Snowdonia – Quest for Snow

Attendees: Sarah R, Andy Dobson, Bruce W, Dave W, David PJ, Mark C, Dan S
Report by: MarkC

After a long drive in Friday night traffic, we were greeted at the Boulder Adventures Bunkhouse in Llanberis by a cheerful warden called Dave. There was even a “… welcomes Newbury Mountain Club” sign. The place sleeps 35, and has its own conference centre – the 7 of us had it to ourselves. “The Heights” at the end of the road was the only viable place to drink that evening.

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Saturday
8.30am start and Pen-y-pas car park was already almost full. The plan was the classic Snowdon Horeshoe. The day was the finest winter day in Snowdonia I have ever seen, and I’ve been coming to Snowdonia for a long time. Any descriptions here are inadequate – just look at the photos. You could see all of Snowdonia, mid-Wales, out to the peaks and Morecombe bay. All covered in an inversion layer; We saw a Glory (or Brocken Spectre) off the North Ridge of Grib Goch; An RAF helicopter did a fly past.
We made steady and safe progress along Grib Goch, which in my view is the best knife edge ridge in England and Wales. At Garnedd Ugain, we surveyed the awesome views and then split into 3 groups.

Mark headed on to complete the Horseshoe. Deep soft snow descending off the steep slopes of Snowdon (great ice axe practice), and then very hard ice in the shadow of Y Lliwedd (finally crampons). Also fixed up a 17-year old with a 2 inch laceration in his knee. It really needed stitches, but 2 packs of Steri-strips got a reasonable closure on it and stopped the bleeding. Sober reminder to think about what you carry in your first aid kit – all his party had them, but nothing in them that would adhere well enough.
The rest summited Snowdon: Sarah and Andy returning via the Llanberis path to the bunkhouse, and the others down the Pyg Track to retrieve the car, and pay homage to the UK’s greatest mountaineers at the Pen-y-Gwryrd Hotel (which was unfortunately closed).
Evening down the pub, joined by Andy’s daughter and her boyfriend, both of whom are students in nearby Bangor.

Sunday
I got up early and ran 10K out to Ben Blas and back. The way back was an awesome sun-rise view of Snowdon, which made me genuinely sad to leave. Briefly stopped to fly the drone near Snowdon. Pulling into the car park were 2 troop carriers and 20+ squaddies on exercise. They promised not to shoot it down.
The rest of the group did Moel Ellio and Pete’s Eats.

A fantastic weekend in Wales. As Bruce remarked, “I have probably seen the best ever views of Snowdon I will ever see. It will never be this good again”.

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