Monday, November 19, 2012

Snowdonia with Frank

Wednesday 14th;

I set off from home for the long trip to Snowdonia at 10am from Mallow and arrived in Betws y Coed at 8pm after two train trips divided by a pleasant ferry crossing from Dublin. I stepped out from the station into a calm dry Betws dimly aglow with festive lighting festooning some shops. I stayed in the bijou bunkhouse attached to the Glen Aber hotel and a good nights sleep ensued. I was meeting Frank the following morning for a few days climbing and the weather forecast was set fair.

Thursday 15th;

Starting Up Grooved Arete

Typical Steep Climbing

Lyn Ogwen

An early rise and a short stroll around a waking Betws and I was ready for a good breakfast in the hotel. I was meeting Frank at 9am and despite a long foggy drive from Gloustershire he was bang on time. The weather was glorious so the decision was made to head for the east face of Tryfan with the First Pinnacle Rib the route of choice. It is always a delight to be with Frank and we had often talked about having a trip to Wales so we were in great spirits as we left the village in the direction of Capel Curig. As we left the wooded valley and the views became more expansive the sight of Moel Siabod's sharp profile glowing in the morning sunshine was a joy to behold. Onwards into the Ogwen Valley and the vistas only got better. The first sighting of Tryfan really whet the appetite so as soon as we arrived at the parking area at the base of the mountain we were keen to get started. We both had already sorted out our bags so there was no delay in getting underway. I was surprised to see that there was only a minibus of Cornish youths and ourselves setting out to the mountain. Usually this area is full of people heading to one of the most iconic mountains in the UK.

 The guide who was with the youths asked where we were headed and confirmed that we had chosen well but said that Grooved Arete was in his opinion one of the best VDiff climbs in the country and would also make a great outing. As they were both graded the same we decided to take his advice and do that route instead.
Super quality climbing
It’s a steep pull up to the “Heather Terrace” which leads diagonally to the base of the route. We passed a guide with two clients and asked him where the start of the route was and he said that the rock at the start had a big GA inscribed on it. A few minutes later we had arrived. We quickly got geared up and I set off up the route. Pretty soon I arrived at a difficulty. A vertical section with a wide groove on the left side proved insurmountable to me as the rock ran with water and I could get no purchase on the smooth rock with my boots. So an ignominious retreat was my only option. Wow that was a great start. I looked for an alternative and a few meters to the left easier options presented themselves. Soon I was above my previous difficulties and I continued up the rock. I arrived at a good belay and Frank came up to join me. We were on our way. I led another couple of pitches and then Frank took over and led up the next one. This involved a greasy unprotectable traverse from the belay around the edge of the rock and up a steep wet groove to a narrow stance above. I followed on and my respect for Frank’s climbing ability increased further as even seconding I found the groove desperately difficult and struggled to join him. As the stance was narrow I went onto easy ground just above and we moved together for the next fifty meters or so. Here I think I left the route and opted instead for easier looking ground on the left side of the vertical rock face. I went up a nice line for about twenty meters only to find myself stumped again, this time by an overhang on the right which left the only possible exit across a wet slab with no foot or hand holds so once again I had to abseil back down. I wasn’t exactly shining here. Anyway I went further left again and was now on the North Buttress route and enjoyed a really nice forty meter pitch to a good stance. Frank followed up and I went up the short ten meters or so to the end of the route.
It keeps going on

View to the last pitch from the summit

View from Tryfan summit

Jumping across Adam and Eve

Very dynamic

More summit views

 It had been a really interesting climb and was at the maximum of our abilities. We were chuffed with ourselves and when we reached the summit of the mountain we jumped the gap between the two rocks nicknamed Adam and Eve. We had the place to ourselves and we enjoyed a leisurely bite to eat and savoured the lovely weather and views on the clouds spilling over the Glyderri and Carneddau. We descended to Bwlch Tryfan and went down easily to Cwm Bochlwyd and then to the car. We were buzzing and delighted with our day. A quality climb that was always challenging and entertaining was a wonderful start to our trip and we both felt that whatever the weather would bring it was now a successful holiday. We went to find our accommodation for the next few nights, “The Eagles” luxury bunkhouse in Penmachno and were delighted with what we found. A charming bedroom with good self-catering facilities and Wi-Fi throughout meant we were well set up. A quick easy dinner and we relaxed and were early to sleep. 

Friday November 16th;

Ready for action

Another glorious day

Picking the best bits on Crib Goch

Inviting view along Crib Goch

Enjoying the pinnacles

Stretchy pants

A bit of weather on the way

Looking across at Snowdon on the way down

Moel Siabod 


Enjoying great scrambling

Well done old boy

Planning the next outing
The morning was glorious. Blue skies and no wind is such a bonus at this time of year. The forecast however was for heavy rain to arrive early in the afternoon so we opted to avoid the long rock routes and head instead for the Snowdon Horseshoe. This is always a delightful day out and even the cringe inducing £10 parking fee at the Pen Y Pass didn’t spoil things. We set off up the PYG Track and headed for Crib Goch. The morning was holding up great and we were soon looking across the lakes under the horseshoe at the fog banks filling some of the valleys. There weren’t many people about and we were able to maintain a nice steady unharried pace all day. The knife edge that is Crib Goch is always a delight and the pinnacles which mark its end provide some interest as well. We were all the while in the clear weather but the fog was slowly giving way to some cloud which meant that by the time we were on the summit of Snowdon itself we were enveloped in the mist. Still we were dry and having fun. The descent to Bwlch Ciliau soon passed and we made short work of the climb to the twin summits of Y Lliwedd. When we emerged under the cloud again we could see that bad weather was approaching from the North West so we didn’t delay and the first drops of rain only reached us as we neared the car. Still we were hardly damp and a quick change of clothes and we were once again on our way home well happy with our day. Another peaceful night followed and we didn’t mind the rain as the forecast was for it to clear overnight with the promise of another good weather day to follow.

Saturday November 17th,

The Cneifion Arret
As promised the weather was once again playing ball and the stunning landscape that in Snowdonia was once again looking resplendent in the morning sun. The plan for today was to do the Cneifion Arete in the Glyderri and while on the way to have a look at the sub Cneifion Rib. We drove again into the wonderful Ogwen Valley and found parking at the western end of Lyn Ogwen. We weren’t too hopeful of being able to do the sub rib as it was early and chilly and all the rock looked damp and unappealing after the previous night’s rain. Still we resolved to have a look anyway. There is a steep pull to the base of the rock from the well-engineered path that enters Cwm Idwall. Upon arrival I got all suited and booted and gave it a go but it was almost immediately obvious the rock was once again too greasy so I came back down and we headed up into the Nameless Cwm that hangs above. Soon we were at the base of the route and there were already a couple of parties on it. The route is a Moderate rock climb and is 140meters long. The party in front were only half way through the first pitch so we had ample time to get kitted out again.

On the first pitch

Airy scrambling

Steep but easy

View down

Still some to go

Having fun
Glyderri plateau

Nice rock formations

 Soon I was off up the first section. Nice big holds and steps were counterbalanced by the slightly unbalancing nature of the route. Still it was easy and I was soon at the first belay. The second pitch is only about 10mtrs long and goes up a narrow chimney to easier ground. After this we opted to move together for the rest of the route. It was a delight. Steep and sustained but with lots of super holds with easier options available if one so wished. All I wished for was that it could have gone on for twice as long. All too soon we were at the top but we were grinning from ear to ear after another top class scramble. A short climb and we had another scramble along Y Gribin to the summit plateau. Here we enjoyed a bite to eat and headed for Glyder Fach. We followed the plentiful cairns through the mist and soon realised that we had somehow gone astray. A quick check of the map and compass and we actually arrived at the summit of Glyder Fawr. The plateau of the Glyderri is an otherworldly place in the mist and Frank really enjoyed his first visit there. We descended back to the valley via the “Devils Kitchen” and were soon back at the car, well satisfied with our day and so pleased to have gotten another rock route done on the trip.  

Sunday November 18th;

After a lovely morning run
All good things must end and today was our day to head home. We were getting the 14.10 ferry from Holyhead which was about an hour’s drive away. I rose early on a beautiful frosty morning and went for a run from the village. I have no idea how long it was but I was gone for nearly eighty minutes and it involved starting along really small leafy lanes up into a wood before emerging again into the valley floor. A long pull up forest roads allowed me make a detour across open bog to a hill summit where I paused to admire the views. The landscape was a fiery red in the dawn sun and I was delighted and privileged to be here in this peaceful place on such a morning. Now came the reward for all the climbing and a long loping gambol passed easily and I re-emerged in the valley floor again near the village. Here I got a really look at a Buzzard which left the fencepost it was perched on and floated effortlessly over the grass to another eerie. I arrived back to find Frank finishing his packing. I enjoyed a nice shower and breakfast and soon finished my packing as well. We left the bunkhouse at about 09.30. We had a little time to spare before it was necessary to head for the ferry so we opted for a stroll up to the abandoned slate quarry on the north-western flanks of Moel Siabod.

Yet another lovely morning

Quite the plunge pool ?

This proved a delightful diversion which we were able to do in trainers on a good trail. It was only about five kilometres there and back and involved 350mtrs of height gain but it served to loosen the legs. There were lots of people on the route this morning and we stopped to chat with a few on our way back. All in all a very pleasant time was had and it meant we were back at the car for 11.30 which allowed plenty of time to get to the ferry. So ended my first trip to Snowdonia with Frank and I sincerely hope not the last. Maybe next year we will get the chance to return again. There is much more to do.

Deserted Miners House
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