Winter Walking in Snowdonia – Sat 12th Feb 2011

Winter it may of been but there was no snow for this trip (bar some patches that were on the northern facing slopes). However it was a good two days in Capel Curig and there was some good sights to be seen!

Posted by : Michael Cooper. 16th Feb 2011 02:04.

The lure of the Snowdonia mountains inflated the original 10 staying at Siabod Longhouse to 22 souls bedding down at various Welsh establishments near Capel Curig. The disappointing lack of snow meant the ice axes and crampons stayed in Elizabeth’s boot, sadly NOT making up for the lack of a spare wheel for her puncture!
However we were blessed with a glorious sunny day on Saturday. At least 4 different parties hit the hills to climb, scramble or walk making for the sharing of various daring tales over the odd beer or two at the local hostelry in the evening.
I headed out with Damian’s group as we launched straight up the mountain from the Ogwen valley, a steep climb/ scramble up to the top (1064 m) circling the ridges of the Carneddau with incredibly clear views over the Menai Straits to the north and back towards the imposing hulk of rock; Tryfan, across the valley . Following the ridge we descended via the lake back to the valley. Down just in time to relieve Joe Brown’s of a natty range of headwear – so was born the BEC hat club!
Sunday’s dismal start of wind and rain led some to choose to shop (!)or low level walk. Those who ventured out high were rewarded with the sky clearing and as we ascended, so did the mist, leading to a mostly dry day. Ten or so of us scrambled up Tryfan ridge (917m), made all the more interesting as the conditions meant the rock was like an ice rink, so a nice adrenalin rush at times. We headed back down the beautiful, if slippy, Heather Terrace which winds around the middle of Tryvan.
A quick cuppa and the long drive home; well worth it for the magical weekend in the hills.

Posted by : Maurie Ryan. 16th Feb 2011 17:23.

Saturday morning arrived with unexpected sunny spells so seizing this rare opportunity, Richard and myself were out early and heading for the Carneddau to climb Ampitheatre Butress, a 7 pitch monster, 294m up a buttress on the north side of Craig yr Ysfa, mercifully graded at V Diff. After an easy walk up onto the ridge, a slippery descent had to be made to reach the base of the climb. This involved some very un-elegant vegetation assisted bum slides. Richard can just be seen in the photo setting off down from the ridge with our objective in the background.

Richard skipped up the first pitch followed by me with about the same finesse as my descent on the approach. This was to be some of the coldest climbing I had ever experienced and I arrived at the top chuntering away in my normal fashion with throbbing fingers and minus the skin from one knuckle. It wasn’t long before we had my finger taped up and Richard back on belay scampering up the second pitch, soon to be followed by me, bemoaning having bought such a large rucksack which seemed to take every opportunity to get between me and the rock. By the third pitch I’d discovered gloves although these were soon removed to deal with a ridiculously slippy traverse onto a block with very few opportunities for interface with boots and fingers and rather a lot of air below! Still, there were always the ropes, so I teetered out and scrabbled my way to the top where Richard stood shivering, the belay device virtually frozen to his fingers. The next pitch gave us the chance to warm up as it was near-horizontal along a shelf on the buttress. We opted to move together Alpine style with me in the lead looping the ropes over rock spikes and placing minimal gear…we just about jogged it! The 5th pitch was again relatively horizontal although much more exposed being along a narrow ridge which we had to climb down onto. By now we had drawn a crowd of spectators on the cliff above who later turned out to be our BEC walking group colleagues. This was my chance to lead and I couldn’t afford to mess up, what with the audience, so intent on avoiding any impromptu bungying I set off down onto the ridge, concentrating on landing on the ledge several feet below and not continuing the further hundred feet or so into the gully! Fortunately the rest of the pitch was straightforward although I did resist the urge to climb over one of the two massive “gendarmes” (rock pinnacles) choosing instead to cop out and use a convenient ledge around it’s base. After belaying Richard across the ridge in a shower on ‘sneet’ (or was it ‘slow’?) we set up off the final two pitches, both vertical, popping out at the top into the full force of the Welsh wind where I entertained Richard with my spaghetti rope hanking technique, guaranteed to make even the most patient climber curse upon attempting to unfurl (erm, untie).

Despite the cold, I had thoroughly enjoyed this climb although it had completely redefined my understanding of the ‘V Diff’ grade which I had previously only attempted in rock boots and not full walking regalia! I will certainly be back for more at the next opportunity.

Having wandered along the ridge from the top of the climb to Pen yr Helgi Du we encountered the rest of the BEC gang towards the end of their Carneddau mission. The photo shows a cascade of BECers from the aforementioned summit.

Posted by : Michael Raffe. 19th Feb 2011 19:40.

Posted by: Laszlo. March 30, 2014

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