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Bristling With Excitement

Bristling With Excitement


Postby BobMcBob » Tue May 31, 2016 8:40 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr, Tryfan, Y Garn (Glyders)

Date walked: 29/05/2016

Time taken: 8

Distance: 12 km

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Living in south-east England and loving mountains has its drawbacks. Such as there being no mountains. So this bank holiday I made a very last minute decision to pack the campervan and head off to the nearest ones, those being about 4 hours away in Snowdonia. With it being a bank holiday, and Snowdonia being the only mountain area with a decent weather forecast, I set off at 4am on Sunday morning in hope of finding the last available parking place.

Although I have recently fallen deeply in love with Scotland, and especially Wester Ross, the love I have for Snowdonia is like love for a family member. I've been going there since I was old enough to walk and the place names are as familiar to me as any of my best friends. And there's one mountain I always head for if I've only got time to climb one mountain.

Tryfan is like a friend. It's where I did my first proper solo scramble (the north ridge when the mates I'd gone with bottled out), and it's where I first went back to after several years "off" mountains. I actually forget how many times I've climbed it - somewhere between 5 and 8 but all my photos from 20 years ago are jumbled up and my mate is adamant we climbed it twice in the rain, neither of which times I have any recollection of :D

So, arriving at "The Ogwen Layby" (any campervan owner will know where I mean :D ) at about 8am and indeed grabbing the last available parking place, I made a brew, made sandwiches, contemplated the beautiful weather and set off. At the start of this year I hurt my back and on an April visit to Scotland I felt I was struggling on the hills, so I made the momentous decision to leave the camera behind to save weight. So all the photos in this report are taken on my crappy old iPhone 4. That said, while I do usually try to do photography seriously, if there's anywhere I'm going to go and climb just for fun it's going to be Tryfan.

There isn't a lot you can say about the route up Tryfan's north ridge that hasn't already been said. Over the last 25 years what I've noticed is that the path becomes more distinct every time I do it. The first few times I climbed it I'm sure I didn't take the same route twice. Indeed it was only a few years back that I first saw the famous "cannon stone". And I'd still like to find the route I took once that I call the "Way too far over to the left route" that I'm pretty sure deserves a Grade 2, rather than the Grade 1 of the normal route. I used the "very difficult start up a crack" entry route that I like - there's a faint path leading up to this and you need to be quite tall to do it, there's pile of stones at the bottom of it now where successive groups of people have sought aid. The first time I did this I had to give a 10-year old a leg-up as his dad had already gone up it and couldn't get back down. Following that I had no excuse but to do it myself :D

IMG_0937.jpg
Llyn Ogwen from where the scrambling starts

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One of the many people I shared the route with, gesturing at her tent down in the valley below

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The route upwards

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Looking back down from the same point

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Nearly at the summit


All that said, it's only a Grade 1 scramble, but there are so many possible variations - even if you stick close to the path - and that is why I love it. No matter what kind of mood I'm in I know I can make it as challenging as I like while never being too taxing. It's a splendid playground. With it being bank holiday I was of course joined by a horde of like-mided individuals and was forced to queue on the best bits, but that's all part of the fun too.

I opted out of the leap between Adam and Eve on the summit. I'd done it before - on that occasion there was a man on top of Eve with an ironing board when I arrived, so I felt I just had to :D Today there was a queue and I was content to watch and enjoy the various degrees of terror and showing-off being exhibited by the jumpers :)

IMG_0956.jpg
Back at the summit from the north summit


What's better than Tryfan North Ridge? Bristly Ridge, that's what.There are two routes from Tryfan up onto Glyder Fach. One follows a "path" up scree to the left of Bristly Ridge. The other goes direct up Bristly Ridge. Having done both, I fail to understand why anyone would opt for the "path" :D Seriously, even if you don't like exposure there are better routes up the Glyders than that. And if you even like scrambling just a bit, you HAVE to do Bristly Ridge! It's brilliant :)

IMG_0966.jpg
Back at Tryfan from the base of Bristly Ridge

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Llyn Bochlywd and Nant Ffrancon from the base of Bristly Ridge


It starts up a chimney, which is the hardest bit. If I was offering advice on this route I'd definitely say to keep a safe distance between you and anyone in front on this bit. The top of the chimney I remember as a dangerous but amazing climb out through a hole in the chimney roof, but there's been a rockfall recently and the roof has collapsed. The last 20 feet of the direct climb are now horribly slippery with no decent holds. Having made it up there I'd seriously advise to look for a route up to the right of the obviously slippery bit, or to go up the left-hand side of the chimney from about 20 feet lower down - a guy ahead of me did this and when I got to the top I wished I'd followed him. It was not dreadfully bad, but going direct up the back of the chimney involved making use of some loose holds that were only any good when pushed on in particular ways. I wouldn't expect them to still be there in a year or so.

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Looking up the chimney

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Dangling the legs (trad.)


Still, it's Bristly Ridge, it just gets better :D The exposure is exhilarating, there are a couple of big notches to downclimb, but all the scrambling is straightforward (there was a group I passed one of whom was on his first day on a mountain. Met them again on the summit, the beaming smile on his face said it all) - and then before you know it you're on Glyder Fach and bouncing around on the cantilever stone :)

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The cantilever stone

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From the top of Glyder Fach towards Glyder Fawr with Snowdon behind

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Glyder Fach "summit" - just a pile of rocks


I've been on the top of the Glyders more times than I've climbed Tryfan and they still make me think of the set of an episode of the original Star Trek :) Castell Y Gwynt was where I chose to have lunch, because it's my favourite bit.

IMG_1005.jpg
Castell Y Gwynt


Then I followed the hordes on up to Glyder Fawr which despite only being 8 meters higher feels like yet another alien world - this one is more Tolkienesque. I confess to having a vivid imagination that, since I was 12, casts the various regions of Snowdonia as places on a map of Middle Earth, and Glyder Fawr is the very heart of Mordor - but then I've been there in a hailstorm with 10 feet of visibility :D Today it looked more like a place where tiny elves might emerge from castles to sell you ice cream. On the other hand, I may need help :D

IMG_1025.jpg
Glyder Fawr

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From Glyder Fawr summit, back towards Glyder Fach


I'd been planning on returning from here back down Y Gribin to spend a little time by Llyn Bochlywd with its fantastic view of Tryfan, but the day was so good, and I've never climbed Y Garn, so in the end after a second of thought I went that way.

IMG_1040.jpg
Towards Y Garn


The descent down from Glyder Fawr was miles better than I remember it being. The scree has been compacted so there's now something resembling an actual path. I stopped for a while by the tiny lake before plodding easily up to Y Garn, taking in the amazing view back across the Glyders to Tryfan.

IMG_1057-Pano.jpg
Tryfan and The Glyders from Y Garn


Then descending on the obvious path on the far side of its main cwm - a really good, well made path from about halfway down - which brought me out by Llyn Idwal. Normally I like to spend a lot of time here but it was bank holiday and it was heaving like the beach at Benidorm so I carried on back to the van and got the kettle on.

I'd had a great day. My favourite route up and a new summit on the way down. Initially I was wary of not taking the "proper" camera - I'm really trying to do photography properly and probably putting too much pressure on myself - but I still had nearly 150 (bad) photos and it reminded me that I do this because it's bloody good fun. Sometimes you need to return to your roots to remember what got you started in the first place.
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby JayneG » Tue May 31, 2016 10:43 pm

Great report - I loved reading it. :D
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby Alteknacker » Tue May 31, 2016 10:55 pm

Yep, this is a route I also never tire of. And living less than 2 hours away, I must have been up on Tryfan and the Glyders 30 or 40 times.

BTW, there are some cracking scrambles on the North West faces of Tryfan and the Glyders too - Milestone Buttress, Shark Ridge, etc. Well worth taking a look at (described in Steve Ashton's "Suicide in Snowdonia").

I've become a bit obsessed with the Highlands over the last 3 or 4 years, but I'm invariably pleasantly surprised when I go back to Snowdonia.
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby Petr Dakota » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:33 pm

Wow ! I did Tryfan and Glyders the same day, almost met you...missed by @ 1 hour probably.
My family short break in Wales - managed one day for Tryfan & Glyders ( sunday 29.5. ) and Snowdon Horseshoe via Crib Goch on monday 30.5. Photo - report soon :D
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby BobMcBob » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:21 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Yep, this is a route I also never tire of. And living less than 2 hours away, I must have been up on Tryfan and the Glyders 30 or 40 times.

BTW, there are some cracking scrambles on the North West faces of Tryfan and the Glyders too - Milestone Buttress, Shark Ridge, etc. Well worth taking a look at (described in Steve Ashton's "Suicide in Snowdonia").

I've become a bit obsessed with the Highlands over the last 3 or 4 years, but I'm invariably pleasantly surprised when I go back to Snowdonia.


I think I need to move closer.... :) I've got the Cicerone 'Scrambles in Snowdonia' book so perhaps I ought to start reading it :)

I had got myself into an 'only Scotland will do' frame of mind so yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by this trip too.

Petr Dakota wrote:Wow ! I did Tryfan and Glyders the same day, almost met you...missed by @ 1 hour probably.
My family short break in Wales - managed one day for Tryfan & Glyders ( sunday 29.5. ) and Snowdon Horseshoe via Crib Goch on monday 30.5. Photo - report soon :D


One day we will do the same walk at the same time.... and still not realise it :D :D
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby simon-b » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:01 pm

Looks a pretty superb place, Bob.
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Re: Bristling With Excitement

Postby ChrisW » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:11 am

It's easy to see why you would return here again and again Bob, what a wonderful wee scramble, captured beautifully with the phone too :clap:
Today it looked more like a place where tiny elves might emerge from castles to sell you ice cream. On the other hand, I may need help

This happens to me all the time but I didn't want to say anything for fear of ridicule....they take any currency too :wink:
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