July 25, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Walking | 1 Comment
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With its knife edge perspective and gothic trio of peaks, Tryfan is an iconic Welsh mountain, holding the eye of anyone driving along the A5 near Llyn Ogwen.  You can even see from the road the narrow path along the eastern flank called the Heather Terrace that was our route to the summit.

I was with my brother and we started off in sunglasses, shorts and coated in sun protector.  Our optimism about the weather lasted until we reached the start of the Heather Terrace, when the mist started to thicken over the summit. We took a rather circuitous route up the heather to join the Heather Terrace – being a bit over-cautious about not missing it and taking the harder north ridge scramble.  But once on the track, it’s a gradual climb and clear route and only occasionally does it feel like you are on a narrow ledge a thousand feet above the valley.

We climbed the terrace in clear conditions, with good views of the eastern Carneddau on the other side of the A5. We also passed several groups of climbers tackling the cliffs rising above into the mist and the summit.

At the end of the track, we reached the stone wall running across the pass below the south ridge of Tryfan.  The weather changed starkly now, on the other side of the wall the mist was thicker and the wind stronger and colder. The mist was also starting to pass to the east covering the track we had taken up the hill. With visibility down to no more than 20 metres if that we decided to wait and see if things got any clearer before tackling the summit. As we sat talking we heard some scrambling in the rocks behind us, expecting to see other walkers or some sheep we turned to see a herd of wild goats. This was the first time I’d actually seen them on the hills in Snowdonia, and it was a pleasant distraction watching them grazing below us before clambering over the rocks and away.

After about 20 minutes, with little change in the weather, we decided to move on having spoken to a group of walkers coming off the summit who indicated the path and suggested we ‘just follow the crampon marks”. I’m not sure if this is advice to take too literally but as we scrambled over the rocks towards the summits, the scratches made by crampons did give some reassurance we were going in the right direction.

As we neared the summit, we watched some walkers clambering down on their bottoms over what looked like a more difficult section. This was the ‘technically difficult’ or tricky section that some of the books warn about. In fact, it’s a short section that need a bit more attention as you manoeuvre over the gap between the rocks. The real challenge is not being too conscious of the large drop to your right as you make your move. Once over this, the summit was straight ahead with its famous Adam and Eve monoliths.  The tradition of jumping from one to the other had to be honoured in the breach. I think I would have done it if my frozen shoulder hadn’t prevented my clambering up – but that may be wishful thinking. Anyway, it’s saved for another time, along with the north ridge path.

There were no views of course, but as we had had such good views of Tryfan on previous walks in The Glyders we couldn’t complain too much. From the summit we made our way back down the Bwlch Tryfan that runs between Tryfan and The Glyders. From here we followed the miner’s track to the ridge the leads up to Glyder Fach, but this time we went east towards Y Foel Goch. With thick mist all around we were relying on compass and GPS and making sure we kept well away from the cliff edges. The walking was now over track and bog and without the mist and rain would have been a pleasant stroll after the scrambling on Tryfan.

This would have been just one more misty summit, except it was also my 100th Welsh mountain summit (Nuttall) so it was a little bit special. It was probably fitting that it was a fairly obscure top surrounded by mist with nothing much visible beyond the summit.

Moving on, we used compass and GPS again to reorient ourselves on the featureless and shrouded moor and – aware of the ridge edge nearby – headed north east toward Gallt yr Ogof, the final peak of the day. From another misty summit, we began the slow ascent to Cwm Gwern Gof, picking our way between rocks, bog, heather and winberry. This was slow going in the mist and not much fun. I slipped at one point and badly scraped my calf against a rock; T slipped a few times as well. But eventually, with sodden boots, we made it down to the valley and an easy but tired walk along the road to the car. After drying off, we just made it to the Bryn Tyrch Inn for the last food order and a well earned pint. It was one of those days with the walking and the achievement of the walking are their own reward and as such a good way to reach the 100 mark.


The Glyders

March 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Walking | 4 Comments
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Walking with T, we took the classic route from Idwal Cottage near Llyn Ogwen, passing up the same path we had taken on the Y Garn walk in October but this time it was dry and we had good view of the walk ahead. We almost missed the turn off toward the Glyders but after that navigation was straightforward as we climbed the path up to the ridge with good views of the Glyders, Tryfan and back to the Carneddau. A steady pace took us to Bwlch Tryfan where we intersected the rugged path between Tryfan and the Glyders. Here we had the option to take the Bristly Ridge scramble to the summit of Glyder Fach – but this was never more than a theoretical option this time. Instead we took the easy path through the pass to the ridge running up to the summit of Glyder Fach.

There was a fair bit of patchy snow still lying on the top and a fair number of people, with a small queue waiting to be photographed on the famous Cantilever Stone. The views from the summit itself were excellent, with Snowdon and Glyder Fawr clearly visible behind the eerie rock formation of Castell y Gwynt.

From Glyder Fach we scrambled over the rocks of Castell y Gwynt and then had a lovely walk in late afternoon sun along the rock strewn ridge to Glyder Fawr. At 999m this the fifth highest peak in Wales (after the Carneddau and Snowdon), and there were more marvellous views from the rocky outcrops that form the summit. We then began the tricky walk down the scree path to Llyn y Cŵn, which lies in the bwlch between the Glyders and Y Garn. The light was just starting to fade as we reached the top of Devil’s Kitchen. We had enough light to negotiate the rocky path down but by the time we reached the lake we needed our headtorches but it was an easy path back and a nice finale to a wonderful day’s walking.

Y Garn (The Glyders)

October 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Walking | 3 Comments
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Like Moel Siabod, I chose this walk with the poor (and accurate) forecast in mind. We hoped we had wDevil's Kitchen and Y Garnaited out the wind and rain in the morning, but as we left the car park at Llyn Ogwen the rain started again. It grew heavier as we walked up the well-maintained track to Llyn Idwal. At least it gave T a chance to test his investment in decent  boots and waterproofs. On the way up we passed a succession of returning walkers soaked to the skin (literally in some cases). Some had been caught out on what should have been a pleasant stroll around the lake, others were coming down off the mountains, and at least  one suggested we might want to think again.

We decided to go at least as far as The Devil’s Kitchen – the rocky chasm that provides access to the pass between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. As we stopped for lunch at the beginning of the steepest part of the climb, the rain eased up but I was as concerned about the wind as the rain. It was supposed to be gusting up to 70 mph on the tops, though it was fairly calm in the sheltered Y Garn (The Glyders)bowl around Llyn Idwal.

We carried on up the rocky ascent, passing several groups of descending walkers coming off The Glyders or Y Garn (who’d presumably been waiting for the break in the weather). By the time we had reached the plateau at the top of The Devil’s Kitchen, the wind had eased, though it was still strong on the exposed sections. The clouds had also cleared and as we walked up to the summit of Y Garn there were fantastic views of Tryfan and the Glyders as well as the Snowdon and Carneddau ranges.

We then walked down the steep eastern face of Y Garn back to Llyn Idwal with the sun setting as we reached the end of the walk. There is something about a wTryfan and Glyder Fachalk done in the face of the elements that gives you a sense of achievement (and if the sun comes out at the end to dry you off even better!). And though the mountains can throw much worse that this at you, it still felt like a good test. Next time it has to be Tryfan and the Glyders.

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