Journeys in the hills and mountains
Dave organised a relatively large climbing trip to Snowdonia, my first rock climbing since the winter. We were all keen to get some good multi-pitch routes in, but the weather forecast suggested that rain was very likely. We decided to stay in Tremadog where we had the option of climbing locally or heading further afield.
We awoke on the Saturday morning to find blue skies overhead, though we did not know for how long this would last. Several of the group decided to climb some shorter routes at Tremadog, but Greg, Jo and I were keen for a big ‘mountain experience’ and headed off to Rhyd Ddu with the idea of climbing the Eastern Arete of Y Garn before completing the Nantlle Ridge. We did not, however, look up the route online before going, which turned out to be a mistake! The route itself takes an interesting and obvious line and is undoubtedly ‘classic’ with lots of opportunities to use slings and large nuts on the route. It does not, however, receive much sun, and we were cold throughout the climb. Originally Jo and I had planned to co-lead the route, a VDiff, but Jo was feeling the cold and so I led the whole route which proved rather challenging with three on a rope!
The first pitch begins easily though the final step is difficult for someone under six feet tall with that all-important handhold being just out of reach. A bit of scrabbling around and a long reach saw the pitch completed. I managed to take a false turn on the second pitch, heading to the right rather than staying on the arete, but we managed to correct this easily enough. The next couple of pitches were probably the highlight of the climb, especially an airy pitch up an exposed set of cracks which provided just the kind of climbing I like: thrilling exposure but with good handholds and excellent protection. This pitch emerged on a narrow, grassy ridge which we followed easily to the final pitch.
By this point we were all quite tired having spent a very long time climbing due to the cold and the extra rope work caused by three on a rope with one leader. The final pitch is the crux, and I could not get up it. It looked easy enough from below but I struggled with footholds as my grease-coated climbing shoes slid off every time I tried to smear. In the end I scrambled to the left of the crack and found an easy way to the top. I suspect on a dry day at Stanage I would have leapt up it, but not today.
We arrived on the summit much, much later than planned and so immediately headed back down to Rhyd Ddu where Kerrie had been waiting for us for three hours. We returned back to Tremadog to find that everyone except us had been climbing in glorious sunshine all day. On reflection our route choice was not great, but I do think it’s a good, quiet route and one which probably lends itself well to being climbed in boots rather than climbing shoes.
It rained heavily overnight and we did not fancy our chances of finding somewhere to climb on Sunday. It did clear up, however, and so I headed over to Tryfan Bach with Dave, Jeremy and Greg for some climbing in the damp. In the end it dried up quickly and we had some fun on the slabs, including Greg leading his first climb. We finished mid-afternoon when the rain set in again, heading back to Cambridge with plenty of time to spare.