Sat 26th May - Sun 27th May, 2012
KMC Welsh 3000s (Backpack and Bivi)
“And then there were two”
Members Present: Bob Kelly, James Williams, Dave Oakley, Laura Collier, Michelle Harvey, Mark Garrod, Simon Robertshaw, Graham Hargreaves, Andy Stratford, Dave Wylie, Colin Maddison.
Guests: Roisin Maddison, James, 3 friends of Graham Hargreaves.
Driving down to Ty Powdwr on Friday evening it seemed that the conditions could not have been any better. Clear blue skies, not a cloud to be seen. The forecast was for dry weather throughout the weekend. Little did we know…
Part of the team assembled throughout the evening; James Williams, Laura Collier, Dave Oakley, Dave Wylie and Andy Stratford. The time was spent carrying out various kit checks and comparing who had the lightest sack and what was in. All sorts of combinations were reached – all predicated on the fact that it would not rain, which turned out to be true.
Colin was down as well with Roisin and James for a weekend’s climbing. Colin contributed helpful advice to us all.
Mark Garrod and Michelle decided that they were going to head off and do the round starting that evening immediately after dinner. And so they did.
Most of opted for an early night, and were up bright and early to blue skies. I wandered out into the kitchen and there was Michelle. Crickey! I thought, that was quick. Slowly my head cleared. Yes, far too quick. Michelle and Mark had set off as planned and headed off through the quarries towards the summit of Elider Fawr. But the wind was so strong that they were on their hands and knees and could continue no further. They spent the rest of the weekend enjoying themselves with other mountain activities.
Slightly worried I popped outside – took a look at Snowdon summit clear as a bell. A slight cooling breeze. I decided that what had happened in the night was in the night, and all was well.
Simon Robertshaw arrived and off we set at 0900Hrs. At the Bus-stop Quarry we met up with Graham Hargreaves and three friends who were going to join us for the first day. So eleven people moved onwards and upwards through the quarries up towards Elider Fawr. The sun was shining, we were making good progress and all was well with the world.
But as we came onto the col between Elider Fach and Fawr we encountered the most appalling gusting wind that seemed to come from nowhere. Dave Oakley and I who were at the front at this point were nearly blown off our feet on several occasions. As we came under the lee of the ridge things eased but we were now quite strung out.
There was a cry on the “breeze” from below. Looking down and Laura was sat on the ground – she had been blown off her feet and had sustained some pretty nasty cuts and grazing when she landed. We were relieved that she was not more seriously hurt. Laura decided that enough was enough and headed off down the hill. James ever the gallant chose to go and make sure she got down OK. James and Laura spent the rest of the weekend walking, bouldering and swimming – not necessarily in that order.
For the rest, crossing Elider Fawr was a struggle, and getting into the shelter at the top a welcome relief. Things were no easier as we moved off and at this stage I was quite worried that anyone was going to get around at all. But once we were down at the col there was some shelter and we were able to get round to Y Garn in the lee of the hill and largely out of the wind.
At the col above the Devils Kitchen we bade farewell to Graham and his friends as they turned back towards Llanberis. A reduced group of five dropped down to Cwm Idwal, which was sheltered and hot. We used the Ogwen Cottage as a refuelling stop, eating as many hot pasties and sausage rolls, followed by white chocolate magnums, as was wise, based on the fact that the next stage meant the haul up the steep nose of Pen y Ole Wen.
But up the nose we went, hot and dusty. When we reached the top Simon decided he would head down directly to the bivvy site. The discovery of a particularly bad crop of blisters later in the day the reason.
The gang of four decided that we needed to up the pace in order to pick up the time we had lost earlier due to the wind. So a truly blazing pace was set across the Carneddau, with Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen, Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf, Foel Fras and Carnedd Llewelyn falling in quick succession.
We were able to cache our sacks below Llewelyn, Dave(O) and I choosing a spot far lower than Dave(W) and Andy. Dave(O) and I got back to the sacks just at the point that some old chap, with a tea towel tied round his head as a hat, an ex-army waterproof ten sizes too big and a pair of everyday shoes was about to phone the Police. Dave(W) and Andy had a little bit of trouble finding theirs. When they were cached an altimeter was used to get a reference. But the air pressure had changed – doh!
But we walked into the bivvy site at the Fynnon Llugwy reservoir at 21:30 – bang on schedule. We found a very sheltered spot behind the little pumping station to eat and very welcome it was. Then straight into the bivvy bags and to sleep.
Now the next morning there was a little trouble getting the chaps up and on the move.
It was light but 04:30 so up I got and had breakfast. Then nothing but snoring. At 05:30 I said to Dave W “Dave, its half five” – to which he replied “Is it?”.
Anyhow eventually off we went. First down to the road where Simon left us heading for Capel and transport back to Ty Powdwr. We went through the camp site near the foot of Tryfan Bach and onto the Heather Terrace, making fast progress to the top. Here we dropped the sacks and headed to the summit. Andy gained the “freedom of Tryfan” by jumping the gap between Adam and Eve. And I had a slight accident. I missed my footing coming over the summit boulders, fell backwards but cracked the back of my head on a boulder. At first I thought I had a bit of a problem, but according to the others the gap between it happening and the first expletives uttered means that I could not have lost consciousness. But it was clear that I needed to go and get things checked out. So lots were taken and Andy pulled the short straw and walked off with me, and subsequently took me to Bangor A+E, where my head was “glued” and various other checks performed.
Back at Tryfan Dave Wylie takes up the story…
From Bwlch y Tryfan, we headed up the scree immediately to the left of Bristly Ridge. We weren't sure whether this was your planned route or not, but it was an efficient enough way up - if not a particularly pleasant one. The Glydwrs were then quickly in the bag. A bite to eat on Glydwr Fawr, where we chatted to a trio doing the (far fewer) Welsh 1000m peaks and who were trying to go lightweight and fast.
Down the way-marked path, trying to spot the red paint splodges, to Pen-y-pass. There was an ambulance parked up and we heard the sound of a helicopter, so something was going on in the vicinity (*). A mug of tea and a HUGE slice of carrot cake (so big, in fact, that I couldn't actually finish my whole portion!). The 1000m trio then appeared - we'd somehow managed to beat them down. I think they'd got lost...
Loins girded, we set off up the path and scramble onto Crib Goch. Care was required as there was still a stiff wind, so I wasn't doing my usual bold striding out along the crest of the ridge. Steadily on up the penultimate peak, to the trig point on Garnedd Ugain. The Yellow rescue helicopter was now flying round in the vicinity of Cwm Glas, below us (**).
Down to the col, where we dumped our sacks before the final push up to the summit of Snowdon. A handshake and congratulations at the very top, but it was not quite all over yet - we still had to get down.
The never-ending Llanberis path proved to be hard on weary feet and there were some mutterings along those lines from Dave. Eventually we were back down to "civilisation". Finally, I led us back up the least steep route to Ty Powdwr, through the Padarn woods.
Sorry that I can't remember any split-timings, but we got back to the hut at about 20:15.
I feel fairly comprehensively knackered today, but it's distributed all over rather than being any one specific thing!
So two made it. Well done. Thanks to all for coming and making what was for me a “cracking” weekend.
As a great weekend out - as well as a good aerobic training weekend for the Alps - come and backpack and bivvy the Welsh 3000's starting and finishing at Ty Powdwr.
Whether you come the night before or come down in the morning we will start out from the hut at 0900Hrs on the Saturday.
We will traverse all the 3000's in a "clockwise" direction ticking off:
- Elidir Fawr (924 m)
- Y Garn (947 m)
- Pen yr Ole Wen (978 m)
- Carnedd Dafydd (1,044 m)
- Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064 m)
- Yr Elen (962 m)
- Foel Grach (976 m)
- Garnedd Uchaf (926 m)
- Foel-fras (942 m)
- Tryfan (918 m)
- Glyder Fach (994 m)
- Castell y Gwynt (972m)
- Glyder Fawr (1,001 m)
- Crib Goch (923 m)
- Garnedd Ugain / Crib y Ddysgl (1,065 m)
- Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m)
In that order.
The only criteria for a bivvy site is that there a guaranteed source of fresh water. So we will probably bivvy at the outlet of the Fynnon Llugwy Resevoir under the corrie wall of Pen yr Helgi Du. Watching the sun go down across the Ogwen valley (oh how romantic!!).
But lets not make Naismith's a rule and lets see where we get to.
The next day - up early and off. Finishing off over the Glyders, Snowdon and back to the hut.