North Wales Weekend Trip
by Tom Barber and Edward James
After a considerable amount of drinks, Jack had managed to misplace his sleeping bag in the ruckus of the main hall so we drunkenly decided that the best option was for the two of us to squeeze in with me, my last memory until… DINGDINGDING!!!!! Stuart appears bright and early clanging pots and pans in our substantially hungover faces, followed closely by an encore from Ed. After reconsidering most of my life choices, not least of all agreeing to go on this bloody run, I finally managed to summon up the willpower to get out of bed and coax my disagreeing body back to life.
Despite my feeble protests, Ed was keen to set out early so we set off just before 10 up the Rhyd-Ddu path on the west side of Snowdon. As we started to jog out from the bunkhouse I was slightly concerned my breakfast was going to make a violent reappearance but I was in luck and was soon able to pick up the pace and we made good time over the lower slopes, much to the enjoyment of a group of rather portly gentlemen (to put it subtly) who also seemed to find the fact that we were out in shorts absolutely hilarious and bellowed “Oi Oi” and “f*ckin’ hell, they only look about twelve” as we raced past them.
Soon we reached the start of the ridgeline leading to the summit which also marked the snowline and the start of our difficulties. The winds picked up as we climbed, the clouds descended and the snow grew deeper causing our progress to slow to a halt. Staring into the whiteout conditions coupled with a persisting dehydration caused me to have my first experience with snow blindness. My eyes felt unfocused as I saw dozens of pinpricks of light pulsating like the static on an old TV. I was fairly worried so I mentioned it to Ed as he wrestled with the wind trying to wriggle into his waterproof trousers. I briefly considered retreating but instead got Ed to run in front so I could focus on his back which along with a big swig of water seemed to cause the worst of it to subside and allow us to make progress again.
The top of the ridge had an almost alpine feel to it with thick snow, technical rocky scrambles and steep drops from either side. At the summit we were both feeling pretty good so, after a brief pause for a photo and a hot cross bun, we decided to carry on down the opposite side of Snowdon and loop back around later on. At the top of the Pyg track we attempted to check our location with a man who turned out to be strongly against us going this way. After 5 or 6 times of him ranting at us about how the path was ‘treacherous!’ we ignored him and went that way anyway. As we descended, other than Ed’s shoes struggling a little to grip on the compacted snow, we saw little evidence of the aforementioned treacherousness (that is a word apparently). The snow was significantly deeper in the valley than it was up on the ridge, something Ed found out to his peril as he ended up wedged waist deep in a snow drift while trying to overtake a slower group (much to my amusement). After crossing back over the snow line we once again picked up the pace and absolutely blitzed the trail down to Pen-Y-Pass.
After a short respite from the biting winds we set off even further down the valley towards Llyn Gwynant. When I chose the route I had envisioned a pleasant section of flat easy running along the shore of Llyn Gwynant. I could not have been more wrong. The shore was littered with boulders and fallen trees making turning it into an exhausting assault course. When we reached the base of the final 500m climb back over into the valley we were pretty knackered, Ed a little more so than I but I filled him with biscuits and he seemed to reanimate a little. After fording a few streams that were rather colder and faster than I had anticipated we started to climb. Around halfway up I got pretty cold while Ed began to struggle a little as he confessed this was the furthest he’d ever ran in one go but we persevered up and over the top leaving a leisurely cruise down to the bunkhouse. Surprisingly, we found ourselves amongst the first back at around 4.30 so proceeded to defrost our shrivelled hands and wring out our sodden kit followed by hot showers and copious amounts of food. 17 miles covered, 1500m climbed, 6h30 elapsed. All in all a great little outing (although one my legs did not thank me for the next morning).
? Day 2
Never have I awoken with the inability to stand, after my run with Barber and a good night sleep my legs were in a sorry state. As time passed I managed my first steps and with the talk of climbing I was eager to start the day. After the task of cleaning was completed we were greeted by glorious sun and the grand sight of Snowdon, realisation hit me that we accomplished the task of running up it (some points faster than others) and the state of my legs felt a little more justified.
Keen to climb we headed to Eric’s climbing café, after quite a bit of faff and group split me and my group headed to Craig Bwlch y Moch, while the others had lovely walk to Craig Pant Ifan. After multiple rocky climbs trying to find the right start we managed to find what me and J. Williams thought was the start of a HS only to get shut down by the amount of water on the climb. With a dodgy descent we decided on the alternate route Stuart had climbed with Emily and Laurence. With me on the first pitch and Jack belaying it was a good feeling remembering how good climbing can be. With the anchor set up, I may of forced a scared Jack (he was being quite a bit of a pussy) to climb the final pitch, a HS up Micah Eliminate (https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=2489) which we were then greeted by more sun (boo to all who cancelled due to the forecasted poor weather).
After a well deserved bacon and egg bap at the café, I jokingly said “shall we go for a bit of a run to find the others” I should have known what Jack’s response would be. After being shut down by a grassy hill we powered through, picking up the pace through the flat bog, to find questioning faces on why we looked so happy. With the pleasantries out the way we picked up some good pace on the downhill ready for the return journey back to Swansea. All in all a great weekend, sad so many missed out.