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North Wales – January 2023

The weather forecast was poor for the weekend, but this did not deter a brave 12 who decided that as always North Wales was worth the risk. We knew winter conditions were unlikely and high winds a probability, but some excellent walking and scrambling beckoned. The crampons and ice axes were stowed once again ready for the AMC Scotland trip in March.

Cneifion Arete

A lucky few managed to get to Ogwen Valley early on Friday. Peter, Ann, Julien, Kevser and Ieuan between them managed a loop of LLyn Idwal and Peter jaunted up Y Garn for some spectacular views in the sunshine (and photos to match). The rest of us arrived by car (Tim and Angus the Dog by train!) to meet in the bunkhouse and pour over the guidebooks and maps, making schemes for Saturday based on a combination of varying weather forecasts.

Ieuan and Josh on Cneifion Arete

Ogwen again was the destination as we thought it would be sheltered from the worst of the wind and weather, and we were rewarded with very reasonable conditions. Peter and Aiden ascended Y Gribben and across Glyder Fach, with a descent via Bristly ridge. Simon and Joe, wanting to make the most of the bad weather, opted for Gully 1 on Glyder Fach main face and were suitably sheltered but were ascending a waterfall for the whole day! They were basically gorge walking up the mountain! They descended via Y Gribbin, cold and slightly wet, with spirits high, but with cold hands. The bar at Plas Y Brenin was their final destination. Ann, Julien, Kevser and Tim (with Angus) had decided to try Y Gribbin, however the conditions were not to their liking so they opted to head to the local Moel Siabod cafe instead for shelter and warmth of the large hot chocolates. Also Kevin had gone off to practise his micro navigation skills in preparation for his ML assessment. So all were making the most of the day.

Back at the hut after a wet day in Eryri

Myself, Ieuan and Josh (both new members) were not deterred and had decided on a big scrambling day combining some classic mountain scrambles in the Ogwen Valley. We originally had decided to first go up Idwal Staircase but it was a waterfall and Ieuan slipped on the first step in his approach shoes, backing off was a sensible option. However, we instead went up Idwal Buttress to the right and had a great time taking a weaving line up the wet but grippy rock, all the way up to the Nameless Cwm. After a spot of lunch, and now in calm conditions we roped up and tackled the spectacular Cneifion (Knife) Arete. For Josh and Ieuan it was their first time and they kindly let me practise my guiding skills as we strode up the impressive ridge. It will never cease to make me happy climbing the Arete. Probably the most iconic scramble in North Wales. The sun even came out to brighten our day. Once we reached the top the wind kicked in and the temperature dropped. The higher scramble to the top of the Glyders had a nice icey sheen to the rocks to add the extra spice. Once at the cantilever stone I scurred out on the ice for the traditional photo and then we descended a very blustery Bristly Ridge.

All were back at the hut for 5pm having each had a great day on the mountain. The traditional chilli con carne (vegetarian) was prepared while we regaled in tales of our adventures and planned the next day. Then it was either to the bar or a few games of Street Scrabble and Mandolorian Dobble (you had to be there) to finish the night off! Ann had no idea who any of the StarWars characters were having never watched any of the films!

The Chain pitch on Snakes and Ladders

Sunday the weather report seemed to change by the hour. Plans were made and dashed in an instant. Peter and Aiden again fancied a peak, but did not want to find themselves in snow on the Yr Wyddfa horseshoe, so opted for a walk up Moel Siabod and were treated to some excellent weather. Ann, Julien, Tim and Kevser plus Angus went for a calm valley walk in the sunshine and had a pub lunch to finish. Something ended up in the river, but I am not sure what. Having seen the forecast I opted to take Joe, Josh, Simon and Ieuan on the adventurous Snakes and Ladder through the slate mines of Llanberis. Some of the iron work is now showing its age. Not sure some of the rungs will be there for much longer! However, none of them having done it, we felt it would be a fun alternative. With the chain section climbed and conquered we had a great exploration through the mines to the excellently named Mordor (“You do not simply walk up to the gates of Mordor”) and Lost World (cue Jurassic Park theme music from me as they entered – it all adds to the experience).

The Lost World

All parties left having had a great time once again exploring the Welsh mountains through walking, scrambling and rambling. As always it never lets us down. We met some new members and made plans to go out once again.

Honorary AMC member, Angus the dog!

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