New Year in Snowdonia

Martin’s account of the IMC New Year Trip

Martin Stevens – January 2009

Tuesday 30th December 2008

A team of Martin Hore, Steve Culverhouse, Sheila Norman, Mike Bayley and I gathered at Jesse James’ bunkhouse on the evening of Tuesday 30th and settled in. Guidebooks were consulted, plans made and forecast checked. It was certainly cold and clear during the night.

Wednesday 31st December 2008

A reasonably early start on Wednesday saw Martin H. and Steve head off to Cwm Glas for some kind of ice-adventure whilst Sheila, Mike and I packed for a go at the Snowdon Horseshoe. The merits of walking axes and crampons were considered and fitting your crampons to your boots before setting off proved challenging for Mike but fortunately a spare pair were available that could be made to fit. Eventually, however, we made a departure for Pen-y-Pass, having heard from Ian Thurgood and Christina Ennis (and Monty) that, ‘there’s lots and lots of fog on the motorways, so we might be later than anticipated’.

Off to Pen-y-Pass and up the PYG Track. Brilliant conditions – an almost cloudless blue sky, any mud firmly frozen solid and very little wind. We enjoyed a leisurely scramble over Crib Goch, taking in all the pinnacles and the splendid views. A pause before Garnedd Ugain and its easy scramble and then the grind up to a very busy Snowdon summit. The descent down to the col between Snowdon and Lliwedd proved as ever an unpleasant affair but the excellent easy scrambling over Lliwedd made up for that. The descent from Lliwedd was in the shade and decidedly colder than it had been on the sun on the ridge. Back on to the Miners Track at Llyn Llydaw and Mike spots ‘a tall man, a short woman with an ENORMOUS rucksack and a dog’ and suggests that could be Ian, Christina and Monty. We walked quickly to try to catch them but to no avail and at the carpark Mike was proved right.

Back to the bunkhouse via shopping in Llanberis for us, off to their campsite for Ian & Christina. With the falling light temperatures quickly dropped and by the time we got to the bunkhouse it was decidedly ‘blurry cold!’.

A very jolly evening was had, except by Monty who had to stay in the car. Port and cheese was served and Martin H’s laptop was pressed into service for an impromptu slideshow of the day’s digital pictures.

Thursday 1st January 2009

Very cold overnight but a super days weather ahead. We all tackle Sentries Ridge And Continuation, a Grade 2/3 *** scramble on Mynydd Mawr to the West of Snowdon. Excellent cloudless blue skies and a heavy frost but no breeze and the sunshine pleasantly warm. An easy woodland walk-in (during which we obeyed the roadside sign not to feed the bears) led to a hillside traverse with some wall and fence hopping before a scree-traverse to the base of the buttress. Ian and Monty chose an easier line to the summit, Steve, Martin H. and Christina made up one rope and Mike, Sheila and I another. Good, exposed scrambling on some suspect rock (various cries of ‘BELOW!’ at various points as loose bits detached, and one of ‘EEEK! Fuggit!’ as Christina proved that volume is not necessarily directly related to size when she fell off. Very pleasant exposure and a couple of tricky bits, some good pinnacles and a section of unprotected loose horrors, and a lot of fine ridge work and we were at the summit. An easy walk off and back to the bunkhouse for tea and cake – or back to a frozen tent for the campers and a splendid day out complete.

Approaching Sentries Ridge Approaching Sentries Ridge
Approaching Sentries Ridge On Sentries Ridge


A jolly evening with port and cheese and another impromptu slideshow.

Friday 2nd January 2009

The early start thing proving habit forming, we made another early start. Steve and Martin H. headed off in search of more ice, Ian and Christina went walking to the west of Snowdon and Mike, Sheila and I drove to Bethesda to tackle Crib Lem, a Grade 1 *** scramble. Not such fine conditions – windier, cloudier and although the air temperature was higher it felt much colder.

A leisurely walk in with Mike tackling the map-reading. A drinks pause and then up onto Crib Lem. A slog up a steep scree path and then onto the ridge. Good scrambling over pinnacles with some of the more challenging bits avoidable. Up onto the Carnedd Dafydd ridge and onto the Carnedd Dafydd for a spot of lunch in the ice-rimed shelter hoping for a view should the clouds break. We then backtracked a bit before walking up Carnedd Llywelyn and onto Foel Grach in thick cloud and a strong crosswind. A steep descent took us on a bearing off the top and right on target to our intended checkpoint before hitting the valley floor and the walk back to the car. Fortunately the ground was frozen hard or it would have been an unpleasant mud-fest. Unfortunately we had to consider a stream crossing, but the risk of iced boulders and the amount of water in the stream made crossing impractical so we took a longer way back than perhaps we’d have liked although we still got back without needing to resort to a head torch.

Another jolly evening featuring the never-ending supply of port and cheeses and another slideshow.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

Another early start – don’t these people understand the idea of a lie-in? Mike had picked up a cold and very sore throat so decides to head home straight after breakfast.

Ian, Christina and Monty decide to walk up Y Garn whilst the bunkhouse team have a go at Y Garn East Ridge, a Grade 2 ** scramble. More excellent conditions, blue skies, sunshine and everything frozen solid. Walking up from Ogwen Cottage we pause to wander carefully onto the froze Llyn Idwal before tackling the ridge. Grand scrambling with spells in the shade to let us relish being back in the sunshine again. Some exposed sections and a couple of places of difficulty but grand scrambling in a dramatic setting.

All too quickly we’re on the summit ridge and head up to Y Garn summit where we meet up with Ian & Christina and have some lunch. We walk on to Foel-goch where Ian, Christina and Martin H. choose to head back to Ogwen and the parked cars. Steve, Sheila and I continue to Carnedd y Filiast, pausing on the way to peer down Atlantic Slabs – it looks like there’s some excellent slab climbing to be had there. From the top of Carnedd y Filiast we take an off-path route aiming for the bunkhouse. Fortunately the ground is again like iron or this would have been a real test of boot waterproofing and sense of humour. It wasn’t a challenging walk back apart from finding footpaths (all fortunately frozen solid – it would have been a long session of wading through mud otherwise) in the failing light but it was interesting to see a different view of the area.

Back to the bunkhouse and well earned tea and cake.

Supper ensues, Ian and Christina joining us.

A last go at port and cheese and another slideshow.

Sunday 4th January 2009

Travel home, pausing at Betws-y-Coed in pursuit of new boots for Steve C – he left Ipswich with about 85 pairs and returned with more.

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