The alarm was set for 5.30am, thermal underwear was laid out and my rucksack was packed. I was all ready for a romantic valentines day in the Brecon Beacons with Wyn and Pete….
After an obligatory Mcdonalds drive thru, we headed off down the M4, over the bridge, and into sunny Wales. (That was a joke; it literally started raining as soon we hit the Severn Bridge). Luckily Pete and I had anticipated the potential for the odd shower so had packed accordingly. Wyn, as usual, had not only packed for a bit of rain but literally anything; meteor shower, famine, you name it he was ready. The result was a bag so big that if he had to pay to check it in on a Ryanair flight would have landed him on the streets. Now, we like to poke fun at big Wyn for his overzealous preparations and inability to go anywhere without half his house, however had I seen the weather conditions we were about to walk into I probably would have refrained from said micky taking as it was all about to make sense.
The destination was Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons national park. At 886m it is the highest point in South Wales and in fact anywhere in the South of the UK. I know it well as I used to spend a lot of days off from Rugby up there exploring the area with my two mutts who were with me again (although somewhat begrudgingly at 6am). The clinical aims of the trip were to see what my fitness levels are like on terrain very similar to Snowdon and to trial run a new orthotic. The non-clinical aims were to have a double sausage and egg mcmuffin and then burn enough calories so that it didn’t count.
As we made our way up the A470 the temperature was dropping, the wind was picking up and the rain was turning to snow. If we ever wondered how I would perform in the elements we were about to find out…
The first half an hour was fine, the new orthotic was performing well and although blustery and snowing we were sheltered somewhat by the side of the mountain. The main obstacle at this stage was the patches of black ice that were adamant to send me head over tit. Two ski poles and a large Welshman came in handy on a number of occasions but all in all things were going quite smoothly. That was until we reached the first ridge and stepped into Antarctica. Gusts of wind so strong I thought we were going to lose Pete and snow drifts that Barry (the bulldog) could fully submerge himself in. All of a sudden shorts seemed like a bad choice! The fact that I had no temperature sensation on my exposed leg was making life more comfortable, but judging by the skin burning on the small patch of skin on my other leg it was time to get some trousers on, an interesting operation in itself given the conditions.
The decision to head back down was made due to worsening conditions, two unimpressed (frosted) dogs, and a stern warning from what looked like an experienced, who said he had just had to crawl for a while to avoid getting blown over….
By the time we got back to the car we had only covered three kilometres and it had taken us two hours. Not what we set out to achieve, nevertheless some valuable lessons were learnt that possibly wouldn’t have been in better conditions, including:
– You don’t play rugby anymore so wearing shorts during the winter months is not normal.
– Pete is genuinely at risk of blowing away if winds reach anything above 50mph.
– Putting plastic bags in your trainers doesn’t make them waterproof.
Well as far as extreme rehabilitation goes that was right up there and in all seriousness I now know that I can cope in some serious weather conditions but I’m fully aware that I have a long way to go if I think I’m making it up Snowdon.
P.s. I managed to burn off the Mcmuffin and leave room from some hash browns… Woop Woop.
p.p.s. If you would like to know more about the Snowdon climb or would like to show your support, please visit: