Saturday, 3 November 2012

North Wales Instructing

After a good weekend climbing down at Bwlch Y Moch and watching Skyfall, I drove to Capel Curig Training camp for another week of instructing on a Summer Mountain Foundation course with CCAT. As with last week at Halton, I arrived, unpacked, met the guys then went to bed.

The next morning (Monday) we had a quick introduction and then drove down the road to the car park where I had spent the weekend. We did a day of navigation practice around the capel curig area to see the standard of navigation that the students were at. this course consisted of 4 cadet adult instructors and 2 cadets. Their navigation was much better than the previous courses and so the day went very smoothly.

Moel Sia Bod and Snowdon in background

Area we did Navigation
The following day, we headed over to Llyn Ogwen. We parked up and headed up towards Llyn Idwal. This day was cold and windy with low cloud, down to about 500m. The group navigated us towards the Devils Kitchen, and then onto the Glyder plateau. from here on, the cloud had engulfed us, and the rain had started to come down heavier. In places there were patches of snow from previously in the month. When we were descending Glyder Fach, a man approached us asking how to get back down to the Ogwen valley where he had come from. Just to point out here that we had previously seen this man descending down TOWARDS Pen Y Pass! So we helped him out and we were both on our way. Still at this point, sheilded from the outside world within the thickness of the cloud. We continued to follow the ridge down back towards Capel Curig, where a mini bus was waiting for us to go back to camp.

The Devils Kitchen

Idwal Slabs

Llyn Idwal
Snow on the Glyders

Tryfan East face
Wednesday was a complete washout! Our intended plan was to do Moel Sia Bod from a layby in Capel Curig. We left the minibus, geared up from head to toe in Waterproofs. The more exposed we got going up the mountain, the windier it got. By the time we had reached the Llyn before the steep climb up to the summit, the wind was blowing at 60mph! We made the decision to turn around and forget the summit. We found some shelter in the old quarry buildings and got out the group shelter for some lunch and a discussion into why we made this decision and other forms of mountain shelters. When re-reading the MWIS weather report that evening, it mentioned temperatures of -13C on the summit with wind chill! Good call. That evening, we collected stores, went shopping for food, and packed our kit ready for the expedition on Thursday.

Now, I'm not going to lie, I had no idea where we parked up and started our expedition. All i know is that it was at the other end of the Carneddau to Llyn Ogwen. We set off from a dead end car park in the middle of no where and headed up to 'Drum (760m)', 'Foel Fras (942m)' and 'Garnedd uchaf (926m)'. This day was bitterly cold and windy. As we ascended higher, we started to notice rime was forming on the ground and the fence posts. The further up we walked, the thicker it got, until at 900m when everything turned white with rime. 

The students navigated us to 'Foel Grach (976m)' where we found a bothy and took shelter from the wind and cold to talk more about bothies. As the afternoon drew towards evening, we dropped down out of the wind to ' Ffrynnon Llynffanr' where we wild camped. We discovered when we reached the Llyn a crashed aircraft from the 1950s. The evening got colder and the wind picked up. As we all settled into our tents, we knew that we were in for a long night. 

I woke many times during the night. The wind was fierce, the snow heavy. When 0530 came, I woke again, this time I decided to get up. The first feeling I encountered when getting out of my sleeping bag was how cold and breezy it was inside the tent. Upon unzipping the inner, I found the wind had opened the outer door, exposing the loose items within the porch to the mountains outside. And to this day, they still remain scattered around the Carneddau mountainside. Others had had this problem too. We packed up the camp site, and headed off up towards 'Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m)'

Sunrise from our camp site

Our Campsite by the lake
 We headed up over Carnedd Llewelyn, covered in snow, knee deep in the drifts. The wind was fresh and the temperature still very cold. I couldn't help but scan the cliffs in the distance for possible new winter routes in the area. Dropping down off the edge to the top of a spur to observe the gullies, buttresses and ridges. Lots of possibilities! We continued along Bwlch Cyfryrw - Drum to Cefn Ysgolion Duon and finally descended down to ffrynon Lloer and back to the minibus along the road in the Ogwen valley.

So this concludes my week of climbing and instructing in the Snowdonia national park, and draws to a close, my 2 weeks spent in the mountains. I now know that this is what I want to do. The mountains my home, my office. I shall return soon, now that the hills are hibernating under a blanket of snow, the axes and crampons shall be making an encore for the season to come. Bring on the winter!

Carnedd Llewelyn

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