September 2023 – Wales

22nd to 24th of September

MKMC Attending:
Lee, Matt, Kieran, Malcolm, Naomi, Michelle, Alexis, Matthew, Alex, Stacey, Shane, Bob, Keith, Nick

Back to North Wales, staying in the Oxford Mountaineering Club hut, Cefn Garw in Pentrefoelas, about 20 minutes East of Betws-y-coed. 

The hut was in an excellent location, giving easy access to the Ogwen Valley, Llanberis Pass and the Molewnys, however describing it as “Basic” would be an understatement having no showers and only being accessible by car for those confident at “offroading”. While some cars did make it up the track, an equal number decided to pass and park in the village which was about 20 minutes walk away, not ideal with a weekend’s worth of stuff on your back.

A little damp, so despite a few early starts, no mountaineering was achieved. 

On Saturday the majority of us headed to Craig Y Tonnau, a small single-pitch crag between Betws-Y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog with really unusual rock (a marine deposit of volcanic ash), the rock has a gris stone-like texture but is littered with jugs and the crag is distinctly wavy. We decided to climb here as it was reportedly quick drying and the preference of most leaders was for easier climbs of which this crag has plenty. Being single-pitch also made it more suitable for the number of novices on the crag.

When we arrived the rock was still wet and there were a few nervous leads, but as the day progressed the sun came out and the rock dried leading to a very enjoyable day. 

Highlights included the obvious crackline of Dianne’s Approval (VD), Robin’s Nest (S) which stars and an obvious keyhole-shaped slot and Brewer’s Troupe VS 4C which has a hard and bold start followed by steeper juggy climbing above.

We also set up a top rope on Dinner Time, an E1 5a with a very bold start. Alex Thakway and Kieth showed us the value of experience by making the crux look effortless while the rest of us struggled.

Michelle, Bob and Alex Pond had a day of scrambling in the Ogwen Valley. They completed the Pinnacle Ridge Variant on the east face of Tryfan which is a 3+/Mod scramble then descended the west face path off the summit to make an ascent of Wrinkled Tower another 3+/Mod before returning to the summit via the North Ridge (grade 1).  Bob & Michelle were roped in and were using both moving together and pitching tactics to try and keep things flowing as much as possible, Alex just soloed coz he’s nails.

They descended off the South Ridge and Michelle opted for an easier end of the day and walked off to Ogwen cottage and around Llyn Ogwen very graciously carrying the majority of Bob & Alex’s kit so they could move a bit faster towards Glyder Fach’s Hawks Nest Buttress. Here they made a reasonably speedy ascent of the very engaging Shark’s Buttress which despite being only grade 3 felt the most serious and intimidating.  After a quick refuel at the summit, they made their way off via Y Gribin (grade 1) and back down meeting Michelle at the car and straight to the Pub.

Stacey walked to Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach visiting the industrial remnants of the Victorian era at Rhosydd quarry and the dereliction created in the past. On reaching the trig point on Moelwyn Mawr it provided the perfect opportunity to savour the excellent visibility and one of the most speculator and diverse views of North Wales with the vista including the mountainous peaks of the national park, the sandy coastline and the distant Llyn peninsula. Following a descent via Bwlch Stwlan and Moelwyn Bach, the start point at Croesor was reached where the community cafe were holding an afternoon Reggae event and the opportunity to refuel with refreshments and cakes.

Shane, hitting the trail around 10 am, headed up the path along Creigiau R Gelli, west towards Y Foel Goch, then up to Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr and then down into Idwal Cottage via Devil’s Kitchen.  After a quick gel, it was time to ascend Pen yr Ole Wen, straight up the nose!. Some of the upper reaches present nice grade 1 scrambles, but there is one little crux which poses significant danger and difficulties, and in Shane’s book, deserves a grade 2. 

After attaining the summit, the route follows excellent runnable high ground along Cefn Ysgolion Duon and Bwlch Cyfryw – drum to Carnedd Llewelyn. From there, Shane followed the well-worn path to Foel Grach north for 500 meters, but then headed down, east then south to Ffynnon Llyffant to pay respect to the crew of WK129, who perished on the 9th December 1957.  He continued south-east along the unforgiving and undulating terrain featuring bog, waterfalls and streams to meet the old mining path at Cwm Eigiau, until the reservoir at Llyn Eigiau. Shane made it back to Capel Curig just as the sun was setting. The total for the day was 37 km with 2500 m of ascent.

On Sunday, the forecast in Snowdonia looked pretty grim., but things looked like they might be drier further east. Myself, Matt Rush, Matt Cleary, Naomi, Nick Kieran and Harry (Kieran’s brother), headed to Trevor Quarry, a sport climbing crag above LLangollen. The rock was dry when we arrived and we got a couple of routes in but the weather was very changeable frequently shifting between bright sunshine and strong winds and drizzle. We decided to pack up when things started to get a bit wetter, however by the time we’d made it back to the cars the sun was out again.

Visibility was poor in contrast to the previous day, so Stacey and Michelle chose a walk through the Aberglaslyn Valley to Llyn Dinas for Sunday’s outing. The previous night’s rainfall made the Afon Glaslyn roar in spate, making the fisherman’s walk impassable. Undeterred, they progressed through the valley by road, with Michelle grateful she had only packed her B3 boots, keeping her feet dry despite several inches of water, in numerous stretches throughout the walk. The descent back to Nantmor through Cwm Bychan passed the remains of the copper mine tramway and included several ‘stream crossings’ made precarious by the additional volume of water. 

Alex Pond & Bob visited the White Goods dry tooling venue where we aimed for the Kitchen Garden Area.  There was some very suspect-looking rock on the periphery so they concentrated their efforts on the most solid-looking parts. The climbing was mostly on natural placements and with this being only their second ever attempt at tooling they opted for Top Rope-only climbing.  They managed a D5 (Adam’s) a couple of times to warm up then both made quick work of 2 D7’s (Apple & And Pears) both with very steep starts before finishing with some technical wall climbing.

They were only there for 3hrs but were thoroughly boxed by the end of it, this was next-level pulling!

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