Having previously set off to climb this hill in March this year, only to be turned back before we got started by snow and ice it was certain to be on the top of our hit list.
So it proved. This time we had brilliant weather as we parked up under the north ridge of Tryfan. More than any hill we had previously climbed Tryfan had a reputation as being steep straight from the off. So much so that it is said that it is impossible to climb without the use of your hands. Given this reputation Paul was noticeably wary and if truth were known didn’t really want to climb it. However in our usual manner we somehow managed to cajole Paul into setting off. Right from the off it was all hands and feet with the need to constantly look at your route, work out the most viable line of ascent and in general get stuck in. As height was gained confidence also improved and my attitude changed, instead of avoiding tricky sections I deliberately went out of my way to find them. Mark was managing well enough (although quite rightly he did seem to take plenty of care) and Paul was clearly not in his element as from time to time he suggested easier routes and at one time a return to the car. Mark and I managed to persuade him that it would be far more dangerous to try descending than it would be to continue climbing up (phew got away with that one).
“I can’t get up there!” Umm. “I’ll tell you what, you go first Mark. After all you’re taller with a greater reach and therefore much more likely to be able to get to that next ledge”. So I linked hands and offered Mark a platform to climb up this small section of sheer rock. With a great push and a lunge Mark managed to get to the ledge. Paul then followed with a helping hand from Mark up above and one from me below. Then it was my turn. Mark leaned over the ledge with his hand dangling to reach mine. There was a foothold part way up the rock face and on the count of three I jumped (still gripping on to Mark’s hand) and lunged with my right foot for the foot hold. Agggh I missed!! Given that I was in a precarious situation and in fear of taking a big fall I daren’t let go of Mark’s hand and so naturally I swung like a pendulum straight into the rock face – the result was that I took the full force with my chest. I didn’t half hurt, for a while I was crippled. However I was still the only one left on this ledge and had to have another go in order to extradite myself. Thank fully this time I was successful. A short breather in the sunshine and we decided to continue onwards. This next section as far as “The Cannon” was thankfully a little easier and allowed me a little time to recover. Meanwhile as Paul and I looked on Mark went for a play on that well-known piece of rock. From here we were now in and out of the clouds and progress once again became steeper and therefore slower. Even allowing for my injured chest I still revelled in the last few hundred feet on ascent. It was brilliant; first you would go one way, then another, perhaps after that downhill a little and then of course back up again. No doubt this was made more interesting as a result of the partial visibility that existed. Unfortunately the summit had to come sooner or later and when it did we expected that our fun and games would be at an end.
Our snap was duly seen off in the swirling clouds around the summit. There were plenty of other folk up there, in fact one couple astounded us as they had taken their little sprog (no more than a few months old) up there in one of those papoose things. It didn’t bear thinking about what the consequences would have been should a fall have occurred. A few folk braved the jump from Adam to Eve and thus claimed the freedom of the mountain but due to the slippy rock and my knackered rib we decided to leave it for another day. A quick look at the map revealed another scramble on the route between this summit and Glyder Fawr. Paul had definitely had enough, especially when we told him that “Bristly Ridge” was a slightly harder grade than Tryfan. So that was it, we made our way off the jumble of rocks that make up the summit and descended to the col. From here arrangements were made with Paul that he would climb to the summit ridge of Glyder Fawr by means of the parallel path and that Mark and I would go for another scramble. Well, we made our way to the bottom of a gully, started the climb and in no time at all came to a halt. I couldn’t believe it, some bloke had brought his eight-year-old son up this route and he was just about stuck on a twenty-foot vertical section. To make matters worse this poor lad only had trainers on and was obviously out of his depth. When we did get going it was brilliant. The scrambling was definitely more intense, exposed and continuous than on Tryfan. Quite pleasingly it seemed to go on for some considerable period of time, but as with all good things eventually it had to come to an end. When it did it was straight out of the blue (quite literally as all we could see when we topped out was the deep blue sky overhead and the rounded top of this hill with Paul sat there waiting for us). Straight out of the top drawer. Ahhh
Now we had reached the rounded summit ridge we were at last able to take in the views. As the day had progressed the clouds had lifted and the visibility had improved considerably. The views down into the valleys and over the Llyns were out of this world. Now that the scrambling was out of the way you’d think that after Bristly Ridge all the excitement would be over. Not so, on this amazing stretch of rock. First of all we had a play on “The Cantilever” (a 70 ton balanced chunk of rock) and then as a result of all the previous exertion the inevitable happened. Somehow I had to find a subterranean hole amongst the millions of rocks that made up this summit plateau to use as my toilet. Paul did the honourable thing and stood guard nearby to ensure that no one wandered across this rather unfortunate sight. Over Glyder Fawr and then onto Glyder Fach our route eventually took us via aptly named “Castle in the winds” and then down to the “Devils Kitchen”. As we turned the corner to make the descent the view of Llyn Idwal with Pen Yr Olwen behind it greeted us. This view was worth all the effort of driving to Wales let alone the scramble and walk that had followed. It was brilliant. Once down to the llyn the walk out was just about as near perfect as you could imagine. The sunlight was so crisp, the rock scenery was awesome and the combination of the two produced images of the sort that seem to come along only occasionally. The remainder of the amble down to the car was livened further with the side on view of Tryfan (still with the clouds over its top few hundred feet) and then the pleasant walk along the shores of Llyn Ogwen.
We had spent eight hours and covered less than seven miles. This was not an idle walk as we had covered the ground as quick as was comfortable, it was simply the most rugged terrain that we had covered to date. One last treat was to follow. We had decided to pay a visit to Pete’s Eats in Llanberis and take in not only the mountaineering atmosphere of this café but also one of his huge fry ups. Brilliant. Paul had managed the walk well enough and was glad that he had missed out on Bristly Ridge, but he had thoroughly enjoyed the day. Mark was enthusiastic about the day and I was in some pain with my chest. The sequel to this day out was that as the next few days passed by my chest became more and more painful. I couldn’t turn over in bed, bend, cough etc. There was no option for it but to visit casualty and have it looked at. Result – one cracked rib, for which there was no remedy other than rest.