When mountain guide and general good guy Stu McAleese called me up looking for a partner I was more than happy to go out for a climb. I first meet Stu when I was 18 years old. I was set fast on a career as an outdoor instructor and I managed to convinced my parents to pay for my first big outdoor qualification, the Mountain Leader Award. Soon I was packed off to Plas Y Brenin where Stu was working as an instructor whilst he was working towards finishing his guides exams. We had an action packed week in the hills of North Wales where I learnt a lot about navigation, group management and general safety in the hills. At the end of the week and during the evaluation Stu and Phil Dowthwaite (the other instructor/guide working at the time) obviously saw something different in me to the other brasher boot wearing candidates and all but put me off my chosen career with just a few words! They suggested a different, ultimately more appropriate for me, path to a life in the mountains.
“It seems like you just want to go climbing more Dave.”
“Just do that for a few years, come back to it when you’re ready”
I thought I was ready but in hindsight is a teenager ever going to be ready to take a group of people into the mountains as the leader? Perhaps they were right. Perhaps I should just go climbing. It’s funny how words from someone you look up too can change your outlook on life.
It seems strange but also really cool to be shoulder to shoulder on a belay with the same guy from all those years ago racking up for our first route together. And what a cool route too! Easily and quickly accessed from the Midi bridge, Vent Du Dragon, although only 4 pitches, provides a fun fast day’s worth of mixed climbing in a pretty awesome setting. Thanks to Stu McAleese for a fun day and some wise words back in the day to set me off on a path that I’ve followed for the last few years.