Winter is coming…

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!

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Elidir Fawr – a grand day out.

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.