Monday, May 17, 2010

Wales April 2010

Saturday April 24th;

Crib Goch towards Snowdon

Y Cribben

Glorious scenery

Idwall Slabs
Well after a good winter and a good Scottish trip under my belt, last week saw me get itchy feet and book a late ferry from Dublin to Holyhead and a train to Betws y Coed in Snowdonia. Leaving Dublin at 9.16 we docked in Holyhead at 00.30 on Saturday morning April 24th. A tiring four hour wait before I got on the train ensued but the journey to Betws y Coed was painless. I alighted in the little town just after 6 am and a one kilometer walk followed to my campsite where I quickly pitched my tent and crashed for a couple of hours much needed kip. The weather was set fair and after breakfast I headed to the nearest bus stop and caught the aptly named Sherpa bus to the Pen y Pass. This is the starting point for the Snowdon Horseshoe which was my objective for the day. A fine weekend day and Snowdon equals crowds, but I was still surprised by the sheer volume of people on the mountain. The miners and Pyg tracks were a constant stream of humanity. Throngs, like lines of ants were visible on the summit ridge. Still the numbers on Crib Goch were manageable and by sticking to the more interesting left side I was able to bypass most. The scrambling ,(while never difficult) was always entertaining and was over all too soon.
 The narrow arrete was thronged but again I was able to pass, mostly on the left, but occasionally by sticking to the more difficult pinnacles therefore avoiding the easier paths. I enjoyed a relatively quiet lunch about one kilometer before the summit. As it was quite warm I finished my water at lunch and reasoned that I would buy some at the summit cafe. Off I set at a brisk pace. Passing the unbelievable crowds on the summit ridge and quickly reached the top. The cafe was closed so I had no water for the rest of the walk. I decided to forgo the pleasure of queuing for the summit trig point and made a swift exit to the relative quiet of Y  Cribben. The remainder of the walk was delightful and the rock face of Y Cribben was a tantalising glory that I promised myself for another day.I found myself back at the pass at three fifteen pm. Four and a half hours was no bad effort. Unfortunately there wasn't a bus for another hour and a half so I set off in the Capel Curig direction and stuck out my thumb. Much to my delight I quickly got a drive and was back at the campsite by four pm.
 Sunday April 25th;
That night I was awoken by boisterous noise at half ten. Four young men, obviously high on something, kept the whole site awake until four in the morning. fighting, brawling, roaring, shouting, breaking tables and lighting fires (scary) were the pass times of choice. Little or no sleep ensued yet strangely I was in good form setting off on my travels at nine thirty that morning. I walked to the bus stop and while I was there decided to try hitching again. Almost immediately a guy who worked in Plas y Brenin gave me a lift to Capel Curig. He suggested walking along the ridge from behind the village to the Glydderi. As the morning wasn't shaping up to be great I took this option. A thoroughly wet day followed. The broad ridge was boggy and exposed to the elements and the map and compass had to be used to good effect. Still I really enjoyed the experience and the top of the Glydderi is an almost surreal place in dense mist. I made one navigational error by following a cairn trail from the second summit. I discovered that this was heading down to Llanberris when I took my bearings withthe GPS. A little bit of climbing and contouring saw me on the correct track in short order. 
I continued on past the Devils Kitchen on to Y Garn. The rain had by now subsided and I enjoyed a pleasant lunch at the summit. Still nothing resembling a view to be had so I quickly retraced my steps to the Kitchen and a rapid decent ensued into Cwm Idwal. This is massive and the cliffs and ridges that rise from it are very impressive. By now the day had improved considerably and I enjoyed a very pleasant walk past Llyn Idwal to the Idwal cottages at the end of the Ogwen valley. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to wait too long for a bus and was dismayed to find that the last one for the day was gone a half an hour before. It was only three thirty and I was wet through so I had no option but to stick out my thumb again. Lo and behold I had a lift after only two minutes and was back and changed in the campsite by four pm. The evening in the valley was very pleasant and I was even able to get most of my clothes nearly dry. A leisurely evening was followed by a blissfully quiet night and I awoke the following morning refreashed after a good nights sleep.

Monday April 26th;
The plan for today was to take the bus to the Lyn Ogwen cottages and make a traverse of the Carnedds. The weather was much more promising. A thin layer of cloud clung to the tops which were above 900meters. I hopped off the bus and started up the steep path towards Carnedd Dafydd. Height is gained quickly and further up there is nice scrambling to be had. I hadn't gone far when I was stopped in my tracks by the scream of a pair of air force jets buzzing within 500mtrs of me. I found myself cheering like a kid and grinning from ear to ear, awesome. When my heart stopped pounding I continued upwards. I traversed left higher up and made my way to the broad top via a series of very enjoyable rocky ribs. The view across the valley towards Tryfan and the Glyderri was wonderful. The walk past Cwm Lloer to the summit was gentle and inspiring. Passing a couple of impressive iron age cairns on the way I soon reached the top. Turning east I followed easy ground for two kilometers above the impressive cliffs of Ysgolilon Duon. 
Looking down Amphitheatre Buttress
These north facing cliffs and gullies reaching up to an elevation of 1000mtrs must have provided great winter sport in the previous months. There was still plenty snow in evidence in the dark recesses. The cloud had by now lifted and the views were expansive in all directions. Ones eyes couldn't help but be drawn to the beautiful rocky fin that was Tryfan. On past Bwlch Cryfyw Drum and I was soon pulling up to the second highest mountain in Wales Carnedd Llewelyn. at 1064mtrs with broad spurs reaching out in all directions this is an impressive massif.

There were still snowfields reaching down 200mtrs from its northeast face. A gentle 300mtr descent past the top of the atmospheric cliffs of Amphitheatre Buttress saw the ridge narrow and a sharp pull soon saw me up to Pyn Tr Hegli Du. This little top was a good spot for lunch and provided great views into Cwm Eigiau with its mining ruins and scars. A gambol eastwards over springy ground and I soon reached the final top of the day Pen Llithrig Y Wrach. The descent from this south towards Capel Curig afforded lovely views over the Llyn Cowlyd reservoir. Five kilometers of easy ground saw me back in Capel Curig. The thumb worked its magic yet again and I was quickly back in Betws y Coed. 
Tryfan east face

Tuesday April 27th;

On day four the weather once again was very promising. Yet again the bus saw me start again from Llyn Ogwen. This time the plan was to scramble up the gully to the left[east] of the Idwal Slabs and up the seniors ridge to the summit of Glyder Fawr. This was a lovely easy outing with just enough to keep one interested but never difficult. Upon reaching the top an initially steep descent down the eastern ridge of the Nameless Cwm soon saw me at Llyn Bochlwyd and looking at the southwest face of Tryfan. I headed for some slabby looking rock which started at around 750mtrs. this line provided some fabulous scrambling which continued nearly all the way to the summit. A quick bite to eat and I made my way across to Bristly Ridge. This gave lovely scrambling all the way to the summit of Glyder Fach.I then reversed the ridge of Sundays walk, this time in glorious sunshine to reach yet again Capel Curig. A bus back to the campsite and a very leisurely packing and I made my way to the train station. The journey home though long way uneventful. All in all a most satisfactory climbing packed four days. I will be back.

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