Quality Mountain Days – Sgt ‘Ian’ Bailey
Ex WYVERN LYNX WANDERER was the annual overseas expedition for 39 Signal Regiment that was located from the beautiful and picturesque town of Molveno, in the Dolomite mountains. This was my second time attending this exercise and opted to do the Quality Mountain Days (QMDs), having passed my Summer Mountain Foundation Course in 2021. This was an excellent opportunity to build up my experience on the mountains for me to make the next step in the adventurous training process and perhaps become a Mountain Leader Trainer (MLT).
My instructor for the week was SSgt ‘’Rich’’ Simpson, an individual with an enormous amount of experience of the mountains and inhospitable environments, having been to Antarctica numerous times with the Army himself, our group was in safe hands.
Day 1 was a gentle introduction to the immediate area, and a chance for the group to ‘’find’’ their walking legs. We did a loop around Molveno lake, exploring the Napoleonic fortifications dotted around the foothills above Molveno Lake. Along our walk, our instructor gave a history of the area, including its geology and the local flora and fauna, for those wanting to do the MLT course in the future, knowing and imparting knowledge like this will be essential.
As the week progressed the walking got more challenging and physically demanding. As we got higher up the Dolomite mountains, the views got more and more spectacular, cloud cover permitting of course. One of the highlights for me was on day 3, our group got driven to an unknown location and we had to do two things, find out where we were using our maps and then walk back to our base location. This was the sort of stuff that got me to join the Army Reserves all those years ago.
Day 5 was the most challenging of all the walks we did, the plan was for our group to summit Croz dell’ Altissimo, a peak of 7674ft. The first 3 hours was a steep ascent over rocky, craggy terrain. We decided to stop for lunch 200m below the summit, it was incredible to see snow where we were in June. Just after we finished eating, the elements started to close in on us, and SSgt ‘’Rich’’ Simpson used all his experience to decide it was too risky to carry on. His decision was very wise as just 15 minutes later we experienced hail, rain, thunder and lightning! I don’t think I’ve ever moved off a mountain quick enough.
Overall, this was a very rewarding and enjoyable week that I’ve had doing military AT, the instruction that we received was second to none, special thanks go to SSgt ‘’Rich’’ Simpson for keeping us safe and challenging us.
Summer Mountain Foundation – Signaller ‘Chris’ Rochford
The SMF was an excellent opportunity to do some summer mountaineering in Italy and in my opinion this is one of the best places in the world to experience hill walking. The routes serve to challenge everyone, and the views are unmissable making you forget all about the slog to get to the top. The instruction we received was top notch and we give a massive thank you to SSgt ‘Ali’ Nash, who throughout the week he slowly built up to test all abilities moving into their stretch zones whilst ensuring the activity was enjoyable, challenging and above all fun was still had by all. But by far the most challenging part of the course was when the team had to plan their own route cards, and due to the ground routes not matching to the maps there were un-planned detours which needed to be planned on the fly to enable us to do the planned route.
Overall, this was an amazing experience which I would highly recommend to anyone who likes being outdoors and taking in the amazing Dolomites scenery.
Multi-Activity Week – Sig ‘Abigail’ Smith
Activity one of the multi-activity week was three days of mountain biking. Starting slow where the instructors/leaders assessed our biking ability on day one and the ensured all the skills were taught that would be used and needed throughout the next couple of days, Day one ended with an enjoyable and leisurely ride around Molveno Lake. Day two was straight into the deep end, jumping into a gondala (with bikes!) and then a chair lift to get to the top of mountain for a beginner green route. By the end of day the riders were flying down the blue route gaining more and more confidence. Day three involved cycling round to the next town of Andola for another gondala ride where a couple of red routes were waiting. Comfort zones were pushed and new experiences had for all those involved which left everyone with a great sense of achievement. A massive thanks to both Cpl ‘Iain’ Hazelgrove and Signaller ‘Chris’ Plater for their excellent instruction.
Activity number two on the Multi-Activity package was Rock Climbing. The Climbers were introduced to climbing in the outdoors and were taught a wide range of skills by Capt ‘Bri’ McLean and WO2 ‘Arthur’ Daley. These skills included top roping, belaying each other and even the basics of lead climbing. This enabled already experienced climbers to push themselves in a safe environment. All were awarded with amazing views of Molveno Lake once they reached the top of the climb.
The final activity was White Water Rafting along the Noce River in Val di Sole. Once the group was kitted up and the safety brief had been delivered, they jumped in a bus to make their way towards the starting point. In boats of 6 and 1 of 7 they made their way down the rapids working together to ensure that the boat stayed upright, the fast water and big rocks made for a challenge but with experienced guides leading the teams everyone made it to the end with a smile on their face.
39 Signal Regiment is a Royal Signals Reserve Regiment based in the South of England and Wales. Over 300 reserve soldiers and officers serve within the Regiment at locations in Windsor, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff.
They support operations both within the UK and Overseas and with a proud tradition, we maintain our affiliation with The Skinners’ Company, London.
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