Snowdon by Crib Goch - second attempt at walk report.
by MarketBoy » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:15 pm
Hewitts included on this walk: Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl, Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa
Date walked: 27/11/20101 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Before leaving Pen y Pass I was talking to the warden in the Ranger Station, who said that it was -10 outside and there was a 40mph wind over the ridge itself. This I found easy to believe as it was mighty cold and the wind was starting to pick up way before we reached the bwlch where the PYG track splits. It wasn’t too bad though if you stayed in the lee of the crest and soon enough we’d started to gain good height up Crib Goch’s East Ridge, with Llyn Llydaw looking serene below us and Y Lliwedd looking majestic across the cwm, clad in ermine. I found that not having a proper grippy strap on my ice axe meant that when I needed both hands - about every 20 seconds - I had to keep putting the ice axe between my back and my rucsac to avoid it sliding off toward the Pass. Then, 5 seconds later once I’d pulled over a block or reached a snowy ledge I had to get it out again. This slowed me down significantly, and I must remedy the strap situation prior to my Scotland trip next month.
Part way up the East Ridge I noticed that the parties following us had thinned out somewhat, and by the time we reached half way they’d all had the same idea, but soon enough, after a few hairy moments on the snow clad slopes, we approached the top, and after meeting the North Ridge we turned left to view the classic sight of the length of Crib Goch with Crib Y Ddysgl and Snowdon beyond. We inched across the ridge and all too soon we found ourselves looking backwards to admire the quality of the line we’d just crossed, then looking forwards to see just the Pinnacles to come. These were surprisingly easily surmounted, although the second presented an airy moment when swinging out right to gain the top, the entire drop into the Pass yawning beneath you, almost drawing you into its depths. We stopped for a moment here to feed and water ourselves and adjust our clothing (it was starting to get quite warm now), and watched some ‘dry tooling’ climbers on the first Pinnacle.
Onwards and upwards – next stop Crib Y Ddysgl. Again, there was some straight forward scrambling, made interesting by the snow and ice. We met some climbers here who’d just completed the classic Fern Gulley on the north side of Crib Y Ddysgl and were heading for the north ridge back down into the pass. They reported conditions to be good in the gullies and we wondered if we’d see anyone in the Trinity Gullies on Snowdon’s NE Face – probably the first of the year if there were any. We plodded up this ridge and were rewarded with fabulously intricate snow pinnacles and towers created from the winds whipping around and over the ridges. The snow was loose and unconsolidated, and in places on the lee side was building into sizable wind slab – best to avoid that, I thought …
Then, after the false top, then the real one (which is which ?) we were heading down from the Crib Y Ddysgl summit towards the Snowdon tourist path and got our first views over toward the west, where it became quite apparent from the position of the sun that we weren’t going to have a hope in Hull of heading over Y Lliwedd as well today, and that we’d left it far too late to continue the Horseshoe to its logical conclusion. Still, we weren’t going to let that spoil our day, as it had so far been top notch, and was spoiled only by my habit of stopping every 500 yards to take another picture! My favourite pic of the day was taken around here, looking over the cwm from Crib Y Ddysgl to Snowdon’s Trinity Face. There was no-one in any of the gullies, and when we looked later from the final summit ridge we couldn’t see tracks or any evidence of passage. Evidently, it was indeed too soon, and our hopes of seeing the first of the year in Central Trinity were premature.
And then (and thankfully too as my legs were starting to hurt and my fingers had lost all feeling) there was the final straight section of rail track, peeping out from the snow drifts beside the ‘new’ Hafod Eyriri and about a dozen brave souls milling around the summit. A quick scoot up the steps for the obligatory pics and then a swift ‘leg it down to the café’ to imagine once again how useful it would be were they to open it in the winter ! Instead I tried to drink frozen Lucozade but found that I couldn’t, tried to eat a frozen mars bar but found that I couldn’t, and wished I was still a smoker so at least I could have had a roll up. But of course, I couldn’t.
We discussed once again the options for descent, and very quickly discounted Y Lliwedd due to time. As my fingers were frozen solid and really cold I was keen to scoot down the tourist track, as at least this was in what little sunshine was left, all the way down to the town, and would still have sun on it I reckoned to about the half way station. Gary however, was keen to take the Miners’ Track as his car was at Pen Y Pass. As I had about £3 on me and he had his wallet in his car, I agreed that the Miners’ Track was the best option as then he could buy me a few beers in the Vaynol Arms. So the Miners’ Track it was (I’m so easily swayed by beer !).
We made excellent progress on the descent, semi glissading and semi bum-sliding down some of the steeper sections and virtually running down others. We were uber-careful on the zigzags, as the compressed snow was the most treacherous thing of our entire day, and the running must have gotten my circulation going, as although we were in total shade of the weak sun my hands actually stopped hurting and started to warm up a bit (and no hot-aches … whoo-hoo !). As we approached the waters of Llyn Glaslyn we were startled to hear screams coming off the Trinity Face. We turned quickly, only to see the very obvious source of the screams – two guys on a tandem paraglider who’d launched themselves off the summit and were currently swirling and corkscrewing their way down the length of the NE face. It seemed quite apparent from the language being used that the seemingly experienced pilot’s rather loud passenger had not done this before and was getting rather excited by it all.
A very pleasant walk off around Llyn Llydaw and over the causeway soon led us to a point where we could see Foel Goch and Glyder Fach, where we noted with interest about a dozen head torches trying to get down from the Glyders. By now I had only one thought on my mind, and very soon we’d reached the car, changed our boots and we let the motor take us, guide-dog like, to the car park behind the Vaynol Arms. Inside we found the traditional welcome awaiting – roaring log fires, great food, excellent beer and some hard as nails gnarly ice climbers (Dai Lampard, take a bow). Gary still had to drive into Llanberis when we’d finished, so he could only have a shandy (!) but I didn’t let that stop me spending the money in his wallet on beer after beer after beer for me.
Well, he did make me walk down the Miners’ Track in the shade, didn’t he … I think it’s only fair !
by Merry-walker » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:21 pm
That ridge looked a bit knee-trembly
by colgregg » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:52 pm
by mountainstar » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:51 am
I was up there last winter in similar conditions, but my future trips from Penypass will be somewhat limited with the excessive car park charges (£6 last time), especially as I'm usually on my own.
by mountainstar » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:18 pm
threya wrote:Hi Mountainstar - the bus up to the pass is cheap and convenient - pretty regular too
Not when I usually set off...usually around 7am in winter
by Phil the Hill » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:56 pm
When we did the Horseshoe after Xmas a few years back we managed to traverse Crib Goch without needing to don crampons, but saw that the helicopter was rescuing people from the zig zags on the Miners' Track, which someone at the summit told us were really icy. We reckoned we'd made the safe route choice that day by choosing Crib Goch.
by mountainstar » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:42 pm
by malky_c » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:55 pm
I've never done the horseshoe in winter conditions, despite having been round it many times. In fact I didn't really do much winter walking at all before I moved to Scotland. Looks like a good day out though!
by MarketBoy » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:35 pm
The car park ticket was a tenner for the whole day and I'd agree with the 7am start idea. It just didn't happen this day !! The Sherpa buses are excellent for getting you from Llanberis up the pass but they only run one about 09:00 and then the next is about 12:00 - far too infrequesnt in the winter.
This would have been about the dozenth time I've been on the top of Snowdon, and the first time that I got a full, clear view !
As for the PYG track, it wasn't too bad if I'm honest, but we both had quality rigid boots on, so although we both carried crampons in the sacs, we didn't once need to resort to them. Looks like those in the picture would have been glad to get to the Vaynol too ...
by houdi » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:01 pm