Tower Slabs II/III
A day with the doctor
Cwm Cneifion is my kind of place and team Crusty are my kind of people, and when the two come together good things sometimes happen. And so it was this day. Let me introduce you to the team: Andy ‘desperate’ Dann (affectionate, tough as a Rhino’s scrotum), Malcolm ‘Nanook’ Flatt (steady, dependable, enjoys impromptu nights out on the Matterhorn), Dr Robert of Pontefract (collector of near death experiences, courter of epics), Peter ‘The Machine’ Machin (alpine rock fall aficionado, incorrigible perv) and last but not least my good self (coward, often seen on the TV programme Highland Emergency). Swelling the crusty ranks for one day only is Susie who we met outside the Spar in Bethesda sporting bendy boots and a pair of flared jeans.
So that’s us and off we went to the aforementioned cwm where tales of a vicious thaw were found to be greatly exaggerated. Indeed, there we found plentiful snow, igloos and some ice to play on, something for everyone (even Eskimos), which is just as well as everyone seemed to be there. This is what happened…
First of all, The Machine tied up Susie, put an axe in her hand and then insisted that she follow him. They were last seen heading up onto Easy Route and were not seen again until several hours later when we found them banging on the door of the Douglas Arms demanding to be let in.
Meanwhile Nanook returned from a brief recce of Tower Slabs and in a throaty report declared that it was “soggy and ‘orrible”. Something told me that Desperate questioned the veracity of Nanook’s claims for the very moment he heard the news he was off to see for himself. Seconds later he launched himself at the steepest line he could find and was soon out of sight with the only clue to his whereabouts being the fusillade of ice raining down from above.
After a lull in the bombardment Nanook shrugged magnanimously and got to work, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” were his parting words and that was the last we saw of them. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I followed suit but there was a problem. My axes, not sharpened since last winter were useless and even after knocking seven bells out of the ice I was feeling none too secure and climbed down. “Dr Robert” I pleaded, “have you got a rope”? The answer was in the affirmative and soon we were umbilical brothers. The Doctor led and before long I followed noting that with a rope above me my axes had miraculously become nice and sharp, biting into placements in a fashion that had me grinning like a demented gibbon.
The grinning ceased when my turn came to lead. A cruddy unprotected runout had me wishing for warthogs until a good thread safeguarded the next section of ice which put the smile back on my face. I brought the Doctor up to join me and all that remained was a rope length on superb neve which deposited us onto the Glyder plateau where strangers greeted us like old friends. Dr Robert suggested that we take in the tops and walk back to the hut but it was already getting late and a head torch descent didn’t hold much appeal.
In the end we trumped for the Gribin ridge which was horribly verglassed but steadily we made our way down until we were in spitting distance of the Bochlwyd path. Now, the Doctor is not one to take the simple option so shunned the path for a direct and exploratory route down a promising looking gully. The easy promise of the gully proved to be a lie but in the gathering gloom we returned to Oggie where Nanook and Desperate had been waiting patiently. All in all not a bad outing and quite mild for a day with the Doctor.