Excerpt from Tadhg’s Journal: Today I went climbing! And it was amazing.
This week, as my first week back at Capel Curig for some weeks, I’ve been ever so active – and used the time, in part, to retrace my steps of when I would spend ninety percent of my time in the great outdoors, under canvass. Ah, those were the days!
Today I climbed Tryfan.
Tryfan, (Welsh for ‘three peaks’) is 915m or 3002 feet high, and it is steeped [no pun intended] in history and myth. It is said that Sir Belvedere of Arthurian legend is buried here. I haven’t found the grave, so far.
Tryfan is an amazing place. It has a ‘welcoming-but-don’t take-liberties’ kind of attitude, that most mountains in these parts have, but it is a glorious place to come for the scenery, to be alone, to be alone with the Alone.
The northern approach leads to an easier climb of the mountain, and that was my route, today. It’s easier, they tell me, but it’s still not easy. Infact, it gets much harder the further one ascends towards the ‘rocky spines’. My heart rate and breathlessness can testify to that.
As one looks away, on a neighbouring summit there are two prominent boulders – these are called Cain and Abel.
Onwards and upwards.
And then finally at the summit of Tryfan, I sat and gazed in awe. The vista was amazing. The horizon was visible, as was the undulating valley below. Sitting on a rocky outcrop I had a well-deserved lunch. I know that any reputable mystic would leave it there – but I have to tell you about my lunch. I consumed a flask of the most delightful tomato soup, accompanied by ‘fistfuls’ of bara brith, a sort of Welsh currant loaf. I know! I’m a man of simple pleasures! I truly felt blessed.
‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.’ Psalm 139.7-8, The Book
Sitting at the summit is a spiritual experience. I wish you were here.
If I didn’t believe that the Spirit is ubiquitous, and believed that one needed to scale a high place to ‘meet’ him, or her, or them [delete that which does not apply], then this is the place I would climb.
Even now, the Presence seems closer as I, exhausted by the climb, sit here and the wind howls around me murmuring indistinct ‘words’ (all beginning with a ‘wh’, but that’s the wind for you – and vowels are hardly used in Welsh words) as it ‘hits’ the rocks, nooks and crannies, that is Tryfan’s summit.
This is an area awash in Celtic history, too, and is a place where Christians of old (hence the names of Genesis characters in neighbouring (and this) mountains(s)), and Druids would gather, and wiccan, too, I’m told. I like the idea that this place meant so much to so many people, and still does. Tryfan is big enough for all-comers and those who dare to climb to the summit.
And, then as I look over my shoulder there are two boulders, here. From the Ogwen Valley below these two boulders, with a lot of imagination needed or cheap Welsh beer, look human-like, and so here I am looking at them – they’re called Adam and Eve.
I was brave to get this far, but when I first came here, aged sixteen years (and so a ‘few’ years ago), I did what others did (who are reckless – so please don’t try this). Yes, those who climb those two boulders, and jump from one to the other get the ‘Freedom of Tryfan’ which entitles one to…absolutely nothing. But I did it (once). I jumped the five feet from one bolder to another, realising the rather deep drop on the one side, and the consequences of what a slip would result in. Why did I do it? Because it was there!
And, then it was time to descend. Bizarrely, it seems (to me) descending (mountain-wise, not spiritually-speaking) is more dangerous than ascending. But, there you go.