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Posts Tagged ‘Tryfan’

A first outing in Dr Ali’s new camper van. And a fine day it was too.

Arrived at Idwal Cottage just after 10am for tea and toasties. A quick reccie of Tryfan Bach was enough to convince us that our original plan to include it was a bit optimistic. Parked up and set off for our first climb Milestone Buttress Approach a grade three scamble up the western side of Tryfan.

We arrived at the start of the route after a heavy shower which ensured the rock was suitably greasy. Dr Ali lead what would be an easy climb in good conditions to the ample stance before bringing me up followed by Diver Driver and the Prof. The next pitch – a traverse – began with an awkward looking flake. Though amply protected, after watching Dr Ali and Diver Driver slither and slide around the front of the flake I became determined to find an alternative move. This was easily achieved with a foot jam between the flake and the face which allowed for a simple step over. This lead to a simple walk over rough rock to the next huge stance where we paused for a spot of lunch.

Pitch 3, up the easier chimney to the right of the corner was again made more tricky by the wet conditions. Dr Ali led this to the stance and continued up the greasiest, greenest, wettest slab known to man. By the time we all arrived at the top of pitch 3 we realised that it had taken us nearly 3 hours. We had had some rope management and communication issues on the route but that’s what we were her to sort out after all. We decided to move onto the North Ridge for the easier Grade 1 scrambling.

After a little searching we managed to avoid the top of the scree ascent on the Eastern side of the mountain by finding the more interesting route up to the cannon stone where we stopped for the usual photos. With well practiced comedy scottish accents we made our way to lunch on the top of Tryfan and a leap across Adam & Eve by Stephen Fraser. We were quickly down the South Ridge and at the foot of Bristley Ridge where we were met by the wettest, slimiest, greasiest chimney entrance that I have ever seen.

Up to the to of Bristley without any problem but due to the slow going we had to withdraw from the full horseshoe and descended via ‘Bridget’s’ scree slope. Before we knew it we were back at Dr Ali’s camper van for a brew before stocking up with refreshments from the Spar at Bethesda for the journey home.

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2 August 2009

East Face of Tryfan

We made an early start to get down to the Ogwen Valley and try and beat the crowds – it was a Sunday in high summer. A head full of Wilfred Noyce’s descriptions of Tryfan (from a book of British mountains my father had mailed to him in ’51 whilst serving in the Korean War) made the East Face sound like just the sort of expedition that would nicely fill a day with great position and a feel of climbing something really substantial – as Noyce calls it “above all things, a rock mountain”. The North Wales dash by the major routes saw us in the car park at Llyn Ogwen in good time. The weather was a bit neither nowt nor summat so Andy and I sorted out gear, made provision for both big boots and rock boots and began the plod up the boulder field towards the Heather Terrace. We soon warmed up and the weather brightened for a spell. Apart from a couple of individuals scrambling over Milestone Buttress, we only saw a couple of walkers en route. About an hour later we are at the foot of Grooved Arete (HV Diff *** 244 metres 8 pitches) on our own. Mixed weather led us to choose to take a sack with boots and heavier waterproofs whilst wearing rock boots. The early start meant that, like good Hobbits, we were due a second breakfast. This allowed some pushy student to get on the route first (you know who you are University of London Mountaineering Club). Having bigged up her leader’s credentials she proceeded to whinge at him all the way up the first two pitches. We gave them a generous couple of pitches more to get out of earshot, secretly wishing the leader was armed, Yates-like, with both intent and a pen knife.

We stashed one sack in the gulley to the right of the climb and Andrew led off in to the groove and over the slab. We alternated pitches following a well trod path among grooves, ridges, slabs, and aretes. This was really beautiful climbing, not hard at any stage or unprotected, but simply rhythmical movement and balance. A series of linked moves that required a some working out to put them together, bit of caution required as the rain briefly became more persistent and finally we were on a gentle grassy terrace below the crux slab – a steep slab crossed with delicate cracks which I led through and belayed on the edge of the arete. I brought Andy up and as he climbed through and up the ridge I chatted with the leader of the following pair of climbers who’d made short work of the pitch. Then I was following the rope up and climbing through over the final jumble of steps and boulders and it was done. As I belayed Andy up the last pitch I watched as the cloud seemed to flow around the top of our little bit of Tryfan leaving us with a view over Little Tryfan and the Ogwen Valley.

We headed off towards the summit and the descent down North Gulley. It was still fairly early so we took some time to try and find the start of Belle Vue Bastion (VS *** 48 metres) part way down. The guide describes it as “the best route on Terrace Wall with some fine situations” so we thought it worth a look. The weather was still in our favour and I set off from the grass ledge through the large blocks. The climbing became harder than Grooved Arete and the route less well used. The grooves were more exposed with less gear but the holds were sound and the friction good. Moving over the ridge and back again was less daunting than it might have been thanks to the practice on Grooved Arete and I belayed Andy up to a smnall stance. The next pitch was perhaps the nicest I’ve ever climbed: a tricky traverse on to and round an exposed nose; right, into a corner and back left over tricky groove that required some work to unlock the moves. But it felt fantastic. I sat and belayed Andy, watching ravens wheeling in the late afternoon sun. It felt like we belonged in the place, having spent such a good time in the company of Tryfan and it’s notoriously fickle weather. As Noyce says of it “I would greet the mountain as a friend, not an idol”.

Back down again we retrieved the sack, and made a swift descent to the car park a little later than planned but having had a fuller day than we could have hoped for.

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