0.00.00 Hi, my name’s Rob S. I’m the Operations Manager at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre in North Wales. Plas y Brenin is set up as a centre of excellence by Sport England and we’re here to train people in outdoor activities, rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, canoeing, skiing and we also teach instructors and leaders to do this safely as well.
0.00.30 When I was young I was always kind of involved in the cubs and the scouts and you know liked that sort of lifestyle. At school I did all the team sports as usual. And then I kind of changed a little bit and it changed me cos I’d got enthusiastic scout leaders and enthusiastic school teachers who took me hill walking. My family were never initially into the outdoors at all really, although once I started going hill walking my father kind of got into it as well.
0.01.00 My father was a boat builder and my mother was a nurse and she’s absolutely terrified of heights and really doesn’t like that sort of thing at all. And I think for me the key thing was is that the whole thing about mountaineering and climbing was that it was me. It wasn’t about anybody else. It wasn’t about my parents. It meant that I can disappear off at the weekend, go climbing, they had no idea what I was getting up to, probably just as well, but then I’d just come back and be a nice school kid afterwards.
0.01.30 I was going to be a doctor. My mother told me I was going to be a doctor. I did all the right exams to be a doctor but to be honest in the end climbing got in the way and I decided that yes, I’d love to go to university and I thought that was going to be a fantastic bit of freedom for me, but I really wanted to go to a university where I could go climbing all the time as well and to study something that was really interesting to me. So I went to Sheffield University to study zoology, cos I was really interested in animals and evolution and the environment and stuff like that.
0.02.00 The next step was to become a bin man in Chamonix which is in France and it’s where Mont Blanc is. I had some friends who were living there and I went to stay with them and one day they took me to ski down I think called The Valley Blanche which is a fantastic off piste ski run, you go to the top of a really big cable car and I was gob smacked. I couldn’t believe it. And I was so convinced that actually I wanted some of this that I finished The Valley Blanche ski run and I marched straight into the apartment complex where my friends working and I said I want a job.
0.02.30 And I got a job. So I ended up working on the bins in this holiday complex in Chamonix for the next year. I ended up gaining all the experience that I needed for later in my career development. Had I had not gone there I wouldn’t have climbed all the things in the Alps, I wouldn’t have met the people who then kind of traced my pathway for the next ten years or so.
0.03.00 Without the guy who ran the scout troupe on the housing estate I used to live, I wouldn’t have got an inkling of what could be offered outdoors, camping and going out hill walking and learning to read maps and stuff like that. Without a school teacher that was happy to use his own personal time and let us organise youth hostelling trips in the Lake District, that wouldn’t have happened either. The next important people for me were the people that I climbed with when I was a teenager.
0.03.30 Not only did they make me a better climber and teach me how to train to be strong and teach me how to look after the mental aspects of it all, they were really great friends. If I had to start all over again, maybe I would have trained to be a doctor. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it. But I would have had a completely different life. Sometimes I do wonder about that but you only get one life so you only get one go, so you might as well give it your best shot and I think I already have.