Sunday, 24 February 2013

Alpine day on the Eagach

Yesterday Dan and I headed up north to climb the classic Aonach Eagach ridge which has been on our wish list for some time now, and what a perfect day to do it! The weather got better and better and resulted by noon in a stellar day!
With the recent stable weather of the past week I knew the ridge would be in good condition and should go for us without any issues. The ridge from Am Bodach onwards still has a cover of snow, mostly continous, which is pretty much all neve now, the pinnicles and rock are bare of any snow and are dry, which left the ridge in the simplest of winter conditions.
We arrived at the parking spot and set of at 7.40am. There was already two cars in the parking area so we knew there was more than likely teams ahead of us. After slogging up the steep slopes of Am Bodach to its summit, we geared up and got the rope out. Having not done the route before we thought it was probably best to do so, so we decided we would approach the route alpine style and move together.
We down climbed the first awkward section descending Am Bodach and we were soon on with the route. Having managed to get passed a team who were moving verrryyy slow we arrived at the summit of Meall derg.
After Meall derg the route starts to get really interesting with lots of small sections of climbing/ down climbing and it was here we passed a second team who weren't moving to quickly either.

We then tackled the pinnacles which were good fun, we again moved together over them as we didn't need to pitch or abseil anything today.
More small sections of climbing and down climbing followed, the ridge here gets fairly narrow in places and is also quite exposed.

The remainder of the ridge is straight forward, a nice plod. We reached Stob coire Leith and then up the final rise to the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.
We opted to see the ridge out to its end and descend the col just before the Pap of Glencoe instead of making a shorter descent directly south of the summit before the Clachaig gully as some teams do.
By the end of the ridge we couldn't see any of the other slower parties behind us along the ridge, just a lone soloist who must have also passed them.
Speed is defiantly of the essence on this route to avoid a big day or possibly benightment, and also alpine experience goes a long way as teams were putting in pitches which is very slow going.
We did the route road to road in 5.50 hours, (this could be shortened by taking the shorter descent although it is advised to descend the col).
We then had the 6km walk back to retrieve the car, although once we reached the Clachaig Inn, Dan took one for the team and left me in the pub, (and a couple of pints) with the packs whilst he jogged back for the car!
Clachaig to the Aonach Eagach parking spot up the A82 jogging and drove back in 50 mins.......
Fair to say, I bought him his dinner!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Y Garn East Ridge

I made the most of another rare free day today, got up and out early and headed over to the hills to see what I could get done.
No snow (just yet!), means no winter climbing, damp icy rock means suicidal  rock climbing, and rolling solo meant nothing to spicy, and wanting a bit more excitement than a long plod, lead to a grade 1/2 scramble seeming the way forward.
A flick through the guide book left me with a few options, I decided on the East Ridge of Y Garn as a suitable objective. The route description sounded great, and I like it when I see the combination of a 2* route and 'often overlooked'!
The route also sounded 'soloable' for me and also escapable for  the majority, which again made a good objective. I decided to link this ridge with summiting Y Garn, and then continuing on the high level route over new ground for me and bagging Foel Goch, Mynydd Prefedd and  Carnedd y Filiast.
I had never really paid much attention to the northen, less fashionable end of the Glyderau, but how naive could I be!

I made an early start from Ogwen cottage, leaving the car at 7:45am, I soon was over the styal's and at the base of the East Ridge. The first section of the ridge has some good scrambling, but its quite broken with heather. I soon made progress and gained height and as I witnessed a glorious sunrise I was a good 1/3rd of the way up.

The difficulties of the route and the best climbing are contained in the upper half of the ridge. When the ridge loses its identity, you trend up and left to a large triangular shaped buttress. Here I guess you can make the route more difficult with a direct approach, I went with the guide book and approached from the left. A groove is climbed which suddenly leads to an airy crest, a few steps over a knife edge ridge and a massively exposed step around a corner and your onto the final climbing up some large blocks which looked very intimidating on first glance, fortunately, when as normal your get up to the rock, a line of weakness became apparent.

From here i was soon at the summit of Y Garn, a quick coffee whilst enjoying the clear views across Snowdonia and Anglesey, then back on my way heading up the ridge to Foel Goch. After summiting Foel Goch, I headed down the scree and back up to the summit of Mynydd Perfedd. A final plod brought me to the rocky summit of Carnedd y Filiast.


I descended north from Carnedd y Filiast, down what can only be described as a bog riddled nightmare, down to the old Ogwen road. An hour later after running out of sweets to chew on the road that seemed to go on forever, I returned back to Ogwen cottage and back to my car.
I really enjoyed the day, the route was good quality, the walking was pleasant and the solitude was amazing, (only passed 2 people on my descent all day).
From leaving the car to returning took me approx 4 1/2 hours, which makes a fantastic short day!