What a glorious Easter week we had, with the sun coming out on Saturday morning the stormy weather of the previous week was soon a distant memory as it continued to shine for the next 7 days, Spring has arrived & everyone seemed to have a Spring in their steps.
Anyone using the Cafe will no doubt have noticed we were pretty busy, hope the atmosphere & the option of sitting outside in the sun made up for any longer than usual waits.
Despite being busy the weather was just too tempting, the girls slackened the leash & I managed to get out each day for a run at some point the highlight of the weekend being Saturday’s jaunt down to Little Tryfan before ascending the stepped path into Cwm Tryfan (managed to run them which was a very pleasant surprise) before returning to the cafe via the summits of Y Foel Goch & Gallt yr Ogof in splendid isolation.
Tuesday came, early morning I gave some parking suggestions to a couple of guys wanting to recce the Snowdon & Glyder sections of the Welsh 3,000’s, I looked out the window, light bulb went on, with the wonderful weather set to continue I immediately understood what I had to do & it would be the very next day!
Before that I needed to take Dorina’s & Gaby’s Uncle Titi up Moel Siabod, born & bred in the Carpathian mountains he was like a mountain goat, we sped up it in an hour, with a heavyish bag on my back it felt too fast bearing in mind in 12 hours or so I was going to attempt a run over the Welsh 3,000’s but his visible delight of the summits evening views made it very worthwhile.
Apologies for any over-dramatics that may appear to follow but I am honestly under-playing it.
Wednesday morning came, Georg had agreed to keep me company on Crib Goch’s summit ridge before leaving me to my own devices. It didn’t start exactly as planned (well if less than a day planning could be considered a plan), we didn’t summit CG until 11:10. This led to much of my day being occupied with thoughts of getting off the Carneddau in the dark on weary legs.
I won’t go into the details of the challenge, you can google that but including the walk in & walk out I was aiming at doing 36 miles with over 15,000′ of climb. My peak to peak target was to beat 2012’s 9 hours 25 minutes, failure to do so would mean completing it in the dark let alone the 2 to 3 hour walk back out.
The Snowdon leg went well despite a stupid mistake on Garnedd Ugain which led to a hair raising Grade 1 scramble on loose rock, I should know better but I seem very capable of making mistakes when running the 3,000’s (2012 I ended up in something that I immediately christened ‘Death Gully’). I reached Nant Peris in 1:28 some 17 minutes up.
Then came the Glyders, the exploits of the previous 4 days hit me very hard as did the sun’s heat. In truth Elidir Fawr was O.K. just missing the hour mark by a minute (one day…) but as the thought of the climbs to come on Y garn & Glyder Fawr festered my morale went into a speedy descent, the anticipated pain & dark to come was getting too much to bare.
So what saved me? Looking back probably two things, firstly, deciding to break my golden rule I stopped on a climb (Glyder Fawr) to inspect my hydration pack, good news I had a litre left, I could drink at will until I’d reach my stash in the car at Ogwen Cottage, what a relief because I needed to. Secondly on Gyder Fawr’s summit a friendly voice greeted me. Ian Morton of Striding Ahead to be precise, his wonder at my time from CG to here (3:46) began to make me realise I had to stop beating myself up, feel good at what I’d done & optimistic about what I could still do. Both seemingly small things had a big effect.
Despite this my next split to Glyder Fach was the only one where I failed to beat my 2012 time but I was now being sensible & knew that this was more to do with a good 2012 split than the wheels still coming off in 2015.
I reached Ogwen in 5:21 now 30 minutes up but the time was now 4:21pm, despite this the sensible Paul prevailed as I stopped to re-fuel from the car, banana, one litre of fluid, one Gel entered my body, two litres of fluid & 4 Gels entered my rucksack, this 10 minute stop (longer than I planned) was exactly what I needed (the doctor no doubt would have ordered more).
Pen yr Olen Wen or the thought of it is where many attempts on the 3,000’s come to an end, for me it started well but the false summits were a tad annoying, 54 minutes, not bad Paul go for it. The rest of the Carneddau went increasingly well, slowed for a minute coming off Llewelyn’s summit to return Dorina’s missed call, essential to calm her nerves as well as to convey my revised exit plan to limit the night nav. to come.
I reached the penultimate summit of Carnedd Uchaf in 8:09 if I could keep at a run to Foel Fras (like 2012) I was going to get under 8:30 it would all be very worthwhile. The legs moved, they moved well 8:21, better than I’d ever envisaged, the satisfaction immense on a day of so many emotions, learn, learn!
No time to stop, a more gentle trot, skirt around Uchaf, minutes saved, marvel at the sunset, walk, can’t run the hills, don’t worry about the dark, be safe. Foel Grach, the Llewelyn summit again at 8:20, steady descent to the ridge leading to Helgi Du, one minor trip, be careful. The headtorch came out at 8:40 at the top of the scramble onto Bwlch Eryl Farchog, wow that feels good, the scramble is a breeze, the path off the ridge is found then lost then found, the road & safety at 9:00pm. I have been alone on the Carneddau since before Daffyd whilst on the other side of Ogwen, film crews, mountain rescue rehearsals & a Chinook flying around Tryfan have been a stark contrast to my mostly wonderful isolation.
I walk then run the road, a voice calls out, Dorina & Ady have walked to greet me, we hug, I cry BEER, why didn’t you ask me to bring you one Dorina replies, I’d had just a few other things on my mind during that call.
The next two days were spent in hobbling pain & satisfaction, as I re-read the guidebook for the challenge I realised I had broken Douglas Firbank’s original 1939 record by 4 minutes without even targeting it. In perspective many have beaten that record by far more than me but like all of those better runners & indeed all those who have completed the challenge I have a sense of true achievement to remember.
This was my fourth Welsh 3,000’s, my first at a walk was in 2011 it took a respectable 13:25 & that day I had been shattered on the walk out, I was in better shape this time. That said after almost 12 hours on the hills & despite drinking 4.5 Kilo’s of fluids I had lost a staggering 5.2 Kilo’s in weight, Gym’s, Diets, why would you?
Thanks Georg, Dorina & Ady, your parts are bigger than you may think.
A final thought, Paddy? I think not, but I think.