In the February half term eleven Craggers set off in a hired minibus for North Wales. We were staying in a bunkhouse (no chance of the tent blowing away in the middle of the night) near Plas-y-Brenin called Gwern Gof Uchaf. And we were most relieved to arrive there about seven hours later via several outdoor equipment shops, some beautiful scenery and a lost-the-new-coat-already panic (false alarm!). So our weary crew of six kids and five adults unpacked and settled in for the night, debating whether the climate would permit us to climb the north ridge of the resident Tryfan tomorrow in training for Snowdon.
The morning was indecisive so we settled for a hike up the nearest peak of the Carneddae mountain range – a mere ten minute walk down the road. A lovely spot with a tumbling stream and lots of easy clambering, but the mellow mood was not to last. Half way up to the first plateau where a beautiful lake awaited us, the rain set in. Seven of us made it to the lake, but on consensus we decided to call it quits and got so wet on the way back we spent the next 24 hours rotating socks in the drying room. A drive into Plas-y-Brenin later gave us an eyeful of the weather we’d been in – flooded roads and still driving rain. What would we do for the next two days?
As luck would have it we spent the next day, dry, walking and climbing around Tryfan behind the bunkhouse and practising with ropes on its baby brother Tryfan Bach. A very eventful day this turned out to be with the kids – while some of us were halfway up Tryfan Bach, two snuck up the back of the rock and got a lift down again from a helpful fellow climber! The littlest missed his Dad and tried to go up solo, and of the two who climbed to the top like spiders, one froze with fear at the thought of abseiling back down – while his coach froze for real!
Our last day and a real mission – Snowdon. I’ve not been up any bit of a mountain since a Lake District holiday as a tiny child so I couldn’t imagine what was in store. We walked together to a junction – up Crib Goch, a stony ridge, or along the Pyg Track, a windy path around a beautiful lake. We separated here with the intention of a rendezvous at the top … hmm. The Pyg track team got a long way towards the top until the littlest missed his Dad again and a choice was made between abandoning the peak or a child! As for the rendezvous, us four up the ridge took about five hours to get to the peak and our hi-tech walkie-talkies informed us that we would be met in Llanberis, new rendezvous: Pete’s Eats. Coming down a very civilised path took about two hours and stretched my endurance to the limit (my ‘Achilles heels’ turned out to be tired feet and tired child – not necessarily in that order!) Well, we really did eat when we got there, especially me who had foolishly offered to cook dinner that day.
In conclusion, much fresh air, walking and red wine was had by all, and my son and I had an exhilarating experience together up our first mountain. Tips to carry forward would probably include: thicker socks; more generous time allowances for climbing mountains; keeping your cuffs inside your coat in the rain; and sticking with your parents!