Mountain Skills Training at Plas y Brenin
Last weekend we headed down to a very wet and windy Wales to Plas y Brenin to attend a Mountain Skills training course and we thought we’d share a few of the details and insights into our experience here. We have wanted to develop our skills in the mountains for a while, particularly navigating in poor visibility and over steep terrain as it’s not something we get to practice as often as we would like and felt like some quality instruction would help us to feel more confident to go further and higher. We’re also keen to one day go for our Mountain Leader qualification to open up new opportunities for what we do here at Miscellaneous Adventures.
The Mountain Skills course runs over two days, is accredited by Mountain Training and covers everything from planning and navigation to safety, movement in steep terrain and handling emergency situations which is just what we were looking for. Plas y Brenin is the National Outdoor Centre, based in Capel Curig and they run courses in every outdoor activity you can think of. We were really impressed by the high quality instruction, hospitality and friendliness at Plas y Brenin and we’d wholeheartedly recommend checking them out if you’re keen to develop your outdoor skillset.
Our course was held in absolutely awful weather conditions, constant heavy rain and gale force winds and in truth we were a little apprehensive when heading out on our first morning. Our instructor, Rachel, however was extremely competent and we soon relaxed into the day knowing we were in good hands, enjoying the chance to experience the wild conditions in a safe and controlled way. The poor weather gave us ample opportunities to practice navigation in bad visibility and to try out emergency procedures in a realistic setting. The paths turned into streams and rivers and the wind was strong enough to blow us off our feet but we navigated back down to safety, to the warmth of the Plas y Brenin bar and to our cosy beds.
The weather was much calmer on the second day which gave us a chance to take a look at the plants, wildlife and geology of the mountains, and Rachel’s knowledge and enthusiasm for both was impressive and infectious. As we hiked up to the summit of Cnicht (aka The Welsh Matterhorn) we traded bontany notes about the plants we already knew and were glad to learn some new ones along the way. Although we were there to practice climbing mountains, we were super stoked on the nature component of the course; for us the whole purpose of being outdoors is to connect with nature, yet for many others being in the mountains is all about the summit and nothing else so we were glad to have a fellow nature enthusiast as our guide.
At the end of the two days we really felt like we’d learned a lot in a short timeframe and that the Mountain Skills course had successfully filled the gaps in our knowledge. We were a little sad to be headed home, away from the mountains as we really wanted to keep going with our education, but we now feel super confident and excited about the next steps on our mountain journey.
Even if you think you already feel pretty confident in the hills, we think this course has something to offer and we’d definitely recommend Plas y Brenin. With thanks to our instructor Rachel and to the other students on the course - we had a blast and are already looking forward to the next one.