Wednesday 3rd May 2017: GW/NW-004 Y Garn
Another day with a forecast of sunshine and high winds. We had hoped to book a trip to Bardsey Island but the boat was fully booked, so plan B was Y Garn. Having done Tryfan with Gerald he had suggested we should be able to manage the Devil’s Kitchen route, despite it looking completely daunting. So we decided to head for the Idwal Cottage parking and after being entertained by a very friendly pair of Robins in the car park as we togged up, we headed up the motorway of a path. The views were excellent as we headed up to Llyn Idwal. Lots of people were enjoying the shoreline, and there were climbers ascending the rocks under Glyder Fawr.
We took the path on the eastern side of the lake, which probably wasn’t the best choice, but it looked to provide a more angled approach. The path was rocky and generally well defined, but it was about to provide Caroline with her scariest point of the holiday, and this was definitely a “never again” moment. The problem was a steep and rocky stream crossing with rapidly cascading water. We spent a while looking up and down the rocks for a good crossing point, and eventually decided to try a point where marks on rocks suggested that others had been crossing. After working out where to hold on Martyn was across, but Caroline struggled to get hand holds to allow her to pull herself across and ended up stuck for a while with one leg being splashed by spray as she tried to find a way over. Eventually she managed to get her hands further over and finally managed to get over, and crawled up the rocks the other side. We were definitely not going back that way, but there did look to be a steeper but less hazardous descent to the west side of Llyn Idwal.
Devil's Kitchen: we're going up there? really?
We continued along the angled path which became screeier and then turned left and steeper and rockier. The rocks were awkward in places, and we needed to look for “Gerald” steps, but we made our way carefully up – nothing as scary as the stream crossing! The ascent so far had been sheltered from the high winds, but as we turned a corner as the gradient eased we were suddenly hit by very strong winds funneling over the col, and at times it was hard to stand up or make any progress. Descending walkers told us they had ascended via Pinnacle Crag Ridge and that had been very windy too. We made our way slowly to the col, and the wind dropped a bit. The path became easier and views of Y Garn opened up. We passed the small lake and headed up the well-worn path to the summit (using the path furthest from the ridge to avoid the worst wind).
Now the going is getting easier up Y Garn
Once again there was no trig point, and we picked a spot to the south of the summit cairn as the least windy position, though the wind was blustery. Caroline concentrated on VHF/UHF, getting 7 contacts on 70cms and 18 on 2m FM, interspersed with a single 40m S2S contact. This contact led to a minor disaster: as Caroline left her station for the contact, she left her part eaten lunch tucked in the rocks by her station, when she returned the lunch box and lunch were still there, but the lid which had been loose was nowhere to be seen, presumably blown away. We searched for the lid but it was nowhere to be found: I don’t like leaving litter on hills, and had had that particular box for many years - it’s been on all my SOTA activations that have included lunch and nicely fits our standard lunch of two rolls and a piece of cake! HF wasn’t particularly good, Martyn getting 11 5MHz contacts and just 4 on 7MHz.
VHF station with lunch box before it lost its lid.
Which way to descend? We didn’t really fancy trying to get back down Devil’s Kitchen – even though there looked to be a way to avoid the “never again” stream crossing, the ascent had been sufficiently awkward and we’re less good at going down than up. However, the Pinnacle Crag ridge route would be more wind exposed, but from the summit the ridge looked reasonably wide, so we decided to try it. The top section was slightly screey, but once past that the path seemed generally good, and the ridge was wide enough that the wind wasn’t a serious problem. The views were also good and we descended to head along the north edge of Llyn Idwal. The friendly robins were still in the car park and amused us some more as we removed our boots.
A good day, despite the scare! Gerald's comment about route finding being the key earlier in this thread seems relevant here - I think we didn't on this occasion!