Saturday, 28 January 2017

Snowdon via Y Gribin

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Route: Pen-y-Pass, Miner's Track, Causeway, Y Gribin, Snowdon, Pyg Track, Bwlch y Moch, Pen-y-Pass

Date: 28/01/2017
From: Pen-y-Pass

Parking: Pen-y-Pass
Start Point: Pen-y-Pass
Region: Snowdonia - Snowdon

Route length: 7.0 miles (11.2 km)
Time taken: 04:15
Average speed: 1.75 mph
Ascent: 767m
Descent: 783m

Summits: Yr Wydffa (1,085m)

Other points of interest: Y Gribin

I spent the weekend in the company of the National Mountain Training Centre at Plas y Brenin, honing some of the winter skills that I've been taught over the last couple of years. The event was organised in collaboration with the famous Joe Brown's, a popular gear shop in Capel-Curig. I had to wait to find out where we would be walking. The choices on offer were around the Carneddau or an ascent of Snowdon by Y Gribin. With snow in the forecast, it was an easy decision for me.

We piled in the minibus to be driven the short distance to the Pen-y-Pass car park; always a useful starting point as it saves you a reasonable climb from the valley. Despite the rain the car park was, as ever, full. The forecast was full of promise, with rain coming and going in the morning before things settled down a bit later in the day. The most important factor though was snow and lots of it - just what we were after.

The walk started with an easy walk along the Miner's Track which climbs very gradually up to Llyn Llydaw, crossing it via a causeway. The causeway was constructed in 1853 to facilitate the copper mining on Snowdon - prior to this horses and the extracted copper were carried across Llyn Llydaw by raft. The Miner's Track was constructed at the same time.
Pen-y-Pass - the start of many walks up Snowdon
Heading along the Miner's Track

The small Llyn Teyra
The causeway on Llyn Llydaw
One of the derelict mine buildings
The Miner's Track climbs up towards Glaslyn
With the rain turning to snow, we left the Miner's Track at Glaslyn to start making our way up Y Gribin which climbs some 200m up to Bwlch y Saethau. With fresh, slippery snow underfoot it was slow going but we made it in one piece. Y Gribin is probably best compared to Tryfan's north ridge, lots of big blocks and a few tricky little scrambles but nothing that should put off a confident walker.
Y Gribin
Glaslyn
Looking back to Llyn Llydaw
The lower slopes of Snowdon over Glaslyn
Y Gribin - our route of ascent
Starting the climb
Looking up Y Gribin
Looking back down Y Gribin
A sketchy grassy ledge
Y Gribin
Reaching the top
By the time we had reached Bwlch y Saethau, between Y Lliwedd and Snowdon, it had stopped snowing but the clouds stubbornly refused to lift. After donning our crampons and having a bite to eat, we spent the next hour or so making the final climb directly to the summit, up the steep slope above Clogwyn y Garnedd, rather than following the Watkin Path.
Climbing the steep slope above Clogwyn y Garnedd
The sun tries to poke through
Hafod Eryri
Vague hints of blue greeted our arrival and Snowdon's summit but no views were revealed. We pottered around for a few moments, enjoying having Wales' highest mountain to ourselves for a while before heading north to find the Pyg Track. Almost immediately, spectacular views began to reveal themselves - the cloud only lingering on Snowdon's summit.
Snowdon's summit
One of yours truly
We followed the Pyg Track down beneath the slopes of Crib Goch until the path became suitably snow-free as to stop and remove our winter equipment. The Pyg Track remains high above Llyn Llydaw to reach the twin stile at Bwlch y Moch (pass of the pigs) which is one of the possible sources of the Pyg Track's name (though it's generally regarded to come from the Pen y Gwyrd Hotel).
Starting our descent down the Pyg Track
The Pyg Track
Glaslyn

The Pyg Track
Y Gribin with Y Lliwedd beyond
Looking towards Moel Siabod
Y Lliwedd

Snowdon
Y Gribin once again
Y Lliwedd over Llyn Llydaw
Craig Fach
The light was starting to fail as we finally reached Pen-y-Pass once again, satisfied with a quality winter outing. Another shout out to the staff at Plas y Brenin who are excellent. If you're considering taking your hill walking into the winter months that there's no better place to learn the skills necessary to make the most of it.
The double stile below Crib Goch
Crib Goch
Llyn Llydaw and Y Lliwedd
The Pyg Track
View to Llanberis
The Llanberis Pass
Pen y Pass