THE first time I went climbing in Wales I came home on crutches.
An accident on Tryfan, a helicopter ride to hospital and a hobble into a packed party night at a curry house still in the mud-caked, slightly whiffy gear I had been wearing when I fell.
But that was typical of the action-packed hill adventures you got with mini-tornado of mayhem Trevor Walls.
The two of us had set off on a wet and windy Thursday evening from Glasgow, destination Snowdonia. On the way down we took a detour into Manchester’s so-called Curry Mile, a starter in one café, main course in another and then a sweet from a takeaway, before we hit the road again.
There was no doubt we were now leaving England and driving deeper into Wales. With every passing road sign another vowel would disappear, replaced by two or three consonants. Double d’s without a Pamela Anderson or Katie Price in sight, an ’ell of a lot of l’s and more y’s than the most inquisitive toddler can provide in a day.
By the time we reached the car park at the Llanberis Pass, the combination of the curry festival and the decision to sleep the night in the car was looking like a bad mistake. The wind was rocking the car as we tried to sleep. The wind was rocking in the car as well.
We wandered into the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel at 7am looking for breakfast. We were staying there for the next two nights after all. It wasn’t open to non-guests yet but the wind was howling and the rain lashing down, so the owner took pity on us and gave us tea and toast.
She also tried to talk us out of doing the Crib Goch ridge in these conditions but we wouldn’t be swayed. This was Dai Hard, with a vengeance.
The conditions were tough and we were glad of the respite the restaurant at the top of the mountain provided for a hot drink, but the weather improved for the route down and it was still better than being stuck in an office somewhere.
After surviving the wind and rain lashed ridge, we enjoyed the hospitality of the Basil Fawlty-esque hotel boss and the building’s remarkable history - this was where the 1953 Everest expedition was based, their names etched into the wooden ceiling - and then over-enjoyed the hospitality until the wee small hours.
By the time we headed out next day to climb Tryfan and the Glyders we were probably in a worse state than the morning before. I could have sworn the mountain was moving.
Then there was the fall on Tryfan and the pain and the crutches but the over-riding image of that day was Trevor’s face when he was told he wouldn’t be getting a ride in the helicopter. He was like a wee boy who had just been told his birthday party had been cancelled. No, he had to carry my rucksack down the hill along with his own while I took to the skies.
But he was there with that trademark grin when I was discharged from hospital to drive me up the road.
Every outing with Trevor was a mad adventure. He was one of a kind. Please raise your glasses as we make our annual pilgrimage up Buachaille Etive Mor this weekend to salute his memory.
(First published Daily Record, July 10, 2014)