Part 4 – 15 Peaks – No Messing

If you go to the trouble to shave your legs and know your FTP power in watts then you are probably a pretty keen cyclist. Which means that by most peoples standards, you are pretty fit. Lots of people who go to the gym lots are also pretty fit, as are many footballers, 10k runners etc. When attempting to climb several high, rocky mountains in one trip, fitness alone just won’t do.

Cycling blesses the legs but also teaches you how to look after yourself on a big day out and that is a pretty transferable skill.  Knowing to eat before you get hungry, never go in the wrong direction, wrap up before you get cold, strip off before you sweat and keep drinking makes a big difference over ten or more hours of exercise. This means any fit cyclist could easily handle some pretty amazing mountain days. The way I see it, if you are pretty fit, you have a responsibility to go out and do the Welsh 3000s. It’s an adventure between mates at its most beautiful. It’s a feat of endurance and most importantly it’s free.

This time I was determined to hit all 15 of the Welsh 3000ft mountains in a single weekend.  I had two fellow cyclists from my club come along with me. We carried only what we needed and nothing more.  Trainers, pork pies and one map between three. We didn’t run but we did walk quickly. We drank at the same time as each other, ate at the same time as each other and pissed at the same time as each other.  We stayed warm when it was cold and didn’t sweat too much when it got hot. The cumulative benefit of working together to eliminate ‘faff’ and keep moving towards the next peak worked wonders.

Experience is a fine thing and so after many visits to Snowdonia, I finally managed to get all 15 mountains summited in just one weekend. Once you know what to do, it’s pretty easy really.

The only problem was that it made me realise that I really ought to do it in just one long day.

 


On Friday night we bivvied up behind the Pen-y-Pass YHA. It was a great bivvy. We had some wine out of tin mugs and slept pretty well. It rained lightly in the morning but it was time to get up then anyway. This was free.

We paid for the car park (£4 for four hours) and did the first loop before we ran out of time.

We then drove to the Ogwen valley for the second loop and parked on the A5 for free.

We camped at Ogwen Valley YHA. It was inexpensive (less than £10 and worth it for showers/toilets somewhere warm to sit in the evening).

We parked at the car park near Corwen for free on the Sunday. Then had a little wash in a puddle and drove home.

Very cheap and very fun.

 

 

From being lost in the clouds to my first ultramarathon – the Welsh 3,000s and the V3K

It’s been about a year since my last post on here. Since then I’ve ridden 1,500 miles from Nottingham to Norway; ran a few ultramarathons; hiked in the Italian and French Alps; learned how to rock climb and been on a climbing trip to Mallorca; ridden to Brugges and back on a fixed gear bike (again); been to a golf dinner with my grandmother; slept out on Hadrian’s Wall and all sorts of things that I’m dying to share with you.

As much as I can’t wait to write about getting so hungry in Sweden that I squeezed a three day old tube of the saltiest fish paste imaginable straight into my mouth, there is something about my Welsh trips that embodies what I’m trying to achieve with the whole thingswhatihavedone thing. All the other places I’ve been to, even the most spectacular, have had only a fleeting hold on me, but Wales has me by the balls.

This post is the introduction to a collection of five shorter posts about my relationship with a particular feature of Wales. There is a list of mountains in Snowdonia, all of which are 3,000 feet above sea level. The number of mountains in this list is the golden part – there are 15. Enough for a challenge, but few enough to really get to know them as individuals. They are known collectively as the Welsh 3,000’s and I have a feeling that the majority of people reading this entry will have already ticked at least one off the list – Snowdon itself.

The articles are a a mixture of nostalgia, advice, kit lists and just general self indulgent tripe spanning over eleven years. Read from the beginning or just pick the part that could help you on your next adventure.

Part 1 – Snowdon 2005: The first mountain.
Part 2 – Welsh 3,000’s Aug 2011: The first time being lost and scared. 
Part 3 – Snowdonia in Winter Feb 2014: The first time I’d ever seen an ice axe.
Part 4 – Welsh 3,000’s: The first time it feels like I know what I’m doing.
Part 5 – V3k: The first ultramarathon

You can go alone but its a good idea to have someone with you to open the gates. Then, when they are about to get in, you can do that thing where you pretend to drive off.

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Part 1 – Five Clueless Teenagers Climb Snowdon ‘Fast and Light’

This is the first installment in in the story of my obsession with the mountains of North Wales. At the time, I didn’t think that it would lead to multipitch climbing, crampon envy and more recently, completing a vegan ultra-marathon. This article breaks the usual thingswhatihavedone rules in that these photos aren’t taken with a phone, this story takes place in the Nokia-Age. These photos were taken with a wind-on disposable camera.

In the year 2005 I called up some lads on their parent’s landlines and told them that they Continue reading “Part 1 – Five Clueless Teenagers Climb Snowdon ‘Fast and Light’”

Part 2 – Welsh 3000’s in Two Days

It’s 2011. I’d completed a few of the classics by now, National 3 peaks, Yorkshire 3 peaks etc and so started to look for the next challenge. I wondered what other attention grabbing ticklists there were to complete in Wales.  After all, my very first mountain was in Snowdon and my curiosity about those other outlying summits had been growing ever since.

A quick google search revealed that those neglected peaks did indeed have names and not only was it was possible to climb to to the top of them but the highest 15 mountains in Wales were all in the same corner of Snowdonia, and that it was possible to visit all of them in just two days (it is actually possible to do them all in one go but more on that later). The Welsh 3,000’s (three thousand feet above sea level) sounded intimidating but just the sort of Continue reading “Part 2 – Welsh 3000’s in Two Days”

Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr

The story here is really a non story. There isn’t any particular point nor is there any particular event that just cries out to be written about. Another excellent weekend immersing oneself in the glory of wet autumn colours, being blasted by white swirling clouds and watching the moon rise to the sound of damp wood cracking in the fireplace. DSC_2562

It started on a hangover from another great stag do – this time in Manchester. With some free time afterwards, what better way for the body to ride out the stormy aftermath than Continue reading “Bothying – relaxing in Arenig Fawr”

Two nights for zero pounds in the Black Mountains

I bloody love Wales. I’m not really sure when it started. Actually it was probably pretty early on if I think about it. As a child I loved fantasy so to find out that within a few hours drive there was a country with mountains, forests and waterfalls was pretty damn captivating. A short family holiday revealed it had it’s own completely unpronounceable language written on the roads, clouds that were so low you couldn’t see the hills behind and it was not in the slightest bit glamorous. A good indicator of that fact is that we could afford to go there. It was definitely the sort of place for an adventure. There is even a bloody dragon on the flag.
Continue reading “Two nights for zero pounds in the Black Mountains”

Hadrian’s Wall – Can it be done in two days?

Twenty years old or near enough. The last driving test and first trip was a distant memory. Those were the days of challenges. Those were the days when we heard of a challenge and then completed it the next weekend. Those were the days when we walked up mountains without maps in holey Dunlops and denim shorts. Snowdon was easy – we did it quicker than those scout geeks in their gore-tex. Wikipedia said that the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge had a 12 hour time limit – nine hours and that’s on the back of a heavy night out in town and a city kebab for breakfast.  National Three Peaks – done, in a Peugeot 205 and back in time for Sunday Lunch with the aunt. Cycling, running, camping – it was all too easy. Now we were serious, hardened. Seasoned veterans. Time for a proper challenge.
Continue reading “Hadrian’s Wall – Can it be done in two days?”