North Wales Training

Craggers’ North Wales training trip 27th. June to 4th. July 2006 Staggering under the combined weight of two rucksacks, each crammed not only with climbing and camping kit but also a comprehensive wardrobe selected to cope with summer in Snowdonia; namely the full panoply of sub arctic insulation and enough Gore Tex to fend off the most severe downpour, our little band made its way to Gwern gof Uchaf campsite, our usual North Wales base. Much to our surprise and delight what we needed was shorts, sunscreen and (on the downside) midge nets and insect repellent. The brief was a wide one; to fulfill the training needs of Mountain Leader (ML) candidates, Single Pitch Award (SPA) trainees, a prospective Mountaineering  Instructor Award (MIA) and a novice multi pitch climber. And we actually succeeded to a great extent. Day 1    A long day’s journey and setting up camp.  Day 2   An early start to the day and a full morning with the ML trainees undergoing a mock assessment where they had to take turns leading micro navigation legs set by a sadistic mock assessor. The route led from the campsite, via varied terrain; comprising bog, steep ground, complicated ground and river crossings, to the top of the Glyders; normally a place of mystery, magic and murk when it is wreathed in mist, frosted with ice and looking like Superman’s fortress of solitude, wearing a mantle of snow or hunched under a lowering sky its secrets concealed by an impenetrable fog. Today in the sunshine its beauty was of a more conventional type. The more exciting return featured down climbing Bristly Ridge; an exciting grade 1 scramble. A good first day.  Day 3   Was a full on mountaineering day. Intending to tackle one of the most popular mountain routes in Wales it was imperative that we got an early start. Just as well, as we were in for an exhausting twelve hours on the hill, with some of us having our lunch at dinnertime, when we got back to camp. The route was Grooved Arête, a classic Hard V. Diff, first climbed in 1911, which takes in the full height of the East Face of Tryfan. A long route anyway, it was made even longer by climbing as a four with the MIA candidate leading all the eight pitches. The routes reputation was entirely justified. And despite the extremely polished holds on this venerable route we were all impressed by its quality and awed by the exposed nature of some of the climbing, culminating in the crux pitch Knights Move Slab where one makes a series of delicate chess board moves on small holds across a smooth slab with space tugging at your feet and the rocky ground 810ft. below.  Day 4   The poor weather forecast made our decision to only have half a day climbing more acceptable. We spent the morning on the popular training ground of Tryfan Bach, with two of our members getting to grips with leading multi pitch climbing and another two acting as their seconds. The afternoon was spent food shopping, window shopping and scoffing a huge breakfast at Pete’s Eats.  Day 5   We spenta very hot day on the Milestone Buttress with the two leaders from the previous day consolidating on their leading experience gobbling up the best routes there such as Rowan Route, Pulpit Route, Ivy Chimney and the three star beauty Direct Route.  Day 6   The day was spent first at Milestone Buttress and then on Clogwyn Boclwyd doing gear placements, advanced ropework and rescue techniques.  Day 7  A long day on the Idwal Slabs ticking off the classics. We started off with the multi pitch slab route Hope, a fantastic 450ft., V Diff. We followed on up Holly Tree Wall with Lazarus a great little (140ft.) two pitch Severe. This was topped off on the continuation wall with a great V. Diff; The Arete, done confidently by Spanna. Which only left the nerve wracking scramble back down. Day 8    And disappointingly, as we were leaving, the day dawned beautifully. We were sad to leave after such a lovely and, in training terms, very successful week. Who would have thought it, a week of sun in Snowdonia.