An interesting evening on Crib Goch

Yr Wyddfa - The roof of Wales
Seven days of work, man-flu and late nights have left me weak and feeling my age, but the call of the hills is too strong to resist and before I have chance to assess my sanity a plan is hatched.

I drive to Llanberis, followed by an angel in human form who then takes me back up to Pen y Pass where the main routes to Snowdon’s summit are thronged with dishevelled and sweaty walkers making their way back down the mountain.

I fight against the tide of humanity until Bwlch Moch where I’m alone at last and can feel the power of these ancient lumps seeping into me, reviving my weary limbs and reminding me of this incredible waking dream that my life has become.

En route to Crib Goch I come upon four Asian lads, “I’m glad you’re coming down and not going up” I offer as a greeting. “Yes” one replies, “It seems quite dangerous but our friends have kept going”. These boys are obviously not regular hill-goers and the thought of two novices up there fills me with dread. Still, they’re keen to stand on the roof of Wales so I send them on their way up the Pyg Track and let them know what time the sun goes down. It’s 6 O’clock and the weather is settled so if they get a move on they’ll be fine.

At the first section of steep scrambling there is still no sign of the others and the mountain seems to be empty. However, my ears are attuned to the sound of rock-fall which I am anticipating if there is anyone blundering about above me.

Where the East Ridge narrows I see the first signs of life; two young women with a rope and helmets. “Hello girls, have you seen a couple of Asian lads up there”? “Yep, they’re up there alright, and having a bit of a hard time”. Hmmmm. My first thoughts are “why the hell, with all your kit, haven’t you sorted them out”? I keep these thoughts to myself and head up the ridge only to find no trace of them and no sound other than the wind. “That’s strange, where the hell are they”, I wonder to myself.

After a brief rest to take in my incredible position (my usual routine before crossing Crib Goch’s exposed knife edge) I press on. A minute later I look down to my left and there they are, 30 metres below me and making an attempt to descend the shattered South Face. They look completely out of their depth, on all fours and totally gripped. “Lads, what are you doing down there” I ask incredulously. “We want to go home, we’re really scared and can’t move”! The ghost of Whillans whispers in my ear; “It looks like you two will be getting your 77 virgins sooner than you think”…

I’m out tonight to enjoy the mountains alone and hopefully catch some good light on the way down. Now I’m going to be saddled with these two. A wave of anger breaks over me. I’m not angered by the poor unfortunates, these things happen after all. No, I’m annoyed that two capable and highly equipped mountaineers have left them to their own devices on a mountain that regularly claims the lives of those that climb it in ignorance or with a lack of respect.

“Ok, lads, don’t move. I’m coming down to get you”. It’s not easy; the ground is very steep, very loose and extremely treacherous. It takes me half an hour to coax them back onto the crest.

Shweb and Sodran are about 16 years old, from Kent and woefully ill equipped, both physically and mentally, for such an enterprise. They have bloodied knees, a tiny satchel each and flimsy trainers that are in an advanced state of disintegration. Thank god I found them when I did!

“Right lads, you’re going to be absolutely fine now. I’m going to look after you and get you down from here”. “Thanks mate, we followed some people up here. We thought it was Snowdon” says Shweb, who is sweating profusely and exhibiting bodily tremors more usually seen in constipated dogs.

I’m anxious not to overplay the situation and make them even more nervous, so in a very calm and matter of fact way I explain that we have three options; firstly, we can go down the way we came up; secondly we can call mountain rescue and thirdly, (which, incidentally is my preference) I can help them traverse the ridge and send them down to the Pyg Track at Bwlch Coch. With some gentle encouragement and reassuring words Shweb and Sodran agree to let me guide them across the ridge and over the pinnacles.

It’s a slow and nerve wracking process watching their every move but an hour later we arrive at the bwlch and the boys can’t thank me enough. It’s been a very rewarding experience, working as a team and seeing the boys gain confidence; I even suspect that they enjoyed climbing the pinnacles! It’s now 8 O’clock and after handshakes I send them down to the Pyg with a request that they stay ‘switched on’ and concentrate until they get the path under their feet. As I make my way up Crib y Ddysgl it’s a joy to look back and watch them bum-sliding down the grass, what a tale they will have to tell!

The rest of my evening is relatively uneventful but I enjoy glorious solitude, wonderful light and swirling clouds bubbling up from Glaslyn before going down to catch ‘Cloggy’ in the last rays. As I walk down to Llanberis in the twilight I feel a warm glow, knowing that I possibly saved those boys from a nasty end but not only that, there is the satisfaction of sharing a wonderful mountain experience with them, one which I hope has taught them that even in this day and age, regardless of race, colour or creed, some of us still put humanity above the things that make us different. That’s one thing the mountains have taught me and maybe a lesson still to be learned by the two girls who abandoned Shweb and Sodran when they needed them most.


Riding with the gods - Yr Wyddfa/Snowdon




Clogwyn Du'r Arddu


~ by nicklivesey on June 26, 2014.

4 Responses to “An interesting evening on Crib Goch”

  1. Beautiful photos again. I’d be happy to let you guide me across the ridge one day, I’m a little nervous of it.
    Glad to hear you’re well.

  2. Wonderful story mate, you’re a good fella, I really enjoyed reading this.

  3. Love your story and the dilemmas you faced – best of all the choices you made.

  4. Nick,
    You are a very special person.
    I would like to think I would have done the same, but having been up there a few years ago I am not so sure.
    Not having any formal climbing knowledge I would have assumed perhaps wrongly that the girls would have come to the lads aid.
    Well done for thinking of others before yourself.
    As you say they they will have a great story to tell and a lasting memory of that kind person who helped them.
    Very best wishes John

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