Saturday 17th January 2015 and conditions were just right for Jacob and I to walk up Pen Y Fan. Sandra stayed at base camp in Brecon (aka Morrisons) and James was playing hockey in Gloucester. We tried a back road to stay away from the hoards first but it was too icy. So we ended up going up from Storey Arms with everyone else. It was quite a slippy start but with a couple of walking sticks it was okay. Jacob got the snow shoes on and went off piste, he had a good session in them, then I had a bit of a go.
They’re still as much fun as when I bought them (https://garywilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/snowshoes-are-brilliant/) but the sides of the mountain on this route up are pretty boring. No gorse bushes to fall into. The path was a bit polished by the time we got on it so the snow shoes were probably easier than staying on the path.
Jacob took plenty of pictures, trying to get a snap of some of the birds hanging in the wind. When we were near the top a drone came over head. That was very impressive because we didn’t see the operator at all, so they must have been a way off, and when it got to the top it didn’t seem to notice the wind and it was really blowing a gale.
When we got to the top of Corn Du we melted some snow and had a hot chocolate. As we came over the top of the ridge it was blowing a gale but further along it was better. There was someone digging a snow-hole in a drift with his new aluminium shovel and people snow-boarding.
We didn’t quite get the views from the top we wanted because the cloud base was very low. The rocks were all very icy and before getting far I decided to put my new crampons on as I’d fallen base over apex once already. Then we marched up to Pen Y Fan with no problems at all.
We didn’t stay long on the top and headed down straight away. Some of the views were cracking and it was great seeing folks with crampons, ice axes, snow boards and sledges all out enjoying themselves. I was glad I had the crampons on as going down with them on was a doddle.
We got back to the car park and Sandra was waiting ready to provide pasties, hot dogs and tea. As usual I’d managed to screw up the science and left the thermometer on the seat of the car. It wasn’t that cold in the pass, about 3 ºC. As we’d come back down the same route we can still make a different winter ascent on another path! Let’s hope the snow holds out until next weekend!