Horizontal, exfoliating rain lashed our faces and a brutal wind whipped up plumes of water, sending them rushing across the lake and over the white caps which had formed on the normally calm surface of Llyn Idwal.
We staggered like drunks, pushing our bodies against the force of the wind, feet slipping on wet rocks and boots sinking into bogs. Natural forces were acting upon the landscape and upon us. Geology in action.
Two days earlier the three hundred mile drive to Snowdonia had taken six hours. We pitched our tent and crawled into sleeping bags anticipating the next day’s activities.
I was going to take part in an Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) workshop on teaching multi pitch rock climbing and Becci was going to go for a mountain walk. After a series of communication snafu’s (Capel Curig appears to be in a mobile phone dead zone.) Becci drove me to Tremadog where the workshop had been transferred due to heavy rain in the mountains.
To work, the training needed three trainees taking turns at being a leader or one of the two clients. Unfortunately one of the trainees had not turned up so Becci was roped in (pun intended) to play the part of a client. It was great having a real person on the end of the rope rather than a trainee and Becci played her part to perfection.
The clear skies soon clouded over and it started to rain. This obviously makes climbing more challenging and safety procedures become even more important.
The rain increased throughout the day as we climbed, abseiled and descended treacherous paths. It was a great day.
The next two days were Continuing Professional Development (CPD). I need to demonstrate that I am still active and learning new skills or developing current skills to maintain my professional qualifications.
The first day was environment and involved a slow walk around the mountains identifying and learning about mountain habitats, flora and fauna and human impact. It was a great, very informative day and provided me with plenty to pass on to the people I lead in the hills.
The wind picked up during the afternoon and with predictions of Armageddon, I thought it wise to tie on all the tent guy lines, tighten everything I could tighten and generally batten down the hatches.
Next morning, after meeting up, we had a cup of tea and listened to a presentation on glaciation. And although everyone was really interested in some on the ground learning, leaving the warmth of the classroom was not very appealing.
The progress around the lake was very slow. Most of our party – some of them quite big men – were blown over at some point and it was a real effort to raise our heads to take in the evidence of the North Wales glaciation – Darwin’s boulders, Roche Moutones, synclines, breccia and the rest. But it was a surprisingly satisfying session. From the mountains it was down to the beach where the signs of deposition were really evident and then back to the classroom for a debrief. And all too soon it was over.
At least the workshops were over; we still had to survive a night in a tent which was threatening to blow away all night. The sound of the cracking fabric, the flexing of the poles and the howling of farm dogs ensured that we had a sleepless night.
Thanks to Becci for managing to drive back the next day. The journey back took much longer and I am sure Becci would like to thank the makers of her caffeine filled energy drink and sugar filled sticky sweets.