Photographing the Ty Hafan Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge 2015

Photographing the Ty Hafan Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge 2015

Thursday June 25, 2015

A Walk In The Park?

It is 3:15am on Saturday 20th June 2015 and I am driving at around 10 mph crawling up towards the start of the Snowdon stage of the Ty Hafan Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge for 2015.  The weather is miserable and I can't see further than 5 metres or so in front of my windscreen.  Turning into the car park I can just about see some marshals in their yellow hi-vis jackets, some grouped under lime green Ty Hafan umbrellas.  The light from their torches is working hard to penetrate the gloom.  I had met most of them at registration the previous day, which had finished at 10:30pm and so there were a few tired people standing in the rain in that car park.

These are nightmare conditions for a photographer and I wrap my Canon 6D with the 70-200mm lens in plastic and set off to try and capture the mood.  Participants start arriving and a few try to take some photos with their mobiles, but the flash just bounces off the swirling mist.  By 4:45am they are all on their way up to the top of Snowdon and I drive back down to Llanberis to catch some sleep.  At 6am I open my eyes to see a team standing next to a car across the car park.  They have run up and down and are back already.  Incredible.  I take a few photos and then drive part of the way up the back of the mountain to take photos of the groups as they descend.  The rain is still falling and so I stay in the car as much as I can.  When I venture out the midges try to eat me alive.  The bites are still itching as a type this.

The next stop is Cadair Idris and the hardest stage of the challenge.  It is still very wet and the weather is taking it's toll on the participants.  Or maybe it was the thought of walking up uneven steps for the first 45 minutes of the climb?  After a few hours I leave and head off for Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons.  By now I am getting tired and I am not even walking!  As I get closer the weather breaks, bring some relief to the damp.  The Pen-y-Fan peak keeps being shrouded in low cloud, but there is a lot of sunshine in between the clouds.

By this time a lot of the teams recognise me and there is some lively banter.  You can see the relief on their faces as they know that Pen-y-Fan is the easiest stage and their challenge is drawing to a close.  They know that they can do it.  I take some photos of the teams as they cross a bridge that takes them onto the mountain path and then when they have finished.

By now I am feeling drained and just after 8pm I take my leave, get in my car and drive back home, which is around an hour away.

My role in the Ty Hafan Welsh 3 Peaks is simple.  I am there to capture moments of excitement, exhilaration, pain and relief.  My family has received support from Ty Hafan and it was precious.  Fund raising like this is vital for their survival and to provide more families with support during very difficult times.  My fatigue was nothing compared with what some of these families deal with every day.

Paul Fears is a Commercial and Industrial Photographer based in South Wales covering the UK.  For further information please contact Paul:

Via the website

By telephone: 01443 207773; 07909 103789

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