Monday, 25 July 2011

Scrambling in Wales

Spent the weekend scrambling in Wales with a small and select group of people.
Despite rain threatening to ruin the weekend by falling on Friday night as we drove over, Saturday and Sunday were beautiful days, but with a bit of low cloud base at one point on Sat which saw the top of Tryfan and the Glyders swallowed by the grey stuff.

It was a scrambling weekend, and so we were helping others gain their "legs" on steep ground, increase confidence, and also give pointers in terms of route choice, and, perhaps more importantly, route finding. The guidebooks can be written in sometimes esoteric English, which has been known to cause a few issues in terms of knowing exactly where one is going.

Saturday saw us meet in a cafe for the obligatory pre-scramble coffee. Pinnacle Cafe in Capel was the place of choice, where we looked at the weather forecast, discussed the process for the day and generally got ready.
Routes of the day consisted of Nor Nor Gully on Tryfan, followed by Bristly ridge on the Glyders. Both Grade 1, and with the exception of a bit of a step on Bristly ridge, not too technical.
After driving to the side of the road at Tryfan, we got some helmets on and did a little bouldering, to see how everyone moved on rock, saw what kind of confidence each individual had, and pointed out a couple of learning issues, and satisfied that all was well, continued up to Heather terrace.
I think the biggest problem with the guys we were helping out was the route finding to the base of the scramble, decyphering what the book says into what is going on around you. Obviously word count is always an issue, and sub-editors are notorious for cutting out key words in descriptions, however, with a measure of practice, it becomes almost second nature.

After a few stoppages to work out just what the book was saying, we reached the base of the scramble, (the difference between a scree path and a scree slope was an interesting discussion for a few minutes). The actual scrambling was good, and, as ever, it was a case of follow the polish on the rock.
My knowledge of Safety on steep ground was renewed and practiced, ready for the ML assessment that I need to take at some point soon, and with in a couple of hours we were at the top having lunch.
The gulley itself was delightfully quiet and secluded, but all illusion of that was blown away on getting to the top where hordes of people were gathered around Adam and Eve, eating lunch etc. Not my ideal spot for stopping, I would rather have stopped in a more secluded spot, and bashed on through the more crowded areas as soon as I could, but there you go.

After a spot of lunch, we headed on down the flank of the hill and then up to Bristly ridge. Helmets on was a very good idea, a lot of loose rock and a large amount of people on the hill, and in particular in the gulley, made it potentially a bit of a dangerous place to be. However, it all went off without a hitch, and we were on the top and ready to head down before long.
There were a couple of tricky moves in there, and again, the safety on steep ground training came in useful- not in terms of saving people, but more in terms of giving them the confidence to go ahead and do the moves.

The descent was long, but uneventful, as you tend to hope that they are. Most accidents occur on the way down.

Second day was led by the clients, and we were taken up a lovely little scramble Y Gribin. It was gratifying to see hordes of people heading up Snowden by various ways and means, and there we were, on our own, quiet and secluded, without the madness of the crowds churning around us.
Properly nice.
The Midges were out in force on top, and so we soon had to wander our way down.

Here is a link to photos of the weekend on facebook

Throughout the entirety of the course I wore my Dragon Jacket- although some would say it is too hot, I found that with only a long sleeved t-shirt under it, the vents and zip were enough to give me the flexibility to be warm or cool enough right the way through both days (except the final descent where it got up to about 28 degrees), without actually having to stop to put on or take off any layers.
For general mountain days, I have to say that I am very impressed, even though its meant for cold days only. I think by modifying the type of base layer underneath, it will continue to be a very versatile bit of kit.
My OMM Jischirinca stood up well, but I was a little concerned that the material wasn't all that tough so was worried about scraping it over rock all the time. Its a great light rucksack, but I think I need something a little more heavy duty for scrambling/ mountaineering. The only issue is, all the Alpine sacks have removable waist harnesses- I understand why, but I do like to have things like hats and gloves in accessible places like in hip belt pockets and other "useful" places- which seem few and far between on "robust" packs.
Again, I understand why, but will have to keep searching for a rucksack that meets all my requirements...

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