Early Snow in Mid Wales

A December IMC trip finds winter conditions against all expectation

Steve Culverhouse – December 2008

Despite Johnboy’s minor car issues (apparently the Pug became a low-rider when the suspension went bang on Friday morning), we met up successfully at Bury and made it to the very plush bunkhouse (Duvets, en-suite facilities!) in time for last orders in the Slaughtered Lamb Cross Foxes (though why they were cross was never clear).

After a brief guidebook discussion the whole party decided on Cyfrwy Arête on Cader Idris and by 8.30(!) we were on our way. An hour or so pull up the hillside leads to the foot of the Arête which is a striking feature on the horizon. Johnboy and Martin leapt into the lead and led us up 6 pitches and then a section of moving together to reach the summit plateau. A good route all the way including one “that can’t be Diff!” pitch which turned out to be jugs all the way (steep though!). The front parties made a quick nip to the summit and met up with the others to make the descent back down the tourist path. Martin, with shoulder only just recovering was having more trouble on the descent than the ascent and took a couple of tumbles – but thankfully no re-dislocations. A great day out with blue skies all day.

After a jolly evening in the bunkhouse Martin talked us into a look at winter climbing on Snowdon on the grounds that there was snow lying above 800m on Cader. I have to admit to being a bit dubious and thinking that if it was in nick then it would be heaving. Anyway, an even earlier start was decided on and by 7.30 we were out of the bunkhouse and on our way, with the temperature showing as -4.

We route-marched our way up the Miners’ track to the base of the NE face in increasingly snowy conditions and it became clear that the whole face was ‘in’ and in excellent nick. With Martin in the lead we all romped up the classic Central Trinity (I/II) in classic IMC fashion (i.e. with stacks of rock gear, ice gear and ropes, all left in the rucksacks for extra training) topping out just 50m away from the summit. There was only one other person on the route too (and he was behind us). A quick, and much appreciated, lunch break in the lee of the new caff and the descent was being discussed. Johnboy, Ian and I were immediately keen on Crib Goch whilst the others were for taking the Pyg track back. Eddie, Andy & Martin agreed that they were OK to wait for us at the car park whilst we did Crib Goch so we rapidly packed up and headed off as quick as we could. Crib Goch was in fantastic winter condition and Ian, showing no sign it was his first outing in crampons, led us across the ridge at a gallop and we made it back to Pen y Pass for a cuppa only a few minutes behind the others. An absolutely brilliant day out!

On Central Trinity, Snowdon

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