enough for my first top 200 finish (175th out of 2,251) & saw me 11th O.50 out of 221. What a difference a ‘good’ run has done, in the words of Kean (or was it me), I’m back!

But of course this event is not just about times (yes you heard this runner say that), it is truly a great event & being a local to Snowdonia just makes it even more special so a few thank you’s for helping to make my day:-

Janet (again) – for high fiving me at PyP & greeting me at the finish.
Maggie & Alwyn for kind words before, cheering during, & well done Paul afterwards.
Hans-Peter – for enjoyable conversation & footwear discussions as we walked to the start.
Eryri Runners (too many to mention) for encouraging exchanges during the race, Megan you took some hauling in up that Rhyd Dhu climb.
Marshalls & Drink Station Staff – a job very well done, your time & cheers were much appreciated, the Coed-y Brenin team at the last station dressed as witches stands out, I am just sorry that I didn’t recognise you Sian & Dyfi, maybe my mind was somewhere else!
Matt Ward & Stephen Edwards for theirs announcing my crossing the line & plugging our cafe, always appreciated.
Alexandra (Gaby’s 8 yr old daughter) for being at the finish with Dorina.
Everyone – who turned out to support us, many familiar faces too.

& of course Dorina for being as pleased for me as I was for myself.

Every runner will have there own stories, this was simply mine.

I have of course chosen to recover in the manner I prepared, Saturday returned to cafe & did some (but not all, see I’m learning) pots. Sunday slotted in the Capel circuit recovery run spending the rest of the day either on pots or clearing tables. Monday a 6.5 miler mid-afternoon that seemed to get faster as it went on. Not bad for a 51 year old but let’s put some perspective on that:-

Back at the cafe after the race a fellow racer or two also came in, one was a certain guy (Christopher Bowes, I believe) who had just run his 32nd Snowdon Marathon, now that’s what is possible if you put your mind to it, all I could do was congratulate him & hand over a beer on the house, well done.

A final thought, whoever is responsible for making the decision to give so many parking tickets out on such a glorious day needs to be verbally humiliated, get it sorted, if you have time to issue tickets spend that time in a proactive way & have someone moving them on in the first place. It is safer, kinder & would show a spirit of goodwill to those who choose to come & spend their hard earned money in Snowdonia, we need them & do not need to leave a bad taste in their mouths!

Paul’s Blog – Snowdon Marathon Prep – Posted 24-10-17

We were delighted to again host Team 333 for their AGM on Saturday & presented them with a 20th Anniversary cake to celebrate their 20 years of helping to raise funds for OVMRO. It was great that they took time to acknowledge Gaby & her team for providing a gourmet buffet. An added benefit was the evening included a presentation of OVMRO visits to Sweden to train other rescue organisations, this included shots of Stockholm, now firmly on my to visit list, the Stockholm Marathon needs some urgent googling!

Talking about Marathon’s, Snowdon’s very own is only 5 days away, it has become an annual highlight for me in my running calender. Of course as with many runners I’m talking down my chances but for once for justifiable reasons. However having had 3 good back to back runs the week before last I had at least developed hope that a corner had been turned & I might not totally embarrass myself.

A few days rest followed these runs but last Wednesday more or less as planned I set off from home at 5:00 pm for a planned three & a half hours & hopefully at least 20 miles, this being (I hoped) the main part of my final prep. The idea was simply, run to Dolgellau, pick up the Mawdach trail, keep running & turn around when the watch recorded the 1:45 mark. Now the good thing about an out & back is every step taken going out doubles the length of the run. The bad is you know there is only one way back & you have every detail of it fresh in your mind. It can at times be a mental balancing act between ‘I can’t & I can’ with the latter only slightly helped with ‘think how good you’ll feel afterwards’.

After exactly 1:45:00 I stopped just before the Arthog road crossing, took a Gel & some Electrolite, put the headtorch on, turned around & headed for home. As dark descended I felt a bit isolated & a very long way from home (11.765 miles to be precise) but no one was going to do it for me. The run was never intended to be fast simply distance & a confidence booster, slowly the landmarks, or what I could see of them, passed & I was back at Dolgellau, a brief stop for another Gel & I was off again on the hillier part of the route.

There was clearly a slowing of pace on the hills in the last quarter but they came & went to lead me to the final climb up our driveway, that’s it, stop watch, what does it say? 3:29:35, I’d run back 25 seconds faster than I’d gone out despite more gravitational fight, a smile came, a job felt very well done. That said it was clear that Snowdon this year is no pb for me, but at least after this 23.5 miler my confidence had been given a boost.

The next evening saw me attend another Matt Ward training run in the CyB & Friday afternoon I was out again for ‘my’ Betws bridge circuit. 39 miles in less than 48 hours felt good even if the 3rd of these runs was on somewhat heavy legs.

I have tapered since (not usually my forte) but did get a gentle 8.5 miler in yesterday evening with gushing waterfalls everywhere, a short run planned today despite the rain & then maybe one final short one on Thursday.

So ready or not at least I’ve tried, the excitement builds as hopefully the winds decrease. To all involved this coming Saturday be you running, marshalling or cheering let’s bask in the joys of being out & about around the base of Snowdon, good luck to us all.

Once the race has been run I’ll be heading back to the Cafe for our monthly Open MIC Night so if you fancy relaxing at the end of a special day you know where we are.

Shortlisted for TGO Awards 2017 – Posted 18-10-17

We are very proud to be shortlisted for The Great Outdoors Award for best Outdoor Cafe for the third year running. It is a great pat on the back for all the long hours & hard work that Gaby, Dorina, Nick, Simona, Ady & Titi put in throughout the year to try to provide a service which suits the needs of our customers be they regulars or new ones.

If you feel we are worth voting for it would great to receive your vote, all you need to do is google the TGO Magazine web-site & go to the Awards section the Outdoor Cafe category is the 2nd award category listed. Of course whilst there you may also vote for the other categories, I won’t list all those I voted for but naturally with their continued support of the Moel Siabod Fell Race & helpful staff Cotswold Outdoor got my vote in the National retailer category, we need a shop of it’s standing in Betws. Similarly for their support of our Reach Out for Nepal day as well as again friendly & knowledgeable staff Joe Brown’s got my vote in the Independent retailer category. Finally a mention to OVMRO & Lanberis Mountain Rescue teams also got my vote, not restricted to but, because of OVMRO stirling work & their continuing to support the Cafe at every opportunity & the Llanberis teams extraordinarily busy year so far. All of these are I consider to be stalwarts for Snowdonia.

NB. Voting closes on 15th November 2017.

It only takes a few minutes to vote in all the categories so why not show the organisations, who you feel have helped you, a little support if you can. These awards un-like the ones you see on television are about real people putting in real work to help you get the most in the environment you enjoy.

British Fell Relay Championships – Posted 18-10-17

It does not seem like four years ago when Eryri Harriers last hosted this annual event in appalling weather conditions where I had watched from behind a wall at the top of the Telegraph Pass to see runners being battered by gale force wind & lashing rain. How do they run up that?

Last Sunday saw the return of the event to Llanberis with Eryri hosting once again. This is a massive organisational task organised solely by club & other volunteers in their ‘free’ time. I won’t name everyone here so forgive me but Stuart, Ellie, Adrian & Maggie you were the ones I had a small part in helping by offering to be a Marshall (alas the call to be a runner never came), great effort guys over countless hours I hope you are now looking back with pride.

The event sees 4 races run as relays with the great & the good of the U.K.’s fell running clubs taking part. Clubs can have multiple teams entered in various category’s. Leg 1 is a solo on a marked route, leg two for pairs on a marked route. Leg 3 again for pairs but this time no markings & so good navigational skills are essential, leg 4 rounds things off with a solo route. The navigational leg route would seem in need of beinge singled out for particular praise as many of the runners gasped ‘great route’ or words to that effect.

I won’t go into the results here, they are extensive & can be seen on the Eryri web-site the most important thing was the coming together of approximately 1,500 fell racers on a blowy Autumn day who were supported by Race HQ, Marshalls & other helpers, now that’s a community worth being a part of. Walkers looked on in genuine delight at the sheer ‘madness’ of it all.

Well done to all involved in organising it & of course to everyone who took part!