Nottingham Outdoor YHA Group

Event report

Scrambling In Snowdonia

Another exciting and exhilarating scrambling weekend in Snowdonia, based at Capel Curig Youth Hostel and organised by our intrepid mountain leader Justin. The gang included Sharon and Andy, Tim G, Dave Mac, Karen W and Nick, Dave H, Dave V, Simon, Cairon (Justin's son), Karen J and me.

Justin gave us a thorough briefing in the hostel on Friday evening, outlining several alternatives for the weekend and by 8.45am on a truly wonderful Saturday morning we were at Gwern Gof Uchaf Farm ready to ascend Tryfan. A High Pressure system was descending on the area, with bright blue skies and sunshine, but with rolls of cloud drifting over the Carneddau and Tryfan, waiting to be burned off. Our first stop was the huge rocky hillock of Tryfan Bach, for a little practice and to find our scrambling legs by playing about on its steep slopes. A steep walk took us to the Heather Terrace and onto Bastow Gully with its adjacent buttress providing a grade 2 or 3 scramble. We were soon picking a way upwards along the buttress, finding a route wherever we fancied and making the scrambling as hard as we wanted, with the option of heading towards the right and around the difficult bits. One exciting rib of rock involved quite a stretch to a small crack to squeeze the toe of your boot in. Justin helpfully placed my boot in correctly as he stood below, however I still had to break the golden rule of scrambling and use my knee to lever myself up. After a few more similar sections and a scramble through an arch, we reached the platform at the top of the buttress where it joins the North Ridge. Another gully scramble took us onto this and then we picked our way along to a mild sunny summit for lunch.

After lunch, we scrambled down towards Bwlch Y Tryfan. The route was a mixture of unclear path and crags to pick a way through. It was over one of these that Dave V had an unfortunate slip of some 5 feet. Although he landed on his feet, one of his ankles was broken (which he found out 3 days later). Sharon and Andy kindly volunteered to lead Dave and Cairon, who was also suffering from a banged knee, down to the car park. The rest of us continued to the base of our next scramble, the renowned Bristly Ridge. A wonderfully enclosed gully with a fantastic stepped climb led to the crest of the ridge, where we were able to pick our way upwards. This involved further gully and buttress scrambles and a couple of down climbs, including one exciting one into the great Pinacle Gap. Throughout all of these, we had the comfort of Justin's advice and instruction. Finally the Glyder Plateau was reached and we were greeted by balmy, summery weather. We stripped down to tea shirts and shorts and bathed in the sun, whilst drinking in sublime views across Snowdonia.

Eventually we had to leave and traverse along the plateau to reach Y Gribon ridge for our descent. Some thoughtful down climbing ensued over the steep ground, before the path eased and we settled into the long walk back to the cars. A healthy glow of satisfaction surrounded us all.

Sharon led the evening meal preparations, providing a wonderful repast of dips with crisps and vegetables accompanied by garlic bread for starters; a wonderful Pasta Carbonara with ham or vegetarian sausage for the main course, and a delicious apple and blackcurrant or apple and apricot dessert. A couple of pints in the pub and we were soon sleeping soundly after a fantastic day.

Sunday proved to be more overcast and we decided to attempt the East Ridge of y Garn. We headed to the obvious ridge soon picking our way upwards over some very knobbly conglomerate type rock, mixed with some smoother granite rock. Tim, Dave Mac and Karen W, were pioneering the way forward and a few exciting sections ensued with bits of exposure around a bulging lump of rock and then across an exposed gully. Both Justin and Karen W provided helpful coaching advice to coax a few of us up there. We reached the top of the ridge, before deciding to bypass the rest of the climb as time was pressing and the mist was descending. A steep walk took us to the summit of Y Garn before we descended its walk-able north east ridge to reach the valley floor.

A remarkable weekend of high octane exhilaration. Many thanks to Justin for organising and leading us, and to Sharon for feeding us so well on Saturday night. Long may such weekends continue.

Rob J

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