A PLUCKY fundraiser has triumphed in a hair-raising climb up Eryri’s deadliest ridge – despite a fear of heights.
Cervical cancer survivor Ali Alcock, from Corwen, scaled the knife-edged Crib Goch in Gwynedd, over eight gruelling hours in memory of her adrenalin-loving cousin, Mark ‘Weeksy’ Weeks, from Johnstown, near Wrexham, who lost his battle with brain cancer in September 2021.
The challenge was the latest in a long line of heroic exploits to raise money for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support which she’s achieved with the backing of long-term sponsor Ifor Williams Trailers.
In the same week, 45-year-old Ali hosted a family fun day funded by Europe’s top trailer maker, boosting her 2023 fundraising total to £7k so far. She also embarked on a hike with a team of young climbers in May and has other events planned for the year in her ambition to smash last year’s total of £21k.
Ali, who counts wing-walking and skydiving among her many triumphs, said: “It was definitely the hardest challenge I’ve ever done and the scariest. Having said that, I was buzzing afterwards – it was an epic day.
“It demanded full concentration and was physically and mentally exhausting. It was relentless. I didn’t realise that once you’re over the ridge, you have more work to do as there’s another huge ridge to cross to get to Snowdon, so you effectively summit twice.
“I will never do it again! I understand how people are passionate and live and breathe this stuff but for someone who has a terrible fear of heights I wouldn’t do it again – it’s a once in a lifetime challenge for me.
“I’m known as the ‘Selfie Queen’ but on this occasion my hands were holding on for dear life! Either side of me was a sheer drop. Just a week before, someone had fallen to their death. Obviously, you must take it seriously and respect the mountain completely. Although I knew the steep drops were there, I was concentrating too much to look away from what my hands and feet were doing!”
“The training helped me to prepare. I was more confident with the scrambling side but my fear of heights didn’t improve through the training. I was hoping to acclimatise and I can say I faced my fear of heights but didn’t get over it.”
The climb is the hardest of all routes to Yr Wyddfa’s summit and 3,000ft above sea level. It was a ‘favourite’ of her beloved cousin Weeksy.
Ali, a social worker for Denbighshire County Council, was grateful for the skill and experience of five of his hiker pals who supported her every step of the way.
“I wouldn’t have even attempted it without Weeksy’s mates there. One of them was doing it for the ninth time so they were really experienced, and I knew I was in safe hands,” she said.
“There’s a space on the mountain that was really special to Weeksy. It’s just off the ridge and his friends helped me to get down to that spot. It was overwhelming and I was very emotional, the tears were flowing. It meant so much as it was because of him I was there. I couldn’t even turn around to hide the fact I was crying because there was a sheer drop right behind me!
“I think Weeksy would’ve been really proud of me. His mum and dad cried when they watched the video of me climbing.”
Just days before her challenge, Ali welcomed more than 300 people at her annual family fun day and charity football match at Dee Park, Corwen. The event saw two of Weeksy’s local teams, Rhos Aelwyd Veterans and Corwen Veterans, battling it out for the second year running for the Mark Weeks Memorial Trophy with Corwen Veterans clinching the title.
This year’s fun day showcased an inflatable ‘It’s a Knock Out’ contest complete with waterslides and bubble pools which drew a bumper crowd.
Ifor Williams Trailers generously covered the costs of the event to ensure all funds raised could go directly to Macmillan.
“Without Ifor Williams Trailers, I wouldn’t have been able to host the day. I’m also grateful to Corwen FC for providing the venue of Dee Park and for all the support from people donating and attending events,” said Ali.
“They sponsored everything so all the profits could go straight to Macmillan. I can’t thank them enough. Every year, no matter what I ask of them, they get right behind me – they’re just amazing.
“To get people’s interest and encourage them to attend, you need to do new things all the time. The inflatable ‘It’s a Knock Out’ activity cost £3.5k alone and Ifor Williams picked up the tab for it. That’s what pulled in the crowd.”
Carole Williams, from Ifor Williams Trailers, added: “We are so proud of Ali and all her amazing achievements. As she has shown on many occasions, nothing is too scary or difficult and Crib Goch is absolutely no exception – even at 3,000 ft above sea level!
“Ali has raised a staggering amount over the past six years and has no intention of stopping. We are looking forward to her next escapade!”
Ali credits a routine smear test in 2015 as saving her life as it led to her being diagnosed with cervical cancer and undergoing a hysterectomy.
She was given the all-clear and has raised more than £61k over the past six years in gratitude for the support the nurses provided while she was receiving treatment.
Although Ali has ruled out a return to Crib Goch, there are already tentative plans for next year’s adventure – although she has had little say in the matter.
“I’d only got halfway across the ridge when one of the guys said he had a great idea for what I could do next year. But I’m going to wait a week or two before I reveal what the next challenge is going to be. Watch this space!
Anybody wanting to make a donation can do so via Ali’s Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/page/alison-alcock-1676315571687?