26 May 2015

On climbing a mountain?

North-Wales Easter. Words that strike dread into the adventure seeker past thier first flush of youth. Unrelenting drizzle, the musty wet dog smell of gear that won't dry and another afternoon aborting to the cafe as you can't stand a misty, drizzly walk again.

And there we were, mine and my brother families in North Wales looking out over the Rhinogs from our cabins and not a cloud in it. All is crisp blue and brightly lit a proper result, let us make hay.

We scream to Ogwen to get into the Lay-by before the masses. We are a party of eight aged from 4 to 46 with snack food, the north ridge of Tryfan will do for us. Me and my brother figure we will be down for 1 ish, off we plod.

Tryfan's North Ridge is the quality grade one, roadside, mountain experience in the UK. No preamble you get out the car and start climbing. You can keep your hands in your pockets for 20 minutes and after that the craglets start. You can avoid some by slithering up gullies and outflanking where you can, but after an hour the ridge is narrowing from a broad rib to a rocky crest and you are mostly scrambling.

Trying to persuade the youngest two to use their hands becomes a relentless mantra as we watch their backs and lift them up the bigger steps. You can look down now, towards Little Tryfan, a rock slab below with some easy bits of multi pitch on. We watch people playing their games with ropes and runners and apply (whisper it) sun screen, in Wales, in April.

Lunch is eaten with 200 metres still to go where the ridge narrows even more. 12 O' clock and our time up and back looks laughable. Still the sun beats down and there is not a breath of wind, perfect.

We take a route that leads us left along a track that narrows and degenerates. We could go left but I don't like it, we find a dank looking gully and things get all 3d as we stop to help everyone up. A rock bridge blocks the way. I  get a rope out, but we can pass the smallest kids up onto the bridge with out to  much drama, it goes back in the bag. Sister-in-law has by now the look of intense concentration that the worried wear. Mrs Timeticks who is a fear immune, flinty-eyed killer, does the right thing and takes pictures.

We all pop out on the ridge and  scramble the last 100m to the summit where a throng have gathered. All four boys having climbed their first mountain (more on this opinion later).

Summit pics and a rocky, painfully slow descent down to Llyn Bochlwyd which is shaped like Australia but smaller. We dip our toes in, my youngest dipping in to the knees. An hour later we are at Owen Cottage eating Lamb and Mint pasties, a mere 7 hours after setting off, the last food having been eaten four hours ago. Me and my Brother run off for the cars in the lay-bay, as everyone else sunbathes.

All good, a perfect day and yet the autopsy begins. My Eldest won't have it, mountains are apparently 1000m high Tryfan is no mountain says he, just a big hill. My definition has always been rather more generous, if it is pointy and rocky and quite big it is a mountain. I take to social media and the wisdom of the crowd on the book of Face. A couple of Mountain Instructors and a cast of thousands, tell him it is indeed a mountain. Alas like pharaoh he hardens his heart and will not listen.

I switch networks and try twitter. Alan Hinkes is blatantly trawled for help and comes up trumps. Tryfan is indeed a mountain says the first Britain to climb all of the 8000 peaks on the planet. Not interested says stubborn Eldest Pharaoh of Starbeck.

But you can see it in his eyes, he knows and only his 9 year old pride will stop him admitting it. I think he is pleased and maybe he will climb another. He is building a scale model of Mount Olympus at the moment and suddenly it is on his brand new mountain tick list, which bodes well. I hope I will climb many more with my family it was fun.
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