Friday, 31 December 2010

Survival Bag Put To Emergency Use!

Wow! Coming off the north slopes of Fan Fawr today, we were forced to use a survival bag for the first time I can remember in the mountains. Conditions were misty, the ground was steep and it was pretty hairy. In the end nobody was seriously injured and we managed to film some of the ordeal.

Please do not try this at home (that's if you have a 700m mountain at home). We are experienced imbeciles and were fully unaware of all the dangers facing us during making of the above footage.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

I don't do kit reviews....

...but I am suitably impressed with two items of gear that I thought I'd offer my opinions.

I've had the Alpkit Gamma headtorch and a pair of Sealskinz Ultragrip gloves for exactly a year.

Despite only being out in the hills around every 4 weeks or so, I've managed to get a lot of use out of these two items. The headtorch in particular has been used for evening runs, clambering around the attic, sorting out the garden or looking for one of Isaacs toys after dark, etc. I reckon its a superb piece of kit for the money. There may be better headtorches out there with more powerful illumination, but this does all I need and more, and in 12 months the battery hasn't gone once.

The Sealskinz are advertised as waterproof and in my limited experience, that's what they are. And I find them warm, despite having hands like witches with poor circulation. Not once have my hands got wet and in heavy rain and snow they've performed admirably. I take a medium and when they first go on they seem very snug, but after a short use they tend to give and fit my hands perfectly. They're not as much of a bargain as the alpkit but still well worth the cash.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Joss Naylor

A requested Xmas gift was Joss Naylor's biography (thanks Sis and Ol), and what a good read it is. A truly inspirational man and, seemingly, one of the most down to earth people you could ever meet. I'd recommend this 100%. I kinda feel it wouldn't appeal to anyone who isn't interested in fell running, or just in running/hillwalking in general. It's well written by Keith Richardson who obviously spent a lot of time with Joss. His quirky traits shine through, and the use of Joss's own dialect in the book is a great touch.


Boxing day turned out to be the coldest day of the year in my locality - minus 12 when I got in the car at 6am for a prearranged tramp with Chopper and Nicholls through the snows of the beacons. As cold as that sounds, it was perfect weather. There was a slight breeze and cloud forecast for later on but the early part of the walk was forecast to be clear. We missed sunrise from the top of Corn Du due to kindly giving a hitcher a lift from Newport to Cwmbran after his car broke down. Still, some good photo opportunities arose.

Fan Fawr looking appealing in the morning light

We started out at 8am and got to the top of Corn Du after about 40 minutes.
The views were great. White as far as the eye could see.

I don't have a portable thermometer but it felt very cold on the summits. Probably not as low as the minus 12 when I set off, but the wind chill made up for that...and some. The only piece of gear I didn't have with me was a buff or a scarf and at one point, I thought my nose was going to drop off (that wouldn't be a bad thing in some respects!) so a spare beanie hat and a penknife were employed to make a DIY buff. Chopper had brought some freebie hand warmer things that were quite impressive. You get about 30 minutes of heat and one stuffed inside each glove was great.
We stopped in the saddle between PenYfan and Cribyn for a snack and noticed two Ravens coming quite close on the scrounge for food. This seemed to prove how bleak the past few weeks must have been up there as I've never know them to come near before. They enjoyed the peanuts and crisps we gave them. Big buggers!

At the top of Cribyn we decided, instead of retacing our steps exactly, to go down the north ridge and along the goat track. Good choice, out of the wind and good fun. Plus, Nicholls £4 hat blew off his head on the summit, straight over the north face. So he wanted to go and look for it....


Chopper - Cribyn North Ridge
Guess hat in sight!
Over on the north face of PenYfan, 4 brave (crazy?) souls were starting an ice climb. My zoom 'aint the best...

The wind was starting to whip snow about a lot, it almost seemed like it was snowing.

Nicholls in spindrift...whatever that is!

I took a few small videos with the compact and added a bit of (sarcastic) music with moviemaker. Let's try an upload...

Thursday, 23 December 2010


These are some of the things I want to do during 2011. Inevitably, I won't tick them all off, but here's hoping! Writing them down (or rather, typing them out) will help give me some focus.

  • Spend loads of quality time with my family, especially my little 3 year old lad!!
  • Climb Kilimanjaro (I'm 40 in October and the plan is to do so around that time).
  • Submit a script to the BBC writers room. From my blog, you wouldn't guess that I dabble with comedy - I know, it's not funny at all is it? For 9 years or so I've written a successful adults pantomime at my local rugby club - so successful that we've raised over £35000 for worthy causes and given nights of hilarity to more than 3000 people. So, encouraged by comments from many, I plan to write a sitcom script using an idea I've had in my head for a number of years. If it comes to nothing, I won't be too bothered, as long as I've given it my best shot.
  • More artwork. Those pencils of mine are going to be put to use. Maybe some outdoor themed pieces. Watch this space.
  • Tidy up my allotment and grow some bloody veg - rather than using it as an overflow dumping ground for my garden junk.
  • Get a 2nd hand mountain bike a ride a few trails.
  • Keep up my jogging regime.
  • Visit Scotland. I've a mate who I haven't seen for many years and I've always promised him I will visit him up in Bonnie Findochty. He also likes running so entry into a local 10k or something, followed by a wee (read enormous) swallie! Then there;s the highlands. I want to see the highlands.
  • See a cloud/temperature inversion!
  • Blog more.
That's probably enough to be going on with. I shall report back in 12 months to see how many come to fruition. I think the only 100% definite will be the first in the list :)!


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Short slog in the snow

I managed to get out for a short walk in the snow last Saturday morning, and had to settle for the local hill, Twmbarlwm, due to time issues and the possibility of poor roads up towards the Beacons.
But it was certainly worth it. It doesn't seem to matter where you walk when it's been snowing, it always feels like somewhere different.
The snow was fresh powder and made everything look pristine. I only did about 4 miles at a leisurely pace but took the camera and snapped plenty of pics.

Why do I look such a gimp in this photo??