This week for solstice I had some personal time with my family and some friends in the mountains – we decided to do a long climb in the evening to celebrate and appreciate the amount of light on this day.

Our venue was the side of Carnedd Llewelyn – the climb Amphitheatre Buttress, and low grade enjoyable climb.

We decided to wild camp at the bottom of the crag too in the wonderful remote spot at the end of Cwm Eigiau.

With horses on our path symbolic of strength, power and freedom – so appropriate for the event
Camoflaged tents – you can hardly see them

Two other pairs of friends started up the climb first after an hours walk to camp and then another 20 mins up the hillside to the foot of the crag.

Walking up to the foot of the climb

We were a group of three – myself, my husband and my ten year old son, a keen climber himself. The first few pitches were lovely – though often met with “what on earth do we do here…” followed closely by “Oh yes I see…” my son and I were seconding, so had some really quality time on the various ledges we rested on whilst belaying my husbands lead. It was so peaceful and calm, the rock was dry and varied. We were aware though time was going past rather too quickly.

Caspian on the crag climbing well

Towards the top it actually fell dark, torches on and suddenly our awareness of what we were doing increased – each hand an foot hold had to be carefully looked at and placed. We could see ahead my husbands torch scaning rock faces to find the intended route. I considered how much we take for granted when we have full light around us, how we see things in our periphery which influence our choices almost imperceptibly. And in this darkness it forced us to climb better in a sense – be more present, and focused on what each move we needed to make.

I was aware how so often in life it is when we suddenly feel lost or plunged into darkness that we find the resources to become more conscious of our choices and become more self aware. Learning a skill we take on into the rest of life after the vision and light is restored.

Finally we made it to the top – and the rain descended upon us – it was midnight and we started the walk off – to find the coll and then gully down to the valley bottom and our tents.

Our camp in the morning with the Descent gully behind us

A test in self reliance, faith and strength. Though we did find the path in the expected place, with the rain and steepness of the loose rocky path, the descent was challenging. My son was tired yet  wonderfully resiliant, we all wanted to be down this hillside as soon as possible, but it was slow going, the path was indistinct, loose and slippery in the now pouring rain. Visibility was low. We continued on – stopping and looking very frequently to check our progress and direction.

I was, and had been, mentally calling upon guides and higher power to ensure our safety and correct decision. We needed to keep our heads and keep trusting we would be ok to trust ourselves to find our way to safety.

After an hour we found the valley floor, and then the glint of reflective strips of our tents showed us the way to warmth, comfort and hot chocolate. I was so proud of my son and how he had taken the whole experience in his stride, trusting in us and understanding the need for care and caution.

The others had made it down by darkness – the progress made easier due to the light, also having enjoyed a special experience.

That night I felt so at one with the wilderness, with nature, with so little between us and the elements. I felt a part of everything, a part of the Earth. I felt so connected as a family. We all experienced such an upliftment from the evening and night, and returned to our everyday world somewhat transformed.

Morning mist over the tops, it was peaceful and atmospheric.

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