It is fair to say that it was going to be a busy weekend; a bank holiday in Snowdonia was always going to be busy! Even though we would not be able to take advantage of the whole bank holiday weekend, we would have to squeeze in as much into the two days we had!
Unfortunately I was working on the Friday, and after my shift I cycled home and pretty much jumped off the bike and into the van. Luckily Jess had packed everything, so it was a case of just hitting the road. Still it was over 6 hours before we pulled into a dark mountain range and parked up at the foot of Tryfans North Ridge.
Even though we were late getting to sleep, an early morning was essential to get on our planned route, Grooved Arete. Ha, good one, even with an early start there was still a queue of four teams waiting to climb, so we passed and made our way to a route called Gashed Crag (VD). The title of the climb was not inspiring in the slightest, and the first scrambly pitch was not the best introduction. The second pitch was, in my opinion the reason for the aptly named climb, as there was a chimney pitch that can only be described as Gash! It was horrific, a polished mess, and I was glad I was seconding, rather than leading!
The next pitch was a great series of mini climbs, each leading to a rest station, and finally the sweetest belay chair. The final pitch was where it was at though, climbing your way up a crack to a roof, and then stepping out from under to traverse the arête proper. Going from sheltered to exposed in one move was really airy for a trad route. The lack of foot holds initially caught me off guard, and one tragic attempt at being flexible left me huffing and puffing as I frantically tried to stretch up to gain a good foot hold, once this was successfully overcome, it was pockets all the way to the south summit of Tryfan.
We sat and had a private lunch, overseeing the hustle and bustle of the main summit before heading down the south scramble and took the long path down to Idwal Cottage. It’s fair to say that when we got to the van, it was snooze time.
We later met up with the Sussex Climbing Club in Llanberis, which was great for me, as I have been a member, but have yet to actually meet any of the members. It was good to put some names to faces, and actually meet a nice group of people. That night we parked in the same spot, and decided to meet with the club at Idwal cottage in the morning.
We had decided the night before to climb on Idwal Slabs. I have to admit that I was not enthused to climb here as I had experienced the mass of polish found there previously. Although apart from the first pitch of Charity (HVD), the rest of the climb was a fun experience. In itself it was relatively easy, but still a good route, and once at the top I felt that the day had more to offer. So we pushed on up continuation wall.
The classic Lazarus was busy, so we tried one of the other routes, which turned out to be a direct line of Piton Blade, called ‘(Don’t use a) Piton Blade (HVS)’. Jess led, and this time pulled off a belter of a lead. Sometimes you follow the leader, and really appreciate how hard the pitch was, and also glad that you were not at the sharp end of the rope. Top lead!
The final pitch was a literal staircase, and should have been pulled off without any worries. That is unless you place a nut and then on the pull as hard as you can to wedge it in, then it has accidently unclipped the nut from the karabiner (I don’t know how??), and nearly throw yourself off the route. I literally did this and only just caught myself at the last second. At the top I felt that we had had a good day, and my initial skepticism was unmerited, and the complete wall was a fantastic way to spend another day in the mountains.
I was so tired on the descent; a week of cycling to and from work, a long drive and a second full day of climbing had turned my legs into solid blocks! I couldn’t wait for the immediate drive home facing me…
However, I was so glad that I had made the effort to get up to the mountains for a couple of days, as it was great fun and broke up the routine of normal life. I love spending anytime in our van, it still feels like home, and looking out of the door at an amazing sunset after a cracking day in the mountains is priceless! I will be tired when I’m up for work at 5am, but I will know it was worth it!