This week’s guest post is from my cousin’s TW and Sean Mendis.
The story will unfold in three parts- here is the second part.
Most of us got up early the next day, probably in eager anticipation of the climb, or possibly because we were relaxed and on holiday. “Green figs, yoghurt, coffee – very black” was not on the menu. This had been a Bond breakfast request in a Bosphorous hotel room in From Russia With Love that Sean wanted to come true. Instead we were faced with orange juice, cereals and of course a big cooked breakfast to your liking. I had orange juice to start, followed by an excellent plate of scrambled eggs on toast with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. At the table there was much talk of “will it be a long climb, how tiring exactly is it, and I hope it’s sunny at the top”. Some of us were veterans having made the climb a half dozen times before. Having said that, this was no Matterhorn, no K2, not even the Eiger. This was a benign mountain, a hill trek, a walk in the park….or so we thought.
After a full breakfast we massaged our stomachs and our egos and were ready for off around ten. The host gave us some words of warning and some cautionary tales from his search and rescue days, flying helicopters around the Highlands of Scotland. “If you’re in any doubt at all come off the mountain” he said cautiously. “Oh, and if you get into any trouble make yourself visible” he added for good measure.
The Watkins path lay ahead and we started our slow trudge in high spirits. Mira had perhaps wisely declined the climb, making her way to Carnarvon castle on one of the rare buses one occasionally finds in this neck of the woods.
It started off well enough: the path was pretty flat and the sunshine helped to alleviate any tired muscles. The mood was gay and bright. The hills were alive with the Sound of Music. All we needed was a Julie Andrews with the Von Trapp family in tow. As it happened, we got neither. Sean, I and Laila had climbed Snowdon before. The others were lulled in to what they would discover later was a false sense of security. For the Watkins path was opened by Gladstone in 1892 and is one of the hardest of the six routes up to Snowdon, as you climb 3300 feet of the 3600 feet of the mountain.
The Final Push
As we neared the Summit the temperature got noticeably cooler and we paused for hats and gloves and a big slug of water. At this point, the path becomes hard to follow and is across loose scree with steep drops. The host’s words as we left Bryn Eglswys were now ringing in our ears “It is the highest in England and Wales after all. Respect it” he had said admonishingly. I felt a little concerned as Kevin had bouts of cramp and Felicia was not used to climbing. Laila gave Felicia plenty of encouragement every time she scrabbled for purchase on the loose scree, her knuckles deathly white as her petite talon like digits tried to bore their way through to terra firma.
The group soon split into two. Mich didn’t like heights and so wisely wanted to press on and just get to the top. She was hard on my tail and I was pressured to perform – not for the first time when an attractive girl was hard on my case. Behind her was Sue. She slightly worried Michaela and me with her early confessions regarding her urges to throw herself off when confronted with steep drops. Behind Sue, Karen was gambolling along like a mountain goat. She had recently climbed Adam’s Peak and had clearly got into the mountain spirit. I envied her, her seemingly boundless energy as I kept in front trying to look like I knew the path. It seemed to be much steeper than on previous occasions and gave me pause to think. Sean served as a link between the two groups, looking very much the experienced mountaineer. He hadn’t been this high for weeks – not since his last powerful meditative experience. As we reached the pinnacle Laila gave out a last triumphant sigh, a not so delicate feminine gasp that could only be described as Brian Blessed being butt raped. We were all relieved to have made it.
Stay tuned next week for Part 3.
Related posts: Snowdon- an adventure, Part 1