Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Scrambling in Snowdonia- the summer is back!

Walk in
Another weekend, another weekend away. Back with Will4adventure over in Snowdonia for a Scrambles 1 weekend. The weather was promising to be good, with rather a lovely high pressure system sitting above the country for the past few days. The promised autumnal weather was being held off for a short while and provided the group of 11 with a delightful couple of days Scrambling from the base in Llanberis.

I went over on Friday night with Will, and unlike last time, was able to get a decent nights sleep in a tent (as opposed to the car). The pint of Golden Dragon at the Vaynol Arms was very welcome as well.

Although there was a little rain over night, the morning dawned relatively clear, not much wind at the lower levels, and there was promise of an excellent day on the hills. By 9, the team had assembled and we convoyed out to Bethseda where we ditched the cars, and started out on the long walk in up to the northern side of Carnedd Dafydd. Navigation wasn't too difficult- except for one minor part where the map didn't actually show what was going on- however, the issue was overcome quite happily. (Discussions and arguments about the relative benefits of 1:25k, 1:50k and the somewhat esoteric 1:40k were bandied around for the entire weekend). The walk in was somewhat uneventful, though we did see at least 2 other groups heading up the same way, in opposition to Will's claim that he had never seen anyone else on the scramble in his years of leading it.
(it later became apparent that the scramble has been published in one of this months walking magazines).

As an aside to gear- one of the other leaders was wearing a Rab Vaporize Stretch top- which, in hindsight may have been a little warm for the days exertions.
We did a little bouldering practice on the rocks at the base of the hill, looking at body positioning, movement across rock, balance points and just how much you can trust the rubber on the bottom of your boots, and after a short interlude, we headed on up the valley to the beginning of the scramble.
Will had singled out the Llech Ddu ridge as the menu for the day. A delightful little ridge leading up the north face of Carnedd dafydd. Not too exposed, and not too technical, but just right for getting your head around what needs to be done on a slightly more adventurous day than a normal walk up a hill.

The Ridge was relatively straightforward and no-one really had any problems with it, even the rather flat, sloping tabletop that is very walkable- but not really if its very wet indeed. As it was a delightfully dry day, we all enjoyed the walk down the slope.
We ate lunch in the sheltered lee of the hill at the top of the scramble, before making our way to the top. It was a tad blowy up there, with the Southerly wind scouring the top. We tapped the cairn at the top of Carnedd Dafydd and turned to go over to Carnedd Llewelyn and back down over Yr Elen, back down the valley. As time was getting on a little, it was decided that we would miss out the slog up to Carnedd Llewelyn, and instead, traverse across the side to the ridge between it and Yr Elen, and back down the hills to the boggy bit at the bottom and back to the cars from there.
I was elected to route find, and there were no mishaps on the way back (of course), and my well honed bog instincts, honed on the moors of Bleaklow, got us back across the bog with no boots lost in the mire.

After 8 hours of fantastic weather and walking we were back at the car, ready to head back to our respective camps/B&Bs and rest out ready for the morrow.
Petes Eats and the Vaynol provided a number of us with much needed sustainance, and I for one, slept very well that night.

Sunday dawned a little darker than Saturday- autumn seemed to be coming again, with a little moisture in the air, threatening to rain at almost any moment, but not actually. Will and I shared a coffee pot and soon we had all our kit struck and stashed, the party gathered and we were ready to go.
Sustaining interest
Sunday was overcast, and when the wind wasn't blowing, not a little muggy. Luckily, the wind was a pretty constant feature of the day, and the threatened rain came along before long- but not too severely. The carpark at Pen y pas was rammed, as you would expect, but with Wills cunning, we were soon off up the Miners track, watching crowds of people trogging their way along the Pyg and up over the Knife edge. Not for us- we were not going on the more regularly trodden paths, and once we hung a left above the waterfalls, the only people we saw were silohettes across the hill from us, gradually being hazed out as the cloud came in.
The rain held off as we scrambled up the rather wonderful Y Gribin. I was the route finder for the day, and following Richards advice, I tried to "sustain interest" for as long as possible, which can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.
The Scrambling was excellent and the rain, which had fallen during the walk in, held off as we ascended the rock- the wind drying it off as we went, making it easier as we carried on up. Will was testing out his new Paramo jacket, singing its praises all the way up, and making various remarks about membraned jackets and how rubbish they are... my choices for a winter running jacket have just been opened up even more, with Paramo taking up a position alongside the other eVent jackets which I am already looking at. Which isn't helpful.

Stopping for a snack at the top of the scramble, we saw that the clouds were coming in across Snowden, the hordes being blotted out by mist and fog, so we walked on up the hill and over Lliwedd, continuing the "sustaining interest" idea as far as we could until it was inevitable that we joined the path. After a pleasant lunch stop we carried on down, and once at the bottom, heading back along the Miners track, the peaks we had been sat on a short time before were obscured by cloud. We certainly had the best of the day.

A great weekend with a great team of people, learning and scrambling together.

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