Sunday, 18 December 2011

2011: What an awesome year!

Review and Highlights of 2011

The new year was brought in style hiking in darkness via Pen Yr Ole Wen on the summit of Carnedd Daffyd in time for the midnight.  Although the weather conditions were pretty poor on the summit we (Helen, Katie, Rachel and Carys) enjoyed whiskey and buckfizz on the summit.  On New year's day we decided to brave the winter waters and go for a dip in the sea at cable bay Anglesey.

In January I also went to Glasgow on my own to do a 30min talk on my research at CLAD meeting.  This experience was rather nerving to begin with but an useful experience.  This proved to be a fruitful conference which resulted with contributing to a publication.  Also sad times as Rory and Stacey flew over to the other side of the world to start their New Zealand adventure.

2011 Targets

At the start of the year I set myself a number of targets (
1.      Finish or nearly finish PhD
2.      Better at budgeting my finances
3.      Complete Snowdonia marathon in a respectable time
4.      Cut down on eating out and drinking

So how did I do?

1.      The PhD has proved to be more work than I ever anticipated and probably looking at nearer to March for finishing
2.      After some money issues after some car troubles I have managed to live more sustainably with money even though my stipend had finished.
3.      Snowdonia marathon was completed in 4hrs 2mins which was an incredible achievement
4.      Cutting down on drinking was always going to be difficult however I have managed to be sensible with rarely eating out over the year

Overall I think I have done incredibly well with my start of year targets

Saturday, 17 September 2011


It's been a while since my previous entries.  I am tired so this blog entry will be brief unil I motivated enough to 'beef' it out

Tryfan North Ridge

Completed Half Peris Horseshoe

Snowdonia Marathon Trainning
comfortably ran 16miles with sprint finish

Paper that I contributed to has been accepted in European Journal of Soil Science

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Oggie 8 Challenge

Oggie 8 Challenge
On Saturday 6th August myself, Mike Peacock, Rachel Kingham (PhD students from CEH Bangor and Bangor University) and Gareth Harvey (Bangor University) took part in the Oggie 8 Challenge as the team ‘Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies’. The challenge involves conquering 8 of the 3000ft mountains that surround the Ogwen Valley. The event is annually organised to raise money for the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue.

The first part of the course consisting of Yr Elen (962m), Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m), Carnedd Dafydd (1044m) and Pen yr Ole Wen (978m) was comfortably achieved within 4hrs owing to ideal weather conditions. After a short break for soup and flapjacks at the Ogwen Cottage we continued onto the second half of the course. By the time we were half way to the summit of Y Garn (947 m, and the 5th summit on the course) the weather conditions worsened and most of the remaining course (Glyder Fawr 1001m, Glyder Fach 994m and Tryfan 918m) was completed in poor visibility and heavy rainfall.

We completed the course in a respectable time of 9hrs 11mins finishing 7th out of 25 teams, and the day was finished off in style with a hog roast and casks of real ale. The whole event was a pleasurable experience and we raised an excess of £200 for OV Mountain Rescue. We are already looking forward to next year’s event.

Left to Right: Mike Peacock, Mark Cooper, Rachel Kingham and Gareth Harvey

15 Peaks 23/07/2011 How it happened?

Miles and I have planned to do the 15 peaks for quite a while.  The 15 peaks challenge was a spontaneous idea 3 or 4 days before hand when I saw that the weekend weather forecast was going to be perfect.   We weren’t planning to challenge Colin Donnelly’s record of 4hrs 19mins but we had no intentions of hanging about.  I photographed every summit and I use the time of the photograph taken as the approximate time that the peak had been achieved.

An early start to the day I get out of Bed at 5:00am grab some breakfast.  I then doubled check everything is packed from the evening before setting off to pick up Miles.  We stash some water supplies in a hidden location in the Ogwen valley before heading to Pen Y Pass.

Picture 1 Snowdon group at dawn

We arrive at Pen Y Pass at 6am and the car park is already beginning to fill up.  Another group asked us to take a photo of them.  Then off we go down the Pyg track
(6:05am) before diverting up the East Ridge of Crib Goch.

7:00am [1] Crib Goch (923 m) Welsh 3000s Time Begins now 

Miles scampers off ahead while myself not the greatest fan of steep drops follows a little slower behind.  I get struck behind a group descending down Bwlch Coch, Miles waits up then we jog towards the scramble of peak 2/15

7:34am [2] Garnedd Ugain / Crib y Ddysgl (1,065 m)

We hide our bags near the finger stone then dashed to the Snowdon summit, another group commented on the fact that we weren't carrying any luggage.

7:45am [3] Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m)

We jog down from Snowdon pick up our bags near the finger stone and continue running down the Llanberis path.  Just before the Llanberis path cuts under the bridge and before the Clogwyn station we divert off the path and 8:04am we start the descent to Nant Peris via Cwm Hetiau (on the advice of Tom, Mike & others).  I found parts of the descent quite slippy although most parts was run able.  We arrive in Nant Y Peris at 8:33am, we take a quick toilet break at the park & ride before ascending the great slog (a boggy slog at that) up Elidur Fawr.

9:55am [4] Elidir Fawr (924 m)

We stop for a quick snack then we are joined on the summit by 2 men who were also attempting the 15 peaks challenge.  They were rather shocked that we had reached the same point and started 3hrs after them.  No hanging about we run down Elidur Fawr towards Mynydd Perfedd taking the path that contours Foel Goch (not 1 of the 15) towards Y Garn.

10:48am [5] Y Garn (947 m)

Time for an apple then off we dash down towards the Glyder Screes.  Our water supplies were beginning to run low so we refilled our bladder bags from the stream.

11:29am [6] Glyder Fawr (1,001m)

On the Glyder Fawr spikes we stop for another snack and listened for a cricket score update (yes we carried DAB radio with us).  Then we headed over peak 7/15 excluding Castell y Gwynt

12:08pm [7] Glyder Fach (994 m)

On the summit we were greeted by Tom who had been on the lookout for us whilst doing a couple of circuits of Castell y Gwynt.  We refuel on some P-Y-B flapjack kindly supplied by Tom.  We descend down the Bristly screes, at the bottom of the scree, we encounter some more familiar faces, its Gareth, Rachel and Adrian who are dog walking along the miners path.  Tom joined us on the ascent of the south ridge of Tryfan.

Picture 2 Myself on Glyder Fach (photo courtesy of Tom Hecht)

12:58 [8] Tryfan (918 m)

The trip so far had taken its toll on Miles's knees and he was in a degree of discomfort so we took a steady descent down the west face gully and headed towards the Ogwen Cottage.  At the Ogwen cottage, Miles decides that the rest of the hike would cause him too much discomfort and hitches back to Gerlan.  However I was determined to see the challenge through.  Whilst at the Ogwen cottage I replenished the electrolytes with a cup of Bovril and a sausage roll and refilled my bladder bag with the stashed water.  I finally set off up the steep ascent the South Spur of  Pen Yr Ole Wen around 14:40pm.  I take my time on the ascent chatting to a friendly man that Miles and I met on the Glyders.

15:28 [9] Pen yr Ole Wen (978 m)

At the top I am relieved that the worst of the 15 is over with so I jog over Carnedd Fach towards peak number 10

15:54pm [10] Carnedd Dafydd (1,044m)

At the shelter I devour a handful of jelly babies making my way over Cefn Ysolion Duon for the final stretch.  On the advice of others to save time and energy I contoured pass Carnedd  Llewelyn towards Yr Elen

16:58pm [11] Yr Elen (962 m)

At the summit I take a quick picture the run down (I don't know how I managed to do this) to the next ascent

17:15pm [12] Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064 m)

In the shelter I devour more jelly babies and drink the can of coke that I purchased at the Ogwen cottage. I have a brief chat with some people walking their dog in the shelter before shooting off.

17:38pm [13] Foel Grach (976 m)

I stop quickly to take a photo then continuing running (on perfect fell running terrain).

17:54pm [14] Garnedd Uchaf (926m)

Another quick snap then I continue running towards the final summit (where did this energy come from).

18:11pm [15] Foel fras (942m)

I arrive at the Foel fras trig point.  It was quite windy around there, polish off the remaining jelly babies and send out the text messages to inform people of my feat.

Picture 3 Trig Point at Foel-fras

Overall Time: 11hrs 11mins

Starting to feel quite stiff as I returned to Garnedd Uchaf, I trundled down pass Bera Bach and cutting through between Moel Wnion and Gyrn towards Rachub where I arranged to be picked up.  After retrieving my car from Pen Y Pass, I decided to pick up a well earned take away with a few beers to cap an excellent day. 

After thoughts

Although I would have been extremely happy with just completing the trip, I was extremely chuffed with finishing under 12hrs.   I felt that I have really benefited from recent fell running training and actually taking part in some competitive events.

I would most definitely like to revisit the route and achieve a faster time (sub 10hrs one day).

I think the first thing that I should do is purchase some better gripping trail shoes.  There some areas such as the descent of Cwm Hetiau and Bristly screes I found to be quite treacherous with my current trail shoes.