Sunday, 10 June 2007

Part 2: On Location

Tuesday brought Reality. In summary, we packed ENORMOUS sacks of ropes, film gear, food and thermals, took the train (phew!) half way up Snowdon and walked to the bottom of the Clogwyn slabs. It is truly a spectacular spot to be "on location" (ooh, how cool does that sound?!)

Shanks' pony wasn't working today so we took the train....

Dave Macleod was here to check out Indian Face. If you want all the gory details on this, check the HotAches blog and Dave's blog. From my novice perspective, the whole two days stationed at the bottom of Cloggy was fascinating. The Indian Face is a vast expanse of nothingness, Dave's climbing is impressive to say the least, and the film guys go to unimaginable lengths to produce film which keeps the rest of us entertained, breathless and on the edge of our seats.

Can you see what he's standing on? I couldn't, and I was there!

While I knew that there was lots of rigging required to film climbing, I don't think I had any real comprehension of how much effort this entailed. Having carried the 100m static rope to the bottom of various crags in Llanberis Pass, I have a greater appreciation of exactly what it takes to film climbers. And I managed to escape the 50m jumar!

Being in the right place at the right time, and ready to roll when the climber is ready to climb is a logistical challenge when "on location" means being 2500 feet above sea level, on a 100ft high rock face, at the top of a 40 degree slope. Over the last week I have been increasingly impressed by the energy and professionalism displayed by the Hot Aches team. Jude Spanken put it very well when she told us she was quite worried about being filmed when onsighting Lord of the Flies. She doesn't like people watching when she climbs, but she came down from the route saying that she had totally forgotten the cameras were there.

There is certainly blood and sweat, and probably tears (but they're men, so they'd never admit to it!) spilt in the making of HotAches films. As far as I can see they deserve an award for just trying. It was a privilege to be allowed to help out.

Hanging out at the bottom of Cloggy

As I had been warned, there was a lot of hanging around, which didn't bother me in the slightest. Rather hang out there than be sat at my desk. On Wednesday when Dave was toproping the route, I took the opportunity to head to the top of the mountain. Whiling away the hours I also had time to reflect exactly how busy Snowdon is. It has to be the busiest mountain in the world!! Trains every 30 mins, grinding their way up the hill, whistles blowing, the smell of coal smoke and sulphur drifting across on the wind, helicopters buzzing around (I'm sure they were just having a nosy at doings on Indian Face!), tourists chattering, the clink of gear from other climbers, sheep.....and that was before I got to the top:

The summit of Snowdon

It was like Oxford Circus on the last shopping day before Christmas while a new gas main is being laid! But warmer. I'm very glad I didn't expend more effort than necessary to get to the top. I don't ever want to go back, unless it's in beautiful snow conditions and there are no people. It was horrific. And they're building a new train station there.

I found it bizarre that amongst the JCB diggers, reinforced steel joists, portacabins and fluorescent jackets, sat a small, antiquated steam engine. Tried and tested technology (or maybe not.... isn't technology something that doesn't work yet?). I was reminded of Ivor the Engine.

More on the epics of filming two routes in one day later.... but one statement to close. We had 6 WHOLE DAYS of glorious sunshine. In Wales. I kid you not.


Mark said...

I know what you mean about Snowdon - the couple of times I've been there have been odd too. I had been alone in deep snow for a while (feeling nicely away from everyone) and topped out in crap visibility to be met by swarms of people crawling all over the place, tripping over the railway line and only occasionally saying "hello". Very strange and not too pleasant.

alpinedreamer said...

Hi Mark,
It's certainly the strangest mountain I've been on in the UK. I felt as though all those people didn't really appreciate where they were, although I have no evidence whatsoever to suggest this was true. Maybe their appreciation was just the same as mine...