Climbing Mount Snowdon

Snowdon Cottage-2015Morning dawned, crisp and bright, with a definite autumn chill. It was a calm and peaceful scene.  Ideally, it would have been lovely to stand, with a mug of tea warming my hands, absorbing the serenity.

However, there wasn’t time for such luxuries this morning.  This was a family weekend away and it’d been planned down to the last packet of crisps and bottle of wine! This morning, time was of the essence.

Facing Mt Snowdon

I had sometimes expressed a desire to climb Mount Snowdon and my family had organised this weekend so that we could do just that.  They had plotted and planned it and I had made some attempt to get fit.  And today was the day.  We were on a tight schedule as we wanted to get up and down the mountain by 6.30pm before the light started to fade.

Sandwiches made and packed. Tick!   Variety of snacks. Tick.  Plenty of water.  Tick.  Different layers of clothing, suitable for the ever-changing weather conditions of the mountain.  Tick.

And so we sallied forth – the family, filled with anticipation and enthusiasm and I, filled with dread and trepidation.  I was facing the unknown and I was not at all sure that I could climb any of the mountain, let alone get to the top!

To stop me going into panic I came up with a plan.  I decided that I would go as far as I could and then we would turn round and go down.   Phew!  The pressure to get to the top was lifted.

I’ve climbed only 3 mountains in my life:  Mount Inyangani in Zimbabwe when I was under 40!  Then at about 52 I climbed the Malvern Hills range in Worcestershire. Steps had been formed most of the way to the top of the range and then it plateaued out – relatively easy. Then, at the new retirement age, I climbed Dodd Wood in the Lake District that had a well-trodden path.

Nothing had prepared me

And now as a very ‘big’ birthday looms close, here am I, climbing Mt Snowdon. Nothing had prepared me for what I was about to face.  The path was made from rocks, huge rocks, some had been levelled and formed into rough steps (mostly of uneven size) and scree. And there was a constant stream, both ways, of people.

There was only one way to deal with this and that was with determination.  Head down. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other!  The family were very supportive and extremely encouraging. I didn’t have time to feel anxious any more.  The desire to get to the top was a thing of the past. There was only one thought in my mind – how and where was I going to take my next step!

There were 2 mantras running through my mind as I walked: the mantra of the Little Train:  “I think I can. I know I can”.  And some advice that my son passed on from Ranulph Fiennes  – “ just keep plodding”.

I didn’t get to the top  

We stopped about two thirds of the way up for lunch. By this time, I was exhausted and had reached the end of my endurance.  I could not continue.  I was bitterly disappointed.  I felt as if I’d let the children down and myself too; for aren’t I the one that says ‘I can do anything I want to do’? 

We  turned and began the long trek down. Going down was far more difficult and painful than going up.

Going down made me realised just how far I had climbed  – and I was content.

So where is the philosophy in this story?  What is the bottom line?

For me it was about having the courage to accept my own limitations and realising that the place I’d reached, was indeed,  ‘the top’ for me – and that it was a huge achievement.

As always I’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments.  Thank you.

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Rose Todd

  • Jacqueline says:

    Well done, Rosemary, I’m in awe! xx

    • Rose says:

      Thank you Jackie. I was disappointed I didn’t get to the top, but was amazed when we turned around and Joy said to me, ‘do you see those tiny house way over there? That’s where we started’. Then I truly realised how far I’d come. I didn’t reach the top but I do consider what I did was a huge achievement.
      And we all had a fun weekend together.

  • Greg Todd says:

    Well done Rose. You deserve a medal for getting as far as you did.

    • Rose Todd says:

      Thank you Greg. It was disappointing to turn back, but when I saw how far I’d climbed, I was pleased. Bridgie and Nick did go to the top as Bridget had not done it before – which was good. They caught up with us very near the bottom.

  • Gavin Evans says:

    You summed it up very well Rose; you reached what was the top for you. If that is all you could do, then congratulations on achieving that!

    We absolutely loved our day climbing Snowdon at the end of August 2017. We went up the Pyg Track and down the Llanberis Path. It was a great idea to vary the tracks for the climb and descent as each offered a different challenge and varied views.

    We had a superb day and it was a huge sense of achievement for both of us. This is definitely a climb we would recommend to anyone!

    • Rose Todd says:

      Hello. (You didn’t leave me your name, but I’ve checked your website. Am I talking to Gavin or Didem?)
      Thank you so much for your comment. I love to hear from you and delighted to hear about your Snowdon climb. In consideration of their mother, my 40 year old children took me up the easiest trail – the Llanberis I think. I was hugely disappointed not to get to the top. It took a lot of focus to make the Mind-Shift from disappointed to pride at achieving what I did!
      I couldn’t have coped with another descent. Going down the ‘easy’ path was hard enough on my poor old knees!!
      But there was champagne waiting at the bottom!
      I agree entirely, it is a superb day out with magnificent views and good company.
      Good to hear from you. Thank you once again for writing.
      Best wishes for your next climb. Rose

  • Sue Cooke says:

    Hi Rose, so lovely to hear from you. I love the way you write your articles and did enjoy reading that one. Wow. You did so well to even attempt it. It does take courage And honesty With yourself to know you’re limitation. It’s also called being sensible and having the wisdom to realise it and look after yourself. Learning to listen to your body is so important. I did think of the little engine by Burl Ives. Love that song.

    It’s nice to know there is always a helping hand when you need it.

    That’s certainly a birthday to remember! I bet you enjoyed your warm cuppa when you got back 😁

    • Rose Todd says:

      Hello Sue. Thank you for your lovely comment. It was difficult to accept that I couldn’t get to the top. I would have carried on, but I knew it would be difficult and that would make it doubly difficult for the children! So it was as much my concern for them as it was about me knowing I’d got to “my top”, that I stopped.
      It was wonderful to get back to the cottage. And yes, I had a quick cup of tea – followed closely by champagne and the opening of ‘fun’ brithday presents! We all had such a good time!
      Thank you again Sue. Rose

  • Joan O’Connor says:

    Lovely adventure Rose & great Birthday memories too. You did brilliantly, well done!

    • Rose Todd says:

      Hello Joan. Thank you for leaving a comment. it was a lovely adventure with lots of happy memories too. We all had a marvellous time. I hope you’re well. love Rose

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