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Getting high by staying low.

It's been quite a while since the last Sweetcheat/postman mountain excursion, so when asked what do I fancy I went straight to the top of the list and suggested the Nantlle ridge in Snowdonia. The suggestion was greedily accepted so long as the ice and snow line was higher than we were going, there's not much need to risk life and limb in either of us. As the universe works in mysterious ways everything was working in our favour for a change, the snow was higher than we were going and even more miraculous we could see the tops of the mountains, six or seven times out of ten the clouds will be low and we'll be walking in a white out, it's invigorating to say the least but it's not conducive to wonderment at the world.
With the car parked in the all but empty car park by the lovely Llyn Dywarchen, the same parking place as an ascent of Mynydd Mawr, we turned to face our adversary, that sounds a bit negative maybe, see it as not an enemy to be fought but rather as an assault course to get through, or even as a beautiful woman to be wooed, because climbing a mountain is a lot like, yes, you've guessed it, making love to a beautiful woman, it's really not, but I could give a pretty good argument that it is.

The first twenty minutes are easy enough, hands in pockets dodging wet spots, stop and turn for a slowly getting better view of Snowdon, but then the ground gets steeper and steeper and the legs try harder and harder to propel one forwards and upwards. The way is easy to keep to, but it is still very hard work, I find it all but impossible to grasp the fact that some people run up and down mountains, my job requires me to walk ten miles a day with a heavy bag over my back, but it in no way prepares you for staggering up a mountain.
Thankfully, our first stopping point is only 400 meters higher than the car park, a very good pair of cairns upon a summit called Y Garn.
Both cairns are taller than me and made up of large blocks of stone of which there are plenty of round here. About forty meters separate them, shallow scoops have been dug into them both by shelter hungry walkers, which is twice as stupid as it sounds seeing as there is a wall right by the cairns, this is where we sat and had butties.

Y Garn, Nantlle Ridge — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Y Garn, Nantlle Ridge</b>Posted by postman

Y Garn, Nantlle Ridge — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Y Garn, Nantlle Ridge</b>Posted by postman

As impressive as the cairns are the eyes are drawn far more to the rocky pyramid Mynydd Drws y coed, iv'e been here before but chickened out of a solo climb, instead I went as far as I dared and just sat there for a bit, but not this time.

We approached with extreme trepidation, ten feet to the right of us is a vertical cliff, a direct one way ticket straight down to the inevitable big crunch. As we climb the rocks higher and higher, fear of imminent death makes my legs shake, looking almost anywhere results in overpowering dizziness, we are maybe ten feet from what looks like the top of the rocky pinnacle, Alken somehow has the ability to stand upright, I am now on my belly staying low clinging on for dear life with all four limbs, unable to go any higher, with a note of disappointment I have to admit that I can go no farther this way. So we both come down a little and find an easier way round the rocks of absolute mayhem, legs still shaking, I lean away from the down bits, always having hands on to something, rock, grass, heather, anything to ensure a grip, I haven't been that scared since Crib Goch. But with something like determination and the help of a friend I eventually made it to the top.
Analogies with the final act of making love to a beautiful woman aside, this is one of the best feelings in the world, not only did we conquer the heights but also my almost crippling fear of falling, i'm fine with being high up, it's the fall i'm deathly afraid of.
The views are brilliant, Snowdon dominates, as only the biggest mountain in the country can, Mynydd Mawr and Moel Eilio to Snowdons left, to its right Yr Aran and further round is Moel Hebog and co. In the opposite direction to Snowdon is the rest of the Nantlle ridge and other mountains with cairns on them, they all have names of course but you need a mouthful of phlegm to pronounce them, I have a real problem with the Welsh language, I believe it was created solely to confuse foreigners, ie the English.

Moel Hebog — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Moel Hebog</b>Posted by postman

Mynydd Mawr — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Mynydd Mawr</b>Posted by postman


Anyhow, we continue our walk along the Nantlle ridge, the ridge is not as terrifying as where we've just come from but it does get quite thin in places. At one point the ridge has a hole in it, which has to be climbed down then back up, I employed a method now known as reverse spider walk, basically it's the crab position, getting down is easier than getting up, for me at least.
The last peak has now been breached, Mynydd Tal y mignedd, you wouldn't know by looking at that Welsh word but there are two th's in there. This last peak of the day has no cairn, but it does have a Queen Vic obelisk on it, a small point of interest it must be said, but as most mountain tops have nowt on them, you get your interest when you can. The next mountain top along the ridge does have a cairn on it,

Craig Cwm-Silyn — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Craig Cwm-Silyn</b>Posted by postman
and the next one, but we've run out of time and these must be saved for another time. It only remains to decide upon a route back to the car which is now two miles away, instead of going back up and down over those scary heights we aim for the road north of the ridge then strike in a fairly straight line back to the car. It does afford a great view of Snowdon

Yr Wyddfa — Images

01.05.16ce
<b>Yr Wyddfa</b>Posted by postman
and a small hill fort across the road somewhere, whose position is only determined by close inspection of the photos at home later, and of course we can look up and wonder at the ridge unbelieving almost that we were up there just a short while ago.
postman Posted by postman
2nd May 2016ce
Edited 2nd May 2016ce


Comments (7)

I reckon a human account like this is worth a thousand by robotically bland, card carrying Munroist-types on schedules, who reckon mountains are 'hills'. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
2nd May 2016ce
Thanks very much,
blimey, I hadn't even finished it and it's been read already.
I was a new kind of knackered later that day.
postman Posted by postman
2nd May 2016ce
I'm still a new kind of knackered now. What a cracker of a day out, no macho bullshit required. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
2nd May 2016ce
Whilst not wanting to be macho as such, I could do with being made of slightly sterner stuff. I was really scared. postman Posted by postman
2nd May 2016ce
You still went up though didn't you? And you got back down :) thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
2nd May 2016ce
Glad you made it, a memory for life. I was talked into walking the Snowdon (sorry Yr Wyddfa) horseshoe a few years ago over Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd and can very much empathise with the shaking legs syndrone and a strong feeling that I just wanted a helicopter to come and rescue me from the nightmare, however, the euphoria as I neared the end and realised it was safe ground back to the Pen-y-Pass car park was equally as immense, unfortunately the following year we crossed the Aonach Eagach and that put me off mountain ridges for ever. Last year we walked up Ben Nevis (along with half the country it seemed) and that I thought was just about how I like it now. Posted by costaexpress
7th May 2016ce
I've just looked up Aonach Eagach, no thanks. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
20th May 2016ce
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