Thursday 23rd July 2015..
Today a significant “Tick box” was marked off my personal check-list..
Mt Snowdon was conquered !!! Ive wanted to climb the mountain with my surname for as many years as I can remember..
We pulled into the Victoria Hotel car park and were greeted by a very happy chap with a somewhat “military” approach.. We were directed to park down with a few other camper vans at the far end of the car park.. We were already thinking that this would make a “canny” spot to “Overnight” The parking was £7 so we thought if we could squeeze a sleep-over as well then that would be pretty good value.. As we walked back to the entrance, the attendant called us over and asked if we were climbing and by which route..He checked we had the appropriate gear and clothing for the approx 6hr trip.. He then enquired if we would be stopping over in the car park ? We said yes with a smirk as it was as if he was already aware of our intentions.. He sent us off in the right direction, and we started the accent through the village..
It was Bloody Hot when we set off !!!
The climb was fantastic.. Every few minutes we would “marvel” at the views that were unfolding before us.. It was absolutely stunning and got better the higher we went.. That was until approx just over 2/3 of the way up, and the clouds and mizzle, decended upon us.. It made the last hour or so quite challenging as the various layers were applied to keep warm and dry.. Every now and then the sun would break through and rays of light would illuminate the valley below.. The views are etched on our memories for ever.. Occasionally the trains of the Snowdon Mountain Railway came past, almost teasing us with what was an easier way to the top.. But we persevered and finally reached the cafe at the top.. Only another few feet to go and we would be at the summit.. We scrambled up the last mound of rocks that form the actual peak, and stood and marvelled at the views.. It was truly breathtaking and Euphoric at the same time.. We were finally The Snowdons at the top of Mt Snowdon !!
At the very second I scrambled up the last few feet and reached the summit, my phone beeped to say I had a voicemail.. We had had no service most of the way up, so after descending to the warmth of the busy cafe, and tucking into our lunch and a hot drink, I checked to see who had called.. It was Ben the guy who had taken over my patch at work, saying he had had a call from the Mother of my best friend to say he had passed away.. This sent me into a bit of a panic as there were several of my friends who considered me to be their best Freind.. So as well as hearing I had lost one of them, I wasn’t even sure who it was ! Texts sent out to the likely lads, we started the decent down the mountain.. It became apparent as the replies came in that it was Paul Grounsel who had left us.. Paul was born in the same hospital as me, 1 day earlier than me and our mothers had shared the same ward.. We had been mates for as long as I can remember and I could hardly believe that he was gone at such an early age.. Tears flowed all the way down the mountain, and I was comforted all the way by Angie.. I can’t write this now without wiping away fresh tears.. He was a lovely bloke and a true friend.. A true Battle Hill Diamond.. I remembered the last time I had seen him whilst visiting my Mam in hospital.. He was in hospital himself having a blood disorder treated.. His face would light up when he saw me and he hugged me as tight as I had ever been hugged.. He was a man of simple pleasures, who enjoyed life..
It seems poignant that i received the news as I finally reached the top of Mt Snowdon.. My Euphoria will always be tinged with sadness but Ill always remember Paul with significance and happiness..
We reached the car park and told the attendant of our day.. We swapped first names and it was fitting that he was also called Paul, and that his friends called him squirrel, which was quite amusing for me as Paul and I had shared a hilarious exchange with our friend Robbie about a his password which was squirrel :)) .. He told us to pull over closer to the hotel where we could make use of the hotel wifi, and directed us to a fresh water tap around the side of the hotel where we could fill our tank.. I could see Paul locking up for the evening, so I grabbed a couple of beers from our fridge and walked over.. We shared a beer and a bit of chat and shook hands, then off he went..
Its a day ill always treasure and never forget..
RIP paul mate……..