Rain Doesn’t Stop Play in North Wales – Jan 2008

Trip report 12th January 2008

I was going to write to the editor demanding more trip reports in The Newsletter, but then I thought perhaps I should stop griping and write one myself.

On the Saturday two cars set out from Ipswich at four o’clock in the morning, with a total of six right-eyed and enthusiastic outdoor types on board. Shortly after nine o’clock we were in the Ogwen Cottage car park drinking tea, convincing ourselves that the weather wasn’t too bad and being faintly surprised just how many people were parked up and on the hill already. Five of us calling ourselves climbers and one of us calling himself a hill-walker; we chose a couple of grade three scrambles on The Milestone Buttress as our objective and set out accordingly. We started at the base of the right hand side of the buttress and roped up in two teams of three. Interesting and exposed moves kept us focused at half height. I failed to persuade the other team that the corner chimney of Milestone Direct was an entertaining diversion as we tackled the easy chimney to the right. Well, I still contend that it would have been entertaining to watch.

A little higher is the Milestone Continuation, which turned out to be a pleasant scramble as well, but by the time we got above the difficulties the rain had returned to encourage us to find a way down. Traversing and descending in the rain got us quickly and perplexingly back to the road with plenty of daylight remaining.
After some route finding difficulties in Bangor, and mixed navigational success to and from the supermarket, we arrived at Jesse James’ bunkhouse as the weekend’s main weather event built in intensity and then continued with horizontal rain into the next morning.

Sunday morning and the others elected to go for a low-level walk, but Andy and I were convinced that the weather would be nicer at Tremadog. As Andy drove through the rain near Beddgelert we managed to convince ourselves that it was easing. Arriving at the crag we were surprised to find Eric’s café and the car park closed. Astonishing in what must surely be peak season there! Gearing up it really did seem as though the rain had eased off and we elected to climb Hail Bebe, which had the twin virtues that it was ‘only a v.diff’ and that I could find the start. I have to say that I’ve always been a fan of Tremadog’s mudstone, but I admit that in the wet it isn’t the grippiest rock that I’ve ever climbed on. It was, for me, exciting enough! Soon, Andy was topping out in the gale force wind on pitch 6 as the rain started again in earnest. The wet and slippery descent was marginally worse than the usual summer conditions, but only just, and we were soon “gear shop traversing” in Beddgelert.

Monday dawned slightly drier and while the rest of us went for a walk near Llanberis, Martin and Andy spent the day at the local climbing wall before heading home.

For me it was great to get out for the first time in several months, and a bonus that we actually got some climbing done.

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