Climbing indoors, running outdoors and the Cuillin ridge

It was early on a Saturday morning, I’d gone to bed last night later than planned and alcohol wasn’t even involved.

I should probably explain.

The Cuillin Ridge is essentially to blame.  A decision has been made between some friends and I that during May 2016 we will make an attempt on the infamous ridge on the Scottish Isle of Skye.

 

To sum up: 2 days, 1 bivi out in the elements, Scottish weather, and one of the best mountaineering routes in Europe

 

I hadn’t really climbed for years, I guess it was a combination of factors really, my mates were good climbers and I wasn’t too bad, often struck with the issue of exposure, on some routes I  found myself hauling  up, physically and mentally, enjoyment didn’t seem to go hand in hand with the experience.

In time I decided that my burgeoning interest in mountain biking was something I enjoyed more and so I left climbing behind, the occasional dabble but that was about it, from there the passion for moving quickly and increasing my fitness took hold, chance remarks made by others about whether I would ever be able to complete the Welsh 3000’s mountain race both took hold and over years I took to running in the mountains.

 

I also learnt – a lot – about training to run, about nutrition, about injuries, about the mentality of sports. It all helped and really changed a great many things in my life.

 

So, I wasn’t climbing, there were other things to do which I enjoyed more.

Then one day a friend discussed the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye. We were already going to Skye, a hobby of sorts for me is bagging Munros. I don’t get to Scotland all that often, it’s far from where I live, not too far I guess, but far enough to make it a decision, not just a flash in the pan thought.

The ridge is big. It is in fact a mammoth undertaking, and for me involves getting used to being back on a rope, using a harness and climbing gear. Lots to catch up on and get used to using.

And so we find ourselves back in the present day, in Wales and in a climbing wall. I take myself off to the climbing wall virtually every weekend that I’m out in Wales to increase my technical skills and also add to my strength training.

It works, and I’m seeing benefits of the training I do at home and in the gym, when I visit the wall, now I’m seeing progress on the overhanging arch that has beaten me for years (I’ve never been able to get across it in all the occasional visits I’ve made).

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So I left the wall and got back to the converted Chapel I was staying at before a 06:00 alarm call gave me the hint that it was long run day.

 

The weather was crisp and cold with the promise of sunshine. Snow fields were in evidence high up on the mountains so I had plotted a route that kept me out of the worst of it.

Leaving the village of Rhyd Ddu I ran up beside Y Garn and then out to summit Moel Lefn, Moel Yr Ogof and Moel Hebog, at any time of year a gorgeous circuit and one that I don’t feel is all that popular with walkers.

My run took me to the summit of each but it was on the last, Moel Hebog, that I encountered 3 items of note.

  1. One of the few people out on this set of hills who also happened to be running with his dog – hi again if that was you!
  2. A steep slope
  3. Snow

I had seen the snow up here from the road and considered I could simply avoid it if needed, however it wasn’t thick and I reckoned the descent would be fun, so I cracked on to the top. It was a super viewpoint and an ideal place to rest, grab a much needed bite to eat (chocolate I’m afraid – in a momentary lapse of concentration I had burnt the flapjacks) and then head down again – yes it was fun!

Through Beddgelert forest then off to meet the Rhyd Ddu Path which led me to the South Col of Snowdon, I retraced my steps here and made my way back to the car back in the village.

 

All in all 15 plus miles. A Hard run in places, certainly going up Moel Hebog and the final pull up to the South Col was taxing, I felt it in no uncertain terms. But my pace was under the level it needed to be and this was a good thing.

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