Lots of people do lists at the end of the year and usually it is their 10 favourite albums or 10 favourite gigs and that is certainly something I could do but 2017 was the year I discovered the great outdoors and mountains, so here is a list of 17 things I didn’t know at the start of 2017:
- That I would climb five out of the top 10 highest peaks in North Wales.
- How much colder it is at the top of a mountain compared to the bottom and you need to be prepared for every possible eventuality. It is amazing how quickly the weather can change from glorious sunshine at the bottom to needing every layer you have at the top!
- How useful a pair of sunglasses would be on Snowdon when it is snowing!
- That there is so much more to Snowdonia than just Snowdon and it doesn’t have to be a massive peak. One of the best walks I had in 2017 was up Crimpiau as part of the Snowdonia Walking festival.
- What an Israeli bandage is and that I would have one in my backpack.
- That there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as waterproof gloves…..so now I carry two pairs.
- The benefit of dry sacks so that you can put your wet gloves in them!
- That I would get through a pair of boots in a year and that I own more outdoor kit than I could ever have imagined…….I also think there is more to come!
- That you can register your phone with the emergency services so that in areas of poor reception you can send a text message. Of course you also need to know what information you need to tell them and if you are up a mountain you need the police and not an ambulance!
- That I would have been on a navigation course and a first aid course…..I owe it not only to myself but also to others to be as prepared as I can be when out walking…..you only have one life.
- You can never have too much food, water or clothing with you. Not necessarily just for you but if needs be to share with others! Of course it is also about knowing your own body and how you react to heat and cold as no two people are the same.
- The benefit of walking poles…..not many people use them but definitely worth the investment and if nothing else they will tell you how firm the ground is or how deep the stream is.
- That the National Mountain Sports Centre for England, Plas y Brenin, is in Wales. If you are new to walking and want to develop your skills then they are pretty much a one-stop shop for all your needs. I only became aware of them after I had been on courses but they are more than just courses…….you can hire kit, you can just pop in to their bar for lunch and they also have walking weekends.
- That I would own a pair of yaktrax for walking in icy conditions, although I am sure hard core walkers would look down on them and say that only crampons are good enough. Ironically I didn’t use them on Snowdon but in Birmingham!
- Walking is better with others than on your own. There are walking festivals and meet up groups as well as guided walks that mean you don’t have to do it alone. I haven’t found one single source for guided walks but you can find out mountain leaders in a particular area here.
- That defib machines are available in public places and Moel Siabod Cafe is raising money to purchase one and needs £1500. If every walker that uses the cafe were to donate £1 then they would soon have it……if it saves one life it will be worth it.
- A mountain is like a beautiful woman……..to be admired and appreciated but treated with respect at all times and if you don’t you’ll soon know about it!
I’ve learnt a lot in 2017 about mountains and I’ve still a lot to learn but I would like to thank Breese Adventures, The Mountain Coach, Hike Snowdonia, Snowdon Walking and Active First Aid for all they have taught me. As well as doing some solo stuff in 2018 I hope to be out there with you guys for some of the big challenges.