Like most people in January, I’ve not tried doing anything new this month. So this fascinating tale of adventure comes to you from the past. Not as far back as Betamax and men finding an accidental flash of ankle arousing, but to a place in history known as post Christmas December 2014.
Remember that time? when you were elbow deep in a tub of Häagen-Dazs, crying into your fat folds promising yourself that you’d make drastic changes in 2015. Or at very least take yourself behind the shed and humanely put yourself down like ol’ yeller. Well while you were doing all of that, two people you don’t know were planning a new years eve hike up a mountain, and thanks to the invention of awkwardly inviting yourself on other peoples adventures, I was going with them!
A little over five years after I was first introduced to outdoor pursuits, I was about to attempt the extraordinary. I along with two of my closest friends would attempt to drive a Citroen on a 600 mile round trip. It wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be relaxing, and none of us knew if we’d even make it back. But as a great Bond villain played by the guy from Full Monty once said, “there’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive”. We also climbed a mountain in the middle.
After a trip to Asda to stock up on tins of beans and sausages while the rest of the world stocked up on crates of beer and copies of ‘how to deal with with the realization that you wasted another year of your life for dummies’, we began the 270 mile journey to North Wales. This gave us plenty of time to eat donuts and put Ella Henderson in the CD player, and let her beautiful words carry us into another country. One of our favorite songs carried the lyric “don’t let the fear keep you from climbing”, You’ll be glad to know, Ella, that I didn’t. That’s not to say I was able to keep the poop from flying out of my buttocks as I scrambbled rocks perched on the edge of a few hundred feet drop. I may have let fear ruin my pants, but I didn’t let it keep me from climbing.
We pulled up in a car park at the bottom of our mountain in the dead of night. A slither of moonlight through the occasional break in the clouds revealed a sprinkling of snow on the tops of the mountains that surrounded us. We got to work chucking the back seats of the car on the front seats and pumping up an airbed to reveal our hotel room for the night. Also Known as the boot of a Citroen Xsara Picasso.
The Following morning was one of those times when you’re full of epiphanies. When you wake up in the boot of a car with two great friends looking out of the windows at rising mountains, out in the wilderness away from any and all creature comforts. A time when your brain can catch up with your life, when you lay there and realize this amazing adventure isn’t some TV show or scene from Walter Mitty, this is your life. And you also realize you’d probably rather get an awkward boner at your great Aunt Gladice’s funeral than spooning in the boot of your car with your two male friends.
Pretending we hadn’t noticed each others morning lumbar we threw on any layers we could find, ate some breakfast and began our New Years Eve ascent.
The weather was cold and the climbing was exhausting, but each step took us closer to the clouds. Sam and Steve Defiantly strode from rock to rock. I followed along on all fours like some kind of mountain goat-crab hybrid, fearful that if I stood up a Stiff breeze would surely pick me up and send me to the cloud world. Because life is definitely the same as Super Mario.
As we climbed ever higher the weather worsened. The rain was relentless and the winds were strong enough to rip the waterproof cover from my bag. The mountain didn’t let up. The scrambles got steeper and the falls got bigger. I’d learnt about comfort zones in college, and I had learnt enough to know that I was torn from mine long ago. But it’s that line, not the one you walk on, not the one you giddily hop over, it’s the one suspended a hundred foot from the floor, the one you slip on every now and then and have no choice but to hang on to. There is no option to let go of this line, and you wouldn’t want to. No matter how scary this line gets, you could never handle life back on Terra firma again.
After hours of climbing we made it to the peak of Tryfan. The weather was incredible. Instead of sprawling views we could hardly see past the top of the mountain. The wind was so strong we couldn’t hear each other talk. It became evident that we would have to abandon our plans of seeing in the new year on a mountain top. Even Snow White couldn’t sleep through this. And we didn’t have half the amount of drugs she had. I haven’t read Snow White in a while.
With a sense of defeat worse than Al Gore at the 2001 presidential elections, when you achieve something fair and square but George Bush steals it away from you, we headed back down the Mountain. The journey down seemed so much quicker, and when we got back to the car I was so cold and moist I struggled to believe that I would ever feel warm and dry again. After standing in the car park for several minutes in wet clothes, I remembered how to successfully remove a set of clothes and replace them with another set of clothes. It’s the little victories in life that you celebrate.
We found a small cafe and ate dinner, and with a heavy heart decided to go home that same night, questioning whether I would be able to drive home as I seemed to be suffering from some form of post traumatic stress and was unable to eat and occasionally let out loud farts without knowing. But a cup of tea larger than a small child’s face had me feeling like my old self in no time, and we set off home.
We may not have been amazing enough to spend New Years on top of a mountain, but we left our worlds behind and gave it a go, and I felt pretty amazing for that. Besides, ushering in the New Year singing frozen songs in your friends living room having spent the day climbing a mountain 300 miles awayis a bloody close second.
Sorry if this one wasn’t as funny as the last one, but they can’t all be winners.