Rohan Design Team Training in Snowdonia with Alan Ward
In 2008 I was asked to take the Rohan Design Team to Snowdonia for a long weekend of training to make them more aware of the needs of outdoor professionals and anyone interested in the great outdoors. The weekend was deemed a success by those who attended and their line managers.
This looks like being an annual event as I’ve just spent another weekend in Snowdonia providing further mountain training for the team. Hot on the heels of the inaugural Rohan Trek in Iceland it was good to meet up with Rohan designers again and review the products I’d used in Iceland.
The Training Weekend
Thursday 1st October
I met the Design Team at our course venue, the Ty’n-y-Cornel Hotel on the shores of Lake Tal-y-llyn in southern Snowdonia in time for dinner. The hotel gave us use of their conference room facilities and it was soon clear that this was a great conference venue for our small group. As this was a working weekend it was straight into the conference room after dinner to look at a presentation of the Iceland Trek where one of the Design Team, Nick, had been with us. After that we looked at a presentation of a recce trek to Jordan I’d made with another of the Design Team, Charlotte , who’d been with me there. Rohan encourages members of the Design Team to undertake adventure travel, thus providing valuable personal experience to assist with their product development.
Friday 2nd October
We spent the morning in the conference room discussing mountain training skills. This is the standard Safety-on-the-Hills course which I’ve been delivering over a number of years and feedback received confirms that it generally provides a good introduction to mountain skills for those wishing to venture out into the mountains.
Because of experience within this group we were able to make up some time and were out of the hotel before midday having checked the mountain weather forecast provided by the Met Office for Snowdonia.
A short drive took us to Llanfihangel-y-pennant for the start of our planned route (8.7km/402m ascent) back to the hotel. The main objective for this route was to gain practical experience of the theory we’d discussed during the morning. After a brief snack and a look at Mary Jones’ Chapel we set off in a northerly direction initially on a minor road but “ticking off” features as we passed them. At Gwastadfryn we turned off the track and crossed the footbridge to begin our climb up to the ruins of Pencoed Farm where we planned for a brief lunch stop.
After lunch our route took us out onto the lower slopes of Cader Idris and the seldom visited Nant Pencoed Valley where practical mountain skills were demonstrated by the group. We passed several old abandoned farmsteads where, years ago, dozens of farm labourers would have spent their lifetimes building drystone walls and tending their sheep. Our route selection proved that remote areas with a strong historical background can still be found for an enjoyable mountain walk.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse with strong winds and driving rain coming in from the west. This was the perfect weather to see how the new Pinnacle Range performed. I’m already a convert to these Pinnacle products having been able to use them on the recent Iceland trek.
Back at the Ty’n-y-Cornel Hotel we enjoyed an excellent dinner before retiring to the conference room to look at a couple of presentations about my recent treks in Nepal. This certainly generated considerable interest in the Design Team who thought that a trip to Nepal might be a useful experience to generate new ideas, maybe one day………..
Saturday 3rd October
My plans for Saturday were to take the train to the summit of Snowdon (something I’d wanted to do for a very long time!) and then walk down the PYG Track to Pen-y-Pass. This meant leaving the hotel at 0630 for the two hour drive to Llanberis for the 0900 departure. We’d pre-paid for our tickets only to find the trains were cancelled due to 80mph winds on the summit. Our back-up plan was to drive into the Ogwen Valley and walk up into Cwm Idwal for a walk around Llyn Idwal.
The walk around Llyn Idwal was another good test of our clothing with heavy rain falling as we passed the Idwal Slabs were a dozen climbing groups were making slow progress in the prevailing weather. Cwm Idwal is one of my favourite places in Snowdonia and I always enjoy this two hour walk regardless of the weather. The area does allow for an enjoyable walk when poor weather prevents safe access to the high summits of Snowdonia.
Our afternoon was spent visiting most of the outdoor shops in Capel Curig and Bettws-y-Coed after lunch at the Royal Oak.
Sunday 4th October
Our last day of the training weekend was for a walk (7.3km/744m ascent) up to Llyn Cau and up to Craig Cau (791m). The weather was good and we were up at the lake by about 1100. We decided to head around the north side of the lake and follow the gulley up to the bwlch between Craig Cau and Cader Idris. It was a long slog up to the bwlch but the group did well and it was a good basic introduction to simple scrambling techniques and we enjoyed our lunch on the summit of Craig Cau.
The walk down was easy enough and we were soon back at the Ty’n-y-Cornel Hotel to say goodbye and head for home.
The objective of the training weekend was to raise awareness of personal mountain skills for the Design Team in order that they would have a greater awareness of what is required by their product design.