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Ogwen to Conwy (almost): Carneddau Traverse

Ogwen to Conwy (almost): Carneddau Traverse


Postby malky_c » Wed May 09, 2012 6:56 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Drum, Foel Grach, Foel-fras, Garnedd Uchaf, Pen yr Ole Wen, Tal y Fan, Yr Elen

Date walked: 06/05/2012

Time taken: 9.25

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1600m

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Hewitts: Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn, Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf, Foel Fras, Drum. Tal-y-Fan
Date walked: 06/05/2012
Time taken: 9 hours 15 minutes
Distance: 26km
Ascent: 1600m
Weather: Most things - sunny spells, cloud, snow. Low winds.

The seed of this idea was sown by Foggieclimber, who asked me a couple of months ago about the possibility of using public transport to do a full traverse of the Carneddau from Ogwen to Conwy. I suggested meeting up for a walk while he was down, and with two cars available, it seemed like a good idea to go for the traverse.

Late on in the planning, Alan (Mountainstar), Mackenzie (Rekrab) and Martin decided to join us for some of the walk (although Rekrab had to cancel at the last minute due to a cold). Mountainstar’s original plan to camp was ditched in the end, and after meeting Foggieclimber at Pensychnant, we abandoned his car there and drove back round to meet Mountainstar and Martin at the east end of Llyn Ogwen.

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While the weather was a little grey again, it wasn’t bad and the summits were clear. Llyn Ogwen was almost completely still. We walked up into the jaws of Cwm Lloer then hit the east ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen. This is less brutal than the south ridge, but still pretty steep. While the going looks formidable, there is very little in the way of scrambling, with only a few moves up a shallow chimney required. The views of Tryfan were spectacular on the way up, as was looking back down into Cwm Lloer. There were a fair few others going up the same way.

Tryfan:
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East ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen:
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Mountainstar on the short scrambly section of the east ridge:
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Tryfan, Llyn Ogwen and Glyder Fach:
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Ffynon Lloer:
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Summit from the east ridge:
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Elidir and Carnedd y Filiast/Mymydd Perfedd:
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We had a break on the summit, which was surprisingly calm. I had expected the same cold wind as yesterday, and was glad it didn’t materialise. Then easily onward to Carnedd Dafydd, which I was last up in November. Glad to get some views this time :) .

Onward to Carnedd Dafydd:
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Snowdon and Y Garn:
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Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewelyn with Foel Fras and Foel Grach behind:
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One of the most spectacular parts of the Carneddau is the traverse above the Black Ladders, which is where we were headed next. I stuck to the edge for most of it for the best views. Then the cliffs ended, the ridge narrowed, and we were on the ascent to Carnedd Llewelyn, the highest summit in the range. I suggested that we contour round to Yr Elen here to save ourselves a bit or re-ascent. While I had spotted a path earlier, it was so faint that I couldn’t see it close up. It didn’t matter though, as the traverse was much more pleasant than I remembered it to be.

The Black Ladders:
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...and looking back up to Carnedd Dafydd:
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Carnedd Llewelyn:
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Ffynon Llugwy and Pen yr Helgi Ddu:
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I prefer Yr Elen to Carnedd Llewelyn as it is much more shapely, as well as having the tiny Ffynon Caseg tucked away in a hidden corrie. The summit ridge looks spicy, but is merely a walk. On the summit, the clag had sneakily moved in and it started to snow lightly.

We retraced our steps to the col, before climbing steeply up a slaty path onto Carnedd Llewelyn. Martin pulled ahead of us here – the guy is a machine on the ascents! With the clag down and the snow now sticking, things felt very different to half an hour previously.

Foggie, Mountainstar and Martin ascend Yr Elen:
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Looking back along the ridge out to Yr Elen:
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Low visibility and snow on Carnedd Llewelyn:
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Mountainstar and Martin had to leave us here as they had to be back in Wrexham for a reasonable time. They headed off down the SE ridge to Ffynon Llugwy to get to their car on the A5. Foggieclimber and I took the NE ridge and continued the traverse.

The summits had been quite busy up to now – a bit of a surprise for me after spending a lot of time on the lower hills seeing no-one recently (I used to think this only happened in Scotland). I thought things would quieten down on the northern Carneddau, as they are less impressive and a little more remote. I was wrong though – we passed many more groups, including what were quite likely some DofE expeditions. I certainly haven’t seen so many people carrying camping gear on one range of hills before!

On Foel Grach, the snow eased and the sun came back out a little. I nosed around looking for the emergency shelter, but couldn’t find it initially – turns out it’s on the opposite side of the summit to where I thought I had remembered it. It was clean and tidy inside, and looking pretty weather-proof.

Foggieclimber on Foel Grach:
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Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Fras:
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Emergency shelter:
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Back to Carnedd Llewelyn and Yr Elen:
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We carried on over the is-it/isn’t-it summit of Garnedd Uchaf (omitted from some lists of Welsh 3000 footers) to Foel Fras. The weather deteriorated again here, and Foggieclimber pointed out a finger of rock which is said to be the true highest point of this hill. I’ve been up here a dozen or so times, even spending the night here once, but it is quite likely I’ve never been to the ‘true’ summit until now :lol: .

Heading north, some of the easiest walking coincided with the worst weather of the day. The snow was getting thicker and sticking more. At the col before Drum, the going got wetter – in fact it was just about the only boggy section of the day. We had a break in the summit shelter of Drum, then on to Drosgl, following a path which contoured around Carnedd y Ddelw. A German guy we met here seemed a little surprised by the conditions, it being his first visit to Wales.

The section down Drosgl, across Dwlch y Ddeufaen and up Foel Lwyd was new to me, as I have always approached Tal-y-Fan from the north previously. Once under the pylons at the col, the sun came out again, and the ascent onto Foel Lwyd was steep and sweaty. Tal-y-Fan was in view from the summit – a rocky ridge, yet strangely shapeless when seen end-on. Pleasant paths wove around the rocky outcrops up to the trig point.

Foel Fras and Llwydmor from near Carnedd y Ddelw:
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Foel Lwyd from Carnedd y Ddelw:
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Conwy Valley from Foel Lwyd:
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Tal-y-Fan from Foel Lwyd:
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Northern Carneddau (including Foel Fras) from Tal-y-Fan:
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Great Orme, Penmaen Bach and Llandudno:
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Now it really was all downhill to the car – something we had been joking about since the first summit (by which time you have done almost half of the ascent for the day). We dropped off to the north and picked up a grassy vehicle track which led us down the side of Cefn Maen Amor in the general direction of Pensychnant. This was all pleasant walking, which was good as we’d covered a fair distance. Shock horror – there was actually a section where we had to reascend 10m or so, but eventually we got to the car, having passed some of the ever-present Carneddau wild ponies.

Looking back to Tal-y-Fan:
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Llandudno Junction and Conwy Castle:
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Approaching the car park at Pensychnant:
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A quick whip round to pick up my car from Ogwen was swiftly followed by a doze on the sofa. Cheers Foggieclimber, Mountainstar and Martin for a great day out :D
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malky_c
 
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Re: Ogwen to Conwy (almost): Carneddau Traverse

Postby foggieclimber » Wed May 09, 2012 9:32 pm

I've been looking forward to reading your report. Terrific write-up of the day.

Thanks for meeting-up and making this traverse possible and thanks also to Alan and Martin for joining us for the initial four hills. Sorry Mackenzie couldn't make it.
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Re: Ogwen to Conwy (almost): Carneddau Traverse

Postby ChrisW » Mon May 14, 2012 5:24 pm

Another cracker Malky, good to see you getting some company for this one. For you to describe Martin as a machine on the ascents leaves me wide eyed as you're hardly a slouch yourself :shock: Looks like I've got a few reports to catch up on following my family break....great :D
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