Getting out of a warm bed for theses early starts doesn’t get any easier, though experience tells me its always worth the effort…but that doesn’t help much at 4am!
Stuff down some breakfast and it’s off to meet up with Derek and the lads. Mark and Colin are meeting us at Derek’s and just to wind them up we're sat in the car, engine running looking at our watches as they pull up!

We go through the usual routine. Watching the thermometer in the car as we approach N. Wales, willing it to drop a few degrees, but seeing it steadily rising. At Ogwen cottage it’s about 5 degrees and there’s a disappointing amount of snow visible. At least today there’s almost no one else in the car park, no need to rush or sprint up the hill. (But we do anyway….old habits die hard!)

We’re heading for Cwm Cneifion (Nameless Cwm…though for someone with dyslexia like me, all welsh Cwm’s are nameless!)
Slowly the snow starts to appear, not too firm, but spirits lift the higher we get and the better the conditions become. For once we can actually see the Cwm and the route is obvious. Finding the route can sometimes be the hardest part of the day for me.

The route looks good and we are the only ones in the Cwm and a relaxed gearing up session begins. Colin and Mark decide to do Hidden Gully (Grade II) and head up higher into the top of the Cwm.

Since I stole all the best pitches the last time we were out, I offer Derek the Crux pitch (I know he likes that sort of thing) and we work out a sequence which will take us to it. Derek leads off. Straight away there is a small steep step and then a long ramp on poor snow. Conditions are thin and what snow there is variable in quality.

The next pitch is a steep narrow gully. I probe it cautiously before wedging myself in the gap. Its narrower than it looks and I get wedged in it, secure for now but now the problems getting out again! As usual, no runners for about 15 – 20 feet, but then I get a coupe of good friends in and relax. After this it’s another easy ramp up to the flake and the crux.

Derek did look at the grade 5/6 direct pitch , but it wasn’t formed and it would have been bold in the extreme. Sense prevailed and he did the grade IV traverse, which turned out to be one of those memorable grin inducing pitches. A beautiful horizontal crack line which you could torque your axes in and then a really thin slab where will power alone kept the crampons in contact. I heard a squeal of delight ( relief ) as Derek got across this!

The fun wasn’t over yet though. From the next belay I had to traverse out to gain another slab which would take us to the top. The ice was very poor and the pitch was getting harder and harder for the 2nd as I managed to pull most of it off. A very delicate long run out ( 2 runners in 60 m) got me to the top and after a very long wait ( problems communicating) Derek followed.

Buzzing from this climb, we were keen to get another done before the end of the day and so made our way over to Hidden Gully and abseiled down the top section. On closer inspection the gully we thought about doing was almost ice free, so we solo’d back up hidden gully and walked round to descend Gribin Ridge.

A bit of luck meant we met up with Collin and Mark who had just climbed Tower Gully I/II and we descended together.

The weather had cleared through the day and the views were now stunning, with views back towards the routes we had just done.

I great route and a great day with fantastic company, I’ll be getting up at 4am again!


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Comment by MarkR on January 29, 2009 at 19:01
Good write up rick keep it up


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