Monday, 17 February 2014

UBES Nav Training Report

Sunday February 16th 2014

Sunday this week was a long day for the 20 UBESters who took part in Nav training. The day is sructured to teach sixteen  people in groups of four, going through from the basics of mountain navigation to technical micronav in poor visibility.

The day kicked off at 8am with a classroom session in Bristol, highlighting some points about route planning and weather. After that, the group headed across the Bristol Channel to Craig y Nos to do some practical navigation on the hills aroung Castell y Geifr. In a brief respite from the howling storms of this winter , it was a beautiful clear sunny day, and on the well drained limestone hills not even especially wet underfoot.

 Group members spent the day practising taking and walking on bearings, relocation, triangulation, distance estimation and a little bit of group management in the complex pitted terrain of shake-holes, little crags and lakes of the Black Mountain.  It is a wide open landscape full of interesting features and perfect for practising micronav and search techniques. We found rivers flowing in to the hills in several places, feeding the national showcaves of Wales at Dan yr Ogof, and even stumbled across the remains of Wellington Bomber that crashed on Carreg Goch on a training exercise in 1944.

After making dinner at the absolute-adventure self catering bunkhouse at Rhongyr Isaf, we had a further discussion of leadership responsibilities and headed out for some night-nav on the hills above Penwyllt quarry, doing some relocation as a big group and then splitting up again to do some further practice of the skills learned during the day. We were finally down off the hill by about 2320 and headed back to Bristol.



Quality Mountain Days

For people who are aiming to do their Mountain Leader training, or who have allready done so it is important to keep a log of your "Quality Mountain Days."

One easy way to do this is by signing up to UK Hillwalking and logging this online by plotting your route. You can also enter information about the day.

You can also equally keep a paper record as long as it has enough detail about where you went, whether or not you were leading a group and the conditions through out the day.

What actually defines a "Quality Mountain Day" is somewhat subjective, and a lot of people seem to miss understand this. To clear this up here is the definition from the Mountain Leader Handbook.

The full handbook which explains everything about the course can be found online here:

Hopefully this should clear some things up! Any more questions then let me know,


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Kyrgyzstan Report

Last summer a joint UBES and UBMC expedition comprising of 2 Bristol Alumni and 4 current students traveled to the relatively unexplored Eastern side of Kyrgyzstan. In particular the Djangart valley, which borders with China.

As with all expeditions of this nature there is an awful lot of planning involved and this trip was no exception with grant applications and research being undertaken months in advance.

The expedition lasted just under 3 weeks with a few days spent in the capital Bishkek either side. Whilst in Kyrgyzstan the team encountered multiple challenges from crossing fast flowing rivers and digging latrines through to heated discussions with ex-Russian military helicopter pilots.

It is without doubt that the trip was a success on multiple levels. Seven world first ascents where recorded with all of those above the height of Mt. Blanc (4810m).  In addition multiple further objectives for future teams were identified .3...............

It is also worth noting that an expedition such as this cannot take place with out the generosity of others and their thanks go to: Alpkit, Buff headwear, Berghaus, MEF, the University of Bristol, the Alpine Club and Dicks Climbing.

More information about the expedition can be found on the trips website and in the official trip report:


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Steep ground and rope skills training

Thanks for everyone who came along to the Steep ground and rope skills training today! As usual we weren't blessed with the weather, so had to make do with what we could, utilizing the union foyer!

That said it was still a very worthwhile afternoon spent teaching the current walk leaders, and leaders of the future skills in how to get groups over steep ground and emergency rope work procedure. All essential skills to keep UBES groups safe on the hill! Watch out for other training sessions coming up this term!

For those of you who came along here is a link to the book in which all of the skills (And everything on the mountain leader syllabus is covered) I would highly recommend getting a copy if you are interested in learning more of these skills
and wanting to lead groups. (I got mine second hand for £4.50)

Also here is a link to the UKH (UK Hillwalking) website. It is very useful as you can plot your route easily, and it stores it in your logbook. Essential if you are thinking of doing ML training any time soon, and very useful even if you aren't! To plot a route, go onto the route card section on the top bar, then select map my route on the side menu. For climbers, its the same log in as your UKC account, but everyone else will have to create a free account.

Any Questions on anything then let me know!

Also any suggestions of how to improve training sessions or of what other skills people want to learn will be gratefully received!