Authors & Contributors: David D. & Joe B.
The year’s meets certainly started off with a bang or rather shall we say an almost bust? Why? Well..
David and Alix were the first to arrive in the general area of the at 7pm, having expected to meet their welcoming party (Rick and Angela) with the fob to the hut. However, Rick had gone on an adventure earlier in the day and went on a cross country descent of a route off Moel Siabod and hadn’t arrived in time. So in the pitch black and dodgy reception, a kind of cat-based cat and mouse ensued. Up, down, all around they searched.
Eventually they found each other in the layby at the bottom of the reservoir track somewhere in the vicinity of the hut. Since they weren’t certain where the hut was, they donned their head torches and used their well-honed navigation skills and Rick’s dry wit to eliminate the random garage David noticed and follow a wobbly path down to a small copse. As they approached, they noticed what looked like water flowing from under the door – cue dramatic pause and concern crossing their faces. They opened the door, hearing water flowing and turned on the light to find a shocking sight. The whole kitchen and hallway were flooded.
It turned out that a pipe near the sink had burst and water was gushing from a broken joint. With the presence of mind, Alix located the stop cocks and the water was turned off. It looked a disaster for the meet. Water everywhere which was starting to seep into the sitting room and bedroom where a restored parquet floor was in danger of being ruined.
Galvanised by the crisis, Rick, Angela, and Alix set about sweeping the water out and mopping while David tried to find a signal to contact the hut warden. With marvellous effort, the water was swept out of the front door along with plenty of mopping. David returned disappointed to find that there was not much left to do. Harry who was in London had been reached and assisted with comms, and the word was sent out to the rest of Team Ogwen who were en route to bring bottled water. And thanks to Joe and Stef, for the goodly supply. By the next day, the near-meet disaster was resolved when hut warden Kenny drove over and fixed the pipe during Saturday. Many thanks to him and the Climbers Club for sorting it out so swiftly!
Helyg is part of climbing lore, the home of ancient artefacts including the crampons used on Kanchenjunga. The hut was acquired by the Climbers Club in 1925 and was used as a base for early ascents in the 1920s and also training for the Everest expedition of 1953.
On Saturday morning Team Ogwen split up. Alix, John B, Sarah, Lena, and Alison decided to ascend Y Gribin up to Glyder Fach. They were too late to get a space at Ogwen Cottage but found the last space in a layby by the lake putting them in the wrong starting position. Rather than trooping back along the road like sensible people they took the SAS approach and yomped across tussocks and rocks and but eventually found Llyn Bochlwyd from where they took a direct line of attack on the ridge of Y Gribyn. The path had been considerably upgraded since their last visit with stone steps for part of the route. However the wildness returned when the scrambling began. The omnipresent low cloud and occasional ice gave the route an adventurous feel.
After refuelling at the cairn at the top of the ridge and proceeded past the stone shelter where they should have stopped and joined the masses on the top. They made their way through the mist to the imposing summit of Glyder Fach with its imposing shards and towers of rock. John B was pining to ascend it but the rest of the team were sceptical. Through the mist then emerged the distraction of David, Oli, Alistair and Simon who had gone up Tryfan and Bristly Ridge. Brilliant though their ascent had obviously been none of them thought it a good idea to bring a map. Where was the top of Y Gribin they asked?
After some eye-rolling and map-shaming, guidance was provided and David’s team were packed off. A quick assessment of timing and conditions and Alix and co turned into the wind and battled to the summit of Glyder Fawr on an easy track, spectacular hoar frost on the rocks provided extra entertainment whilst walking on a bearing. From there the group descended the easier track avoiding Devils Kitchen returning to Llyn Idwal and thus to Ogwen Cottage. The time lost at the beginning (and helping David) meant they tragically arrived minutes after the tea bar had closed, so no tea and cakes. The day finished with a stomp along the road in growing darkness.
David, Simon, Alistair and Oli had decided to take on the North Ridge scramble a 2- on Tryfan’s East Face. It was difficult to find the start from Heather Terrace. The route starts up the gully in a series of steep steps then moves right to a broken scrambly ridge. After this it crosses back left to another broken ridge arriving at a wall more akin to a short rock climb than a scramble. The rock was slippery but not yet wet. After a couple of moves up the route edges left to escape. The wall was interesting but being so technical was somewhat out of character from the rest of the scramble. Further up there was an interesting section up a gully and slab system before emerging under Terrace Wall. The team exited up North Gully to the summit. Rick and Angela separately made the same ascent.
Next followed the seemingly interminable descent to the col between Tryfan and Bristly Ridge. In the dense fog David was seeking out the key wall and stile marking the col and the line to the start of the ridge. At one point such a wall and stile emerged from the mist. David proudly gestured to the wall and stile like a magician revealing a trick…only to find that it was another different wall and stile, oops. Another rock bump and rocky descent continued before the actual correct wall and stile was found. The route up Bristly Ridge follows the wall up the fellside until it peters out. A step is then made to the right up a prominent dark cleft barred by a slippery entrance wall. Once inside the chasm, interesting rocky moves are made, mainly on the right to ascend the gully. After a dirty exit section the team reached the start of the ridge.
Moves are made along the bristling spikes and towers and walls until a notch in the ridge is reached. This is the most exciting part of the scramble as the party has to descend slippery rock into the gap with the chasm to the left waiting to suck the careless into its maw. A final scramble is required to exit the gap before easier scrambling leads to the ease of the top. The summit area is oddly flat as if some mountain god has paved the summit long before the National Trust needed to get involved.
Note from the editor: These photos came en masse and I can’t tell which parts of the routes they are showing, but they’re cool! So enjoy 🙂
The plan was to descend Cribin ridge but it quickly became obvious that no one had bothered to bring a map. To their delight they met Team Alix (see above) and David was more than happy to take a good look at their map and get some directions. The directions were excellent and one point Alix’s team even shouted from below that they were too low and should go higher – marvellous guiding. The team duly found the stone shelter and the cairn and descended in good order and time. At Ogwen Cottage they happily devoured, tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, and various cakes before marching along back to their cars in the pleasant evening light.
The ascent of Joe’s team was no less dramatic. Matt, Stef and Joe decided to head up the (easier?) North Ridge on Tryfan. All started well with good visibility and a spring in their step. That lasted until parking up the car and realising they were walking the wrong way. After the false start, they set of again, slightly less confidently but sure that they needed to at least head up.
Looking to increase the adventure, Joe was allowed to lead but immediately got lost and the group found themselves traversing El Capitan-esque rock faces. Matt took the lead and, like a mountain goat, was able to find the right balance between teetering on the edge and solid grazing grass to make a more pleasant ascent and lunch. And thus showing off why he’s our mountaineering training secretary.
At around 6000 metres, the team encountered the formidable North Tower. By this point, all thoughts had moved on to tea and cake back in the hut so this was a real nuisance.
It was wet, cold, windy and icy so Matt and Stef sent Joe up first. Upon Joe getting up, they decided it would be better to walk around.
At this point the group split. Joe taking the high road and Matt and Stef heading along the eastern terrace.
Nearing the summit, Joe took a phone call (amazing signal up there) as Matt and Stef had decided to avoid the easier gully and were going for a first ascent of a little-known sheer rock face. Shouting at each other down the phone did however not help locate each other. By some miracle, as Joe frantically looked for them/took a break and had a sandwich and they climbed up into his lap.
The summit awaited, and it was a terrible disappointment. Visibility was now at tip of the nose and there was at least a 6 hour descent to tea and cake. Confidently Joe lead on. Immediately got lost and asked EVERYONE for directions. By some miracle they found the path and made it home.
On Saturday evening everyone bar Joe, Stef and Matt who had managed somehow to eat earlier, had a super dinner in the Tyn Y Coed pub in Capel.
On Sunday Matt very kindly drove David, Oli and Simon to Bethesda to pick up the long track in the wildly beautiful Cwm Pen-Ilafar leading to the Black Ladder cliffs of Carnedd Dafydd with the ascent of the ridge above Llech Ddu in mind.
The route ascends the cwm to the right of the summer climbing crag and cuts left along a turfy shelf to join the ridge. The ridge was incredibly slippery and in places very exposed particularly down the left-hand side. A great little route. On the summit the sun shone faintly through the thin layer of mist wrapping the fell, creating an oddly calm and warm oasis.
Here are some more pictures, believed to be from Sunday that look great!
With passenger rendez-vous in mind the trio abandoned Carnedd Llewelyn and set off orienteering style into the mist (this time with a map), seeking out the reservoir and the easy path down. After several false hopes the reservoir duly appeared and the team made the quick descent back down the metalled road to the hut in good time.
For Joe and Stef, Sunday was spent together meandering somewhere off in the distance.
While waiting for their passengers, Oli and Simon had another stab at boulder crack behand the club hut. They made up some other problems on the same boulder though none could be a first ascent given the traffic it has obviously seen – Mallory’s Eliminate anyone?
A really enjoyable weekend was had by all.
And that’s the end of this meet’s story – a huge thanks to David D who organised the meet!