Sunday, 14 December 2008

Guaranteed White Christmas

That's 'guaranteed' if you make it back. 

I've decided to keep hill walking right through the winter and as my namby pamby mates don't have the best of track records, I've found some extra mates, care of a hill walking website. These web boards are brilliant if you want to meet a bunch of nutcases who wait till the weather gets bad before they head up the hills.

Thus I'm heading down to Snowdonia late on a Thursday evening to stay in a Premier Inn just so I don't need to get out of bed at 5am. Jonno and Chris have turned up a mine (late! so no change from anyone else yet) as I've volunteered to drive, mainly because I'm rubbish at packing and like having 10 spare everythings in the boot. A swift beer and off to bed early to pray for better weather than every forecast is offering.

Bright and breezy next day we managed to arrive at the Pen-y-pas carpark promptly erm -half an hour late- damn its catching. Well we weren't last thankfully. I probably should have spotted the folk with ice axes and crampons, but the size of the mountains in front of my eyes were somewhat distracting. Still, Chris had the dehydrated lunch for me and there were certainly a couple of folk older than me in the group. A chap off the website known as Oldstephen(webname) turned out to be a splendid fellow and also a safe bet for walking with. Within the first couple of hundred yards it became evident that he's spent virtually the last 20 years running up hills in Snowdonia, really good for' know where you are stuff', really bad for non-sprinters. Honestly 58 years old and he'll be marching up here in another 20 years time providing he doesnt fall off.

Tucked into a psychologically good second place in the queue behind Billy Whizz I really enjoyed the climb even when the going got tougher...and then tougher still. I've seen a bunch of pictures of me on the tougher stretches and I just look like a miserable old bugger, but honestly it was great sport. About an hour into the walk as the snow started to build on the floor, half the crewe of 12 started putting crampons on and getting out ice axes...oh good.

I perfomed a desperate cling onto the cliff side in 40mph gusts whilst still moving in an upward direction in slippy shoes. Oh how the stories of people falling off on the zigzags DEAD kept my enthusiam high as we approached them. From here to the top it was just a tad on the exposed side for my liking, we made it to the finger post which joins the tourist track, INTO a force 54 Hooley. Everyone then miraculously pulled more clothing, spare hats, double gloves and I kid you not a spare pair of boots from secret hideaways they had about them....genius. We made it to the very top about 15 minutes later and I was in all sorts of states....excited, exhilerated, relieved, pleased, bewildered

Canteen lunch?

We lunched for about 15 minutes as close to the new cafe (SHUT) as we could get, but with cold toes and a cold foot it wasn't the greatest meal I've ever enjoyed. I had payed some attention over breakfast and on hearing Jonno was taking a spare pair of gloves I'd managed to find a spare pair in the wasteland of my car boot. It was a brilliant tip too, 5 minutes later warm handsand consequently feeling much better I was ready for a return trip down the miners track.

Huge Aside Coming up

This isn't the first time I've been up Snowdon, once approx 18 years ago, two not so fat lads decided it would be a great idea to wander up the hill with two dogs in tow. Looking back, starting at the bottom of the hill in t Shirts and trainers, no maps, no food , no drinks,no compass and frankly no idea probably wasnt the best idea we've ever had.  We'd left our wives and children in some town at the bottom of the hill to go shopping and our brilliant and faultless plan was 'to follow someone else up'. If the people we had followed had turned right up Crib Goch I suspect I wouldn't be here to type this.

Back in the old days the last section was just a straight scree slope which although tricky for humans is a bloody nightmare for dogs paws. Craig had to carry either Fido or Mutley (real names, I think they replaced Steve and Dave) up to the top of the mountain. My recollection is that he didn't bother going to the summit that day either.

All that the above prooves, is that some folk don't really grow up much, although we did descend on the tourist route next to the train track.

Back to the present and the sensible tourist route wasn't an option, off the steep edge and then concentrate and concentrate and concentrate on every footstep. It wasnt quite jumping into a crocodile invested river at feeding time but on a rather risky things to do graph its well towards the top end. Oh except for the buttsledging section. Having made it out of the deep snow the rocks became totally iced over and having had my bad turn on these last week I wasn't about to make the same mistake.

Unfortunately one of the chaps organising the venture did slip and spectacularly went off a 12ft drop upside down having cartwheeled off the rock above. From this point the slope was certainly 70 degrees and all rocks for about 100 yards, even I thought it was going to smart a bit. Having performed a full back flip Robbo landed square on his feet facing into the mountain rock steady. Mind you the chap above that had shouted 'FORE' looked just as relieved. For the next half mile every step was mega cautious...still what could possibly go wrong with all the guides and mountain leaders with us?! I've now concluded that it doesnt matter how good you get at anything, you'll always go that one step closer to the edge......I guess that's where the fun is at.

And a quick catch up on this weeks gigs

The Hold Steady - yeah yeah I know 'again' at the Big Academy on Wednesday

Not one decent picture - woops

David and Beechy both decided this was a good plan and due to ridiculous Manc Footy traffic I ended up meeting them in town at 7.30pm yet again half an hour late. (must tryer harder badge). If in doubt drink wine and catch up. I've since been assured that we managed a bottle each before leaving the pub about an hour later......thats tremendous form for a Wednesday. Into the second half and the pace didnt slow that much either..the band came on and played a brilliant set covering all the best off the four albums. We'd moved on to cider and Beechy having been stuck with a car because of the traffic was struggling to understand us at this point.

The band played two encores and we were 'All The Hold Steady'. 

I'm pretty sure that we reconciled the Russians and the Chinese on the way home and if Beechy hadn't insisted on having a birthday drink at midnight I would remember exactly how it's to be done. Sore head Thursday but a jolly good night.

And then the Mighty Primal Scream on Friday at The Apollo

I've known Chris a while and having missed out by driving on Wednesday he was certainly as up for a party as I've seen him for at least 12 months. The get ready turnaround time was approximately 5 minutes and then out to catch the train. 'Oh look 13 minutes before the trains due' lets nip over the road for a swift starter for ten. And the runaway train came over the hill. We ended up in the Church Pub again prior to the gig, and its now defo my favourite pub in Manchester as it had a free buffet and I think the extra ballest on board may have saved my liver.

Double handed and down to the front with 5 minutes to spare. Now Andy had warned me that they may be loud, he'd seen them in Cambridge last week. It was like Mogwai with choruses and a light show that would have seen off a close friend of an epileptic. The bass made the hair on the back of your head depart and rejoin the scalp, whilst the twin lead guitarists ripped out a noise somewhere between phenomenal and excrutiating but all the time held on the right side of fun.

It was brilliant all the way through, so much so that even us oldies threw caution to the wind and joined in the scrumble at the front. The end of the final encore was mental and will probably cause me about a 1000  sorry, pardon, can you repeat thats, over the next few years. Hey but what fun. And so back to the Church for a sit down recovery pint before heading back to a much needed sleep...oh after one last incy wincy never hurt anyone wine. 

Not bad form, Snowdon and Primal Scream and going for 20 hours straight. Bring on Christmas


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That looks really impressive. Not quite as impressive as it would have done had you all been carrying fat dogs rather than ice axes, but pretty good nevertheless.