A Queen may have an annus horribilis, whereas Poppy – a mere council official – has had an hebdomas horribilis or really rotten week. Today, I tell of the week – or part of a week – suffered by Adam. You must judge who fared worse.
Poppy felt she had been lied to and treated as not worthy of a portrait. Adam knew that he bore the guilt of not making a New Year’s resolution to bin Mary’s portrait. He’d have saved himself the mental torture he was now suffering. Dumped again and no one to blame but himself. And what a prize he’d lost. No wonder he’d been so miserable at work.
Colleagues knew from when Mary had left him just how depressed he could get, so they rallied round and press-ganged him into joining them on a hill-walking jaunt the following Saturday. Remember – this was the day before Poppy’s birthday when she’s been cheesed off not to have received a card from him. From what she’d said to him, he’d felt that Happy Birthday greetings from him would have been less than welcome. He was miserable and feeling totally uncommitted to his mates’ discussion of route options.
In the end, they parked in the layby near Milestone Buttress on the road between Capel Curig and Bethesda in Snowdonia. A great place to start an ascent of the North face of Tryfan – a peak that’s not uber high but is potentially lethal in poor conditions or for anyone poorly prepared or experienced. They didn’t bother with the traditional leap from Adam to Eve, the twin standing stones at the summit, but carried on down the South Face to Bwlch Tryfan – a gap between Tryfan and the slightly higher Glyder Fach.
All went well on the climb up Sinister Gulley to the start of the Ridge but they knew that The Great Pinnacle Gap might be a problem. I last met that feature six years ago. There’s a drop of perhaps four or five feet onto a smooth sheet of rock that descends for a couple of yards at about 30 to 40 degrees from the horizontal and ends at a deep cleft. I describe below how it seemed to me all those years ago – wet and slippery. I wasn’t prepared to take the risk. I’d read that if you descend to your right at that point you can reach a gap through which you can reach the far side of the cleft. That’s what I did and what I describe Adam as doing in a similar situation – leading his friends.
Traversing this lower gap requires four points of contact as I remember and describe it. You walk crabwise along a narrow ledge, facing the wall and clinging with your fingertips to a narrower ledge above. I remember feeling very exposed with a quite sheer drop behind me. When Adam tries it, the footing also is wet and slippery and, part way along, his foot slides backwards and loses contact, swinging him around and tearing his hand from the ledge above. He is slammed into the rockface. His other hand loses contact with the ledge and he tumbles backwards, toppling head over heels for hundreds of feet and repeatedly smashing into the rockface as he falls before he lands, unconscious, in the valley below.
Can you call it a cliff-hanger if the hero fails to hang on? Will he make it to Poppy’s birthday party the next day do you think? Watch this page tomorrow for our next thrilling instalment.
The feature photo today is of Glyder Fach from the safety of Cwm Bochlwyd. The eagle-eyed among my readers may just spot the Great Pinnacle Gap quite near the top of the ridge (not the large scoop lower down) and the by-pass descent below it. I took this photo with a Panasonic Lumix compact DMC-TZ40 camera. The Exif Data are shutter speed 1/320 secs @f/4.7 aperture, focal length 10.3 mm and ISO 160.