Monday, 28 March 2016

Gallt yr Ogot and Storm Katie


 
Gallt yor Ogof
 

I know, I know, it has been a while and I apologise .......... life that niggly little bugger just got in the way as I moved home, started a new job and generally tried to find my feet in a new town ......... The drift south west from Essex to Cornwall has hopefully stopped for a while at least giving me time to start doing the things I enjoy once again.

So this Easter weekend we decided to saddle up and weather be damned we'd head for the Welsh mountains and wild camp .......... oh ya and take along our 2 year old Labrador, a rescue dog who'd never been in the mountains before ............. untried dog, storm Katie and a night time assent on the north wales mountains ....... what could go wrong??


My basha looking across the snow capped peaks

Actually, not a lot!!

Boring I know but there it is. We scrambled and climbed into the hills by head torch -- the pooch had a head torch around his neck too, so we could see where he was (just in case) - a night assault on a welsh mountain, we must be mad ..................

By 2330 hrs we had reached the top arriving at the car park behind Joe Brown's Pinnacle café at 2130, so not bad going!! the weather was closing in and the temperature dropping.

Setting up camp proved interesting as the ground was sodden, after a search we did however find a small ridge just wide enough to erect a MSR Hubba for the ma'am Sab and a few feet away a second flat is section for me to stretch a Poncho over ......... yep that was my home for the night!!

Tracy's Hubba - me behind it with the basha as I brew up
 In the dark our camp was made, and after a quick brew we soon hit the sack, crawling under my basha which had about 2 inches of head room I struggled out of my wet clothes and into my sleeping bag and bivi .......... to my delight the ground was contoured to my back and laying there on my kip mat with my head cushioned on a small heather I was more comfortable than a man really has a right to be in such conditions. Sleep soon wrapped me in her loving arms and I was snoring soon after.

How long I slept I don't know but what I do know is I was rudely awoke by a slapped face ........... one corner of my tarp had been torn loose by the gale for winds that assaulted us and was now, icy and wet, slapping me in the face ...... I tried to ignore it as you do but then the hail started and I knew I was in trouble.

So question is do I dress or hope to repair the fault quickly enough that I wouldn't freeze to death .............. answer the later ........... crawling out my warm snug bag in long johns and a t shirt I struggled in the dark to locate my guy lines and re-secure the tarp ..........

Job done and not yet shivering uncontrollably I needed a wee ........ turning my back on the wind I let the little fella out and started to go ........... to late did I realise the wind was not only all around me but blowing up and down .......... Geezzz

I crawled back in my sack ................and was back to sleep in seconds.

One man and his dog - note the LK35
 The night passed, rain fell and storm Katie howled around us. My simple basha as basic as you can get would have turned the stomach of many a seasoned mountain man and yet I worked very well and I slept well ............ the MSR hubba on the other hand wasn't living up to expectation (MSR or mountain safety research) the porch was acting as a sail and the wind was driving the rain under the fly and into the inner ............ so while I lay there snoring under a £9.99 grade2 Austrian army poncho Tracy lay in a £200 tent with a snugpak extreme fur season bag and freezing cold didn't sleep a wink.

As I write this and as we descended the next morning I pondered this - all sense and most gear hounds would have said my simple primitive basic kit was a liability on the hill - I had a 3 season bag (not a four season like the snugpak) - I had a army foam kit mat and a poncho for my shelter yet I was comfortable enough to sleep the night away. How was it my kit did so well when a tent like the MSR hubba (which has served me well on so many other occasions) seemed to fail? I don't have an answer yet but on thing is for sure basic kit if used well and coupled with common sense and experience can be equal to the best or more expensive modern high tech ......

Rupert watches as shelter is collapsed and the new day starts.

Dawn was well underway when we finally awoke and broke camp - and what a morning that was - initially the views were fantastic but we could see the second wave of weather clawing its way towards us over the snowy peaks to our right .......... we broke camp amid a hail storm and winds so vicious that we had to huddle together in the lee of a rock shelf to break its sudden violence.

The storm came in waves and between waves we broke camp and packed - we were both cold and wet so I brewed up and fed the dog while I could.

Our descent was quicker than our climb, we only had one night out thanks to work commitments but before we left the mountains we struggled, but found time, to visit the pinnacle café and enjoy a hearty breakfast and stemming mug of coffee.

Smiling we listened to a handsome tall American chap telling a dis interested shop girl how he had decided to go home because the weather was so back, impressing upon her the fact he had enough gear to climb, hike or cycle ............. breakfast finished we had a quick mooch around the shop and looking a little grubby and weather beaten said lady asked what we had been up to, smiling I explained we had over knighted on top of the mountain before coming down for breakfast her reply was thus, "Really, these kids today go home with a bit of weather. Like Joe says only the old timers are real hard core these days ............."

Well smiling and with ego boosted this hard core old timer and his better half bid the lady far well and looking one last time at the storm lashed peak jumped in our car and headed for home!