After meeting at our usual haunts, we headed north towards Birmingham in traffic which was steady for a Friday evening. Excited about what the weekend in Snowdonia would entail and enjoying catching up with each other, we settled down for the long journey ahead, refueling at a motorway MacDonalds along the way.
Team Cambodia was excited for a weekend of team building, scrambling and navigation in the National Park of Snowdonia. Meanwhile, the weekend in North Wales was a great opportunity for Team Patagonia to get to acquaint themselves with the new members of the team and meet a few more members of HSX. Arriving close to midnight, Team Patagonia and Liam, who had to sleep outside due to a lack of beds, set up their tents and headed to bed, whilst the rest of the contingent moved into the comfort of the bunk houses, equipped with heating!
Breakfast was to be ready at 7:30am and Team Patagonia, who had endured a windy night outside in the tents, knocked up some delicious sausage sandwiches. Unfortunately, there was no ketchup!! Liam was unlucky to have a small leak in his tent which resulted in some of his kit getting wet, but the group still needed to get ready for an 8:00am departure for the day’s activities.
Team Cambodia, led by Matt and Steve traveled a short car journey to the base of Tryfan where they would walk and scramble most of the way to the summit up the East Face. We navigated along the Heather Terrace until we found Nor’ Nor’ Gully, which Ed, Becky, Tom and Steve would scramble up. Meanwhile, Cerys, Bradley and myself were led by Matt and we used the Little and North Gullies to ascend the mountain. The routes provided some challenges and were very useful in teaching us how to spot each other as we made our way up the gullies, but Steve still had to use his rope to help Tom in Nor’ Nor’ Gully when he couldn’t quite get to the next part of the scramble. We met at the top for lunch and began the descent as a group with both care and some pace, because Steve wanted to go shopping at Betws-Y-Coed.
Team Cambodia cooked dinner Saturday night, which was chilli con carne with rice and cheesecake for pudding which everybody enjoyed. The choice of the evening’s entertainment was either a talk in Betws-Y-Coed about a canoeing trip in Canada or some night navigation with Liam to help him with his mountain leader assessment in a few weekends time. Whilst many preferred to not go on the night navigation, those who did said they had an enjoyable experience using the bright reflection of the moon.
On the Sunday after a slightly wetter night’s sleep, Team Cambodia cooked bacon sandwiches for breakfast at 7:30am as the group slowly woke up for a day of activities in the rain and wind. We were going to do some navigation around Tryfan and set off at 8:00am as the rain began to pour down. Fortunately, as the day progressed the sky began to clear as we manoeuvred ourselves across the damp terrain which was slippery underfoot. As a group our navigation was working well, until Ed navigated his right foot into hole causing him to hurt his ankle. As Ed needed to use walking poles to be able to walk, we decided it would be best to head back down the path towards the van. Although Ed had hurt himself, I think we were all glad to be getting out of the wind and heading back to the bunk houses to pack up and head home.
The drive back to Hampshire was an opportunity for some members of the weekend to fall asleep in the car after a busy two days of scrambling, walking and navigating, but the drivers had to battle fatigue and tiredness all the way home. Rosemary found some relief in popcorn chicken at a KFC when we stopped at a service station to refuel ourselves, before continuing until we reached the car park of Tesco in Winnal.
This was Team Cambodia’s last training weekend prior to the final packing and information day before our departure. It is hard to believe that thirteen months ago we all met for the first time at Ferny Crofts in the New Forest. In this time we have been to Wales three times, the Lake District, Swanage and Ferny Crofts twice, whilst fundraising £3500 each. We have learn’t lots of technical skills, developed as individuals, increased our knowledge of fundraising, but most importantly created a strong and highly motivated expedition team who are now ready to take on 4 weeks in Cambodia. We know that we speak on behalf of everyone else, and would like to say a huge thank you not just to our expedition leaders, but to all those in HSX who have helped throughout our thirteen months of training. It is not long now until the 9th of December, the day we leave, and the next few weeks we are sure will fly by. We are all really looking forward to the relief of getting on the plane knowing we are on our way, although alongside the excitement there will certainly be some nerves.
On an earlier training weekend to Wales we climbed Cadair Idris, which if you read the blog post for the trip, it made reference to Led Zeppelin gaining inspiration for their classic song Stairway To Heaven. We all agree that these two lines from this song sum up how we feel now ‘There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west, and my spirit is crying for leaving’.