Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Across the mountain and into the dark valley.

When you get a phone call at 9 o clock in the morning from the wife of one of your old climbing partners, you just know it’s not a social call! Sure enough the news was like a kick in the stomach. ‘Big Dave’ had died of a heart attack at home a few days before. As he was just 65 and an enthusiastic hillwalker- since giving up climbing- he was as fit as you can be in your mid sixties.

It’s hard digesting news like that and it makes you realise how fragile your own existence is. 

I’d known Dave since the late 80’s when for five years until he went to work abroad in 94, he had been one of my regular climbing partners. Never a hot shot on the rock, like myself he had come to climbing from a hillwalking background and was content to remain the archetypal ‘VS Climber’. Mopping up the lower and middle grade classics in north Wales with the occasional trip to Scotland to engage in some winter climbing.

His mild, laid back character made him great company on and off the crag and in all the years I knew him, I never heard him raise his voice or bad mouth anyone-politicians aside! We were out every week, exploring every far flung crag in Snowdonia and as someone who usually took the lead when things got ‘interesting,’ I was glad to have the big feller, quietly paying out the rope as  I scrabbled about on some vegetated horror and shouted down my constant refrain..’ I thought I was off there!’.

There are too many climbs and experiences on the rock to highlight anything in particular although Dave does feature in a couple of articles. ‘One Step in the Past’ which was first published in Climber and republished on Footless Crow, and ‘Rainbow’s End’ which featured in the the CC guidebook Centenary journal.

Never a prodigious new router, he does to leave one unique first ascent for posterity. ‘Walking on Water’, a severe climb which traverses out over the cold dark waters of Llyn Hywel beneath Rhinog Fach, before climbing directly up the slab.

A few days before he died, Dave had been up Yr Wyddfa with his faithful hound, Jasper. I’m so glad he was active until the end and didn’t fade away in a nursing home. To borrow the closing lines of a David Craig poem....

This is the life-earth in the scalp, the nose, Gravel like nails driven between the toes, Blood on the knuckles, bird lime in the hair. Rain in the armpits, lichen everywhere. Better to tyauve like this than age in an armchair.

Dave Williams- 1950-2015 

1 comment:

  1. How fair wert thou in simmer time,
    Wi' a' thy clusters white
    How rich and gay thy autumn dress,
    Wi' berries red and bright.
    On thy fair stem were many names,
    Which now nae mair I see,
    But they're engraven on my heart.
    Forgot they ne'er can be!

    Oh! Rowan tree!