After completing the Oggie 8 Challenge last year, 2015 was going to be extra special due to it being the 50th year celebration for the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation (OVMRO). Being so close to WBMC hut I personally feel that it is good to support the OVMRO as a walker and member of WBMC we never know when we might require the services from the rescue team. I’m also a member of the 333 club which was set up in 1997. The purpose of the group is to help raise both the profile and funds for OVMRO. The enigmatic numbers were chosen as they are the last three digits of their telephone number and quite frankly they are reminiscent of 999.
VMRO continue to be extremely busy. In 2014 the team had 117 incidents and 1567 member responses. Sadly three of these incidents have been fatalities. Half of their incidents were for people who had become lost or stuck.
very year the OVMRO organise the Oggie 8 Challenge, this was also the 8th year of running this event. For the first team this year they are allowing teams of two to compete, but if one member drops out then for safety reasons the remaining member will not be able to continue alone. Also this year a shorter route option was available for those that want to take part, but are not confident tackling all 8 peaks, so the Oggie 4 has been set up.
here are eight 3,000 feet peaks based on the Challenge that have to be summited and are as follows:
• Yr Elen 962 metres, 3156 feet
• Carnedd Llewelyn 1064 metres, 3490 feet
• Carnedd Dafydd 1044 metres, 3425 feet
• Pen Yr Ole Wen 978 metres, 3208 feet
• Y Garn 947 metres, 3106 feet
• Glyder Fawr 999metres, 3277 feet
• Glyder Fach 994 metres, 3261 feet
• Tryfan 917 metres, 3008 feet
The Oggie 8 is the main source of fundraising for the OVMRO, they are dependant upon every pound that is raised in sponsorship for the event. In 2014 the event raised a tremendous £6596 and the target for 2015 is to raise over £10,000.
WBMC entered yet another team this year which had been organised by Adrian Shaw, due to Graeme Stanford volunteering his services this year to be a marshal. The team consisted of myself, Adrian Shaw, Neil Parsons, Simon Grove, St Jean Cooper & Graeme Stanford who was supporting both club & OVMRO.
The weekend commenced with me departing around 14.30 hours on the Friday afternoon due to getting half day holiday, this year was extra special for me as Jeanette & Lauren (daughter) were coming along for moral support or that could be a girlie day whilst we take on the 8 summits. We arrived at Bryn Poeth Capel Curig at around 17.00 hours and I went to register for the event, from here we went to the club hut to drop off food & bedding for the weekend.
he plan on Friday evening was to all meet at Plas Y Brenin, the national mountain sports centre, for evening meal and drinks. This was the first time that I have eaten here and I was very impressed with the quality and the quantity (very much a man size portion) the evening was spent socialising and talking about the following day’s event. From here we went back to the hut and a relatively early night prior to a 05.00am start.
We woke at 05.00am and the plan was to leave at around 06.15am to drive to Oggie base, after a quick breakfast and gear check we all departed in various cars x 3, with one car being left at Ogwen Cottage for a half way check point and change of clothing. The morning was dry with little mist & dew, but the forecast was for a sunny clear day. I left with Simon & Graeme and as we got towards the top of Llyn Gwynant there was a fantastic cloud inversion looking back towards the hut & Beddgelert, a rustic red sunshine was towering over Snowdon and Crib Goch.
The team all arrived at Oggie base and there had been a marquee set up for after celebrations and portable welfare facilities. We had a team photo with Tryfan standing proudly behind us in full clear view. We all registered and WBMC were ready to go. We all converted at the rear of the mountain rescue and dead on 07.00am we were off making our way up the Carnedd range.
The fell runners had got off to their normal quick pace, we were all separated but had a visibility of everyone, the views going up were fantastic and looking down the clod inversion was still visible looking down towards Capel Curig.
Prior to getting to the top of Yr Elen & Carnedd range the fell runners had already summited the first two peaks. We were just getting near to our first summit. The start of the Oggie 8 can only be described as a plod in boggy conditions. We all arrived at the top knowing one down and seven to go (phew).
Yr Elen, Carnedds, and Pen Yr Ole Wen were under our belts and started our descent down to Ogwen Cottage, no real issues to report just the normal hotspots and apply compeed plasters and a little tiredness, but spirits were high.
We followed the contour of Llyn Ogwen and skirted around the lake to arrive at an over cramped Ogwen cottage car park. Quick change of clothing here, apply another compeed to my heel, talcum powder supplied by Adrian to dry my feet and as good as new to go again. Unfortunately one member of the team dropped out at this stage but the team know that you will be back next year and a big pat on the back for completing the Oggie 4.
I knew from the previous year that the pull up to Y Garn from Ogwen cottage is real hard work to gain height again. We had discussed that we would all support each other and take regular & frequent quick drink stops. We called Y Garn another name: Y B…..D, everyone encouraged each other on this stage of the leg and we all got to the top had our cards stamped at checkpoint and on we moved to the Glyder range.
After Y Garn it is a nice descend to the foot of the Glyder range, with the marshals giving us lots of sweets, love hearts, haribo to name a few to keep the sugar levels up. We got to the foot of the Glyder range and started to climb up towards Glyder Fawr & Glyder Fach, this is the last real big climb with only Tryfan to follow.
We started on route to Glyder Fawr which is the highest in the Glyderau range and the 5th highest mountain in Wales. The summit lies on the ridge between Glyder Fach & Y Garn. The summit plateau is very rocky and making our progress was constant but steady, we arrived at the top of the rocky outcrop with pinnacle stones protruding out of the ground, we continued onto Glyder Fach treading precariously over the large boulders on route.
We were greeted by a friendly faces at one check point stage, Graeme was marshalling with Dave Worrall who is OVMRO team leader, quick chat and we moved on again onto our final summit. Prior to this Neil had decided that he was going to climb to Cantilever Stone and get his photo on top.
We skirted round towards Tryfan saw the checkpoint and were informed by the marshal which route to take and pointed the route direction. We arrived at Tryfan check point and requested if we could leave our rucksacks at the foot of the mountain, unfortunately they stated that we could not do this but said we could leave our walking poles, so we went with this option and started to climb up the South side of Tryfan. By now we were all starting to feel tired and were looking forward to a beer back at Oggie base.
We clambered up to Tryfan and by now the wind had started to pick up. The three marshals at the top of Tryfan looked like they really wanted to get out of the wind. Last tick on the card and we were on our way down, one last check to say that we had come off Tryfan and the marshals made the call to base to state that we were on route back.
Adrian located the path and we were on our way back, we had heard from Graeme that the winning team (Siabod Shifters) had finished in just over 5 hours, a truly remarkably effort. We got off the rough terrain and started descending the steps and made our way back across the camp site.
We wanted to achieve in under 12 hours and we came in at 11hrs 45 mins so we were very pleased with the timing. We crossed the road and started to walk up the path to Oggie Base, when teams come in they sound a horn, we were being encouraged to run and towards the end we did have a little jog. I know Adrian had to skip in because he had been sponsored to do this.
I was greeted with a hug from my daughter & Jeanette they had been into Betws y Coed shopping and had lunch. We were greeted with cheers from everyone and then it was a beer followed by jacket potato and curry. When all the teams had got back to base and the Marshals had come down off the hills it was time for the ceremony.
Andy Harbach, chairman of the OVMRO, thanked everyone for taking part and then presented the winning teams with their rewards.
WBMC team came in unscathed other than feeling tired and wanted to be watered & fed (not perhaps water). The team had walked really well and friendship and companionship on route was second to none. The team were given a goodie bag which consisted of a certificate of achievement, mug, coaster, lucozade drink, little compass.
All the team then headed back to the hut, I arrived first and went for a well deserved shower, Richard Cooksey & Joe were also staying at the hut over the weekend and congratulated us in completing the challenge. Neil & St Jean had decided to go and soothe their feet in the river down the road from the hut.
The Saturday night consisted of all sitting around either the fire or the table and good conversation was had, also the cheese and biscuits came out Neil produced some Spam and a rather unusual lager drink that contained Rum. I don’t think any of the team needed rocking that night.
We woke on Sunday morning and some opted to go down to the café, due to the weather being the total opposite to the previous day (low cloud and heavy rain) we opted to stay in the hut and have our own “fry up”. It was then a general tidy up of the hut and replenish wood and everyone started to say their goodbyes.
The weekend was very successful and hopefully we can have more than one team in 2016 participating. Many thanks to Adrian for organising, Graeme showing support to OVMRO and to my fellow team colleagues and Jeanette & Lauren being there at the end to cheer the team on.
Watch out for Oggie 8 details for 2016 and there is some talk on completing the Welsh 15 peaks! More to follow.