Well readers, I promised the next blog entry would be exciting. I therefore spent this weekend being chewed up and spat out by the best North Wales has to offer in terms of scrambling and mountain biking, all just to keep you guys happy.
We had a leisurely start from Chester yesterday, arriving at the foot of Tryfan at 09:00. Our chosen routes for the day were Milestone Buttress Approach (3, ***) and Milestone Continuation (3, **). The day started well, as we geared up under the wrong route (only a Diff, it’s not like we were about to head up an E5 or anything). With some advice from friendly passers-by, we soon found the right bit of rock.
I led the first pitch to the Pulpit, and we alternated leads so James got the pitch which included a large flake. He practically ran across it in a rather exposed position, but I didn’t follow suit and ended up firmly stuck atop it, one leg either side. Unable to go forwards or backwards, and acutely aware that I was being watched by a party at the bottom of the crag, I opted for the ever-dignified flop off the side. I’d like to think I redeemed myself by leading the next pitch, which included an evil-looking crack that I managed to get up with swearing or getting scared.
Thus, Milestone Buttress Approach was ticked off the list. A nice route, but pretty short. We then trudged on up a load of heather to the start of Milestone Continuation. A group were being instructed on the first pitch (during a conversation with the guide, he called the Ashton book “The Steve Ashton Suicide Guide“, which is a new one on me!), so we picked a way up the side. The guidebook seems to indicate that the route then continues up to the North Ridge, but it actually just consists of heather plodding. If you really wanted to, you could pick a contrived and convoluted route up the rocky bits, and maybe pick out some Grade 1 steps, but they all consist of pretty much a single move and then more heather. My advice is to do the dog-leg crack section and then turn around and go home! Definitely not a ** route, I don’t think. We carried on up to just below the summit (crawling with people, unlike last time) and then dropped off the west face path. We then proceeded to lie on the grass next to the car in the sun; James fell asleep while I ate Jaffa Cakes. Job done.
Today involved more leg-powered work, this time riding the Marin Trail in the Gwydyr Forest between Betws y Coed and Llanrwst. It’s a 25km route involving 450m of climbing, and it turned out to be really good fun. There’s lots of sections which are reminiscent of the old national downhill course in Beddgelert – fast, rocky, and loose. I liked it.
I was using my new bike, which you’ll remember has no front brake, a jump frame, and only has a big chain ring on the front. Consequently, it wasn’t the easiest day I’ve ever had. The puncture at the absolute far-point of the ride didn’t help, but was quickly dealt with and certainly didn’t spoil a very enjoyable ride. The route definitely deserves it’s reputation, and I was happy with a time of 2h 45m, especially given the ridiculous (foolhardy?) bike setup I had. My athletes diet of half a ham sandwich and a packet of wine gums probably helped.