Friday, 31 July 2015

W3K15 in all its goodness

So after much planning (ahem) there we were in a windswept car park on the side of a Welsh Mountain trying not to get too wet before we set off on our epic trek. We as in yours truly and my buddy John, with Keith and Lorraine in Gerry with all the supplies seen in the previous posting. And so as with all major expeditions this one started by taking the first step.
I shall spare the dear reader with tales of daring do as we battled the climate and darkness for two hours but as sure as eggs is eggs the sun came up at 5.12 am and revealed much progress, we had in fact claimed three peaks in the darkness and were contemplating a fourth. For an idea of how bad the weather was look at the video in subsequent posts. Anyway heres John exploring the summit shelter on Foel Grach as we head off into the storm again.
Yr Elen sees yours truly in suitable heroic pose, wet through and grateful that he has had the foresight to pack Gerry with three sets of climbing gear as well as marmite sandwiches and Vimto. Yr Elen proved as tricky as the guide book siad she would be in having three summits, the middle being the highest. So in the fog we found the second summit but then saw in the distance another that was definitely higher so off we trot only to find once on it it was substantially smaller and a waste of effort.
Effort that needed to be saved as there was much more to do, like navigate down Pen Yr Ole Wen, rather than off the side of it. Unfortunately we got a bit off track here and ended up in a massive boulder field that took an hour or so to negotiate without breaking limbs. Several sense of humour failures later we made it to the real path where
to our amazement (and luck) the weather broke revealing the mountains before us.
Keith and Lorraine scanning the mountain through binoculars could only watch helpless as we made our way down the wrong side of the cliff and terracing but they cheered us up no end with bacon sarnies and hot tea.
Suitably refreshed we posed in front of Tryfan, top left and set off
making the summit around an hour later and then lost all the height
we had made on our approach to Glyder Fawr. We thought long and hard about our approach here (1.7 seconds max) and binned the idea of Bristly Ridge and took the scree slope to the left

which is where we met Tony, the only other person stupid enough to be doing this hike, but he was doing it the other way round, hence he is now approaching Tryfan as we leave the pointy rock way behind. Let hope he made it as he had no support team.
The Glyders were ticked off.
We were halfway and happy, thats Pen Yr Ole Wen background right, nasty nasty mountain adding an hour to our walk!
There are, or were 14 peaks in this challenge, 14 peaks over 3000 feet in the three mountain ranges linked by a 27 mile "path" but since the original traverse in 1908ish there has been a discovery that a 15th peak exists over on the Carneuds, well we did that one (name escapes me at this point) but there is also the distinct possibility that there are 16 peaks as this one, Castle of the Winds might be included at some point, so rather than have to come back and do it all again we did that two. Nice!
But it wasnt all easy, heres John having a moments reflection, the type you get after 12 hours solid effort and finding you have no drink and 6 hours ahead.
So we enjoyed the views and
put on a smile, especially when we got to Elidr Fawr as that was 1 hour away from resupply point in Nant Peris and also meant only 3 peaks to go. True they were the most difficult and we were really tired but hey, lets go, if it was easy everyone would be doing it!
Gerry was a welcome saviour, clean clothes, clean socks, good food, hot tea, cold Vimto, I felt like a new man. But as none were available (boom boom!)
the final chapter was set to be written with Crib Goch wanting to spoil the party.
There are no photos of Crib Goch, well there are a few, but mostly my time was spent hanging on for dear life and promising to be good if only I could get off this sodding mountain. As a reward at the end of the knife edge arĂȘte the last ray of the setting sun singled me out and showed me the way home.
Over this, the path in in the centre leads to Crib y Dsygol, which as it turned out is even worse than Crib Goch and substantially longer. There was one tricky moment when yours truly got good and stuck on a ledge with no way up, or down, and it took a lot of inner reflection, swearing and resignation to the fact that falling off would not be so bad as not finishing and eventually I was back on the trail reaching the summit of Garnedd Ugain in the dark. That meant that there was 900 metres between John, me and victory on the summit of Snowdon, achieved 17 hours 25 minutes after we started. The small matter of descent in the dark was a separate issue. On the summit we were met by Keith and Lorraine, curry and a wee dram. Spirits were high. So we wended our way down the mountain, meeting several groups involved in a three peaks challenge. Mentalists.
Here I am, back at the gateway to the world, 5 am, the sun rising. In all a brilliant day and very hard challenge, not one to be undertaken lightly. I really meant it when I sai I would never do it again, and here I am a few days after looking forward to organising doing it again just for a laugh next year. Keith from the support crew wants a go and it looks like two other people I know are keen, so hey...why not.

This challenge could not have been done without the essential support from my beautiful and oh so patient wife who looked after everything while I was away and put up with my  falling asleep for most of the week after the event.

Keith anf Lorraine were all you could wish for in a support crew, they had an adventure too so thansk to them for making mine a much easier one.

Thanks to John who once again proved to be a trusted mountaineer and good friend.

Finally thanks to all those who sponsored me, I think I have raised around £1500 for Myeloma UK, thanks everyone.

2016 challenge is going to be huge :)

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