What do you get when you combine the following?
- Twenty-five pupils from Rochdale Islamic Academy
- Five members of staff
- Three instructors from Lupine Adventure Cooperative
- Two large bottles of sun cream
- Countless Snowdon Ranger trains
- Many 99 Ice Creams
- …And thirty-degree heat?
‘ Would you like to guide a group of young people up Snowdon?’
The voice at the end of the phone, Ben Barnard at Lupine Adventure Co-operative, boomed on speakerphone as I sat in a car en-route to Yorkshire Dales for a separate Lupine job. For every outdoor instructor, the car becomes essentially the unofficial office space in the summer months. I flicked through my diary and saw for the next week or so a chaotic scribble next to each day denoting various outdoor jobs around the country. Accepting the job meant travelling across the country before heading towards North Wales and immediately finishing for another job in the Yorkshire Dales, some two hundred miles the following day.
‘ Go on then, sure thing,’ I said.
Five days later after my phone call with Ben, I’m standing by Electric Mountain just off Llanberis high street, anxiously waiting alongside Sam and Tamsin waiting to meet a coachload of keen and excited students from Rochdale Islamic School. Twenty-five female students, aged between 12 and 16 step out from the coach, their jaws dropping as they gaze with fathom at the summit of Snowdon, a vertical km above their heads.
After initial introductions, briefing the groups about the risk of the hot weather, drinking enough water throughout the day and reminders to stay together, we set off in pursuit of the mountain summit against a cloudless blue sky.
It’s hard to know initially what to expect with groups with regards to their previous experience, ability and motivation. Yet what we were greeted with was an incredibly supportive group of young people ready to embrace the challenge. A group of young women, from an all-girls faith school in Rochdale, who in their own words told me ‘We’re not as Muslim as people like to think.’ With their walking shoes laced up, backpacks with water filled up and hijabs adjusted, the pupils made their way up the steep ascent out of Llanberis.
The sense of unity and support for each other was evident. The girls told me how their year groups are the same size as some class groups in a standard school. The groups naturally bonded together, chatting & talking constantly on the way up. They told me how they had excitedly talked about climbing Snowdon during lessons with their teachers.
What made the instructing experience special was that for many of the participants, they have never been to Snowdonia, or even explored the outdoors outside of Rochdale. As a female instructor, from an ethnic minority background leading my group, many of the girls were curious and inspired for my reasons of instructing groups in the mountains. One of them even asked how many times I climbed Snowdon, as if climbing the mountain on repeat occasions was an indication of how much I loved the area. The inspiration to the participants was a key reminder that we need more instructors from all backgrounds, to remind the next generation of what they can achieve if they put their minds to it.
Overall , the day saw two groups reach the summit of Snowdon (1,085m), a group reach Clogwyn Station ( 779m) and a group reach Halfway House station. Yet the day was a reminder of the reasons why I choose to work for Lupine Adventure Cooperative as an instructor. Working in the outdoors has taught me a lot about my approach to adventure, and how we can all do our bit to inspire and teach others to climb their own mountains. Sometimes opportunities like these are worth the journey, presenting themselves when we least expect them. I loved my experience working alongside young people with some unexpectedly brilliant experiences.