Idwal Skyline, October 1983

29/10/83 Idwal Skyline

Route: Idwal Skyline: Llyn Ogwen (Milestone Buttress car park) – Tryfan’s north ridge – Bristly Ridge – Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Devils Kitchen – Y Garn – Capel Curig  Party: Myself, Phil Bender, T. J. Walmsley 

Dawning very cold and crystal clear, it was an ideal day for hillwalking. We left the minibus at Milestone Buttress and started up the North Ridge [of Tryfan]. From this angle you can make it as easy or as hard as you like. The route we followed was sussed out by Phil Bender who had climbed Tryfan many times. We were the novices here. It ranged from easy strolling to some very exposed scrambling. [In those days there was not the obvious path up the North Ridge that the climber will find today. 29/12/20]. Much of the time we were climbing rather than walking [The North Ridge is very steep, almost 45 degrees when seen from afar. When climbing a wall of 45 degrees angle, it will feel and seem almost vertical. Tryfan may be the only mountain in the UK outside Scotland, the summit of which cannot be reached by just walking.] 

Fantastic clarity of scenery. From the A5 to the Adam and Eve stones at the summit, 100 minutes. It was very cold at the top. We could see Cardigan Bay, Anglesey, the Flint hills, and even Cader Idris and the hills of central Wales.  

We moved on in sunshine, down the south ridge. One has to watch out for being led into impossible descents, and pick one’s route with care. At Bwylch Tryfan (the col) there were remarkable views down into Nant Ffrancon. We started up Bristly Ridge as a walk, which turned into a gully, and became steady upward scrambling. Phil climbed a wall, thinking himself pretty cool, and found himself on a spire, from which he had then to come down again. It IS possible to walk up Bristly Ridge, but why would you? We found it quicker, easier and more satisfying to climb. The ridge levels out onto the summit of Glyder Fach, where there was a little snow in evidence. Here we enjoyed a pleasant lunch in spite of the cold, marvelling at the clear air and visibility. This was one of the clearest days I’d ever experienced on the high tops. The sun shone off Cardigan Bay; St David’s and Pembroke [??] visible in the far background whilst the coast of North Wales was visible behind Tryfan, which looks small from this angle. Snowdon itself was dark and menacing, blocking the sun. 

Onward from Glyder Fach – the path to Glyder Fawr lies across easy moorland; we followed the edge, looking down into the Nameless Cwm and in turn down into Cwm Idwal. On Glyder Fawr the reflection of the sun off Cardigan Bay was blocked by Snowdon. Y Garn, our next summit, looks lovely from here, the head of a succession of peaks marching off down the west side of Nant Ffrancon – a fine looking ridge walk for another time. 

There is a very steep descent to the top of the Devils’ Kitchen. The sun disappeared behind fair weather clouds. At Devil’s Kitchen, a notch in the cliffs above Cwm Idwal, the ground was still frozen. We spent time here chatting with an old fellow from Lichfield, who belonged to the same mountaineering club as a man who did the Welsh Fourteen three times in succession.  

We trundled on up Y Garn, glancing behind at the lake Llyn Ogwen, and in the dark shadow of the corrie, the cliffs and slabs of Idwal. Y Garn saw us all strung out, arriving breathless on the summit, seeking shelter from the cold breeze.  

From Y Garn, Snowdon again seemed to hide the sun. The enormous quarries at Dinorwic were grey on the horizon. The way ahead for us lay down a ridge, steep at times, sweeping clear away to Cym Cywion on the left and Cwm Clyd on the right. Descent to the valley put us in the shadows, and we enjoyed a leisurely tramp across Cym Idwal and on down to Idwal Cottage.  

An excellent short day, ideal for autumn, winter or spring. The visibility was superb. I shot off nearly a whole roll of slides.