Last weekend I was off to Wales for a weekend of outdoor adventures and birthday shenanigans (my climbing mate Ben had invited a couple of people out to his house in Wales for his birthday). Since it had snowed a fair bit in the area and temperatures had dropped during the week, we decided to once again pack up our winter climbing gear and try and get a route in on the Saturday.
We woke up to a crisp morning and a beautiful sunrise. After a short drive we were walking in towards Cadair Idris. As conditions weren’t ideal and we were taking a winter climbing novice, we opted for an easy but fun scramble called Cyfrwy Arete (II). The route starts just above Llyn y Gadair (a small lake) up a ridge on the northern slopes of Cadair Idris.
Unfortunately the weather had somewhat deteriorated. It had started to snow and visibility wasn’t great. The ridge offered many route options at the bottom and we had some problems finding the actual route. We probably ended up climbing too far east at the bottom and joined the route a bit further up.
Conditions underfoot on the bottom half of the route were pretty odd. Everything had been covered in a surprising amount of snow, but the ground and rubble wasn’t fully frozen. Tim, Tom and I were climbing in a three, simul climbing the entire route. Ben and Hugh (who was new to winter climbing) were climbing together and I think pitched some of the route. All in all it was a very enjoyable route and a good choice given the conditions (the guide book even says it’s a joy no matter the conditions).
Towards the top the scrambling was really good fun, negotiating broken terrain with lots of rock noses and fins sticking out of the ridge. I ended up stowing my axe away as the rock spikes made for easy but interesting climbing and provided ample holds, even in gloves.
By the time we got to the top of the route visibility had dropped so much that we decided not to go all the way to the summit and instead dropped back down towards the west. Following a bearing to a corner in a couple of fences running down the mountain, we found a quick and easy way back to the car. It was definitely warmer now than it had been in the morning and it was raining, not snowing, on the lower slopes of the mountain.
Back at the house it was time for a huge and delicious roast dinner and birthday shenanigans. The ensuing party turned out to be pretty lively considering that there were only eight of us in a house in the middle of nowhere. The atmosphere was greatly enhanced by the set of disco lights Will brought along. Late night dancing was only interrupted for a quick skinny dipping session in the stream by the house. What a day!