Friday, 27 February 2015

Mountain Views monthly newsletter



A piece from the Mountain Views monthly newsletter:



SUMMITEERS CORNER
A place for those interested in Summiteering, Bagging or Highpointing.

The Surprising History of Lists of Irish Summits

Myrddyn Phillips who assisted MV by providing list data in our early days, takes an interest in the history of hill and mountain lists, in this case lists about Irish Hills.

You can view a spreadsheet detailing his researches. 
Click here.

Astonishingly the history includes nearly 40 lists and that before the year 2000. There are a few more he hasn't included as yet (though he plans to I gather) including County Highpoints and some MV lists which started in 2002. The history is interesting from a number of points of view and shows a progression in terms of comprehensiveness and accuracy in line with the improving maps of Ireland.

MountainViews believes that for summiteering to become a mass activity or discipline of hillwalking, a degree of selection is required to present a coherent family of lists. We also believe that the state of the art for lists goes well beyond the basic geography of early lists and should include as accurate hill-surveying as necessary, cultural information such as all names including those in Irish, geology, summarised data about available routes and a framework of appropriate area names.

Additionally ongoing maintenance is a requirement of a modern list in our view. MountainViews now has a system for allowing any member to suggest improvements to its lists (Propose Places Database Change) which over time will, we believe, ensure accuracy and comprehensiveness. Additionally MountainViews website presents list data in the context of a huge amount of crowd-sourced comments, ratings, photos, videos and GPS tracks.

Nevertheless, do take a look at this history of lists and be amazed. You can also see Myrddyn's Blog Here

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Guest Contributor – Richard Moss


Introduction

I have approached a number of people to write articles, but if readers would like to contribute an article please contact me. The only two stipulations I make are that the article has to be hill related and that I don't end up in court through its publication! Otherwise the choice of subject matter is down to the Guest Contributor.

Guest Contributor – Richard Moss


Richard Moss was a molecular Physicist by profession, on retirement he moved to Cumbria for the orienteering, croquet and fellwalking.  He is the son of Ted Moss; one of the most important of the early hill listers

Ted Moss (1907-1987)

Myyrddyn has asked me to write something about my father who appears in Part 7 of his blog on Welsh Hill Lists. As is often the case there are things he never told me and now it is too late to ask him.

Edward Moss, usually known as Ted, was born in Eccles in 1907. He went to Eccles Grammar School from 1916 to 1918 followed by Manchester Grammar School (Rooke Corbett had been there earlier) leaving in 1925; he was University material, but did not go as family support was not forthcoming. Instead he worked as a lab assistant at Shirley Institute, the textile research centre in Didsbury and went to night school at Manchester Tech eventually getting a degree in Chemistry at London University as an external student in 1932. His mathematics was also good and this seemed to run in the family as his great grandfather had published a book in 1848, “Cotton Manufacturers, Managers and Spinners New Pocket Guide” in which he extolled the use of the metric system.

In the war he was in a reserved occupation researching combat clothing among other things. He rose to head of the Mechanical Finishing Department at Shirley Institute but was made redundant in 1966 after the Conservatives had financed a new building but without making provision for its maintenance. He rejected teaching and without any formal training became a medical statistician in the Industrial Health Department at Manchester University. There he advised the researchers and gave lectures to industrial health officers; he was kept on after reaching 65 for a number of years.

In the late1920’s he walked in the Peak District and with friends started rock climbing learning from books until they met other climbers. He climbed in Scotland and on one occasion above Sligachan he met the ghillie John McKenzie who had been with Collie and after whom Sgurr MhicCoinnich was named. He had several visits to the Alps and among other mountains climbed Mont Blanc, but bad weather denied him the Matterhorn; the alpine ascents were guideless.

In 1930 he was elected to the Rucksack Club and he was devoted to it for the rest of his life. He was Outdoor Organiser for 10 years and I recall helping him compile a league table of meet attenders at the end of each year. I remember going on early meets such as the annual summer climbing meet at Cratcliffe and in particular the dinner meets on Kinder the day after the Rucksack Club Dinner which always started with coffee at Tunstead. In 1953 John Hunt was guest of honour at the dinner and my father pointed him out as he strode past the window. My brother Edward and I sprinted after him to get his autograph. In 1955 Neil Mather came round one evening before leaving for Kangchenjunga and I distinctly remember my younger brother asking for his autograph “in case you don’t come back”. Neil held the altitude record on Kangchenjunga for a day before George Band and Joe Brown summited. Ted’s advice was often sought, for example when Ted Dance was contemplating a continuous Lakes 25’s. His technical expertise was used when he designed a new knot for the Piggott stretcher and he was on the ropes committee of the British Standards Institute. In 1931 he was on an early mountain rescue involving Craig yr Ysfa and was an extra in a film about mountain rescue featuring a supposed accident on Tryfan which was actually filmed on the Carneddau. He was President of the Rucksack Club for 1958 and 1959.

I have been asked if Ted was on the Kinder mass trespass. I don’t think so. The Rucksack Club members in those days were mainly professional gentlemen, some of whom knew landowners. I gathered that outside the grouse shooting season there were understandings with some of them and through them, their gamekeepers. The Club was anxious not to jeopardise existing arrangements. Of course, that did not stop discreet trespassing in other parts and the illicit use of the shooting cabins.

Ted’s interest in lists must have started in the early 1930’s because he added a few 25’s to Corbett’s list in 1933. I assume he met Rooke Corbett, because he was also in the Rucksack Club, but he never mentioned it to me and I was remiss in never asking. Between then and 1951 he was busy ticking not just 2,000’s but also county tops. This was tolerated by his wife Deborah whom he married in 1936; she told me she first called him a bugger half way up Arrowhead ridge on Great Gable, where I believe there’s a big step across a gap. On holiday when my brother and I were young, he would leave the family to peakbag and I remember waiting for him to return on one occasion on a Pennine pass when we were on the way to the NE coast. I recall an Easter when he went to Devon with his bicycle by train to do Yes Tor and High Willhays. During the War the family car, a Morris 8 tourer, was up on bricks and his peak bagging was done by train and bike.

Ted Moss (right) with Keith Treacher at the 1982 Rucksack Club Dinner .  Keith completed Ted's lists and it's more than likely they were discussing 2,000fts.  Keith wrote the biography of  Siegfried Herford, a leading rock climber before the Fist World War

By the time he had completed the 2,000’s of England and Wales, and the County Tops, I was old enough to walk with him and I remember going up Snowdon, Tryfan and the Glyders. He also showed me how to find the top of Kinder Scout; from the Downfall, up the Kinder River, past Kinder Gates, turn off to find the Stockport Water Works rain gauge, resist temptation and use it as an attack point for the top. On a holiday in the Lakes we parked at Gatescarth, walked over Scarth gap, down into Ennerdale and up to Pillar Rock. He led me up the Old West Route and we descended by Slab and Notch, so I had ticked Pillar Rock almost as soon as I started peak bagging. Unfortunately he was then in bed with lumbago; back trouble seems to be a family problem and he can’t have been helped by Digging for Victory in his allotment. This was the last time he rock climbed and his walking was much curtailed after that, though his holidays with Deborah were usually in hilly areas. In 1981 he visited his last 2,000, Twmpa (Lord Hereford’s Knob), from Gospel Pass. As he stated in one of his Rucksack Club articles he then concentrated more on collecting stamps with pictures of mountains on them and also specialised in Gibraltar.

So my brother and I were both brought up to the mountains. We both worked as students at CHA guest houses leading walks, even in the Lakes in winter, with no formal training at all. Ted once came up to Seatoller to support the two of us as we did the Lakeland Seven from there.

His lists and articles together with a brief history of them can be found at




All Those Two-Thousands

By Richard Moss

(based on a 2007 article in the Rucksack Club Journal)

In the 1952 Journal there was an article with this title by my father Edward (Ted) Moss where he gave his thoughts on peak bagging. He had visited all the two-thousands of England and Wales that were on his lists and those of Simpson for the Lake District. It was about this time that I copied these lists into exercise books and started to tick them off. I like to think that my first two-thousand was Kinder on a RC Dinner Meet, but it may have been The Twmpa (Lord Hereford’s Knob) in the Black Mountains; we spent several summer holidays in the Wye Valley.

It seems that peak bagging was an early preoccupation of the Club, judging by J Rooke Corbett’s article in the 1911 Journal, in which he listed the twenty-fives of England and Wales; any point above the 2,500 foot contour line that appeared on a reputable map, such as Bartholomews’ or the Ordnance Survey one inch map was included. In the following year he added a few more and reported a discussion based on Gallt yr Ogof (2,499 feet) as to what could qualify as a twenty-five; the conclusion was that a jump of at least one foot would count as another tick. It was not until the 1929 Journal that Corbett published a revised list and a few more were added by Ted Moss in the 1933 Journal. An opportunity for revising the list had arisen with the publication of the one inch Ordnance Survey map Popular edition, which had a 50 foot contour interval, and all tops with a separate contour ring were included, together with a few special cases. This seems to be the origin of the 50 foot contour ring criterion, and of course it led to anomalies. On the ridge between Great Dodd and Watson's Dodd there is a slight rise with a complete contour ring; it became known as Corbett’s Pancake and it seems a pity that it has not survived in recent lists. Presumably some surveying was done from valleys and certainly it looks a respectable top from near Blencathra Sanitorium.  Corbett’s twenty-fives of England and Wales thus predated The Corbetts of Scotland by nearly twenty years, since the latter were not published (by the SMC) till after his death in 1949. Incidentally I was pleased to learn that not only did I go to one of the schools that Corbett attended in Manchester (as did Ted Moss and Gordon Adshead) but that I also went to the same College.

In the 1930’s activity increased. W.T. Elmslie published a list of the two-thousands of England and Wales in the 1933 Fell and Rock Club Journal using the half-inch Bartholomew map, which had 250 foot contours. He included any point with a height given on the map of over 2,000 feet, which led to the inclusion of Red Tarn on Helvellyn along with some other anomalies. Then in 1937 F.H.F. Simpson published in the Wayfarers’ Journal a list of the 2000's of the Lake District using the one-inch map and a 50 foot contour ring definition. This was soon followed by the Ted Moss lists (using the same definition) for the rest of England (1939 RCJ) and for Wales (1940 RCJ). In those days the OS maps did not include grid references, so the position of a top was recorded as being in a 2 mile by 2 mile square by a lettered and numbered grid as in many road atlases. It was in 1952 that Edward Moss reported that he had visited every summit in England and Wales in the article All Those Two-Thousands, which included some additions to the lists and he noted further additions in the 1954 Journal. Subsequently he listed and visited all the (then) county tops of England and Wales.

He collected the tops during the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s, during which time he was the Club’s Outdoor Organiser (1945-55). Train and bicycle were used for at least some of his trips, particularly during the war, when the family car, a Morris 8 Tourer, was up on bricks. I recall waiting in the car with my brother and mother on the way to a family holiday on the NE coast somewhere in the Pennines while he nipped up some missing peak. Also I remember Easter 1950 at home in Manchester while he was visiting the Dartmoor tops by train and bike.

Many other England and Wales lists have been published since his, starting with the 1973 book by Bridge, who acknowledged his use of the earlier research. Subsequent lists appear to be unaware of the original published lists and this has led to some notable omissions. For example North Star was added recently, but is on Simpson’s 1937 list as Honister Crag. In Wales the Guardian reported in 1988 that a group of pensioners had discovered a new peak in the Berwyns and it now seems that this is called Cadair Berwyn New Top although it is in Corbett’s 1929 list as Cader Berwyn S Top. A few new peaks have been recognized, not because earlier listers were not diligent in there searches, but because of failings in the maps available to them, with crag symbols often obliterating contours. More recent lists have refined the definition of a two-thousand, to a 50 foot drop all round rather than a contour ring. Hi-tech is now being used to determine if a doubtful top qualifies, sometimes with agonizing over whether a drop is 49 feet or 51 feet. It seems that to some the technology is of more importance than visiting a likely spot.

Over the years I added to my own lists the few new peaks reported, including rejects from other lists, and anything that looked interesting on the map. I left Manchester when I was 17 and spent student vacations working in North Wales and the Lake District, so by the time I got stuck working in Hampshire I had completed the Lake District list and the Carneddau, Glyders and Snowdon groups. Progress then slowed considerably, with orienteering becoming a major interest, but with in-laws in North Wales the rest of Wales eventually succumbed. It was not till retirement to Cumbria that I turned my attention to the Pennines and rapid progress soon had me thinking which should be my last top, since it should clearly be a significant one that I had never visited.

I had never been in Manchester for the Marsden to Edale walk, which is permanently on the Club calendar for early January, so early in 2007 I finished on Bleaklow. I was alone and sat with some red wine thinking of my father.

At the Club Centenary Dinner Jim Perrin spoke about how Members went on and on and on. I don’t think he had in mind anything like Kinder to Bleaklow in Over 55 Years, which could well be the subtitle to this article.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Mountain - ITV Cymru Wales 23 Feb 8pm



THE MOUNTAIN

A 6 x 24 minute series for ITV Wales filmed in 2014 for TX in early 2015

This series brings you a year in the life of Snowdon …capturing the beauty of 4 glorious seasons and the drama of real life stories.

Filmed through the four seasons – this is the life cycle of the men and women who are the guardians of this incredible mountain.


·         Rob Johnson - Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team
A professional Mountain Instructor and key member of the MRT.
GoPro footage “on board” will take the viewer with the Team onto the mountain – capturing the weather conditions and the element of danger and pulse racing excitement.  A balance of a multitude of story lines and portraits of characters – will showcase training and fund raising days and emphasize the educational elements of mountain safety.

·        Dewi Davies - Head Warden Snowdonia National Park - – a portrait of his work and the role of the National Park

·     Steff Owen – Track Maintenance Foreman on Snowdon Mountain Railway – 3rd generation worker on the mountains main Tourist Attraction/ Business.

·         Helen Mai Jones – Gwastadanas Farm, Nant Gwynant. A young family of mountain sheep farmers and their battle to raise a family and earn a living on the mountain. Their farm land extends to the summit of Snowdon and takes in the rugged and breathtaking horse shoe.

·        Alwena  Jones – Half Way Café (1,870 ft) – Portrait of a family business earning a living half way up the Mountain.


These are epic stories from the edge of nature, from the edge of a world that is forever changing and forever interesting. Their tales reveal the mountains moods - that can be cruel, kind, beautiful, treacherous, magical, mysterious ......sometimes life forming....sometimes life threatening....

The beauty and danger of life on the busiest mountain in the world.

Background :
Slam Media Ltd is a boutique independent media production company with a
reputation for excellence in delivering;
·         Complex and ambitious Sports, Events & Reality programming
·         State of the art insightful Documentaries
·         Bespoke Corporate commissioned projects.

Created by award winning Producers Geraint Lewis & Aled Llŷr, Slam is a fully
fledged, technically equipped independent production company whose output can
be seen on BBC Network, BBC Wales, S4C, Sky, ESPN, Channel 4.



Wednesday, 18 February 2015

On Location with Daria Martin


Introduction:

When I was approached a number of weeks ago with an inquiry relating to the Trimble and its use in surveying, I replied with a factual answer giving details about the equipment I own; the Trimble GeoXH 6000, and the equipment I partly own along with John and Graham in G&J Surveys; the Leica GS15.

As the thread of emails continued I became more and more intrigued as the person making the inquiries passed me onto Isabella Palmer, who in time introduced me to an artist by the name of Daria Martin.  When Daria was introduced to me, Isabella had already decided that she preferred the Trimble and that one person giving advice was plenty sufficient.

Daria Martin - Artist and Director
The thread of emails soon gave details to a life of conceptual art based on 16mm film making, with Daria being the Director of an upcoming film based around what is known as mirror-touch synaesthesia.

To say I was intrigued is an understatement.

Daria wanted to film on location in a mountain environment and I had been found via the Mapping Mountains blog, and as the blog fulfilled both the use of surveying equipment and it being used in a mountain environment, I was asked if I could participate as an advisor with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 being used in the film.

The chosen location was Snowdonia, this soon narrowed down to Snowdon itself with a prerequisite of snow, snow, snow being the order of the day.

As photographs appeared on social media with the higher Snowdonia peaks based in sunshine whilst smothered in snow, and all above a seemingly daily cloud inversion, I notified Isabella and Daria that if having snow was an important part of the film the chosen location was now in ideal conditions.  They acted quickly and organised all necessary personnel to meet in Llanberis on Friday 13th February.  Although the organisation had been excellent the high pressure system that had stabilised over the country for almost two weeks and which had consolidated the cold conditions had now edged eastward as a low pressure system and its rain band edged in.  However, all was not lost and as we gathered in Llanberis on the Friday afternoon the low cloud over the higher peaks added a visual detachment to proceedings that for me, added a certain mystery and intrigue to the forthcoming weekend.

Who is Daria Martin and what is mirror-touch synaesthesia?

Daria Martin is a Professor with teaching interest at St John’s, and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University.  Her ‘Film Sensorium’ course explores the overlap between industrial and art filmmaking, including the sensory and conceptual possibilities opened by the medium.  She has exhibited in the New Museum in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Kunsthalle Zürich in Zurich and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.  She received the Wellcome Trust Arts Award in 2008 and 2010, Philip Levhulme Prize in 2009 and the Leverhulme Network Award in 2012.

Mirror-touch synaesthesia is a recently diagnosed rare neurological condition, where people physically experience touches that have taken place outside of their body by other people, usually on inanimate objects.  These experiences can be diverse and can include the sensation of a person’s touch on an object or the sensation of touch from something that is seen on screen.

For sufferers of mirror-touch synaesthesia large crowds can be overwhelming, whereas the opposite is true of large open spaces, and this is where a mountain environment with its space, openness and wilderness can help people who suffer with this rare neurological condition.

Recce:

The bleakness of a Welsh winter with its drab greys and shielded mountain tops was prevalent as I drove to Llanberis.  This drabness of landscape seen from a car was offset with the welcome I received from Jim and Eryl at the Plas Coch Guesthouse.  This was my lodging for the weekend, and it is rather immaculate and tastefully stylised, the atmosphere being one of openness, friendliness and comfort.  It is highly recommended for those wanting a relaxed stay in a town which is situated in the heart of the highest mountains in Wales.

The Plas Coch guesthouse
My first base camp for the weekend
Once I had been shown to my room I quickly headed out to the Y Gwynedd where Daria and her recording engineers were staying.  As I wandered up the road I met Emma and Pete outside the Y Gwynedd as they pulled out a number of steel cases, all of which protected the cameras and lenses that were to be used on the shoot.  Emma was the Director of Photography and Pete the Camera Assistant; they had driven from London that morning.  We chatted as they carried their gear up the stairs to their rooms; they explained that Daria was going to be an hour later than expected due to delayed train connections.

As Emma and Pete sorted their gear I happily watched the steady drops of rain fall outside, puddles had formed on the tarmac and the warmth of watching such a scene from the comfort of being indoors gave a melancholy feeling to proceedings, one where I contentedly became almost hypnotised in thought, only succumbing to my surroundings to visit Emma and Pete and be impressed by the quantity of kit they had brought for the impending shoot.

Daria had come by train from London to Bangor, and then by taxi to Llanberis, accompanying her was Myles who’s role was as sole actor, also arriving with Daria was Kate and Zeno, Kate being the Nanny to Daria’s young son; Zeno.

After accustoming themselves to their surroundings and introductions having taken place we jumped in two cars and drove upto Pen y Pass.  This had been decided to be our gateway to the higher Welsh wilderness where filming was to take place.  We briefly examined the possibilities of the area up the Pyg Track, this path gives access toward Crib Goch but being enclosed with steep slopes in most directions it is restrictive for a diversity of film locations.

We then walked up the Miners Track, I knew this would give greater possibilities but I was aware of the weight and bulk of film gear that Emma and Pete had to carry, however Pete had said that he had completed the Three Peaks and although he was suffering with the remnants of tonsillitis he looked very capable of being able to cope with extended hours in a mountain environment.

Heading up the Miners Track in late afternoon light
As we walked up the Miners Track the late afternoon light gave a soothing feel to the surroundings with snow streaks appearing out of cloud cover with higher ridges out of view.  The still waters of Llyn Teyrn reflected the higher rock buttresses with ice circling the inner part of the lake.

Llyn Teyrn
The Miners Track climbs at a steady gradient until after the waters of Llyn Llydaw are reached, once around this lake the track steepens until the high watered Cwm of Glaslyn, beyond are the zig zags leading to Bwlch Glas and the last climb upto Wales’ high point; Yr Wyddfa.

Ideally this late afternoon recce needed to find an environment that gave some diversity for filming and one that suited Daria’s sensory fulfilment, this would be dictated by Daria as Director with essential input also by Emma, the Director of Photography.  All I hoped was that my memory of the area around Llyn Llydaw and the possibilities around that lake for filming had not been forgotten, as it had been many years since I had last walked up this route.

We stopped on the path above Llyn Teyrn and looked out at the continuing track as it climbed steadily up toward the horizon; we still had time to head further into the hills so we decided to press on.  By now the weather had become steadfast with a cloud cap of murk over the higher hills but as we passed a small herd of feral goats munching their way through the landscape of Eryri, a thin slender thread of mist nestled against hillsides below the cloud cap; this gave a delicate, almost surreal element to the afternoon’s proceedings.

Feral goats, often found grasing on the lower hillsides around Llyn Llydaw
When we reached Llyn Llydaw Daria examined the land that we could see, as beyond the lake the lower grey snow streaked rock grew upwards into greyness of murk.  We stopped in the area of the lake for a half hour or so and only started our descent when the first heavy rain drops fell, thankfully the expected heavy downpour never materialised, but gentle winter dampness pervaded.

Above Llyn Llydaw
Once at the cars we headed back to Llanberis where I had a quick wash, a change of clothes and joined Daria, Kate and Zeno for a meal in the Y Gwynedd, we were soon joined by Emma and Pete with the Sound Recordist; Jake, arriving later in the evening having had a six hour drive from London to join us.  Myles had opted for a quiet night and didn’t join the festivities in the bar.

Filming:

We arranged to meet at 7.30am the following morning and once my 6.50am scheduled breakfast had been savoured I thanked Jim and Eryl and joined the others at the Y Gwynedd.  Emma and Pete headed off first to Pen y Pass, Daria and Myles accompanied me, with Jake following in his car.  Prior to the previous evening it had been a long time since I had last parked at Pen y Pass and the ticket attendant seems to have now gone, being replaced by an automated pay and display machine.  Our £10.00s were readily dispensed with and stickers laid on dashboards, and with all necessary kit packed and accounted for were headed up the Miners Track.

Emma Dalsman - Director of Photography
Pete Lowden - Camera Assistant














Jake Whitelee - Sound Recordist


Myles Westman - Actor
As the previous evening was one of enclosed late colour, this morning had freshness given to the landscape, the high summits were still enshrouded by their customary cloud, but the early start gave a subtle hue to the morning’s colour and as we continued toward Llyn Llydaw I happily took photos of our party as they made their way up towards the inner mountain sanctuary around the lake.

On the way upto Llyn Llydaw
Myles and Jake with Moel Berfedd in the background
Llyn Llydaw nestles between the green lower hills and the grey rock somewhere up yonder
Llyn Llydaw is a natural lake that is now a reservoir with waters running into the Cwm Dyli pipeline, this two kilometre long pipeline feeds water into a hydro-electric power station.  As we arrived at the lake Pete unwrapped a protective sheet and laid it on the flat rock next to the Llydau Valve House (Adeilad Falf Llydau), this was to be our base camp for the day and soon a variety of film gear was neatly stacked in protective rucksacks laid out on the sheet.

Base camp for the day, beside the Llydau Valve House
Daria had found three places from the previous evening’s recce where she now wanted to film, we started on the top of a small grassed mound given the height of 446m on the Ordnance Survey map, which is just to the south of the Miners Track as it heads over the Llyn Llydaw causeway.  It was here that Daria wanted the Trimble set-up on its tripod; this was going to be the main prop of the day.  However, Myles would operate this and it only took one lesson on how to assemble the equipment and create a file and log data for him to quickly memorise everything.

Emma and Pete sorting the camera gear
As this was done Emma filmed under Daria’s instruction.  It was fascinating watching the roles of each person, all seemed in sync with words said that I did not know the meaning of, but one quickly followed another as clapper board was clapped, sound recordist quickly confirmed his OK, followed by a quick response by the photographer and then a slight pause until Daria as Director said ‘action’.  All smoothly flowed with much discussion between, with ideas and scenarios being gently bounced from one person to the next, however much I wanted to get involved I realised that my position was on the fringe to be called upon when needed.

Preparing to shoot
Daria had already told me in the email exchange we had prior to meeting that Myles would sing to the camera, this had partly surprised me, but also intrigued as conceptual art via the medium of film was new to me.

As the backdrop of Eryri with her soft coloured winter refinement of beige moor, grey slate hillside and a canopy of morning cloud enveloped us, the gentle sound of Myles’ voice sank out in kindly profusion of sound; motion and land, all seemed to merge into one.  I had wondered how the singing element of what was to take place would work; it slowly took over, giving an enchanted enrichment to proceedings.  It was surreal as well as harmonious with Myles singing numbered readings from imaginary surveys with heights and drops quoted, some of these taken from the blog by Daria, who had scripted the film to match the rhythmic echo of music which Jake; the sound recordist, was playing via an I-Pod to Myles who had a small ear piece, thus giving an added word rendition to a hauntingly surreal melody of music that occasionally crept out to be dissipated amongst the higher peaks of Eryri.  I wonder if they had ever experienced the like of this before.

Myles being filmed operating the Trimble GeoXH 6000
As filming took place Crib Goch would emerge from behind its cloud with steep rock buttresses heading skyward to its knife edged ridge, its profile then disappeared from view as the next take and the hauntingly surreal play of height and drop was sang out again.  I had previously asked Daria why she used film instead of digital equipment and she explained that film gave a greater depth, whereas digital was flat, although the latter was forever catching up with the former.  This was something that I had noticed since giving up transparency film in favour of digital photography, but I had never been able to describe it in simple but eloquent terms as this.  All I could muster was that it was different and didn’t seem to give the same vibrant colour.

Crib Goch above the waters of Llyn Llydaw
As the first scene was completed I packed the Trimble away and we headed back to base camp where Pete soon set-up the portable dark room, which constituted a small tent in which he removed one completed film canister and uploaded the next for scene two.

Pete changing film canisters in the portable mini dark room
The next scene was planned to be one of Myles walking through the land, with Emma positioning the camera close to the ground following Myles’ feet.  The structure of each take was now apparent with one or two trial runs taking place before the first take.  Each scene usually had at least two takes, with some having three or four.  As this scene was filmed away from the Valve House I remained with the gear and took long distance photos as Emma followed Myles with Jake positioning his sound boom and Pete adjusting and monitoring the camera that Emma operated, all looked over by Daria who set the scene up and instructed where Myles needed to be.  I thought this all quite fascinating.

Emma filming Myles under Daria's direction
As I looked out over our gear the first ebbs of cold sank into my body, I had already donned water proof trousers for extra warmth and a fleece top to go over my thermal shirt and under my winter coat, but the cold still crept in, all that remained to be put on was by outer Goretex shell, but this would be my last resort if a shivering chill set-in, thankfully it was not needed.

After scene two had been shot they moved farther into the hills and looked at two other locations, during this time I started to examine my immediate surroundings in greater depth.  This is something I’ve gotten used to when on long surveying trips with John and Graham when four hours of data is sometimes taken, amusement and conversation is then usually at a premium, I can do both quite easily, and long waits seem not to bother me.  I find immersion in one’s surroundings to be beneficial and as Daria, Emma, Myles, Pete and Jake wandered ever higher I found conversation with a number of people who came my way, all were friendly and only too willing to pass the time of day and chat with me.  However, two of the friendliest were Filip and Hannah; they were a wondrous couple as they uncannily matched with their beautiful smiles and joy of being together.  But above all else their appearance was striking, with brightly coloured matching garments, I had to take there photo and they obliged with big happy smiles, and many thanks to both for giving permission for their photo to appear on my blog – thanks Filip and Hannah.

Filip and Hannah
One by one the film crew headed back to base, I’d kept my eye on proceedings from a small bump above our base camp and had spotted Daria and Emma heading up into the snow and disappearing behind the ridge, they soon emerged again and descended on the path heading down from Lliwedd Bach.

We now headed back to where the first scene had been shot at the top of the 446m map heighted mound.  Daria again wanted the Trimble assembled and once set-up Myles sang an accompaniment of lyrical words, some seemingly disconnected, others smoothly flowing and all being perfect toward the other, an endless eloquence of scene and sound.  It was now making more sense to me; I am ever a person who enjoys experiencing out of the norm situations, and this situation was quickly fitting into an understandable element of motion coupled with sound mixed with landscape, all merged harmoniously as one, a flux of rhythmic tranquillity, a gentle forbearing of delicate portrayal, a silken thread pieced together by a conceptual mind, and a mind that seemed to view motion in a very different way, certainly from me at least, but a mind whose concepts bore fruition and one that explored meaning, and a mind that challenged the norm.  One element fitted another, all blending and merging with Myles’ voice intrinsic as the soul piece.  All quite wondrous, it pulled me in hook, line and sinker!

Preparing to film
Myles singing heights, drops and words associated with landscape
Once completed the Trimble was packed away and we moved from the top of the 446m high mound to another mound that overlooked the lake, Daria then set up another shoot with Myles filmed walking to the edge of the mound overlooking the lake and the ever emerging backdrop of Y Lliwedd.  I happily took photos and watched as a number of people headed down from the end of the horseshoe stopping en route to watch proceedings as one by one the film crew positioned themselves and ‘action’ was called.

Filming Myles with the bulk of Y Lliwedd as backdrop
By late afternoon the peaks were finally emerging
Before filming the next scene Emma filmed the mountain backdrop, it was perfect as the cloud had now lessened with the peaks leading upto Yr Wyddfa slowly emerging, even Wales’ highest mountain made a dramatic appearance for all too short a time as its pyramidal outline was again swallowed whole into the quickly approaching night.

Filming the mountain backdrop
The Director's view
The penultimate scene was filmed beside the shore of Llyn Llydaw with Myles playing with the feel and sound of ice which had split into straight lined slender blocks.

Reflections in Llyn Llydaw
Beside Llyn Llydaw with Crib Goch in the background
Filming Myles playing with the ice
We now decamped toward our initial base at the Valve House but not before the final scene, this was another of Myles walking with a backdrop of mountains.

Filming complete we headed back toward the Miners Track
Once completed we made our way down the Miners Track, Pete and Emma shot off ahead as they wanted to get back to the Y Gwynedd to sort all their gear before having an evening meal as they had a long drive back to London the next day.  This left Daria, Myles, Jake and me to walk down the track.  Daria wanted a recording of Myles singing all the threads that had been sung during the day.  And as darkness imperceptivity crept toward us we sat next to the track with Jake recording Myles singing in his smooth and gentle voice as one lyrical word led into another.  Daria suggested a second take, and then a third just of the end worded song.  It was all quite beautiful.  Something that was transient and heightened in its passing in time.  There and now gone, a moment in time to be savoured.

We left chatting our way down to the cars, a very fulfilling and interesting day on the hill, one of the like that I had not experienced before, but the ending was perfect as by the time we arrived back at Pen y Pass it was 6.45pm and dark, which added the final element to a most unusual but highly enjoyable day.

Please visit Daria Martin’s website, it has a serenity of style and a gentling affect. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Mountain - ITV Cymru Wales 16 Feb 8pm




THE MOUNTAIN

A 6 x 24 minute series for ITV Wales filmed in 2014 for TX in early 2015


This series brings you a year in the life of Snowdon …capturing the beauty of 4 glorious seasons and the drama of real life stories.

Filmed through the four seasons – this is the life cycle of the men and women who are the guardians of this incredible mountain.


·         Rob Johnson - Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team
A professional Mountain Instructor and key member of the MRT.
GoPro footage “on board” will take the viewer with the Team onto the mountain – capturing the weather conditions and the element of danger and pulse racing excitement.  A balance of a multitude of story lines and portraits of characters – will showcase training and fund raising days and emphasize the educational elements of mountain safety.

·       Dewi Davies - Head Warden Snowdonia National Park - – a portrait of his work and the role of the National Park.

·    Steff Owen – Track Maintenance Foreman on Snowdon Mountain Railway – 3rd generation worker on the mountains main Tourist Attraction/ Business.

·         Helen Mai Jones – Gwastadanas Farm, Nant Gwynant. A young family of mountain sheep farmers and their battle to raise a family and earn a living on the mountain. Their farm land extends to the summit of Snowdon and takes in the rugged and breathtaking horse shoe.

·         Alwena  Jones – Half Way Café (1,870 ft) – Portrait of a family business earning a living half way up the Mountain.


These are epic stories from the edge of nature, from the edge of a world that is forever changing and forever interesting. Their tales reveal the mountains moods - that can be cruel, kind, beautiful, treacherous, magical, mysterious ......sometimes life forming....sometimes life threatening....

The beauty and danger of life on the busiest mountain in the world.



Background :

Slam Media Ltd is a boutique independent media production company with a
reputation for excellence in delivering;
·         Complex and ambitious Sports, Events & Reality programming
·         State of the art insightful Documentaries
·         Bespoke Corporate commissioned projects.

Created by award winning Producers Geraint Lewis & Aled Llŷr, Slam is a fully
fledged, technically equipped independent production company whose output can
be seen on BBC Network, BBC Wales, S4C, Sky, ESPN, Channel 4.