Mixed Routes at Tryfan - Photo Gallery, North Ridge in rain and summit in snow
The Friday evening drive to North Wales finished at 10 pm when I got to the Youth Hostel at Llanberis to meet 25 other members of the Mixed Routes club. It was raining when I got there and it hardly stopped all weekend.
With the majority of the club members socialising until very late there was a distinct lack of interest in setting off early to walk so Jeremy and I decided to head off to Tryfan by ourselves. Jeremy navigated a route using minor roads to Bethesda and then headed inland towards Llyn Ogwen and we parked at the tarmac car park at the foot of Tryfan.
It was still raining as we left the car park by the gate at its western end, the obvious path immediately headed steeply uphill. The first part of the climb was over pathless wet grass until we reached a constructed pitched path. The climb up the path was fairly tedious, the stinging rain driven by a strong wind meant no view, no photos and slippery conditions underfoot.
Higher up the path is a newly made section and further up again the path is still under construction, the large bags of building blocks scattered around the path. As the constructed path ends the gradient becomes steeper and the path is rougher. The way then becomes much rockier and you have to find a way up over a twenty foot outcrop.
After that is an excellent scramble over rocks and boulders, handling the mountain but without any exposure. We eventually came to a small col where the wind was rushing through making it difficult to stand up. The way up from here was much steeper and rockier but it wasn't too long before we reached the summit plateau. Having struggled over to the summit pillars of Adam and Eve we had to hang on to the rocks to stop ourselves from being blown over.
After leaving the summit we traversed the boulders southwards looking for a path that we didn't really find. Rather than climb to the top of the next turret we decided it was too windy and decided to get off the mountain. After crossing greasy boulders we did find the steep path that took us down over rocks at first and then down the wet grass to Llyn Bochlwyd.
From the northern end of the Llyn we headed north eastwards in front of a rock outcrop over pathless grass until we reached the constructed path that we had climbed earlier. Back to the car and it was still raining.
We took advantage of the early finish to visit Pete's Eats in Llanberris before heading back to another sociable evening at the Youth Hostel.
Sunday morning came and it was still raining and there were no takers for the offer of another visit to Tryfan so I went by myself. Left the car at the same place as yesterday and this time left by the eastern gate.
There was a faint path at first through the large boulders but I soon lost that and I was soon scrambling over large greasy boulders with the wild mountain goats crying at me for invading their territory. Having made the strenuous but enjoyable scramble over the boulders I came to a wall that was really too high to climb over. I followed the faint path uphill alongside the wall looking for a place to cross it and I was begining to think I would have to get over it the hard way when I came across a ladder stile that saved that particular exercise.
Once over the wall the going became steeper and rougher heading up towards the real rock of Tryfan. All of a sudden Tryfan becomes a fortress whose walls have to be scaled, the first of the outcrops I climbed over but hurt my knee in the process making sure I had to improve my technique or suffer.
You can go directly up the rock walls or gain height on a path of sorts until you have to climb. I went to look at the rock climbs but decided I didn't fancy them and ended up scrambling over boulders as I traversed the steep sides of the hill trying to get to the path. I eventually reached the top of the path and the only way now was up.
I had forgotten just how steep the scrambling was, and just how much rock had to be scrambled over, I had to make a couple of awkward moves to get up some of the climbs without hurting myself any more than was necessary. It was quite challenging and enjoyable and I was thinking I was getting near to the summit when the turrets came into view. My heart sank a little as I saw how much climbing still had to be done and the sleet started to fall.
There is only one flat area on the climb of the North Ridge and from there the climbing is steep but easy through boulders on an obvious path. Then you reach the steepest climbing of the day, I looked at a couple of alternative possible routes and I didn't fancy any of them. I was on my own and there was no one around to ask for guidance, I might have turned back if the climb so far hadn't been so hard.
So I gritted my teeth and set off up the steep wet rock, it wasn't quite as impossible as it looked but I had to dig deep a couple of times in order to get up and over some of the obstacles. By the time I got to the first turret the snow was begining to stick to the rocks but I had to visit its exposed top anyway. The way over to the summit involves crossing over a narrow ridge and stepping over awkward wet boulders across a small col and then more steep climbing to the summit of Tryfan.
By the time I got to the summit it was snowing and the mist had come in. I followed a couple of other walkers downwards, personally I would have liked to used the path but it was an interesting descent over boulders and a quick loss of height down scree towards Llyn Bochlwyd.
I used a very similar descent to the one I used yesterday to get back to the car park.
Andy Wallace 29th and 30th November 2003
Mixed Routes is a virtual club comprised of members based throughout UK with a mix of outdoor related interests. We originally met through our membership of the internet magazine www.outdoorsmagic.com that has a forum where informed and relevant discussion quickly deteriorates into meaningless but humorous banter.