During half term I had the opportunity to go on a basic rock climbing course in North Wales ran by the Cadet centre for Adventure Training (CCAT) at Capel Curig training camp.

We were in a group of seven for climbing with two instructors. The first day we went to a crag known as Lion Rock near to a Welsh village called Llanddeiniolen, which of course I was not able to pronounce. The climbing was easy that day as the instructors were trying to break us in gently and see our climbing and belaying skills. We saw apache helicopters and a pair of jets flying very low almost below us over the lake.

The second day we went to a crag called Foel Gron which is a very nice sharp grippy volcanic rock on top of a mountain. We got very cold that day because it was windy despite the clear skies. The volcanic rock was great fun to climb on as the sharp corners grip your climbing shoes really well, there were also some overhangs which ripped up my fingers a little. On this rock we were taught how to use trad gear for protection (when you carry equipment to put in cracks in the rock to catch you if you fall).

On the third day we went Sport Climbing at Castle Inn Quarry North West of Capel Curig which had shorter and more difficult climbs 6b+ to 7a (if you understand climbing terms), on these climbs there are bolts to hold you up so there was no need for trad gear and I was able to try lead climbing for the first time which is where you carry the rope up with you as you go and clip into carabiners as you pass them rather than having a rope from above you holding you up if you fall.

On the fourth day we drove up to Anglesey to climb on Holyhead Mountain. There were some very long crack climbs which I really enjoyed despite tearing my hands up on the rocks. Crack climbing usually means that there are little to no hand and footholds apart from one crack which you have to wedge your hands and feet into in order to climb up which is very challenging but good fun. The walk up to the climb was over huge boulders which was fairly challenging carrying all the ropes and gear over the very rough terrain. On the way back we stopped in at Joe Browns climbing shop where the instructors taught us about all the different shapes of carabiner and belay devices and what they are used for. I ended up buying a pair of climbing shoes as the ones I was issued got torn up on the volcanic rock.

On the last day we only had half the day to climb and the weather was much more Welsh (tipping it down) so we drove back up to Anglesey to the Army’s indoor climbing wall were we attempted some really tricky climbing on the wall and the bouldering rock. We then went to a café to finish off the week with a Welsh rock cake and coffee while chatting about the week. Then it was back to camp for the presentation of the certificates, before then catching a train back to Taunton from a beautiful welsh village called Betws-y-Coed then via Chester and Birmingham on a Friday night (delayed trains and busy platforms).

I got home at 11:00pm and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire 5 days from start to finish and I have signed up for more courses over the next half term.

CCAT run many different courses (a typical course is £40) and as a member of the CCF you can apply, all you need to do is find a course www.armycadetadventure.co.uk and then speak to Mr Sainsbury. Most courses also count for Dof E Residential.

William Hudson