Ascent of Tryfan on 2015-05-23

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Date:Saturday, May 23, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:3009 ft / 917 m

Ascent Trip Report

Snowdonia – Welsh 3000s: Sections 1 & 2

Stayed at Pen-y-pass YHA @ Snowdon TH – (29.00 GBP per night). Alarm went off at 5:45am – beautiful day outside, first blue sky day I’ve witnessed in Snowdonia. I was excited, got dressed, but realized how tired I was still… so I slept for another hour before heading out for the day. My plan was to complete sections 1 and 2 of the Welsh 3000s route at a walking pace, to get a lay of the land for when I actually attempt the full route sometime later this year. I hit the trail at 7:45. I opted to go for an over-prepared day pack which included my heavy DSLR camera – I view this as training for wearing a heavier pack. Besides, it was a beautiful day which meant there would be many photo-ops.

Snowdon: the first peak of the route, the highest peak in Wales, and the most popular climb in Snowdonia – with it being a long weekend (and a rare clear blue sky day), this meant there would be a lot of traffic on the trail. I was early enough to not be delayed at any point due to bottlenecks. I made the ascent in 1hr 15mins – I was pushing the pace on the climb up the “Pyg track” and surprised it took me that long. Amazing views from the summit today – it is truly a spectacular summit. My first ascent up Snowdon in September 2014 was a no-view day – a lot more rewarding when it’s clear up here. I could see all of the summits I would be going over today – a bit daunting. I didn’t spend very much time on top of Snowdon and took straight off to go over to Carnedd Ugain and eventually Crib Goch. I witnessed the train from Llanberis as it made its descent- the operational train today was the diesel-powered #10 named "Yeti."

Carnedd Ugain: after descending down from Snowdon and staying on the ridge, it was really an easy, short climb to the summit of Carnedd Ugain. The view here was awesome with Snowdon in full view, the Crib Goch ridge ahead, and the peaks from the Glyder section poking through the clouds. An amazing day to be up here. After taking in the views, I cracked on towards the infamous rocky Crib Goch riddge.

Crib Goch: this peak is known for its treacherous knife edge ridge. I was a bit intimidated by the way others had described it, but when I got to it, any doubts I had completely vanished – it does have some knife-edge sections, but these are easily by-passed by contour paths, which are still pretty technical and some scrambling is required. There are some massive rock formations on the approach to Crib Goch, and without knowing the ideal route to get around them, I found myself several times coming to impassable sections and having to backtrack and find a different way. There was a lot of traffic on Crib Goch – and I was going against it all. Most people that traverse the ridge will do it prior to peaking Snowdon, and will come down the Pyg track (the way I ascended), or do the complete “Snowdon Horseshoe.” After making it to the summit of Crib Goch, I scoped the ridge for a way down the scree side. I was told there was a method to get down from there, but it looked pretty sketchy. I decided to backtrack along the ridge and descend via a more gradual scree section. Descending scree is really fun – it feels like skiing, or skating, but there is definitely a unique technique to it. It was cool to look at the climbers on the Crib Goch ridge above, looking like ants climbing an anthill. My descent took me by a tiny lake in a clearing. It was one of the most picturesque places I have ever witnessed. I took a lot of pictures of it and spent a lot of time here… a very peaceful atmosphere resides here. This is what peakbagging is about - finding these unexpected treasures along the trail... I call them "trail gems." During this break I met a girl with blue hair who was heading up to do some wilderness camping. We talked a bit and both agreed that this place was surreal. Wishing her luck in her journey with her huge backpack, I continued downwards, following a beautiful long cascading waterfall down to the road, where I intercepted some fell runners who had also come down Crib Goch. Their descent path sounded much more efficient than mine – I will try it next time. These guys looked like pretty good runners and made me wish I was wearing my lightweight kit. Next time. I followed the road until reaching Nant Peris, where the next section of the Welsh 3000s route would begin. I completed section 1 (15km) in 5 hrs.

Elidir Fawr: I stopped in the very small town of Nant Peris (old Llanberis) at the local pub – mainly to use the restroom, but I could not resist ordering lunch and a nice pint of bitters. I had a delicious vegetarian chili, I reviewed my route on the map, downed my beer, and set off toward the TH for Elidir Fawr. It took me some searching and map-checking to find the trail – it passed through a driveway which was unmarked as a public path, so that’s kind of what threw me off. Eventually I was on the trail, which was a public path on private land, meaning muddy farm trails… yay. I trudged through this part at a pretty strong pace, but I did notice my body feeling tired already. This was a long climb that seemed to drag on forever. The trail was also wet and boggy so this got my boots pretty dirty and wet. I finally made it to the summit area which was basically a pile of boulders – foreshadowing for the rest of the Glyder section – every summit would be rocky boulder piles. I could again see all the summits I still needed to cover, and again, it seemed pretty daunting. I was happy to be up at elevation up on this section. The views again were amazing from the summit. I didn’t spend much time here since there was a lot more ground left to cover.

Y Garn: I took the contour trail that bypasses Foel Goch (not above 3k feet) per the instructions off of the Welsh 3000s challenge website advice. This is the only piece of advice that I remembered – the rest of the way I was winging it along this section. I reached Y Garn fairly easily, took a water break, took a couple pics, and then cracked on towards Glyder Fawr.

Glyder Fawr: on this approach you pass through something on the map called “Devil’s Kitchen” – nothing challenging just a funny name. I felt good on this descent, striding out a bit. Noticed another guy coming the opposite direction, climbing, and running – kitted out for mountain running and going pretty fast up a serious climb… You don’t see that in the US (in the Southeast anyway). The ascent up Glyder Fawr starts at a lake and is rocky/scrambly from the start. I got off the trail a bit and it was full on scrambling, but the actual trail was pretty easy, albeit steep. The summit area is full of really cool rock formations, and the summit has a pair of spiky rocks sticking straight up. I managed to get a good photo on it. At this point it was starting to get late, but I knew I had a lot of sunlight left, and 2 more peaks to go in the Glyder section. At the next peak, Glyder Fach, I would have the option to head back to Pen-y-pass, or continue onto Tryfan.
Glyder Fach: this peak was clearly visible from the previous peak – with a unique giant slab of rock resting on top of a pile of boulders. The approach to Glyder Fach passed by a false summit – which fooled me, and required some serious work and scrambling to get to the top of. When I reached the top, I saw the actual summit staring me in the face… I swore out loud, and descended back down. I boulder-hopped my way up to the top, eventually getting to the rock slab, and sitting on it. Seemed inappropriate not to. I was happy to reach this summit, but I could see Tryfan in the distance, less than a mile away, but some really technical stuff in between. It was 6:30pm, sunset was at 9:15pm, so I still had a lot of light left. After talking to some people that had just come up from Tryfan, they said it took them 1 hour from the saddle to this point… they recommended that I take a scree path to the right instead of the “Bristly Ridge,” which was very technical. I didn’t really see the scree path, and the ridge didn’t look too bad from where I was standing. I made the decision to go for Tryfan and descend to the saddle through the Bristly Ridge.

Tryfan: I was wrong about the Bristly Ridge – it was really difficult. Again I was reaching many sections that led to straight drops, forcing me to find alternate ways around. This was a scramble the whole way down, sometimes feeling like rock climbing. Eventually made my way down to the saddle, doing so in about 40 minutes. My goal was to be at the summit of Tryfan by 7:30pm. The climb was actually really easy from the south approach – very simple scramble to the top. I made it to the summit at 7:28pm. There were some climbers taking pictures at the famous “Adam & Eve” rocks. The tradition is to leap between the two rocks and get a picture doing so. I was lucky the people up there gladly took my action shot. The jump itself was pretty easy, but I can see how some people would be terrified of doing it. Also, if it’s wet whatsoever, it could be very dangerous – the rocks are very eroded on the surface, presumably from all the rain that hits them. After successfully completing the leap, I got to chatting with one of the fellows. He asked about my day and I told him, also expressed that I needed to get back to Pen-y-pass via the Miner’s Track. He immediately offered that I descend with his group and that they’d take me to Pen-y-pass… I did not hesitate in accepting. It would have been a long walk back, and my body was really feeling shattered. The 3 climbers (Adrian, Robin, and Sara) were really friendly with upbeat attitudes. They were from Southern England (Kent) and really good climbers, besides being super nice people. It’s great to make friends while out on the trail. We descended via the Heather Terrace Path, my legs were pretty wrecked at this point so it felt like forever getting down this rock pile. We eventually made it down to the road and walked over to their vehicle. Just under 13 hours on the day for me, and approximately 35km. I was “knackered” and all I could think about was a nice hot meal at the YHA. I was really lucky to find these people because that walk from the Miner’s Track would have really sucked.

The Welsh 3000s route is no joke – really technical and strenuous. I don’t know if I would have been able to do the last sections, the Carnedd section is the longest of the 3, although not technical like the first 2 sections. I will have to return and do this section independently before attempting the full route. Also, when I do the full route I would do it lightweight. It’s important for me to be aware that had visibility been poor, then it would have been a totally different story out there. Today was a pretty huge day, and a successful day of peakbagging in Wales. I was very happy with it.

There were a few lessons to take away from this day:
- The Welsh 3000s route is TOUGH and LONG
- Having knowledge of the path of least resistance on each peak is essential
- Navigational errors are extremely costly
- Scrambling, and scree skills are crucial
- Most other people on the trail are really nice and willing to help, whether it be with taking a picture or giving a ride somewhere (if they are like that away from the trail doesn’t really matter)
- Some true mountaineering training can be accomplished in this area of Wales
- I need to do more true mountaineering
- The record of 4 hours 20 minutes for the complete Welsh 3000s is absolutely insane
- Snowdonia is spectacular with clear weather

Suunto Movescount

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:21.7 mi / 35 km
    Route:Bristly ridge + south approach
    Time:12 Hours 
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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