Tryfan

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.

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