"Somehow more than 25 years had passed since I had learned how to climb with Plas y Brenin. My now wife and I stumbled up the Idwal Slabs and learned how to look after ourselves enough to call ourselves climbers, though over the years we did more indoor than trad. But the level of instruction and the sheer atmosphere of Plas y Brenin meant that when I finally decided to do my Mountain Leader qualification there was only one place to do it.
March seemed a bit early in the year to expect easy conditions, but a week in the mountains is a week in the mountains, so I signed up in 2016 for Mountain Leader training. What followed was some of the most memorable and fun times I’ve had on a hill. Somehow our group of 5 trainees clicked immediately and found the perfect balance between wanting to learn the boots off this thing and wanting to have a good time. We also were bizarrely lucky with the weather; for our week there sat a high pressure over Snowdonia that meant blue skies, frosty mornings, snow on the tops – every day was postcard conditions, but it meant we could make the most of every day. So, we did. We laughed a lot that week.
Fast-forward 18 months and lots of Quality Mountain Days, to my qualification week. Higher stakes and considerably worse weather, I still have the forecast for that week: “Walking will be very strenuous with any mobility virtually impossible over exposed ground. There is a high likelihood of being blown over or taken off one’s feet, while even standing up may be impossible at times. Basic tasks such as using a map, eating, putting on extra clothing or communication become extremely difficult away from any shelter.” The weather gods that smiled on us so generously the previous year were balancing the books in a big way.
So the qualification week was a big deal. My Mountain Leader qualification was something I almost did in my early 20’s, but for various reasons it was 30 years before actually taking it. It was a long process, and sometimes it was hard. The weather added to the challenge, and so when my Plas y Brenin instructor told me I’d passed, it meant an awful lot.
Plas y Brenin is a place that’s welcoming and feels like nowhere else. It’s a place that’s made up of walls covered in inspiring exploits, but also it’s a place full of people who make it what it is.
To all my instructors, the catering team, the bar staff and support teams over more than 30 years of using Plas y Brenin; thank you."
Steve lives in Coventry, and works in the field of corporate leadership development. He’s summited every Lakeland fell over 2,500 feet, done his fair share of long distance challenge walks, and has got his sights set on a section of the Appalachian Trail.
In addition to the above, Steve has joined us for Mountain First Aid, some corporate team development and learnt to paddle a canoe properly with us too. His skills enable him to take others into the hills comfortably, including young family, and share his enjoyment with others; pretty valuable, that.
Our huge thanks to Steve for taking the time to share his story; if you’ve got a tale of your time spent with us, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org