North Wales is a favourite spot for the MMC at whatever time of the year. Winter brings its own starry qualities and so they returned in February. Filled with frost and a smattering of snow, two main groups had quite the adventure.
Saturday – The Scramblers
The Ogwen Triple were scaled by the eager climbers of the group led by David, intent on getting some kind of climbing in, in whatever form! They had fantastic and clear skies followed by cooler and foggier weather at the top. And by some sheer force of luck, when they reached the top, they had little to no snow to disrupt their flow and made it back to the hut with good time. An excellent result.
Here are some photos of their adventures:
Saturday – The Hikers
On the opposite side of the valley (quite literally) another group went for their own adventure across Pen yr Ole Wen & Carneddau – and an adventure it was!
In the morning, the hikers (Alix, Sarah, Rose, Caroline, and Christine) decided amongst each other that they fancied a nice walk uphill with a couple of early exits available if they so desired. They parked up somewhere between their start and end and headed off, starting off crossing the bog-like terrain along Llyn Ogwen to their desired start point. The bog made the day’s first bit of entertainment, primarily via Christine, when one her legs fell straight through a very loose section of the bog and she needed to quickly throw herself over a nearby rock to stay above ground. Woops! 😂
They finally reached the start of their ascent, deciding to take the East Ridge, a more steep face of Pen yr Ole Wen to Carneddau. And up, up, up they went!
The steep path went on quite a while, with the group encountering some scree, passing trail runners, some easy scrambling (they tried not to look back, the path really was just ‘up’), and a reverse-path hiker who kindly noted we had another hour to get to the top of the first section. About two thirds of the way through this section, the group stopped for a bite to eat and turned around to see some fabulous views. The weather was also absolutely fantastic. Sunny, warming the group’s backs all the way to the top.
Just a bit higher up, the group broke through the path onto more ‘level’ ground encountering ice and snow and the start of the next leg of their hiking adventure. A taste of what was to come. Their first stop was Pen Yr Ole Wen (978m), followed by hiding in a rest stop along the path. These were pretty conveniently shaped, protecting the group from the elements that had descended on the hikers.
Their next stop was Carnedd Dafydd (1044m), here the snow and ice started thickening in places and well the whole area was a pretty amazing sight. The group didn’t linger much through, the weather was biting and the wind was picking up. Worse, they realised they made a critical error – particularly for a group used to such conditions! Almost everyone had forgotten their crampons or mini crampons back at the hut, and the one person who had not, later found out theirs would not fit correctly. There was no way to turn around and back down the ‘escape paths’ in these conditions so they moved onwards, walking on grass where they could, fresh snow, or cuts already made.
They finally made their way to Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m), where the steep long climb turned out to be quite quick and surprisingly pleasant. Particularly as most of the path was snow, ice, and rock. They reach the top which much celebrated delight and took a break. 😁
Now the return. This is where crampons (even micros!) would have been handy. No one in the group will forget this one very quickly.
Alix, Sarah, Caroline, Rose, and Christine studied their map and had seen the previous group drop off the side and decided it was the same direction and followed. They were right, and the path seemed okay however it was snow-packed. They descended slowly and carefully, using their walking sticks to keep themselves upright. However, along the way Christine hit a very slippery patch, suddenly falling and moving very quickly downwards towards what looked like an undesirable ledge.
Using her snow skills she tried to use the walking sticks to stop the descent and when these proved difficult to catch onto the rocks, turned around and dug her hands into the snow, shredding her merino gloves on the surrounding rocks but stopping. This all happened very quickly and truth be told, she moved no more than three metres. Even then, every time Christine tried to move off the path and onto rock and broken snow she slid further downwards. So getting off this was also a bit of an epic in itself.
Everyone having witnessed this event tried to move around the slippery patch with great care. Most were successful. One person also needed some very careful manoeuvring with a walking stick, but didn’t experience as much drama.
They finally exited the snow filled path down and the group decided that it was best to change plans and instead of leaving via Y Braiche, exited via the path leading past the Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir. This was an excellent choice. As soon as they dropped below the path line and onto the side of the Carneddau range, the elements abated and they made their slow and very long descent to their car, passing some wild ponies, and finally a hot meal.
The groups split up again and truth be told, we don’t recall what everyone did. What we do know is that a brave group hiked up and down the very scree-like Watkins Path to Eryri (Snowdon) at top speed, led by Nick K. We heard everyone had fun, though some would have called it Type 2.
And that is how the MMC enjoyed the last of their early winter adventures in the UK in 2023.