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Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Cadair Idris, snow and cramp


Postby yokehead » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:56 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Cadair Idris - Penygadair, Craig Cwm Amarch

Date walked: 07/02/2018

Time taken: 6

Distance: 10.7 km

Ascent: 1037m

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From the hill behind my house near the Shropshire/Wales border I can see across the 60km to Cadair Idris and round to the Arans and Berwyns. On a clear day! A couple of days earlier I'd seen that they were snow covered, and with more snow due the day before my jaunt I reckoned I might get an easy snow climb from the back of Llyn Cau up to Craig Cau. So it was crampons and axes packed the night before, coffee flask filled and sandwiches aboard for an prompt start.

The early day was superb, blue sky and no wind, rare and enticing. I turned down the A487 at the Cross Foxes Inn and there she was, the Cadair massif looking majestic with blue sky behind and thin mist clearing. New snow was down to road level, I stopped for a moment to ogle and photograph.

P1070370.jpg
massif magnificence

Moving on rapidly I was soon away from the Minffordd snow-covered carpark after reluctantly parting with £5. That's up 25% since my visit here 9 years ago, shocking. There is a steep climb from the off, up a good stepped path through woodland alongside the Nant Cadair stream. It was sheltered, and hot going, the sun already melting the snow on this south-facing slope. Down to base layer.

P1070371.jpg
heading up, looking back

1km later there's a levelling out, past the junction of the later descent route on the right. The path rises gently toward the southern cliffs of Mynydd Moel before turning west and ascending increasingly steeply toward Llyn Cau.

P1070372.jpg
the path levels, Mynydd Moel cliffs ahead

P1070373.jpg
looking back

P1070374.jpg
just about to turn west, looking east to the later descent path

Over the final lip of the cwm and the magnificent sight of the cliff-bound Llyn Cau suddenly comes into view. Superb, although I was amazed to see the amount of cloud that had appeared as if from nowhere, its approach from the south being hidden from view.

P1070376.jpg
nearly into the cwm

Instead of continuing straight up, I headed toward the Llyn for a mess about up and on the top of a large band of rock, it was not to be resisted. An inspection also revealed that the snow wasn't good enough for the climb I'd hoped for so that plan was abandoned. A drink, snack, layer on and it was away again, retracing my steps for a short distance then cutting the corner on to the Minffordd path once more.

P1070383.jpg
setting off after messing about on the rocks, the superb cwm and clouding over

P1070386.jpg
looking back to the east end of the lake and the ascent route to the right

It is a fine path around the edge of the cliffs with views down to the lake and opening up to the south. Yet again I was treated to low-flying fighter aircraft, flying the mach loop following the A487 along the valleys. A couple of F15's and Hawks.

P1070388.jpg
looking south, still some blue sky

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The higher I got the duller it became as the cloud thickened. The snow also became deeper, it was mostly soft new snow so crampons and axe not required, it was increasingly hard going though needing to lift the feet more and more.

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getting higher

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I reached the fence and Craig Cwm Amarch summit, over the stile and the way ahead to Cadair is seen. It is down then up again and I was finding it harder work than I'd expected! OK, now the last part up to the summit from the south and views back to the lake again, then we're at the trig point. It was looking very bleak now that the cloud was covering all of the sky, what a change from a little while earlier.

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down ahead, then up to the summit, centre

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looking back to Craig Cwm Amarch

I dropped the sack on the bench in the rime covered shelter and got out the coffee and sandwiches, it was very very good! Had a chat with a walker for a while. When he left I went outside, still eating, there was a chap with a large sack who was wandering the area and wild camping for a couple of nights. He gave me a nip from his hip flask, most welcome as it was very cold now - frozen fingers in a couple of minutes! He set off for the path down to the north, I packed up and got going toward Mynydd Moel, after a stop of about 45 minutes.

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lake from the summit

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summit and lowering cloud

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rimed shelter

I trundled along, slightly downhill over a couple of patches of neve. After only about 10 minutes and on the flat, I suddenly got terrible cramp in the front of my thighs. I tried to continue slowly hoping to work it out of my system but it became worse, I couldn't walk at all. Squatting helped so I sat for 5 minutes and had half a bottle of sports drink. Cautiously back on my feet and slowly onward, it had eased enough to make progress. I was amazed, I'd never experienced this before in any way, and was a bit worried in case the thighs locked up completely. Looking back, in the distance I saw the wild camper following, I assume the path down he'd attempted was too dangerous in the conditions.

P1070408.jpg
looking back to Cadair summit from the cramp stop

But I didn't want to stop any more so headed on, binning my plan for Mynydd Moel since getting down was the priority, cutting the corner instead to reach the path heading south. There were a set of footprints to follow to make life easier. I reached a stile and crossed the fence, the path then goes down alongside the fence. Then I remembered. After having come down this way 9 years ago, I'd vowed 'never again' on this path of purgatory. I suppose it wasn't too bad really but care was needed in my weakened state.

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cloud descending further, but I'm descending faster!

P1070411.jpg
cutting the corner

P1070415.jpg
just before crossing the fence, Tal-y-llyn lake below

A final view of the lake and peaks, now cloud covered, and down to the bridge across the stream to join the early path of ascent. And the cramps came on again! Another long drink and rest then the final 1km down the steps to the start, with no further problems. I took a while walking around the carpark and stretching before driving home.

P1070416.jpg
last view of Llyn Cau

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looking back up purgatory by the fence

P1070421.jpg
nearly down to the stream crossing and cramp #2

It was a few days before the thighs felt normal again, or what passes as normal for me. Maybe I hadn't drunk enough in the early, hot stage of the walk. Or rested enough. Hope it doesn't happen again though!


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yokehead
 
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:17 pm

Lovely report and great photos, thanks Yokehead! That foot-lifting in deep snow gave me thigh cramp in December for the first time. I sympathise with your shock.
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EmmaKTunskeen
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby yokehead » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:13 pm

Thanks Emma. I think you may be right on the cramp, that coupled with using the heavy Mantas for the first time in a while. And getting older!
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby Riverman » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:38 pm

Top report and great photos. Cadair is my favourite mountain.

I felt your pain on the descent. Similar thing happened to me coming down that same way. I reckon everything just tightens up massively on that ascent path which is pretty brutal.
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:43 am

Stunning photos of great winter conditions on Idris's Chair!
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:32 am

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Stunning photos of great winter conditions on Idris's Chair!


Absolutely.

Pity about the cramp. You might want to give magnesium tablets a try - this is the standard prophylactic treatment for cramp on the continent.

Have to say, I'm quite impressed with the wild camper camping in that weather - it looks pretty chilly on the pics!
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby yokehead » Fri Oct 05, 2018 9:15 am

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Stunning photos of great winter conditions on Idris's Chair!

Thank you sir, yes winter is the time to be out, my favourite! 8)

Alteknacker wrote:Pity about the cramp. You might want to give magnesium tablets a try - this is the standard prophylactic treatment for cramp on the continent.

Have to say, I'm quite impressed with the wild camper camping in that weather - it looks pretty chilly on the pics!

I had another bad bout of progress-stopping cramp on Y Lliwedd a few months later, in the latter stages of a circuit where I'd already been over Yr Aran and Snowdon, and have experienced incipient cramp on other, easier walks. So for the past few weeks I've been taking magnesium tablets, good to hear your supporting recommendation! It's been a while since I've been out so I need to do that to see if they've helped!

As for the wild camper, he certainly appeared to be a chilled character! :)
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Re: Cadair Idris, snow and cramp

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:25 am

Cadair Idris is a great hill and certainly looked the part in some great snowy pics :clap: I've never suffered anything quite like you described and I can see why it was so alarming. Your're probably right about it being dehydration related, my legs are always more sore following a walk if I don't drink enough.
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