Thursday, 8 May 2014

Are you sure...?

I've just spent the weekend in North Wales, once again staying at Jesse James' Bunkhouse near Llanberis. A smaller group than last August's outing, only seven of us, Mrs W and me, our two offspring, our friends Simon and Wendy and their daughter, so rather than the main bunkhouse we stayed in Castell Gwynt, a smaller, cosier annexe to the main building. Our plan? On Saturday to climb Glyder Fawr via the Devil's Kitchen, bag Glyder Fach and then descend back to Ogwen Cottage by way of Bristly Ridge and Llyn Bochlwyd and on Sunday to do a little climbing on Lion Rocks before sating our need for discount outdoor clothing in Betws y Coed.

Down the valley toward Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen
In the weeks leading up to our weekend away Simon and I had sat down with a route card he'd used when he first did the planned route in 1992 and plotted the route on an OS map so as to familiarise ourselves with it, buying a new map to ensure that we had the most up to date information. Arriving at Jesse's on Friday night we sat down with him and discussed our planned route with him for a spot of local knowledge, so, at 0930 on Saturday morning when we parked up at Oggy Cottage we were more than confident that we knew what we were doing and off we set.

The morning was perfect, not to hot, not to cold and the main thing, dry. Apart from an abortive attempt at Tryfan via the North Ridge I'd no experience of the Glyderau so was really looking forward to the coming adventure, although the prospect of both the Devil's Kitchen and Bristly Ridge were peaking my fear of heights. Our chosen route was to take us around the northern shore of Llyn Idwal before peeling off to strike up the Devil's Kitchen, sure enough, as we left the shore of the lake we encountered the expected steep ground, which kept getting steeper and steeper and the views across to Tryfan kept getting better and better as we went up and up and up.
After around two hours of almost constant height gain, the application of one compeed patch and a splodge of lip balm to a warm heel (Vaseline left at Jesse's) we arrived at a cairn just below the final rise to the summit of Glyder Fawr. A quick lunch and a cup of tea, well done Wendy, and we gained the summit. 

As we stood, admiring the view, feeling very proud as we looked at the ridge we'd just climbed, a dawning realisation crept over the adult members of our little band of adventurers. A ridge? Hang on a minute, the Devil's Kitchen isn't a ridge. Those two lakes we passed, shouldn't they have been on the right of the path, not the left? And why the hell am I looking south at Llyn y Cŵn?

Are you sure this is Glyder Fawr? 

A quick check on our position via electronic means showed a little problem, we'd climbed the wrong mountain. We were, in fact, standing on the summit of Y Garn. Oops.

Still, faint heart ne'er won fair maid and all that bollocks, so we decided we'd push and bag Glyder Fawr anyway. The scree slope up to the summit of Glyder Fawr is not in good nick and made for an interesting, taxing, slippery scramble before a fun hands and knees job on to the actually pointy, summitty bits which the kids loved. We looked across to the summit of Glyder Fach and discussed whether or not carry on but all three kids were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic so we decided to take advantage of a planned escape route down Y Gribin.
Looking down Y Gribin

This provided a great deal of entertainment as we hadn't realised it was something of a cliff, necessitating the use of not only hands and knees but also backsides. After 7 and a half hours we arrived back at the car and drove back to the bunkhouse via the grog shop for a bottle of scotch to soothe our aching limbs. 

Sunday morning and climbing with Jesse at Lion Rocks. We turned up to find two instructors with a school group had roped the vast majority of lines on the first level, which caused a little consternation on our part. Jess knew of a line on the second level which we scrambled up to for a play. The kids thoroughly enjoyed this and we were very lucky to have Jesse's local knowledge to work from. 

Despite our navigational "error" we've had another brilliant time in North Wales. Next time Tryfan and Glyder Fach, hopefully we'll get the right mountains.

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