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Wendy Collidge

(Programme Manager)
Wendy recollects team building at the College’s mountain hut in Snowdonia

“Who wants to climb Mount Snowdon?” I asked the team. “err…yes,” “why?” “how much will it cost?” they replied.
It won’t cost a thing, It’s a ‘team building exercise’.
Team Building –two words that usually produce looks of joy or horror from your team. Love them or hate them, or think that you hate them, team building exercises can be great fun and this one was…brilliant!

I’d discovered that Imperial College owns a mountain hut in Snowdonia and after a bit of research found that I could take my team there. I’d been to Snowdonia when I was 13 years old and loved it, so what better place to help my team ‘gel’?

In early 2006 I was running a small team of about fifteen and we’d been working together for a short time. In that time, we’d already covered the usual drinks and dinners in the evening, but I was looking to take our team building exercises just that little bit further… albeit on a really tight budget!

To be honest, I didn’t know how well this idea would go down, so I put it to the team. After the initial flurry of questions and debate nine adventurers accepted the challenge.

Planning a weekend in Snowdon requires a fair amount of effort, so we divvied up the preparations; transport and driving responsibilities, daytime activities and evening activities, which included a pub quiz!

We left College on a Friday morning in May 2006 taking one of the Union’s minibuses. It’s a long drive in a minibus but we had music and snacks, and the usual interesting conversations between driver and navigator.

Unfortunately, the drive took slightly longer than we’d hoped so we ended up driving straight to our first daytime activity – horse riding! Yes I dragged them horse riding…yes, straight from a very long drive, but how often do you get to ride a horse in gorgeous countryside – Hyde Park just isn’t the same! Everyone loved it, especially when my horse rolled over with me on its back! It was a great leveller. The level of expertise in the team was pretty diverse so this allowed everyone to trot along at a friendly pace, it was an amazing first sight of the undulating Welsh countryside.

The hut is ‘quite basic’, but the guys immediately took control of the fire and we settled in! May isn’t the warmest of months in Snowdonia, so hats, socks and thermals were not an unusual sight at bedtime!

Saturday – Rain. Rain. Rain. It wasn’t the finest day to climb England and Wales’ tallest peak, but after a seriously massive breakfast we quickly stocked up on waterproofs in Llanberis and price labels still attached, we legged it up the slope to the foot of the mountain. Rain soaked and wind swept the group got into its stride and Manawydan ap Llyr, the Welsh weather God, must have been smiling on us, for after about half an hour the rain stopped and we were able to ditch the new togs and enjoy the scenery…it was amazing. Everyone worked together ensuring no one was left too far behind, offering to swap packs, exchanging trail mix and obligatory tales of past adventures.

We made it to the very misty top in about two and a half hours, which is pretty good going. Visibility was nil but we opened champagne, and savoured it all the more for having carried it all the way up there. There was no way we were not going to drinking it, no matter what the weather and besides, altitude and alcohol go quite well together! After briefly considering catching the train back down we all agreed ‘on foot’ was the way to go and set off at a good pace back to the minibus and to raise a glass or two to a job well done back at the local pub.

There was a real mix of skills and fitness levels in the group. From project managers, business analysts to technical engineers; triathletes, runners and well…sports observers. It was a brilliant weekend. Well worth the drive and roughing it in basic accommodation, which had its own charm and a fireman’s pole as the fire exit!

The 9 adventurers were Wendy Collidge, Emma Chesterman, Jude Baxter, Dathan Birrell, Mark Carter, Jonathan Breeze, Melinda Brown, Richard Grime, Ginny Leong

Wendy Collidge
Programme Manager

  © 2007 Imperial College London

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