41 Boys Awarded Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards
In a change from previous years, this year Eton ran training and qualifying expeditions back-to-back in Snowdonia. There were a number of logistical advantages of this, but it meant for a tough programme for the participants. However, they rose to the challenge.
On arrival at Llyn Gwynant campsite, whilst being attacked by hordes of midges, the boys were introduced to their equipment and shown how to set up a tent and use a stove. The plan was to have a three day self-contained expedition overseen by mountaineering instructors, followed by an admin day which included route planning, then the qualifying expedition where the boys would be operating independently.
After a gruelling three days’ training, the boys were anxious as they headed out for the qualifying expedition. This was the first time they would be operating genuinely independently and they had demanding routes planned. They were fortunate with the weather and, having learnt the core skills required, began to enjoy the routes and appreciate why people might walk in the mountains by choice.
Most boys stopped at 11.20 sharp for Chambers regardless of their situation. There was only one real drama when one group of was confused with some soldiers they had met earlier that evening. At about midnight, the boys woke to find a Chinook helicopter descending on their camp – the force of the winds generated shredded their tents and sent their kit flying all over the mountain. The dazed boys emerged from their sleeping bags. Unperturbed, they collected their equipment and patched up their tents with gaffer tape.
In true Etonian fashion, the final day was a race to finish before presentations and a hearty barbeque.