Plas YBrenin Mountaineering centre on the other side of Snowdonia.
After a week without TV, it was a bit of a shock to have the Rugby World Cup in the Bar, played at top volume. As was leaving the world of dreams, fantasies and the future for rocks, ropes and grazed knees.
Been doing a lot of climbing practise recently with my rock climbing partner James Watson, and I’ve been eager to get to climb on natural rock for some time. I’ve already done some scrambling in Snowdonia – the Snowdon Horseshoe in 2013, also after Milford, and earlier this year, again on part of the horseshoe, on a Mountaineering course.
Well, we did plenty of climbing on the weekend course. On the Saturday, we went to Pant Y Fan at Tremadog, and the weather was wonderful. Climbing was fun, although I was a little nervous on the descent at first, being belayed by strangers. But the view at the top of Pany Y Fan, across the Straits of Menai, was wonderful.
On Sunday, we went to Crag A Tonnau. The rocks there are weird – the cliff undulates. It’s pillow lava, according to one website, but it looked more like volcanic tuff to me (The core of Snowdonia’s a prehistoric volcano).
A hobby like this sometimes raises eyebrows among my more inactive, intellectual friends. So why do I do it?
- Apparently, I used to climb everywhere when I was a toddler.
- Rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits are good for the soul. They’re also a very effective tonic for depression.
- Slightly risky physical activities (possibly excluding sex) help build character and resilience. I’ve found that doing things that involve some acute but manageable risk, increases my confidence in everyday life when faced with more mundane challenges.
- I’m a born Romantic, in the old-fashioned sense. The story of exploration was always the best bit of history, for me, especially Polar and then interplanetary robotic exploration. I might never be a Ranulph Fiennes -- or an astronaut, for that matter -- but I can still have adventures.
- Rock climbing forces you to concentrate, totally, and forget everyday worries and concerns. So it’s actually rather like meditation.
- And finally, the VIEW AT THE TOP!