Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the difference between climbing and mountaineering?
Mountaineering is usually focussed with reaching one or several summits, although any type of walking done in the mountains could be considered as mountaineering. Mountaineering requires a broad skills set, such as weather interpretation, map reading, and risk management. In the UK, we tend to think of mountaineering as walking but some summits, like Tryfan for example, have steep rocky sides which require some scrambling or even technical climbing to get to them.
Climbing on the other hand focuses specifically on the act of moving over steep rock and although it might involve reaching a summit, this isn't the primary goal. Climbers will often seek out the most challenging route up a cliff face, and devote months and even years to ascending a particular route. Many cliff faces are only a short walk from the car and require little mountaineering experience, however, there are many crags which are situated high up in the mountains so mountaineering skills such as weather interpretation and good navigation are also required here.
As you can see, there is much crossover between the two disciplines and it makes sense to be proficient at both.
On our mountaineering workshops, we focus on things like interpreting the weather, navigation, and looking after your group. Moving over steep ground is only a small part of the course. On our climbing courses, we focus specifically on climbing - how to move efficiently over rock, how to use climbing equipment, and ropework for example.
What will I get out of it? What is the Benefit to me? How will this improve my life?
For many, rock climbing and mountaineering are a vehicle to learn about ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses. That thing that happened in the office, in your relationship, finances, it all seems trivial now that you're out overcoming your fears, venturing into the unknown and having adventures. It has an uncanny way of putting things into perspective and enabling you to overcome life's challenges with renewed vigour.
And of course you'll have a great time, forge amazing friendships, and enjoy experiences that you'll remember forever.
Are the Activities Safe? What happens if I fall off?
Many of our activities carry a "perceived risk" when the actual risk is small. The biggest "perceived risk" that our customers seem to experience is that of the rope snapping or their climbing partner letting go of the rope.
Manufacturers of climbing ropes must adhere to UIAA and European standards and under normal usage conditions it would be extremely difficult to break a climbing rope. We only use equipment from reputable manufacturers and record and monitor their usage very closely.
In regards a climbing partner not paying attention and letting go of the rope, we employ various techniques. This could be, for example, having several people hold the rope. This way there is redundancy if one person gets distracted. We might also use a mechanical device which will automatically grab the rope should somebody let go. Which safety methods we use will be dictated by the type of activity taking place, the location, and the experience of the group.
In all situations our highly trained staff will ensure our customer's safety. All of our climbing instructors and mountaineering guides have undergone rigorous training and assessment through national awarding bodies and undergone a very strict recruitment process. Passionate climbers and mountaineers themselves, they have the skills and experience to ensure the safety of everybody involved.
Do I need to bring Food and Drink?
For most activities participants will need to bring some form of packed lunch. This would usually include about two litres of water, a sandwich, and something to nibble throughout the day. Foods like a flapjack or Snicker bar make excellent choices. The sugar breaks down quickly and can often give a much needed energy boost, whereas things like nuts, oats and grains break down more slowly and will give a slow release of energy throughout the day. A Jam sandwich is another good example of a food that combines both a quick and slow energy release. On cold days, it's also useful to bring a flask of hot tea/coffee.
For some activities, such as the multi-day Welsh 3000 (14 Peaks) Challenge, we will provide food and drinks, and will ask about dietary requirements as part of the booking process.
What clothing should I wear?
What you choose to wear will depend on the activity you are going to take part in. Once you've booked a place on an activity, you will receive a kit list which has been tailored to that specific activity. There are however some considerations which are universal:
For the most part, personal preference will be the deciding factor. However, some fabrics are better suited than others. For climbing indoors or on fine sunny days, cotton is fine, but for most other activities it is best avoided. Of particular concern is that cotton retains moisture and is very slow to dry. In less than perfect conditions, this could mean having cold wet clothes against your skin and put you at risk of hypothermia. Man-made materials such as nylon, polyester, and fleece are far better. If you like tight-fitting clothes then make sure they stretch.
In all cases, footwork is important so trousers which obscure your feet should be avoided. Leggings are a popular choice for girls.
You should always carry a spare fleece and a waterproof coat. A hat and gloves are also a must in cold winter conditions.
Do I need to / can I bring my own Equipment?
For most activities you will need to bring a rucksack containing food, water and toiletries.
Once you’ve decided that you love climbing and mountaineering so much that you can’t live without it, you will need to invest in some climbing equipment, such as a helmet, harness and climbing shoes. In the meantime we will provide all of the equipment required to take part in our activities. If you already have some equipment that you'd like to use then by all means bring it with you. The equipment will need to be assessed by our staff before use and they may decide that you will need to use our equipment instead.
Will there be toilets, sanitation or other facilities?
The majority of outdoor venues that we operate in don't have toilet facilities so we suggest you schedule a toilet stop before arriving. That being said, needing the toilet is unavoidable so please bring toiletries and let the instructor know and he/she will allocate a suitable place. This will be at least 50m away from any crag, footpath or watercourse and when possible, out of sight.
You will need to bring a plastic bag to carry out any used toiletries.
What will the weather be like?
We are blessed in Snowdonia with a huge diversity of outdoor environments. There's enough here for a lifetime of activity, if only we had better weather.
Obviously, we can't dictate what the weather will be like on the day so it is best to come prepared for all eventualities. This is particularly so when venturing into the mountains.
Your instructor will keep a close eye on developing conditions during the days leading up to the activity. If the weather looks too prohibitive then we will try to arrange another date. If this is not possible then we will refund customers the full amount that they have paid for the activity.
We can't be held accountable for any other losses.
First Aid - What if I / my child gets hurt?
All of our mountain guides and climbing instructors hold first aid qualifications which are delivered and assessed by national awarding bodies. They receive regular first training and will carry a first aid kit to all activities.
What is the student:instructor ratio?
What if I change my mind? What if I need to Cancel?
There are many factors which need to be considered when organising an activity and each one can be a complex and drawn out process. Given two weeks notice we will issue a full refund without question. After this we calculate refunds using the following formula:
R = (N-2) x 8.333
Where R is the %Refund, and N is the number of days before the activity.
For example, if you were to cancel 5 days before the activity, you would receive a 25 percent refund: (5-2) x 8.333 = 25
This is capped at 100% refund with 2 weeks notice.
Are Instructors DBS Checked?
Yes, we require a DBS check as part of the recruitment process.
How do I contact Customer Service?
The best way to contact customer service is to send us a message.
What about my health conditions?
Our experienced staff are well accustomed to working with people with a range of health conditions. However, everybody is unique so we suggest you mention any concerns you may have when placing a booking.
Before taking part in any activity all participants are required to complete a medical form.
What if I / my child has a Disibility or other Special Needs?
Our experienced staff are well accustomed to working with people with a range of needs. As everybody is unique we suggest you mention any concerns you may have when placing a booking.
What will I learn?
This depends on the activity you are taking part in. Our mountain guides and climbing instructors have a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw upon. They should be able to answer questions about the local flora and fauna, the history, or information pertaining to a particular route. If you have a particular goal in mind then please mention this when making a booking.
What do you do that’s really exciting?
What if I / my child is too scared?
We operate a policy of encouragement. We will try talk participants through any fears which they may have and encourage them to take part. We do however feel that it's important not to push people too hard. Ultimately, we want people to enjoy the experience and being forced to do something you don't want to do won't help to achieve this. We will ensure that participants are in control wherever it is safe to do so.
Will I be able to do it?
The answer to this questions is almost always yes. Usually what holds us back is our perception of a given activity. If you have a particular concern then please mention this when making a booking.
What if I’m too weak / not strong or fit enough.
This depends on the activity in question. The physical fitness required for rock climbing is a common misconception; you don't need to be able to do 100 pullups on one finger for most climbs. As climbing is mostly done with the legs (hands are primarily for balance) then if you can walk up a staircase then you are strong enough to climb. With a little extra help, climbing is also possible for people who are physically impaired.
For guided mountain walks we try to give some indication of fitness required in the walk descriptions.
If you are concerned then please mention this when making a booking.
What if I get tired?
Our climbing instructors and mountain guides aren't there to push you to your physical limits. They will try to plan rests into the day accordingly. If they see that somebody is struggling, they will discreetly create an impromptu rest, perhaps to look at an interesting feature of the landscape for example. It is important though that you speak our staff directly and mention any concerns you may have. Reaching a summit might be the goal for the day, but there are many situations which will lead to a party turning around and heading back to the car park.
Who will I be doing it with?
This depends on your booking and activity. If you have a particular concern then please mention this when placing a booking.
What training do instructors / guides / staff members have?
All of our instructors have at the very least, either a Mountain Leader or Climbing Instructor qualification, as well as an emergency first aid qualification. These are governed by national awarding bodies and all candidates undergo strict training and assessment.
In addition to this, we are all passionate mountaineers and climbers and spend most of our spare time in the mountains. As a result, we have a vast wealth of experience to draw upon.
Will I look stupid?
Probably not. It's important to remember that other participants on the same activity will likely have a similar experience. For example, on the beginners rock-climbing course, all particpants will be novices. If you follow the instructor's guidance and ask for clarification of anything you don't fully understand, then there is shouldn't be need for concern.