Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Indian Face and The Cailleach

Clogwyn Du'r Arddu

As we walk up to Cloggy the Welsh clouds gather threateningly over the summit of Snowdon. Dave and Claire ride the train to the summit with all the climbing and rigging gear.

Ghost Train!

Dave abseils down the route and a few drops of rain spit a warning at him.


I arrive at the foot of the wall; I feel rejected, resigned to another trip wasted because of British weather. I decide to gear up anyway, figuring that I might as well jug up the wall just in case Dave decides to at least work the moves before the rain sets in properly.

Llyn Du'r Arddu (here be dragons!)

I jug up and get comfortable on my skateboard seat. Dave climbs on a shunt and abs back to the base of the route.

Skateboard and Shunt

Dave shouts up that he's going to "give it 10 mins and see". I look at the sky and put on my belay jacket. The clouds still look angry, but as yet unproductive.

Dave and Claire chat at the bottom, I eavesdrop on the radio mic. Dave is worried about the rain, the route will take him at least 20 mins to climb and it seems risky to attempt when it could pour down at any minute.

Dave goes for a walk.

Dave returns and chats more about the weather. Claire seems more confident than Dave, pointing out that the weather hasn't got any worse in the last half an hour. Dave starts to gear up, once he's putting his boots on I radio Tom to check he is all set on the long shot.

Claire MacLeod, dressed for summer on Snowdon (pic Tom Kirby)

Dave starts climbing, all my focus is on the filming, all my attention is on the camera. There is an odd feeling of detachment from reality through a viewfinder. I've filmed a lot of scary and dangerous ascents over the last 5 years and it is very rare that this bubble of detachment has ever burst.

Video Grab - Dave Climbs Indian Face

Dave reaches the jugs at the end of the crux. He's done it. We chat briefly and I check he is happy to wait there while I jug the last 10m to the belay ledge for the top-out shot. I transfer my weight from the skateboard to the rope, but before I can set off jugging the Welsh clouds boil to life and start to spit angrily at us. Dave shouts that he can't afford to wait. The top section is relatively easy… in the dry, but not something to risk in the wet.

Race in the gloom

So now Dave and I are racing each other to the top, me on jumars, Dave on damp rock. I only just beat Dave to the ledge (although maybe he let me win!). I get the camera out and film the last few metres of the climb. As I'm filming the top out interview, a seemingly huge gob of rain hits the lens.

Lens cloth needed

By the time we're walking back down in the valley, the rain is torrential. I'm wearing full Gortex waterproofs but I'm still soaked through. It seems unlikely that anyone could have climbed anything today, let alone Indian Face.

The mist descends

Dave jokes that he is glad the ascent has been caught on film otherwise no one would believe he had done it today.

Filmmaker Tom Kirby enjoys some excellent soup courtesy of the very nice cafe at the foot of Snowden's Llanberis path.

That night Cailleach, the Celtic goddess of weather and water, exercised her power.


In the morning I'm first up and I head to Pete's to check my email. On the way out I bump into Johnny Dawes chatting with friends. I tell him the news, he is excited by it and keen to chat with Dave, the newest member of a very exclusive club of climbers. As we're chatting the door opens, a gust of wind enters the café... followed by John Redhead. Dawes tells him the news and then they chat with excitement about last nights storm.

Two of the members of the Indian Face Club

Shortly after I shot a quick interview with Dave and Johnny; you can see an extract of it on the Hot Aches Facebook page.


1 comment:

Mountaineerrobert said...

Cool, top achievement by Macleod as always.