Posted on May 19th 2019 by Jason Rawles
I’m quite a bit behind on blogs and also planning to split out adventure blogs and post via my new Aspire Don’t Expire Adventure Blog platform. More details on that in due course. However, last weekend something magical happened and I wanted to share it. I was privileged to head up mountain safety via Aspire Adventures for Tom Watsons Snowdon walk which is part of his Adventures 4 Health initiative.
How did this come about…?
I’ve headed up mountain safety for various projects in the outdoor industry and one of those was Street 2 Peak which is an Ordnance Survey initiative. The team at OS involved me to see if I could help with this Adventures 4 Health walk as a) it’s on Snowdon which is my favourite mountain, b) it’s my job to do that, and c) I am incredibly inspired by Tom’s journey.
Tom is being supported by Andrew Denton who is the CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association and between Andrew and I, with support from brands like Ordnance Survey, Youth Adventure Trust, Youth Hostel Association, Ellis Brigham, Camping and Caravanning Club and more, we fleshed out this project and made it come to life.
What is Adventure 4 Health…?
In a nutshell, a few year’s ago Tom was massively overweight, at risk of heart issues and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This shocked Tom in to losing a lot of weight and seeing the benefit of the outdoors as a platform for physical, mental and social wellbeing. This walk on Snowdon was the start of 4 challenges and as mentioned, it was an honour to be asked to head up the mountain side of things.
The safety briefing
As part of the mountain safety it’s important to set expectations and that’s in advance with things like kit lists and registrations and then the evening before, as a team. It’s also a chance for me to start to figure out the team. Most importantly the willingness to listen which is a huge part of safety and success.
I absolutely loved delivering the brief at Plas y Brenin (a wonderful location and national mountain training centre) and chatting with the team. I could sense the excitement coupled with the apprehension and had no doubt that magic was in the air.
The walk on Snowdon
We opted for an early start (6am) to miss the crowds and get Tom to his next destination in time. Taxi’s from Snowdonia Taxi’s collected us (thank you Adam!) and dropped us at Pen y Pass in front of the Youth Hostel. We took some quick pics and got on our way up the PYG Track being sure to start nice and slow. The team were amazing. We made great time and there was so much banter being thrown around!
Rather than have big stops we went for little and often. During the walk we had 4 lots of 10 minute stops and made sure that people stayed warm, hydrated and snacked. We reached the summit in just under 3hrs 30mins and got our pics.
The visitor centre didn’t open until 09:45 so we stuck around, used their facilities when they opened and got under way around 10:15. Then we hit traffic on the mountain!
The way down was via the Miners’ Track and the main reason is the gentle walk out after descending to Llyn Glaslyn. Here we talked about the ‘angry beaver’ and picked up the pace back to Pen y Pass where Adam and his team where waiting to get us back to Plas y Brenin.
The whole team summited in style, as a team, and got back safely with big smiles on their faces. I am so, so proud and big thanks also to Steffan and Scott who supported me as assistant mountain leaders. They were/are legends.
What did I take from this…?
Fundamentally, this isn’t just my ‘job’ it’s my passion, values and way of life. It’s what I live for to be able to help people to aspire. However, I always have my eyes and ears open and want to be receptive to any extra learning that helps me to deliver my best. Here’s some of my observations –
- On this walk we had representation from various political parties and all walks of life. The mountains are non-political, non-judgemental spaces where people can aspire and thrive if they choose to.
- Adventures are the most wonderful space to surrender yourself to and realise a huge sense of vulnerability and humility. This directly leads to mental health wellbeing and de-cluttering your head from the extensive inputs we receive each day.
- The outdoors is awesome for physical wellbeing. The context being relevant to you and it could be a walk on Snowdon, an ultra-marathon or a walk around a lake. That’s your call. But it’s an amazing place and our beautiful country has the best spaces.
- When people work together towards a common goal we can make magic happen. My role is to help support togetherness and then trust that people will follow. On this walk there were people helping, encouraging, motivating and more. The common goal being Snowdon but the wider purpose being Adventures 4 Health. Goal and purpose being critical and then leadership being the glue that holds it together.
- People are wonderful and inspiring. The journey of Tom is amazing but so is the effort that people put in to achieve and inspire others. It gives me goosebumps when I sit and think about it all. It’s great to see people push their personal boundaries and then see their self-esteem and self-worth grow as a by-product.
Please do follow Tom and his journey. I certainly will. We didn’t really talk politics as I’m sure the Deputy Leader of the Labour party has enough of that. But I will say that Tom is a down to earth, humble chap and thoroughly decent guy. I’m inspired by what he’s doing.
This blog will now be more about my thoughts on the world, learnings and thoughts about living your best life. Adventures will be via the Aspire Don’t Expire Adventure Blog. I’ll be launching that properly in due course.
I’m still exploring funding options for my Manaslu climb in September and work is incredibly busy which alone is humbling that people put their trust and faith in me and my businesses.
I should be heading back to weekly blogs so for now, thanks for reading, and please do let me know any thoughts etc. in the comments below… 👇