The Vault Regulars

Monday, March 7, 2011

Snowdon and Moel Cynghorion (ps added on 10/3/2011)

We stayed at Caeathro in a lovely large self catering barn this weekend. There were 12 of us and included a seven month old trainee climber.
Mark and Owen.
The forecast for Saturday was mainly sun with some cloud.
A number within the group had not done Snowdon and some who had summited in the past, still hadn't seen the view from it.
So it was decided, Snowdon it was to be. At 1,085 metres (3,560 ft). The highest summit in England and Wales.
Our route started at the car park at Tan y Llyn and then along the Rhyd Dhu path, Llechog and along Bwlch Main to the Summit.
The descent was along the Clogwn ridge to the Bwlch Cwm Brwynog where the decision was taken individually whether to carry on up Moel Cynghorion or to carry on down the Snowdon Ranger Path to the car park opposite the YHA.
This route was chosen as it was most likely the quietest route to the top. Snowdon is an increadably busy mountain whatever the weather.
Our route. 12.5km and 1,338 metres of ascent.
We were going to leave a car at the Snowdon Ranger car park so that we didn't have to return to the start point.
Driving up the valley towards Tan y Llyn we were disappointed to see that Snowdon was in cloud and the day was quite grey and misty.
Not what the forecast said. Did we really believe that! Well, yes we were very hopeful. The day previously was also cloudy but by early afternoon the tops all cleared so we thought this may be the case today.
 We set off, as you do, dressed for a cold day and before long you stop and get rid of the fleeces and outer layer. The path up to Llechog is a good one, and rises steadily although steep in a few places.
The Summit of Snowdon in the mist up ahead.
Stopping occasionally to catch ones breath gives the opportunity to look back and across the valley. Llyn Cwellen took on differing colours each minute as the clouds broke or covered it. The magnificent hump of Mynydd Mawr beyond the Llyn and Y Garn to the left, stood out and annoyingly, mist free.
To the west the undulating trio of Foel Goch, Foel Gron and Moel Eilio were also clear.
Foel Goch, Foel Gron and Moel Eilio in the background.
Mynydd Mawr beyond the Llyn and Y Garn to the left.
 As we made progress, the mist started to swirl round us taking away any views we had. The damp, the wind and the cold resulted in the outer layers being put back on.
Sheila and Richard on a map reading course.
The North facing edge of Llechog with Gillie the 4 legged pace setter.
Llechog and the small Llyn Nadroedd
As we approach Bwlch Main, it was grey and permanently opaque. Walkers coming from the opposite direction gave us the Hikers greeting "Not far to go now" and "It's busy up there”.
On Bwlch Main
  Disappointed with the lack of views for all the effort, we arrived at the New Cafe. Not Open! They have made a lovely job of the new building, shame it wasn’t serving.
 We found a place against the wall  and out of the bitter wind for a lunch stop.
The summit cafe wall
 The summit was certainly busy and that's without the trains running from Llanberis. We stayed at the top only long enough to eat lunch and take the pictures which remind us of being at the summit on this day.
Snowdon Summit
 Following the rail track NNW we made progress downward avoiding as best as possible the hordes on there way up from Llanberis and the runners, mountain bikers, mobility scooters, stilt walkers, jugglers etc. Making sure that we didn't miss the turn off left down the Clogwyn ridge.
 As we descended we began to walk out of the mist and it revealed the beautiful hidden valley of Cwm Brwynog and it's small glacial Llyn, and also the route of the next ascent to Moel Cynghorion.
On the way down Clogwyn.
 On our way down the quite badly eroded section, 2 mountain bikers came haring past us. Unfortunately the track is deeply scarred and in one section was a group of 5 walkers who were unaware of the fast approaching bikers. The bikers were in the deep ruts and the walkers couldn’t get out fast enough. The side walls being about 3-4 ft high. Four of them managed to avoid the bikes but one girl was stuck on a sharp bend, she couldn’t do anything but close her eyes. The bike missed her by the smallest margin, inches only. It was so close to a bad accident. Bikes are allowed on this track, so no problems there but a bit of common sense wouldn’t go amiss from the riders or some warning device would be better.
  Once the Bwlch was reached, 5 decided to carry on up Moel Cynghorion whilst the others opted to continue down the Snowdon Ranger track.
Moel Cynghorion
 The visibility was good and we could see the top. The track is steep but seemed even steeper now that the legs were tiring. Once the top is attained, it is a nice easy walk WSW and then South to rejoin the Steep Snowdon Ranger track and back to the car.
From the top the view is good across to Llyn Padarn and Llanberis, although today it was a misty one.
The view onward 
The view back
Sun rays on Y Garn
Just before hitting the road we came upon these gravel eating sheep. Strange.
Back at the car park we were surprised to find it empty and it's such a shame the YHA wasn't a pub. I could have just gone a nice pint.
It would be made up for later and for those who still havn’t seen the view from the top, another trip will have to be arranged.

Pete’s Eats here we come! Get the chip pan on.
Some more photo’s can be seen here.

Some gear i was trying out today was the Satmap Active 10 GPS, M&S Active undies and a pair of Berghaus Pro Primal Mid Boots.
The Satmap GPS is fantastic kit and it gets 7 (was 10) out of 10.
Comes with mapping for the whole of Britain at 1:50,000 scale and more cards are available at 1:25,000. Very easy to use.
ps (10/3/2011) The unit is driven by a Li-Polymer battery pack or 3 AA Energiser batteries. I both cases when you come to change over one to the other, a cradle has to be removed and a tiny circuit board plug removed. Getting the cradle out is not easy until you have done it a few times but getting the plug out is a real pain as it is tiny and in a poor location to get any grip on it.
They have put this plug on to make the battery pack unique to themselves i am sure. And create a price hike from what you could otherwise buy the battery for. Satmap are charging an incredible £31!
If you have to do this operation in bad weather on a hillside as is a possibility, then you will be cursing Satmap.

When you buy the unit you get a year subscription to there own Route Planner software. I find this software so frustrating. You can lose your route at the click of a mouse so easily. Why they don’t put warnings like other manufactures i am at a loss. Something along the lines of “are you sure you want to delete this” wouldn’t go amiss. These software designers seem to have forgot that not everybody is a wizz kid.
Also when you click a waypoint number or name in the LH column or any other option to be honest. It generates a new track on the map all by itself which you then have to delete. Another nuisance. For these problems i am reducing my 10 score to 7.

The M&S undies get good rather than fantastic and i give them 7 out of 10. I found them very comfy but didn’t wick the sweat away efficiently and therefore became cold as the temperature dropped towards the summit. Although they do shed it as the temperature warms up again.

The Berghaus boots which i have used once before but only on a flat walk proved to be excellent and i give them 8 out of 10. I don’t give 10 because i didn’t like the laces and the cushioning could be better. No complaints as to the weight, grip or comfort.
I havn’t done an in depth review of this kit because there is already plenty on the internet to read about them. But if there are any questions just drop me a comment.


selfpowered said...

great photos alan, 'the view onwards' is fantastic - lovely colours this time of year, enjoyed this one alot, thanks.

AlanR said...

Hi David,
Very kind comments, much appreciated. With the cloud cover the light was quite poor for decent pics, so i was pleased with how they turned out. I only used a small sony cybershot that is not ideal for landscapes but it did the job pretty well.
Shame there were no views from the top.

-maria- said...

A nice set of pictures! What a pity it was so misty you could not see much from the top. But on the other hand, this kind of weather has its own magic.

AlanR said...

Thanks Maria,
The pictures came out better than i had thought they would. I know the cloud and light changes can be magical as the picture with the sun rays show. But when you have walked for 3 hrs you really want a view for the effort.
BTW, i have added a post script today to the paragraph on the Satmap GPS.

Unknown said...

So the M&S don't beat the X-Bionics then?

Every time I go to Wales lately, the mist obscures the views. Argh!

AlanR said...

hi Maz,
No the M & S don’t win this one but at the price they are they are worth getting for summer walks.

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