Kicking off Welsh Winter on Moel Siabod
It’s a funny thing really, you spend all summer enjoying long days on rock, wishing it would never end and quite forgetting the months spent on snow and ice which you also hoped against hope would last forever. That’s one of the myriad joys of the mountaineer, a full calender of endeavour on our beloved mountains, 12 months a year of fun, camaraderie and health permitting the best part of a lifetime spent accruing memories for when the body refuses to obey the mind. Oh, and none of this skulking off to climbing walls because it’s too cold!
And so, after a salubrious seven months of walks, scrambles and many a lazy day on sunny crags that time is upon us again, the season of early starts, chilly vigils on frigid summits and air so clear and views so extensive you can almost see America, white-outs notwithstanding! It’s also time for the bouncing Czech to get her first taste of the winter mountains and what mountain better for her inauguration than that venerable gent Moel Siabod?
Summer or winter, he’s a friendly old fella and often my first port of call when wanting to gift a friend with a new and inspirational start in life, a life in the hills. There are many that have fallen under the spell of the high places after a day on the Daear Ddu ridge and though Lucie is a newly confirmed mountain zealot her forays have been sun kissed and usually balmy, quite like the lady herself in fact! I was sure that a day with ‘Team Desperate’ on Siabod’s snowy steeps would ease her gently into the world of the mountaineer.
So, with team leader Andy ‘Desperate’ Dann (fresh from his ascent of Island Peak in the Himalaya) we left the car at Pont y Cyfyng and panted our way up the track to face our mountain which sat waiting under ashen clouds, bloated with a payload of the white stuff. It’s always a pleasant stroll up onto the open fell and full of interest too; the frozen llyn, the derelict mine buildings and abandoned quarry with its dark pool reveal themselves one by one as a prelude to that special moment when Llyn y Foel and its charming environs greet the eye, itself a portal to a land of sublime loveliness. And never more so than when the clouds are rent by a stiff north easterly to be replaced by a deep blue firmament with which to frame Siabod, clothed in ermine and welcoming all comers into his company. He’s a genial host and we lingered in the cwm, keen to make the most of his hospitality with a circuit of the llyn before embarking on our ridge of ascent. I couldn’t help but notice how enticing ‘those two’ gullies looked but it’s early days, the season is young and we must be patient if we are to fully enjoy the wrinkles on his wizened face.
And so onto Daear Ddu we went and we were not alone for there were others with designs on our peak. However, the beauty of our ridge is that you can make it hard or easy according to your fancy and we, daring and devil may care made for a direct assault while our hill loving brethren opted for the gentle southern flank so for the most part the illusion of solitude was happily maintained. It’s a playful ridge full of fun and permitting any number of variations, needless to say we lost no time in exploring some of them. We climbed grooves and steep walls, heather runnels and icy slots, roaming at will and peering around corners in an attempt to wring as much pleasure out of our climb as we could.
I wondered how it could possibly be of any meaningful entertainment for Andy after his Himalayan jaunt but the sight of him engrossed in a tricky step put paid to any doubt about it, the boy was verily loving it. And Lucie, how was she feeling with that spindrift stinging her rosy cheeks and the north easterly chilling her to the marrow? The beaming smile on her face gave me the answer I was looking for. And me? Well, I was feeling ‘da iawn’ until a slip on a glazed boulder left me winded and wincing in pain. And did my companions rush to my aid? Did they heck as like, they were too busy having fun!
But of course the best was yet to come. I knew it as did Andy but I had neglected to warn the bouncing Czech reasoning that it would be a nice surprise for her. Have you seen the view from old Siabod’s balding pate? If not I won’t spoil it for you but a clue might be gleaned from the look on the bouncing one’s mush, or at least it could be if you had been there. Suffice to say that the girl approved of the vista, and who wouldn’t? It’s the finest in all Eryri.