As the observant may have noticed Gerald successfully got us up Tryfan and more importantly safely back down again. He was an excellent guide and as well as finding the route also provided useful guidance on how to clamber round rocks, and managed to get me up steps I wouldn’t have thought I could manage (useful tip to look for footholds just behind to gain height) and to swing round rocks I wouldn’t have expected my little legs to make. I think the term “looking for a Gerald step” will become part of Martyn’s and my walking vocabulary!
Tryfan’s top was in the clouds as we started the ascent, but the forecast was for it to be dry and improve later. The ascent from Milestone Buttress car park heading south and then over Tryfan South Top wasn’t as bad as expected because the rocks are generally grippy, and there were lots of useful foot and hand holds. The scariest bit was the slab before the final summit ascent (and I suspect the activation area extends below it, though it’s all rather rocky). We were well in the clouds at this point and the lack of visibility may have helped when we got to that bit, though I accidentally looked over and wasn’t keen on what I saw. Gerald’s advice was just to crawl up the slab and I concentrated on just looking ahead and I was over the scary bit and the summit was in sight! Despite the cloud the summit was busy, so we decided to just do VHF/UHF. The summit was quieter by the time we were packing up, and just as we were about to leave the clouds started swirling away to give some views.
I still had to get down the slab, Gerald advised taking off my rucksack and easing myself down the slab on my bum, which I did with him passing my rucksack down to me once I was safely at the base. Martyn managed the bum shuffle still with his rucksack on, and we then dropped down to the col with South Peak. From here we decided to return via the Heather Terrace, which still had quite a few challenges, including one section where we needed to get under a rock which provided a challenge to my rucksack antenna, which Gerald has named the light sabre after I nearly hit him with it on the ascent.
Operating 70cms next to 2m antenna
Martyn operating 2m SSB
View through Adam and Eve as clouds start to clear
About to descend to Heather Terrace
I think this was the hardest walk of less than 6 miles I’ve ever done, mostly because the terrain meant that for much of the time I had to concentrate on every step, but it was worth the effort. It didn’t include the scariest aspect of the whole SOTA week (more of that in a later report), and there wasn’t anything I’d say “never again” to, though I doubt I’d want to try it again without a guide, since I’d be concerned about finding the right route through the rocks and not ending up at a dead end.
A real mountain goat on Tryfan