October 27th 2023

East Midlands University Officer Training Corps complete Exercise Dragon Summit


After finishing the training year at East Midlands University Officer Training Corps, a group of Officer Cadets conducted an adventure training expedition in Snowdonia. The expedition’s aim was to train and introduce Officer Cadets to various climbing, techniques. This aimed to enhance their resilience while boosting their operational skills. The expedition was targeted at Officer Cadets with prior outdoor climbing experience.


Exercise participants made their way to the accommodation in Capel Curig, followed by a meeting discussing ability, qualifications, aims, challenges/constraints and what climbing experience participants had. They also ensured all harnesses, helmets and shoes fitted correctly and refreshed everyone’s memory on both taking in and letting out of rope through a belay game. Finally, they confirmed that everyone knew what to do in case of a fall and how to safely lower people.

The climbing adventure began at Union Rock in Llanberis with lessons to strengthen essential skills like belaying and harness work. With the instructors guiding the students through gear placement and anchor building, these foundational lessons laid the groundwork for an enriching week, igniting the passion for climbing and teamwork among the students.

Following initial training at Union Rock and Tryfan Fach, the climbing continued with single-pitch climbing at various locations. The three days marked a pivotal phase of development as climbers. Building on the essential skills honed through rope climbing the participants ventured into lead climbing, which brought a new layer of complexity. The technique of clipping the rope while ascending demanded simultaneous problem-solving, requiring to find stability while connecting to preplaced gear on the wall. The challenge was intensified by the risk of longer falls before the rope would catch. Guided by the instructors, Major Christopher Wright and Staff Sergeant Creig Gayle consistently demonstrated enthusiasm while the whole group embraced the mental and physical challenge.

Varying climbing landscapes around Castle Inn Quarry/Tryfan Bach and Holyhead Mountain/ Indy climbing centre offered unique rock formations and scenarios to apply the new skills gained. The experience was not without its share of difficulties, including mastering gear adjustments and intricate reading of the climbing environment. However, the camaraderie within the group, combined with the support of the instructors, fuelled their progress. These immersive days of single-pitch climbing gave the cleaners a sense of accomplishment and bolstered self-belief.

One of the standout moments of the climbing journey was the exhilarating experience of multi-pitch climbing, which involved ascending routes longer than a single rope length, with one climber leading and assisting a second climber through belaying, creating a rhythmic cycle of pitches. Over the span of about 4 hours and 9 pitches, students successfully conquered the challenge, surmounting difficult holds and confronting moments of doubt amidst strong winds. The end of this experience will serve as a cherished memory. Collectively gaining something more profound – the ability to confront fears, cultivate resilience, enhance communication, and exhibit leadership. The multipitch climb exemplified the capacity for self-belief and personal growth in the face of adversity.


Unfortunately due to inclement weather, plans for scrambling were replaced with a session at the indoor climbing centre, adapting to the conditions and embracing the opportunity to refine climbing skills within a controlled environment.

Inclement weather led to indoor activity again, offering a chance to refresh techniques. The indoor setting served as a valuable platform for reinforcing skills and allowing the new instructors to assess the competency of the new group in a controlled environment.

After the indoor refresher, outdoor routes were tackled near Holyhead, CastleInn Quarry and Foel-y-Gron. These experiences brought unique enjoyment and allowed time to focus on techniques. There were significant areas for growth within the group particularly in foot placement and trusting footholds. This journey solidified the importance of patience and careful consideration in every ascent.


Immersed in the Welsh landscapes of Capel Curig, substantial progress was made and a boost in confidence, particularly in multi-pitch climbing, was evident. Amidst the Holyhead routes, some undertook the Tryfan Milestone Buttress route, a multi-pitch triumph. This experience not only refined technique and bolstered assurance but also highlighted the integration of learnt skills in more extensive climbs.

As the students reached the final day, scaling the summit marked a triumphant achievement, but the journey continued as they descended via the South Scramble Ridge. Despite the cloudy atmosphere, the scramble presented a thrilling test of climbing prowess and navigation skills, negotiating the intricate terrain while enveloped in mist added an extra layer of adventure, making it a fitting climax to the week of climbing exploration in Wales.

With thanks to Officer Cadet Fergus Ruart, Alma Company, East Midlands University Officers Training Corps for producing this report.