Pushing the Boundaries

It’s difficult to go out of your way and force yourself to do something when you don’t want to do it. This might seem like a pretty obvious thing to say, because, after all, why do something that you don’t want to do? I hate broccoli and cabbage, and hence, I distance myself considerably from these foods from hell which represent everything that is evil about out-dated vegetable and nutritional practices. However, sometimes the logic of why you don’t want to do something isn’t as clear-cut as ‘it’s pointless’. Last weekend I popped over to Wales, to Snowdonia, and ascended a mountain called Tryfan. Tryfan is well-known in the British outdoor recreation world for being a rather hairy and interesting mountain.


Tryfan - Valley

The incredibly misleading gentle valley near Tryfan.

Now, for the first hour of so, it was a normal hike. However, upon reaching a point about three quarters of the way to Tryfan’s peak, it turned into one of the most adrenaline pumping and scary things I’ve done.


One of Tryfan’s characteristic sharp drops over a gaping abyss. I seem to remember sh*ti*g my hiking trousers at this point (not literally, of course).

Being a seasoned hiker, I’m used to long walks and ‘scrambling’. But on Tryfan, the scrambling is massively amplified. I’ve had to grapple with slippery, dripping wet stone before, but here I had to do this whilst trying to place my feet in tiny footholds which, had I slipped, I probably would have been seriously injured or fallen to my death, since there are no ropes. The ledges are very narrow, the mountain edge is extremely close and I almost sliced my hand open on the eerie, jagged rocks. In fact, at one point I was following the trail of blood left behind by a random climber who had done just that. Seeing their bright red blood splattered over the rocks in front of me didn’t help my nerves. Passing the ‘point of no return’ on a path which passes a gaping abyss was terrifying and I could really feel my pulse racing, my arms trembling and my breath quicken.

Now, before all the hardened rock climbers reading this call me a pussy, it is important to clarify that most humans feel apprehension before trying something new which is unusual and dangerous. It’s a perfectly normal human response. But, as you’ve probably deduced, I came back alive, and much better off from the experience. As one of my fellow hikers kept telling me, “You’ve got to push yourself”. And she’s absolutely right. If you want to have a good, quality experience, then for some people, like me, it’s not good trying the same old thing. I’ve done various slightly easier scrambles before, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s no good doing the same old thing, or just sitting, stewing on an island beach for days. Do bear in mind that this trip was for recreation. You might be wondering how on earth I could find the experience which I just described relaxing. But it was, because it gave variety to something I’ve done quite a few times, and opened up new possibilities.

Rescue Helicopter

The rescue helicopter which kept circling us filled me with confidence.

This hike wasn’t really one of contemplation. I was concentrating on what I was doing for most of the time. For about 90% of the descent I was winding my way over and around scree, and smashed my knees many times. This experience was one where I particularly treasured and was very grateful for having company. I would never have tried that mountain alone, and there was much joking and humorous conversation to be had.


This experience was definitely one to be shared. I was pleased to be in wonderful company. (Click on this photo once, and once again on Flickr to enlarge, it looks much better.)

While I was ascending Tryfan and pumped full of adrenaline, I felt like I would never in a million years want to do it again. But afterwards, I realised how rewarding it was to have pushed myself beyond my limits, and that I want to climb Tryfan again, and attempt more tough scrambles. I’m still not going to become a rock climber, because I don’t enjoy rock climbing. But I am now a stronger and more experienced person and can attempt and complete more than I thought I could. I recommend adventure for everyone, particularly bored, cynical students, even if it seems like you can’t handle it. Because you never know when you might surprise yourself.


2 responses to “Pushing the Boundaries

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