Fiona & John near the top of "The Ridge" on Atlantic Slab (Photo: Dave Shotton)  

Caro, Andy and Stuart on "The Ridge", Atlantic Slab (Dave Wylie)
Caro, Andy and Stuart on Carnedd y Filiast after climbing "The Ridge" (Dave Wylie)
Tryfan from Carnedd y Filiast (Dave Wylie)
An elusive snow patch on Elidir Fawr (Dave Shotton)
Fiona & John near the top of "The Ridge" on Atlantic Slab (Dave Shotton)
Atlantic Slab with John & Fiona on "The Ridge" (Dave Shotton)
Jim, Fiona & John after topping out on Atlantic Slab (Dave Shotton)
Yr Aran Summit photo (Graham Haslehurst)

Burns' Night Ty Powdwr

Due to a couplathree strong reasons I’d been fairly slack in the organisation of this years Burns night weekend. Fortunately the sidekicks I’ve been training up for the last few years swung into glorious action and I can well and truly say that the apprentices have over taken the master. This year’s trip was once again a great success and this can be clearly laid at the feet of Dan O’Brien (supermarket sweep and booze explainer in chief), Tim Howarth (head chef) and Katy O’Brien (provider of an electric whisk*).


On Saturday no one strayed too far from the hut this year. The largest group choosing to leave Ty Powdwr on foot (Andy Stratford, Caro, Stuart Hurworth, Jim Symon, John Evans, Fiona Dixon and Dave Whylie). Walking up through the slate quarries, round the reservoir access track to Marchlyn Bach and up onto Carnedd y Filiast they eventually descended about half way down the North East slope from the summit to the base of Atlantic Slab.


The route of the day was "The Ridge". Depending on your source this is listed as a grade 3 scramble, a "Moderate" or a "Diff"! However Dan met a guidebook writer on a belay couple of years back who was “climbing every Mod in North Wales to regrade it to either a grade 3 scramble or a Diff”; so this seems to be easily explained. Apparently said chap’s biggest regrade was from Mod to VS but Dan’s memory seems to have failed him for the second time ever and he can’t remember which route it was. The first time he memory failed was regarding the 30 year old Balvenie he promised me.


Jim went first and soloed the route, but the rest split up into twos. John and Fiona went next, then Caro and Dave, with Andy and Stuart following behind - all in big boots. By the time Dave’s pair got to the top it was getting a bit late in the afternoon. The lead three took the cut throat approach and abandoned the final four, who had just enough time to to bag Elidir Fawr before coming back down to the Hut.


Dave Shotton took the reverse route of the large group without the scramble.


Meanwhile on the other side of the pass there was not a single cloud over the summit of Snowdon and so...


Skittles (Sam Crabbe) took an early bus up to Pen Y Pass and did the Horseshoe with his first trip over Crib Goch. This was celebrated with possibly the only photo missing the ridge itself. After completing the walk in double quick time he was disappointed to have missed the bus back by 5 minutes. Rather than wait the 2 hours in the cold he plodded back to the hut.


Heather, Vicky and Graham headed up Yr Aran and then onto the summit of Snowdon. Given the low temperature of the day the sun trapped parts of the Whatkins path were definitely the best way of ascending. Max took a “quick jog” over the top of Snowdon, then back up to the hut and all in time to help Tim with tea. Unlike the meet organiser who arrived back in time to make the gravy.

Elsewhere Tim took his new bike out for a spin round the biggest hills he could find. Ian not to be out done came along too with Fabi, togged up in about 30 layers, strapped on the back and only just fitting into the child seat.


As always Haggis, both caught and unearthed, was enjoyed by all. And then came the whisky tasting which this year had added science…


The first tasting was a comparison of two whiskies. Opinions ranged on which was the best and what flavours could be discovered within the drams. After not to long Dan explained that they were from identical bottles from the same cask however, one had been home chill filtered[2]. A process that Dan’s mother in law, who he is currently staying with, was a little surprised at. Especially given he’d emptied her freezer for a week to do it.


Following this came four little bags of white powder. Disappointedly for one, self confessed pork pie positive, member of the club this was not a selection of substances banned under the The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971), The Medicines Act (1968) and The Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) but was instead a selection of sugar, salt, citric acid (in the form of sour haribo) and MSG. This was to help those attending understand how their palette is built up. What it also did was further concern Dan’s worrying mother in law. Pictures below should serve as a good illustration as to why she closed the curtains while Dan was preparing. What, indeed, would the neighbours say?

Next came an example of how smell influences flavour. Two whiskies were chosen to demonstrate this; a lovely delicate flavoured lowland Auchentoshan and powerful Laphroig. Dan got everyone to use a clothes peg on their nose and sample each. Once the Laphroig had been tasted everyone was told to remove the pegs. The effect is amazing with the sudden burst of smoke and peat. This only leaves the question of how Dan’s mother in law is going to hang up the washing. 

The last pairing of whiskies and science were a rye whiskey and an English whisky from Adnams. The observant amongst readers will have noticed the absence of bitter in the flavours listed earlier. Firstly everyone tried 80% coca dark chocolate. Following this a small piece of artichoke heart (apparently not Jerusalem artichoke). Then once again a piece of chocolate. The effect is quite remarkable as the artichoke takes away a certain amount of the ability to taste bitter things. As such the second piece of chocolate taste very different to the first.

Like most years no one cold agree which was the best whisky but clearly everyone did their best to enjoy them all and there was barely a dribble left the bottles that had any left. Sunday, in case anyone was wondering, was a write off due to the inclement weather and inclement heads. Like always the rounding process for covering the costs has raised some money for mountain rescue with  £44 being raised this year. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to next years trip with the exception of Dan’s mother in law.



[1] A key tool in the creation of cranachan.

[2] Instructions for home chill filtering can be found at

Graham Haslehurst