We somehow managed to squeeze in more than just the one season – climbing season that is. From an alpine-like Crib Goch, Ladies Gully and Idwal Stream, we hit the coast for some bouldering at Port Ysgo and on the way home, a trad route and some sport at Penmaen Head.
The weekend couldn’t have been improved on to be honest. Those who were there happened upon calm winds, blue skies above and a warm sun. Mountain Rescue were busy due to people being unprepared in one way or another for the high reaches, a shame, as they could have been out enjoying the conditions themselves. NLMC had a big turnout and lots was done, just how it should be.
Finally fulfilled a dream the other week and found myself wandering up Trinity Face, you know, the big hideous pile of rubble that masquerades as a cliff face on Snowdon – every winter, when it freezes up and gets a coating of snow, it somehow garners an attraction that’s not there in summer. The snow working somewhat like beer goggles I guess.
It had been a cracking weekend, tootling up along Seargent’s Gully with Liz and George and after a solo up some Grade II pitches of ice we’d headed up Parsley Fern past an unseen dead badger that had it’s ten minutes of fame in the next few days.
Megan joined us on the Sunday for the trip into the Snowdon massive and she and Liz headed off to our right – George and I having decided that RH Trinity was our goal for the day. We’d never climbed together before and whilst I’ve soloed bits of Grade IV, neither of us had led a III – we were slightly excited. Beaten to the start by a rope of three, we hung around on the belay for a while and enjoyed some stunning views. I managed to slip off the crux due to my frozen gloves having less grip than discarded chewing gum and George found the ropes slightly short for the next pitch, which necessitated a hurried belay as I had to strip mine and move on up after him. We had a decent climb, it all went well enough and hopefully there’ll be more routes like that in the future. Of interest to some may be the fact that my Black Diamond spinner leash caught my fall and just on the one strand too.
I had a bit of an epic as we headed over Crib Goch – dehydrated over the weekend, I kept getting incredibly dizzy and irritated. It took a few hours to get down and pretty much wasted me out for a few days. I was sick all that night and when I finally went to the docs three days later, it turned out I had blood pressure of 84/55. No wonder I was slightly light headed. A good lesson learnt for me, as I quite often push the boat on matters of food and drink. George was a star and I need to apologise for being grumpy up high.
An unexpected weekend after me thinking my winter season was over. Grand, just grand.
A busy winter that started with the hot aches on Wen Zawn one cold November’s day. It was nice to get on my first E2 and feel comfortable, with just a fall when my hands had gone so numb that I couldn’t feel the rock.
Aladdin’s Mirror Direct was dispatched by Chiz in lean conditions before a trip to the west coast of Scotland for new year. A play on some Torridan sandstone cliffs resulted in my best ‘lead’ to date – a HS 4c solo.
Only last weekend, a trip to Wales for winter fun appeared without warning and some classics were ticked but for me, a dream was fulfilled. Trinity Face has loomed large on many a walk and I finally wandered up there with George. Our first climb together and Right Hand Trinity was negotiated without drama… well, I fell on the crux.
No foreign trips this winter, unless crossing the borders of both Scotland and Wales count but I’m starting to get just a little excited. This was me last January, nearing the top of an 800m climb up Biguinoussene, the top here being part of an existing route but it was an amazing day, the best of last winter.
The lad I climbed with that day has just won UCT Sportsperson of the Year over in South Africa – Joe’s a top geezer and the award is well deserved, he’s seriously pushing the boundaries of trad climbing and this link shows you some of what he managed during their summer.
Strangely, when he won the award, the 800m route we pottered up seemed to get more attention. Big hills eh? Far more dramatic in pictures? Needless to say, I had a chuckle to myself as what I consider perhaps the best mountain day I’ve ever had compares not a whit to Joe’ trad adventures. I’ve been reflecting on what an amazing year it’s been since I heard he’d won the award and I’m pretty confident that it’s been the most amazing of my life. The route we took is in red and the green line is our descent route, a D+ in the upper part. I’m hoping for some similar adventures this year but a little closer to home.
Turn that heating up and let the winter come!
Anyone who’s done the Welsh 3000s and started from Snowdon or Crib Goch will understand why many gaze upon Elidir Fawr with disdain. It’s a lump, a great big lump with less interest to it than a lump of coal. Strolling up from Nant Peris, it’s diagonal path rises to the summit. It alters little and apart from the small bridge that’s crossed not long after leaving the village, the only cure to the monotony can often be just keeping your feet dry or long glances back at the Snowdon massive.
George and myself once managed to spot an otter as we rested at the aforementioned bridge but seeing as we were headed north to south – it didn’t count. It was a thing to behold as it flowed downstream, blissfully unaware of the excitement it generated in two weary travellers. For the last couple of years, myself, Omar, Chris and James have been slowly walking the biggest mountains Wales has to offer and it was now the turn of Elidir Fawr and I’d been pondering how to make it interesting and not commit them to the long slog.
We dumped a vehicle down at Bus Stop Quarry in the end and drove round to Ogwen Cottage to start the day’s journey. None of the lads having stepped upon Y Garn before, we hooked right as we hit Llyn Ogwen and started our ascent up the man made path that’s slowly being placed there. I’d only walked up this side of the peak in winter before, in what was really a powder fest and it was nice to be able to make good haste as everyone checked their altimeters. Boys and their toys. I managed to get a little running in as we ascended but the strength in the legs is starting to wane now, the early summer’s exertions becoming a dim memory.
Summit ticked and it was onto Elidir Fawr – a gentle meander from this direction for the other three and a gentle jog at times for the old man of the troop. The wind was something else however, straight into the face as we crossed the col. Happy memories flooded back from May, I’d had the phone call from my daughter to say West Ham had been promoted as George and I came down from the summit of Y Garn. Aye, happy memories. On the summit of Elidir Fawr, we hunkered down in the shelter, glad to be out of the wind. A quick look at the map, it was down to Elidir Fach (a first for me) and then leftwards to find a way into the upper reaches of slate quarries that rise above Llanberis.
The lads loved it, I find it the most amazing of spaces. Abandoned many, many moons ago and dangerous in parts – it’s an adults playground these days. Access rights are vague but climbers head there most days in search of technical slabs, terrifying trad and genuine adventure. Well, it feels like an adventure every time I go. It’s a place for people to discover themselves however, thoroughly recommended. Down to Bus Stop Quarry and away to the pub. Elidir Fawr can be enjoyable, it just took a little thought and the blood, sweat and tears of a thousand quarrymen. One can only leave the quarries humbled, asking oneself if you really know what hard work is…
*Cheers James for the pictures.
We decided to fit in a quick camping weekend in the New Forest before the weather turned too cold for Martyn, Martin and Matt. There’s a fair few campsites to choose from and we picked one not too far from Brockenhurst, slap bang in the middle of the cycle routes. There’s not a lot to say about the mountain biking – it’s easy trails for the most part with some tarmac travelling to negotiate. Adrenalin plays no part other than when the passing cars zip past a little too closely.
There’s a plethora of cafes and pubs to choose from – cream teas abound and a lunchtime pint is definitely the order of the day. My rear derailleur broke on the second day, so I limped back to the site and read for a few hours whilst the others enjoyed fine weather on two wheels.
Can’t say I’d bother heading back there, it seemed a ‘nothingy’ sort of place to cycle but I suppose if we’d have planned our day better, we could have hacked to the coast and enjoyed an ice cream with sea views… oh, did I mention the horses?