Friday, February 19, 2010

Accomplished #1: Descending and Still Alive to Tell the Tale

Josh asked me if I had a death wish.  Sensible enough question I suppose given the circumstances of life.  Stephen was regularly posting lifesaving devices and weather reports from Cadair Idris, and even sent along some helpful items for the trip.  Jodi just wanted to make sure that I returned home alive.

It is winter and a cold one in Wales with more snow that usual.  Even this morning, 4 days after my sleepover on Cadair Idris I am in Caernarfon and it snowed here on the coast this morning.  Cadair on the other hand is known for wild and wicked weather.  Mountain Rescue spends a good amount of time pulling people off this deceptively dangerous mountain.  It's height of just under 3,000 ft. and it's danger factor are not equal comparisons.

I ascended with waterproof pants, Gortex hat (which got lost on the ascent), Gortex coat, heavy gloves, boots designed for subzero temperatures, under layers for warmth, and a subzero sleeping bag in my backpack.

Now, on the other hand it had turned out to be a decent day.  Ascending was not going to be the problem on that afternoon.  I still had to sleep over in a stone hut.  Hidden from the elements - except the dangerously low cold temps.

Sleeping bag did the job.  Although I was terribly uncomfortable, I was generally toasty through the night.

So, I arose just before dawn to these sights:  A rising sun, lights of the villages below snaking thruogh the valleys, and clouds to the south beneath the mountain top.

 Once i had packed my bags it was time to descend the mountain.  The sights on the way down were as breathtaking as those ascending the previous day.  My hip had not recovered fully from the pinched nerve feeling, and although going downhill was easier it was still a struggle to keep moving.  Stopping to take some of these photos helped.  There were alien snowscapes, beautiful views, and stream to drink from (hopefully not too much sheep poo in the stream, but then these are the waters at the famous Ty Nant.

Once I arrived at the car park I found my beloved Gortex hat by the car.  It had been returned there for me by descending hikers the previous day.  This is one of many reasons everyone should come to Wales - it is a friendly, helpful place in my experiences.  There were other people preparing to ascend as I returned.  Two guys from England, and two Welsh ladies.  One lady asked if I had already gone up and back down that day.  I replied that I only had come down, because I slept on the mountain.

She replied, "Are you pulling my leg?"

"No, I slept on the mountain last night."

"Are you pulling my leg?" she replied again.

"No, I slept on the top of the mountain last night."

The guys responded at this point, "Well, you have our respect."

I am hoping to get a little decent poetic prowess over this - that's all.  Or maybe, having a good story to tell my future grandkids, or spin in a pub someday will be good enough.

for information on climbing Cadair Idris, and it's various routes see my initial post on the mountain.


  1. The biggest miracle of the trip, despite the miracles of what you saw, heard, and felt...: the Gotex hat. God cares about even the seemingly most insignificant things in our lives, and uses his people (whether or not they acknowledge they are his) to (help) bring it about...

  2. Yeah, the Gortex hat retreival was a seriously happy note on the morning of my return. It made for a satisfying breafast in Dolgellau.

  3. You've also got your memories and your photos from the trip. :)



  4. Some very good images there, you are very fortunate to have done this.
    It is on my 'Bucket' list to do.

  5. A sea of clouds, and snow bejeweld blue- ivory heights. I think you possibly got the best time to climb imaginable. Wow.

    Whether or not you get poetic skill out of this Phil, you brought back more than a hint, and a few pictures of Heaven to the rest of us. Have even more reasons to appreciate why so many peoples have always prayed on mountains.

  6. Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for popping into My 1,000 things to do before I die blog. Cadair Idris was definitely worth the effort of sleeping on - even in the thick of winter.

  7. The Rock of Cadair Idris by Felicia Hemans

    "I LAY on that rock where the storms have their dwelling,
    The birthplace of phantoms, the home of the cloud;
    Around it for ever deep music is swelling,
    The voice of the mountain-wind, solemn and loud.
    'Twas a midnight of shadows all fitfully streaming,
    Of wild waves and breezes, that mingled their moan;
    Of dim shrouded stars, as from gulfs faintly gleaming;
    And I met the dread gloom of its grandeur alone.

    I lay there in silence­ a spirit came o'er me;
    Man's tongue hath no language to speak what I saw:
    Things glorious, unearthly, pass'd floating before me,
    And my heart almost fainted with rapture and awe.
    I view'd the dread beings around us that hover,
    Though veil'd by the mists of mortality's breath;
    And I call'd upon darkness the vision to cover,
    For a strife was within me of madness and death.

    I saw them­ the powers of the wind and the ocean,
    The rush of whose pinion bears onward the storms;
    Like the sweep of the white-rolling wave was their motion,
    I felt their dim presence,­ but knew not their forms !
    I saw them ­the mighty of ages departed­
    The dead were around me that night on the hill:
    From their eyes, as they pass'd, a cold radiance they darted,­
    There was light on my soul, but my heart's blood was chill.

    I saw what man looks on, and dies­ but my spirit
    Was strong, and triumphantly lived through that hour;
    And, as from the grave, I awoke to inherit
    A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power !
    Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested,
    And high Cadair Idris rejoiced in the sun;­
    But O ! what new glory all nature invested,
    When the sense which gives soul to her beauty was won !"