Early start, packed car. Long drive. 30mins from the crag, windscreen peppered with raindrops. Drops turn to a torrent. Wipers on, where’s the cafe John? Next left.
Yet again a wasted trip, petrol money up in smoke, should have stayed home with the kids. The sausage and bacon sandwich which recently occupied the now empty plate in front of me was a paltry consolation prize. Jim and Worm arrive. “Looking brighter out there now youth”. Yeah whatever. We might as well check out the wet boulders, see if anything looks good enough to come back for.
What I love about climbing is the unexpected, the way it sometimes throws you a bone when you least expect it. Not always, but just sometimes. An inexplicably dry crag when it’s barely even finished raining. You remember these days because you’ve put yourself out there, something’s at stake. Even if it’s only a wasted day, we’ve all got busy lives these days; jobs, families, responsibilities. So that immaculate grippy dry Welsh rock under your fingertips that day feels that little bit more special.
The sun comes out and the Welsh hills stretch out beneath us, beautiful yet scarred by industry. The toot of the Ffestiniog railway calls as it passes under the crags. Never been here before so everything is new, Tan y Grisiau is our oyster. The hours passes quickly with exploration and the familiar cocktail of victories and defeats. I take a few photos to try and distil something of the experience onto film. Going panoramic today, the breadth of the frame seems to suit the Welsh mountain landscape. The texture of the rock and the timeless tones of black and white image seem a good match, or so I hope. I won’t know till I get home. But for now the car is packed, the last of the water drunk. I said I’d be back by 9, but I’m starving. Where’s the cafe John?