I activated Tal-y-Fan on March 12th in dull and drizzly weather as an easy alternative to the intended plod up Moel Siabod, expecting the weather to be better nearer the north coast (in which I was correct) and expecting it to be a doddle suited to the dank conditions. Boy, was I wrong! There was indeed a nice easy path up to the col, and then an obvious path amongst the rocks on the right - mistake number one was following this path, there was a better path over the stile on the other side of the wall! The rock was wet, greasy, lichenous and mossy,and balance moves had to be replaced by yank and grunt moves with feet skating off unpredictably. There was a marked dip before the final pull up to the trig point, and the final pull up to the trig point was a short full-blooded scramble that in these conditions was a bit hairy.
The summit was obviously a really good viewpoint, although the view kept disapperaing in the clag! I sat on the sheltered side of the wall and worked 10 stations on 2m FM, getting rather damp but not cold, thank goodness! Frankly, at this point I didn’t fancy reversing my route, there had to be a better way down, and indeed there was, a simple route that makes this summit a doddle. So, here is the alternative route.
At the col, cross the stile and follow a well-worn track to the right. It heads straight for a rocky slope, but just before arriving at the rocks a fainter path branches off to the left. Follow it as it contours around but below the rock ridge…watch out for hungry wild ponies! After 100m or so there is an obvious cone of grass leading up to a dip on the skyline - ignore it, it is a snare and delusion and leads straight to the hardest part of the scramble. As you continue along the contouring path, keep a careful eye on the rocky slope, after about another 100 m a narrow tongue of rock-free grass leads up, with a faint track heading for it at an angle. Take this grass slope, it is fairly easy and leads direct to the trig point!
In poor conditions the rocky scramble is a pointless search for difficulty, although in fine weather it will be fun. The grass route described above is a good poor weather alternative.