By Nick Kemp
The weather forecast was good and the MMC seems to have had far more than its share of good luck with winter weather in Snowdonia so it was with some optimism that the hard core bunch of MMC winter enthusiasts swept through the bible-black night to arrive in Llanberis.
The early party had gone to bed by 11pm so Simon MC and Nick had a couple of restorative drinks in the Heights on their own. Chuck’s party showed up at the Heights shortly after Nick and Simon had left so they had to go elsewhere for a witching hour sharpener and then came to the bunk house soon after Nick and Simon had retired. Eventually Cath, Sarah and Ian slunk in after nursing Cath’s antedeluvial Polo up the A5.
All this meant that the team was up bright and fresh on the Saturday morning so Caroline, David and Alix leapt into their car and bagged one of the final spots in the Pen-y-Pas carpark for the spectacular wintery scramble along Crib Goch. Simon Atkins too was hoping to do this but unfortunately was just too late in the carpark and had a row of cones metaphorically shoved down his throat before trickling back to Llanberis.
The remaining meet, save AG who went biking, piled into a couple of cars and drove to the Bedgellert side for a hike up the Watkin path. The Watkin path is an excellent route up Snowdon as it is in a great situation and is not nearly as busy as the Pyg track. Having said that despite the vagaries of the November weather it was a beautiful day with flashes of sunlight, not much wind and just the odd little refreshing frosty squall to make you feel like it was proper mountaineering. This too had brought out the crowds so even the Watkin path was busy and the Pyg Track was like the crush of a football stadium emptying.
At the top everyone hunkered down with the crowds by the closed café and had lunch, most people insisted on hanging around long enough so that they could don the lightweight down jackets they had so carefully hauled up with them. By chance the Crib Goch party turned up at the same time having had an exciting enough experience on the icy ridge, so they elected to descend one of the better travelled routes. Also some of the Watkin party chose to join them.
And so to the evening. The AGM was combined with the Dinner Meet. Ian chaired the meeting in Nancy’s absence. Various ideas were floated to attract new members and I am sure the committee would welcome any constructive suggestions. Alix was uniformly welcomed as the new chair.
The Heights then provided us with a dinner of such mammoth dimensions that by 11pm virtually no one could even waddle so it was a relief that the bunkhouse was just a short stroll up the hill. There was no Cliffhanger award this year but it could be resurrected in coming years if the air is thick with amusing tales of incompetence.
On the Sunday the weather was even better than Saturday so David, Alix, Caroline W and Simon Atkins were away with the larks to Tryfan. The conditions on the North Ridge were even icier than the previous day making it a truly memorable scramble. However the eerie lack of wind meant that the team lunched and chatted on the summit as if it was a summer’s day.
The remainder elected to go for a second Breakfast at Pete’s Eats and then a bit of gear shopping. So after the gargantuan dinner the night before, a substantial breakfast in the hut, topped up by and hearty full English at Pete’s Eats the team assembled in the car park of the hut to decide what to do next. There everyone showed off their shiny new purchases where the atmosphere was akin to a child’s birthday party when they all realised they have the same going-home present as everyone seemed to have bought identical sets of light weight crampons. Keen to try out the new purchases and with the fresh snow glistening on the upper slopes of the hills the team headed directly away from the mountains and into the beaches on Anglesey.
Well we have all been up and down Tryfan many times so why not try something new. In truth this was not such a bizarre decision as Jules had been advocating an activity that involved trampolining in a cave so by that standard a walk on beach was positively mundane. Newborough beach in Anglesey is absolutely stunning and more so on such a day when we could appreciate the magnificence of the snow capped mountains looming in the distance. So we plodded along the beach and back and took the sun. Finally, having worked off the indulgences of the night before with this stroll the team felt entitled to a couple of rounds of tea and cakes before boarding the cars and going home.