Mid-week Snowdonia

Helen and I took advantage of the dry weather and a few spare days to grab a mid-week Welsh hit before the school holidays started and the hoardes arrived. Beudy was free – the perfect base – but a potentially showery outlook had us casting our net beyond The Pass. Carreg Mianog, in the Ogwen Valley on the southern slopes of the Carneddau looked to fit the bill: Sunny, south-facing and only 20mins from the road – it also features a much-acclaimed 3* VS that neither of us had done.

You park at the same spot as for Craig yr Ysfa and stomp up the steep tarmac before turning left to follow a good path on the left side of a drainage channel. The guidebook is a bit ambiguous where you cross this to head up to the crag – we felt the best option was to cross the stream on a steel footway above a weir

before crossing the water channel via a footbridge, then grinding up through bracken and boulders from the righthand end of the crag.

Both photos taken on the descent

Even with a better choice of path, you’d need to be moving quite fast to cover 2km and 250m of ascent in 20mins, so I’d take that part of the guidebook description with a pinch of salt. However, they weren’t wrong about the stunning outlook over Tryfan.

I’d forgotten how clearly visible Adam and Eve are from the valley!

The crag itself is a bit of an anomaly, being composed of Cwm Eigiau formation sandstone (apparently!) which isn’t like anything you might find at Frodsham or Bleau. Smooth and fine-grained, and weathered into interesting spiky holds. Cracked Arete, the aforementioned 3* VS takes the (… you guessed) eponymous feature on upper left end of the crag.

It genuinely is a very good route – steep, with good holds and on solid rock. No pushover but well protected.

The threatened drizzle duly arrived and we decided to call it a day – prematurely as it happened, though none of the other routes looked to be in the same league nor showed any signs of traffic.

By the time we were back at the hut, The Pass was bathed in sunshine.

Helen demonstrating the yoga pose: Phone Signal Seeking

Next morning the lawn maintenance team arrived, and so did the mini heat-wave.

Nice day for a train ride, but not for us!

Despite the fact that Craig Ddu is only 10 minutes walk from Beudy, and that it was the scene of the very first route that Helen and I did in The Pass (Rib and Slab), we haven’t been back in the intervening 40 years! That’s largely due to it being very subject to seepage (though the black rock does accentuate the look of unclimbable wetness at first glance). No excuse today (all be it the left side of the crag still had a few streaks of damp) We headed for Yellow Groove, a VS on the right, taking a diagonal scramble up the lower wall before a very fine pitch up the left of the obvious pillar…

… before a move out rightwards into the clean-cut groove.

As a bonus you can rap off some situ gear on the Holly tree.

Zigzag, another VS, is the classic of the crag – rarely in condition but well worth seeking out when it is. You can just about run the two pitches together, the first of which is interesting on generally solid rock with spaced gear, and the second easier, but still wet and with some suspect rock.

Sea Panther is another one to bag before the drought ends – great fun though the runouts are sensibly reflected in the E1 5a grade. Mostly good, positive holds if you have the confidence to trust they will appear, with one tricky move around the 20ft mark.

Easy walk off down the left hand end of the crag
After a day basking in the Snowdonia sunshine it’s as dry as a bone.

Not quite so scorchio the next day but we decided to stick it out in The Pass and do something on the Grochan. Babel is a 1* HVS on the far right of the crag, and one of the few routes we hadn’t done at a reasonable grade. I say “reasonable” but if you tackle it direct (rather than sneaking in from the gully) it’s nails! The rest of P1 is OK and gets you to The Oval (where you can ab from if you don’t want the full tick). P2 was even less travelled but fair at 5a, but P3 was a real grunge-fest. If it’s not dry now it’s hard to know when it would be. I reversed back to The Oval with a top-rope through some ancient tat and we quit whilst we were ahead. So much for seeking out less popular routes!

The view from The Oval

By contrast, Spectre is very well-travelled, to the point of being a bit shiny. Despite that, it’s a great route, with two challenging crack pitches – the upper offwidth being a particularly memorable wrestle.

A 60m rap from here gets you straight down into your shoes – how convenient!

Time for some liquid refreshments on the lawn outside the hut, enjoining the sunset over Llanberis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s