Archive for the 'Snowdonia' Category

Snowdonia through the lens

The land of my fathers
Followers of Livesey on Britain’s mountains may well be wondering where I have been the last few months as these pages have been sorely neglected. It’s not that I’ve been inactive, far from it in fact! It’s just that my focus has changed this year and I’ve been working on my photography.

As much as I love writing about the mountains, it’s very difficult coming up with an original slant, especially if one is a hopeless romantic such as I. It’s possible I’ve run out of ways to describe the joy of walking alone on the ancient bones of the earth, the heady thrill of climbing towering buttresses or the sublime experience of greeting a new born day from above a sea of cloud. There are only so many words in the English language and my pen isn’t powerful enough to achieve my ends, which are and have always been to show anyone willing to look how special the natural heritage of Great Britain is.
Tryfan dawn

Phantasmagoria - Y Glyderau at dawn
Photography’s a different matter. Through my camera I can speak without words, my message is delivered unambiguously and the viewer is left in no doubt as to what these mountains mean to me. My passion is distilled into images of beautiful moments, frozen in time and unencumbered by clichés or fumbled attempts to describe the indescribable.
Many of us take a camera into the hills to record our days out and since I started out ten years ago I have amassed many thousands of snaps which strongly evoke memories of happy days gone by. Among these ‘snaps’ there are small a number of images that transcend the snapshot. All of them were captured by luck, by being in the right place at the right time. Flukes if you like.
Carnedd Llewelyn from Ffynnon Llugwy

Lightstorm
These days, I actively hunt down these special images and in turns, it’s hugely rewarding and painfully frustrating but always damn hard work. The capricious nature of our weather conspires against the mountain photographer so I am constantly looking at forecasts and keeping track of where the sun will rise and set on any particular day. In the summer months it’s usual for me to rise at 2am and return to the valley after dark, the whole business can be exhausting.

This summer, though not over yet, has been disappointing and I’m looking forward now to autumn and winter. The thought of lounging in bed until 5am really appeals to me after so many early starts in the last few months!
Llynau

Clogwyn du'r Arddu

Llyn Padarn

The Rhyd Ddu path

The Pass

God's country

Peeping through the bwlch - Moel Hebog

Wild Wales – The Arans

Cywarch or bust
For the past ten years I’ve been roaming the mountains of northern Snowdonia and during that time I’ve come to think of the area as my spiritual home. Eryri has captured my heart and one day I hope there to live out my days as an old mountain goat with the hills I love peering down on my home.  Those hills have become firm friends and I would need the fingers and toes of many a Wisbechian to count the times I have clambered onto Tryfan’s rocky skull, watched the sun set from Y Glyderau or traversed the lofty ridges which lead inexorably up to Yr Wyddfa, the very roof of Wales.

However, there’s more to Snowdonia than the 3000ft peaks which sit at the north western end of the National Park, much more in fact, and save a couple of forays down south to Cadair Idris there is a wealth of fine mountains which I have yet to feel beneath my boots.

A recent trip to trip to Mid Wales brought this fact home to me and on the return journey I realised that I had been missing out some superb and relatively wild country. Back at home one range in particular called out over the gulf of distance; I decided that an exploration of The Arans needed to happen sooner rather than later so when two weeks later an opportunity arose I grabbed it with both hands and boarded a train to meet my mate Tom, an award winning writer/photographer who needed some routes checking while he recovered from ankle surgery…it would have been rude not to!

So, to get the ball rolling I was dumped on a humid March morning at Dinas Mawddwy with instructions to find a way onto Foel Benddin via its South West Ridge which proved easier said than done. My first attempt was aborted after a ridiculous bout of steep bushwhacking had me turning the air blue and collapsing in a sweaty heap. From my vantage point I spied what looked like a good alternative and reluctantly turned tail, losing all the height I had laboriously gained. My new route which headed off over a delightful grassy track near Dolobran quickly saw me on the ridge and all was well with the world; all that is but a thick haze that made any attempt at photography an exercise in futility, which wouldn’t have been so bad had I not been eager to crack on with my brand new 7D!

Still, it’s not all about photography and getting out alone on quiet hills is always a balm for the soul. That and the wonderful surroundings of smooth hills and placid valleys instilled a spring in my step and I was soon striding up Y Gribin, excellent ridge walking that wouldn’t be out of place in the northern fells of Lakeland. Ahead was Glasgwm, my first real peak of the day and in the blue distance across Cwm Cywarch was Aran Fawddwy, the highest mountain south of Snowdon and one I was eager to bag now my work for Tom was done; it looked a long way away.
Llyn y Fign and Glasgwm
On my way up Glasgwm I stepped into another world, a world with a remote ambience quite at odds with the fertile valley I’d left behind. It felt out on a limb, barren and wonderfully wild. At Llyn y Fign which sits just below the summit I halted a while and sat by the lapping water, now fully tuned into the frequency that affects the thoughts and feelings of the solo hillwalker. I felt like the last man on earth. Between me and Fawddwy lay a tract of desolate Cymric badlands, the crossing of which was made dry shod with thanks to extensive duck boarding, an incongruous intervention but perhaps necessary. Indeed, one can only imagine how difficult this ground would be without them, especially after a spell of wet weather.
Glasgwm from Aran Fawddwy
As it was I made relatively good progress and as I started my ascent of Fawddwy the light started to change. The haze was still maddeningly present but warm light began to fill the scene and with a quickening pulse and eagerness to reach the summit I dug deep until the trig point came into view. Minutes later I standing beside it and imagining how the view might look on a crisp winter’s eve or at the start of a new born day. I’d spent a fair bit of energy throughout my day so far and spent a while debating whether or not I would make the out and back visit to Aran Benllyn at the other end of the ridge. In the end summit fever won out and I strode out, all the while marvelling at Benllyn’s craggy South East face.

It was on Benllyn when I received a message from Tom; could I be down in Cwm Cywarch for 6.20 as he had a table booked for 8 and we still had a fair drive back. No problem was my reply and with reluctance I gathered myself for a quick descent but first I had to climb over Fawddwy again with the aid of my tried and trusted secret weapon, a bag jelly babies – for emergency use only! I made it with ten minutes to spare and sitting beneath Craig Cywarch vowed to come back to these hills again and wildcamp beside Craiglyn Dyfi.

I’d been impressed by all I saw, the Arans are wonderful mountains and the walk could only have been better had the visibility been a little more kind, however the steak and beer that washed it down more than made up for it!

Early evening on the Arans

Aran Benllyn

To steal a mountain

To steal a mountain - Penrhyn Quarry
I rose to the sound of wind and rain thrashing the thick walls of our hut, an old quarryman’s cottage in Mynydd Llandegai, a village originally founded in the mid 19th century to house workers from the nearby Penrhyn Quarry. It sits at around 1000ft above sea level on the edge of an austere moorland tract and, in inclement weather it can be a grim place where echoes of the hardships endured by the quarrymen reverberate to this day. The very fabric of the village speaks of their industry; from the fences that enclose the fields and gardens to the huge heaps of spoil it is slate which dominates hereabouts.

Alone and in reflective mood –my friends had ventured out in search of adventure-I communed with ghosts of the past and allowed a creeping melancholy to invade my psyche while pondering on an old quote, the origin of which escapes me; “Steal a sheep from the mountain, and they hang you. Steal a mountain, and they make you a lord”.

I had been biding my time, waiting for a promised break in the weather which would allow me an opportunity to capture the spirit of Y Glyderau’s ravaged northern extremities; when it eventually came I walked out of the village towards the miniature mountains of spoil beyond. The musical tinkling of slate beneath my feet lead me to a vantage point from which I could wallow deeper into my reverie. For the next hour I experienced every kind of light a photographer could wish for. I dodged showers of hail and hid behind boulders as modern day quarrymen passed by in landrovers and huge dumper trucks until hunger and cold overtook me. It had been a very interesting morning and with a good collection of images I made my way back to the hut where I met Peter.
Yr Elen

Solitary
I told him of my plans for the afternoon which centred around a visit to the summit of Elidir Fawr, the most hideously scarred and exploited mountain in all Eryri. There I would stay until the sun sank into the Irish Sea in the hope of a photographic bonanza. Peter is an artist and has recently been working on a series of sunsets so naturally he thought my plan a winner and happily agreed to accompany me.
Elidir Fawr and Elidir Fach
At 3 O’clock we set off for Marchlyn Mawr reservoir and Elidir’s North Ridge which led us breathlessly onto the rocky summit ridge. If I had been pleased with the light earlier in the day then the time we spent on that marvellous mountain top left us ecstatic as scene after scene of unimaginable beauty unveiled itself in a series of incredible light events.

Our descent over Elidir Fach was a quiet one, words seeming superfluous and somewhat banal. I thought of quarrymen past and present; I thought of the hydro electric power station housed in the bowels of Elidir but most of all I thought of man’s arrogance despite his fragility and transience. Steal a mountain? I don’t think so…
Ridge - Elidir Fawr

Ogwen triptych from Elidir Fawr

Phantasmagoric light on the Snowdon Range

Evening fire on Y Glyderau

On the Carneddau with a grumbling appendage

Y Garn from Pen yr Ole Wen
It’s funny how things go sometimes. Of all the occasions I’ve been up Pen yr Ole Wen I’ve always gone up the East Ridge. Of course I have. Why wouldn’t I? The direct ascent from Ogwen is too steep to be a comfortable walk, not steep enough to be a real scramble and everyone I know who’s been foolish enough to do it has come back to me spouting unutterable oaths so naturally I vowed never to tread its evil side. Strange then that in the space of a month I’ve done it twice!

In December I dragged myself up there in the name of adventure and completion. The rocks were covered in verglas and the snow cover was unconsolidated making for an exciting and insecure venture made all the more invigorating by a gale force arctic blast once on the summit. Never again I said!

A couple of weeks later on a perfect blue sky day I decided that Lucie should experience its dubious pleasures too and surprisingly she was in agreement. Unfortunately in the name of honest reportage I am duty bound to divulge that within an hour there were tears and recriminations. Ok, it was hard work but I saw no reason for such a melodramatic exhibition. The air was still and very cold, the mountain deserted and ten feet below us a big ginger fox had arrived on the scene, eyeing us with suspicion before darting headlong down the mountain. How could anyone not be enjoying themselves?

Things improved when onto the summit we crawled; the hard work was over, for a while at least. Onwards to Carnedd Dafydd then where the boss would decide whether or not she wanted to continue on over to Llewelyn which as it happens she did.
Procession on Pen yr Ole Wen

In the shadows -Tryfan
It’s a lovely walk along the rim of Cwm Llafar and Lucie seemed to be enjoying it too. Happy days indeed and I would have been jumping for joy were it not for the clear blue sky. It’s not good for photography you see. Worse still, our original plan had been to traverse the Snowdon Horseshoe which come the morning we decided against. Guess what? Over on the Snowdon Massif great dramas were being played out as swirling clouds came hither and thither before being torn to shreds by the sharp peak of Yr Wyddfa; oh how I wished I was there but of course I wasn’t.

Anyhow, I decided that it wasn’t all about photographs and resolved to forget about Snowdon and enjoy the beautiful weather, the like of which I haven’t seen for months in these parts. This enjoyment came easy until the final slog up onto Llewelyn’s balding pate where the recriminations resumed in earnest, “You and your shitty mountains, I’m sick of you” being one of the milder offerings!

As my beloved disappeared into the blue distance I realised that you can’t please everyone all the time and so decided to please myself for the time being and go on a charm offensive later. However, once down in Cwm Ffynnon something happened that made an exercise in damage limitation the last thing on my mind. Oh yes, from the south the clouds did roll in and what wonderful light was it that filled the hoary cwm?
Wall and Llewelyn
In paroxysms I flew across the bog almost walking on water as I went searching for the perfect composition, quite oblivious to anything or anyone before returning to Lucie who had been waiting patiently on a large boulder. I was a very happy man and Lucie had cheered up a bit too, that is until she discovered that there was two and a half miles of tarmac bashing between us and the car, a mistake I promised both Lucie and myself I wouldn’t make again.

Who was it that said promises are made to be broken? The very next day we went for a great walk up the Rhyd Ddu and down the Snowdon Ranger and guess how that day ended; a tale for another time maybe!
Ffynnon Llugwy

The mighty Tryfan from Cwm Llugwy

The long walk out

Photography on the faint trods of Eryri

Photography on the faint trods of Eryri…

…and a couple of more popular locations!
Elidir Fawr from Moel y Ci
The past couple of days were meant to be filled with adventure on the mountain crags of Eryri; days spent ticking classics which have so far inexplicably eluded us. High on Grooved Arête we would look down on tiny cars travelling through the Ogwen Valley and smaller still, climbers far below on Tryfan Bach with our hands grasping holds of burnished rhyolite and our faces caressed by the zephyrs of an Indian summer.  Idyllic, I’m sure you’ll agree.  Sadly (if you care to look upon it that way) our holiday coincided with a visit from the back end of hurricane Katrina which I found to be a considerable bummer! The thing is though, sometimes it’s nice to return to origins and forget all about the acquisitive side of climbing, getting back to basics with a camera, some good honest bog trotting via a touch of heather bashing plus a dash of bracken bothering for good measure…and I’ll tell you why.

It’s September and the vegetation is on the turn, the air has a freshness not felt for many a long month and the light is starting to come good for the pursuit of mountain photography so, this time let’s just stick to walking the hills at the beginning of autumn, that fleeting but most heartbreakingly beautiful of seasons.
Tryfan from Moel Siabod
Before we set off let me tell you about a curious phenomenon we witnessed on our way through Nant y Benglog. The aforementioned Katrina was giving it plenty and upon rounding the foot of Tryfan’s north ridge we were surprised to see an enormous plume of spray issuing forth from the environs of Cwm Idwal, clearing the A5 and coming to rest in Llyn Ogwen. We just had to investigate and were soon struggling to stand upright on the path to the llyn. Once there it was all we could do to remain in contact with this wonderful planet of ours though once or twice we failed to do even that! Still, I managed to secure a couple of half decent snaps before escaping the maelstrom with my better half hot on my heels.
Y Garn

Pen yr Ole Wen
Cnicht

Ok folks, don’t tell her indoors but I was secretly thrilled when the weather forecast told of high winds interspersed with sunny spells and soggy interludes. Indeed, I wanted to go out and take some photographs while she who must be obeyed was keen on watching me poo my undies leading some exposed route or other in the Pass of Llanberis! “Never mind” I said, “We’ll go to Cnicht. You’ll like it there” and do you know what? She did. And what’s not to like eh?

Now then, rather than bore you with a blow by blow account of what in truth is a fairly tame hill walk I’ll take you with me instead. So, without further ado let us with a little regret leave the enchanted valley of Nantmor and find our way up into an aqueous wonderland.
Scots Pine above Nantmor
Before long the path becomes faint and beyond Bwlch y Battel we come to a beautiful pool festooned with small islands. It’s tempting to tarry but we have hills to climb so on we go, up onto the higher ground where, upon reaching the crest we find another secluded fold in the landscape containing industrial relics. Men once worked their nethers off here but now it is quiet and nature is reclaiming the old workings, amongst which we’ll sit for a while, considering our transience and imagining the ghosts that inhabit this place.

Then onwards; a steep pull onto Cnicht’s west ridge where we drink in a spectacular view. Across the deep trench of Cwm Croesor we have Moelwyn Mawr and scanning the horizon from left to right we take in Tremadog Bay, the Hebog group, Nantlle Ridge and the mighty Snowdon Massif before our eyes come to rest upon a shapely pyramid. Hewn over many millennia from the living rock and displaying an archetypal mountain form, our Cnicht is a magnet for even the most footsore of travellers and we are no exception. The going becomes more airy with every step until our way is seemingly barred by a precipitous little crag buttressing the summit cone.
Looking towards the Ffestiniog hills from Cnicht

Scrambling on Cnicht
We know there is a good path just out of sight and also a scrambly groove for those who like to clamber but it won’t hurt to have a little look at this ‘other’ way will it? Of course not and we’re glad we did. You should too if you have the experience and the rock is dry.

All too soon we’re stood on Cnicht’s small summit and a new set of delights await us. Cnicht is a very fine little hill but what lies beyond is the reason I am so often called back to be with her. A boggy hinterland of low hills and countless llynau stretches out all the way to Moel Siabod and we can’t wait to explore it. So what are we waiting for?
The summit of Cnicht

Cnicht's eastern top
Once off the beaten track we’re welcomed into a whole new world; a world where worries are distant; a better world and one I am always reluctant to leave. Is there a better place to be than beside Llyn yr Adar? I doubt it. It may not be the most beautiful llyn in Eryri but it is the one that calls most insistently to me over the miles that in everyday life keep us apart. I love it here and were my ashes not destined for old Siabod then here they would be sprinkled. But then again, wills can be re-written!

For the rest of the day we’ll wander at will over hillocks, through secret recesses, beside shy pools and larger bodies of water until our feet are wet and our bellies rumble as only they can after a satisfying day out in mountain country. Then we’ll squelch back down to Nantmor past Llyn Llagi and through a maze of natural rock gardens and at the car we’ll know that one day we’ll be back, but before then we’ll return in our mind’s eye to Cnicht and experience its magic all over again.
Moel Siabod from Y Cyrniau
Over the coming days and nights there will be more quiet and some not so quiet places we’ll go to but I’ll leave them to your imagination, though, if imaginings are not your thing then please enjoy these images and let them inspire you to get ya boots on!
Morning light in Nant Ffrancon

Moel Siabod

Rhaeadr Aber

Y Berwynion from Crimpiau

The Eastern Carneddau from Moel Siabod

The Crimea Pass from Daear Ddu

Tryfan

Cymric badlands from Crimpiau

A quick trip up the little Glyder

A quick trip up the little Glyder

Bristly Ridge
Bristly Ridge 110
At the West Beach cafe in Llandudno, Lucie and I were sat wondering how much more excitement we could reasonably take before sensory overload transformed us into a pair of dribblers. We’d walked the prom, explored the pier, ridden the speed boat and taken a cable car onto the Great Orme which had made me come over a bit queer if the truth be told, I’m not overly keen on heights!

What were we doing in Llandudno you may ask? Well, after a soaking on Snowdon’s south ridge the previous day we opted to hedge our bets, observing the mountains from a dry vantage point and in that respect the Orme served us well. Our day could easily have been completely lost to the fleshpots of that fine Victorian resort and sore of leg as we were it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing but when, from across the bay we observed the cloud lifting to reveal the Carneddau giants there was only one thing on my mind; “Let’s get some grub inside us and leg it to the mountains”!
Untitled_Panoramasmall1

Bristly Ridge 050
So, with half a day to spare and ill equipped as we were with nary a map or compass between us  (quick, someone call the hill police!) we needed a quick fix and I knew just the thing to rouse my good lady from her candyfloss induced stupor…Eryri’s preeminent grade 1 scramble, Bristly Ridge.

The short but steep path up to Cwm Bochlwyd always hurts but I endure it in good grace for I know my reward is near at hand. I adore that cwm, I really do and it never fails to rejuvenate whether I’m hopelessly tired, hung over or just plain miserable such is its power to heal; it’s a panacea to most if not all of my ills and so it was this day.

The bouncing Czech likes it too so after crossing Bochlwyd stream we found ourselves bounding giddily along with rare vigour, my good self waxing lyrical about a scary gully and spires of perfect rock soaring into the sky, tearing the ragged cloud cover to shreds. The bouncing one just rolled her eyes until to the foot of our ridge we came where she pointed an accusatory finger skywards. “There’s no way up there easier than Vdiff”, her words delivered with a conviction usually reserved for occasions when I really should be doing some domestic chore or other. “Au contraire ma cheri, walk this way and all shall be revealed” I declared in an attempt to sound as exotic to her as she does to me, failing miserably in the process and inspiring more eye rolling accompanied by a barely stifled snigger.

Suitably humiliated I bounded off towards Sinister Gully, or at least what I have mistaken for Sinister Gully for the last umpteen ascents! Apparently, according to Steve Ashton’s book, ‘Sinister’ can be found to the left of the big obvious fissure I have always climbed, our gully has no name but deserves one; until a better suggestion is put forward I propose we call it ‘The Grotbox’.

I’ve always thought The Grotbox was a little bit hard for a grade 1 scramble and laugh if you must but I think there is a wee bit of real rock climbing at about diff halfway up. The foreigner concurred, and not a little rattled saw fit to shun my sage words of advice in an expletive riddled tirade. Well that’s the last time I cast my pearls before swine…ahem!
Bristly Ridge 056

Bristly Ridge 054
Anyway, we were soon enjoying the ridge proper and sharing each and every bristle as cloud swirled about us. The somewhat Jurassic atmosphere was augmented by the fact that apart from across the bwlch on Tryfan’s rocky skull there was no one else to be seen. Now then, solitude + spiky rock formations + a camera = Lucie throwing shapes; an equation that meant I had to endure a series of silly poses in improbable places though I draw the line at planking and chastised the poor girl as she threatened to cheapen the good name of Castell y Gwynt. I do put up with a lot but that’s taking the piss!
Bristly Ridge 086

Bristly Ridge 092

Bristly Ridge 071

Bristly Ridge 077

Bristly Ridge 100
Then a funny thing did happen. Rather than descend the way she went up, I watched, incredulous as Lucie disappeared down the ‘other’ side of the Castell at the very moment the clag saw fit to envelope us and everything else in the vicinity. As said earlier, I had neither map nor compass; not a problem for me, I know the Glyderau like the back of my hand but Lucie? You can guess the rest!
Bristly Ridge 105
We were eventually reunited somewhere in-between Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr where I decided to call a halt to the proceedings. We’d had far too much fun for one day, I was getting hungry and as it happens so was Lucie; hungry for more scrambling that is! Being a generous man and all round fantastic fiancé I ushered her off to Y Gribin where we indulged in a little more hands on action to round off what had been a fun and varied day. Next time I think we’ll try Pwllheli!

Ordinary Route – Cwm Silyn

The ‘Extra’ Ordinary Route

A sun drenched adventure on one of Wales’ finest mountain crags
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Morning broke beautifully in the Welsh Highlands of Eryri but no concrete plan did we possess. For our first mountain route of the year we wished for the impossible, a classic climb on pristine, sun kissed rock in a magnificent cwm far from the madding crowds. However, it being the first of two April bank holiday weekends the honey pots of Ogwen and the Pass of Llanberis would be teeming with the great unwashed. I couldn’t think of anywhere that would see our wishes entirely fulfilled but I did know of a place where relative quietude might be found.

For Lucie it would be somewhere new to explore and for me a return to one of my favourite places in the principality. So with no time to lose we set off on a magical mystery tour where scenes of great beauty would unfold one after the other and introduce to my better half a Snowdonia, the existence of which she had never suspected.

En route to Waunfawr her first treat was the sight of Mynydd Mawr and the dark and shadowy Cwm Du. Then into Cwellyn where verdant pastures, woodland and the mirror still llyn coalesced to give an atmosphere redolent of Lakeland, a far cry from Ogwen’s bare austerity and the awesome desolation of the pass. The girl was impressed, enchanted even and then more so at Drws y Coed where the road drops down into the charming Nantlle Valley, to the left its eponymous ridge walk and to the right the shattered frontage of Craig y Bere where the old bones of the earth are seen to be in an advanced state of decay. And soon onto the coastal plain before a narrow single track road takes us as far as motorised transport is permitted, Bryngwyn Farm.
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Once there all was revealed; in the distance the secretive mountain sanctuary of Cwm Silyn called us to its inner sanctum and being only too human we were powerless to resist. On our way along the grassy track we came upon gwartheg duon cymraeg, fine and curious beasts bidding us a friendly welcome into their homeland. Further still and the copper blue waters of Llynau Cwm Silyn were revealed, sparkling below the brooding precipice we had come to climb.
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Up the scree we then did toil until beneath the imposing Great Slab we met with Ronald and Clare who had come to climb the wonderful Outside Edge route. The sun had yet to touch the rock which stood in shadow so we chatted awhile, thoroughly enjoying the companionship of likeminded souls in their natural habitat, that of the connoisseur. Before long the sun illuminated the uppermost rocks starting the slow transformation. We watched patiently as a lifeless pallor was gradually replaced by a warm, golden glow. The huge wall above still held an intimidating presence but was no longer repellent. On the contrary, in its new found garb of radiance a more attractive playground I could barely imagine.

By now other suitors were advancing so we got ourselves together and started on our climb, ‘Ordinary Route’ the original way up the crag first climbed in 1926 by Everest pioneer Odell and friends. From the off I was beset with doubts about my ability to find the correct way up as the choices available were myriad. Some way above the Sunset Ledge would be found where ‘Ordinary’ converges with Outside Edge and that was our target which according to the guidebook we would reach in two pitches. Three short pitches later it was nowhere to be seen but would surely be underfoot after another. I’d gone wrong somewhere and I thought I knew where. When advised to follow a broken groove I had been confronted by two broken grooves and had climbed the wrong one. On a ledge the size of an ironing board things were becoming fraught with my fair lady and I recriminating with hearty enthusiasm. I quickly tired of our squabbles and in the interest of domestic harmony climbed on until 30ft below me I could see Sunset Ledge; oh bugger!

Now then, access the crucial ‘delicate, exposed slab’ is gained from Sunset ledge via an open corner so I found myself in a bit of a quandary. If I couldn’t somehow get across to the slab we would have to reverse the route or abseil off. At over 200ft above the scree and in an exposed position neither option held much appeal. I brought Lucie up to join me and we discussed our options before deciding that an exploratory foray would give us a better idea of where we stood.

So up I went and with great relief soon saw the slab above and to the left of me. A rising traverse brought me to its foot and I relayed the good news. The slab turned out to be both delicate and exposed but a complete joy. Only climbers can know the excitement of being high on a big cliff and the feeling of total freedom and control of one’s immediate destiny. I recalled a poster I had once seen picturing a climber in a similar position to the one I was enjoying. On that poster was a short sentence, “If it is to be, it is up to me”. Those ten words distilled everything I felt about climbing during those brief but glorious minutes in which climbed that airy pitch.

With the slab done and dusted I felt all the tension of the past hour or so draining away knowing that our successful ascent was now but a scramble away. Lucie came up and gunned for the top where the alpinesque summit ridge awaited us. There we sunbathed and admired the view out to sea and across Anglesey all the way to Holyhead Mountain.
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Before commencing our descent down the great stone shoot we found a vantage point across the cwm to survey our achievement. Tiny specs of colour gave a sense of scale to the wall we had just climbed which is surely one of the most impressive and beautiful in Britain. One day we will return so Lucie can experience the wonderful Outside Edge route. Until then, we will live in dreams of our special day on Craig yr Ogof.
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