Friday, 15 January 2010
A Decent Winter Run Out
The top of Moel Famau - In very rare winter conditions
This is a recent post I put up on a thread, not sure if it's the done thing but I thought it worth recording here.
Saturday morning in beautiful sunshine and sub zero temps - up early and put a simple pack together. Dot, Vince and I were off on the hill. Vince piled on the pace running uphill from the start on perfectly compact snow. We wound our way up the very steep approaches to the more exposed shoulder and summit of Moel Famau. Not a sole about at 9.00 o'clock. The running here was hard straight from the car because the ever enthusiastic Vince set a crisp pace. Once out of the protection of the forest the compact snow path vanished into something a little more like snow. Still the sun shone and the wind blew, we were in good spirits and soon standing on the very top. The wind up here was keen, but in the sunshine it didn't feel so bad. I pulled my fleece hat over the windward facing ear and led off down the North facing slope. The running here was tough - no visible path as the drifting snow had covered any tracks from any of the previous days walkers. We 'ploughed' on for another couple of miles to another notch between two facing summits. Here the wind is usually brisk, today it was blowing very brisk from the North East and was packing an 'icey' punch' I estimated - 15 - 20 wind chill could have been colder. Within 2 minutes of us being in this exposed notch, Vince was feeling it badly. I was fine Dot was fine (I asked her) - except she was struggling with the 3 foot depth often crashing through the crust and re-appearing with frozen eyeliner and frosty nose caused by the moisture instantly freezing the second it was exposed to the vicious wind. A quick check on Vince who was not happy, I made a half decision to knock off the top at the very next opportunity. Half a mile or so on Vince picked up and was warm again. Cancelling the half decision we decided to do another mile and half or so of the exposed ridge. The running became tougher here and Dot had to be carried. Vince was soon in trouble again. There was no way off for at least half a mile or so and the wind was back and it was biting. No choice but to continue and make ground. I was comfortable with the situation knowing that we were less than a quarter of a mile from the decent path to lower ground and easier running and weather. The head of the path soon became visible or invisible! due to the drifting snow which was up to 5 feet deep in parts. After half running half swimming through the snow choked decent gully for 10 minutes we were standing sheltering behind a road sign. Vince was very cold and very unhappy. He refused to drink and took one bite out of a half frozen banana - not good. Best to keep going. So off we trotted back on better snow dropping height all the time. We we're still on the North side of the hill in its deep shade and heading into a slight but freezing breeze. Ironically I got cold here for the first time, Hands! Hands! Hands! (Especially recently cut finger!!!) It was decision time again - would we cut out and head for the near-by village or plan a return loop back to the car. We were both warmed up now and back in the sunshine our spirits were lifted. I planned a sensible hill route back keeping mainly to the sunny side of the hill and avoiding the very exposed tops. The running now was superb if not very exhausting. After 5 or so miles of this we were both glad to see the car. Dot seemed a bit disappointed the fun had stopped! 3 and half hours of the toughest winter running I've done so far. Back to my house for porridge and brown sugar and a gallon of tea. Vince warmed up enough to drive home. I had a joiner working in the house, what he must have thought when I squeezed past him in my hall explaining that I needed to get my core temperature up again by burying myself under my duvet for a couple of hour - it being the middle of the day he looked at me worryingly.