Attending: Vicky Ward, Rónán Davison-Kernan, Lisa Davison-Kernan, Kyle Stewart, Paul Halstead, Peter Dempsey, Claire Hardy, Emma Thompson, Rachel Sinnamon
BCC made its first official trip overseas this Easter thanks to the organisational prowess of our meets secretary, Vicky, who spent the last few months herding cats and booking ferries and the bunkhouse.
The weather gods appeared to be in a good mood and the prospect of a good forecast softened the 4.30am Alpine start on Saturday morning as we made our way down in two cars to Dublin port for the 7.45am sailing to Holyhead. Due to ferry sales and people committing to the trip at different times we had a mix of car and foot passengers but were able to essentially smuggle everyone aboard in the cars by bamboozling the security staff at the port.
Aboard the mighty MV Ulysses, plans were hatched, nonsense was talked about some sleep was made up.
Arriving in Wales, we stocked up on essentials (beer, biscuits, and in Rachel's case, beetroot) and made the long (not) drive to Llanberis. We were staying at the Rucksack Club hut in the Llanberis Pass, just above Nant Peris.
There's no phone signal in the pass so finding the hut was surprisingly difficult - at one point we in Kyle's car had to stop and ask - is this what the 1990s were like?
The hut was a classic climber's hut - full of vintage bits of climbing gear and black and white photos of people with hemp rope halfway up an Alp or a Himalaya. Once settled, and full of energy and psyche, we promptly lay on the grass outside the hut and nearly fell asleep. Eventually climbing plans were made and Paul and Peter headed to Bus stop Quarry to play on the slate while Rónán, Kyle, Claire, Rachel and Emma walked up to Craig Ddu and got a few routes in (Canol, Black Wall, and Rib and Slab) on wet and chossy looking but dry and excellent rock (work that one out) in glorious sunshine.
Friends of Kyle, Rónán and Lisa from uni (LA and Dom plus Sam and Anna) were also staying in the hut and as Sunday was Easter, they, along with Paul and Peter, made a plan to go scrambling on the Llech Ddu in the Carneddau to avoid the crowds. Vicky met up with some friends as well to walk up Yr Wyddfa/Snowdon from Pen Y Pass while Rachel, Emma and Claire were for a multipitch on the East face of Tryfan. We will return to them later...
...Meanwhile, thanks to faff and miscommunication made worse by our modern dependence on mobile signal, LA's car headed off quite a while before the rest were ready. By the time Kyle and Paul's cars had reached the start of the walk in for the Llech Ddu the rest had headed on. Things went wrong from the start when Rónán's navigation went a bit pear shaped and the wrong river was followed into the wrong valley. Promptly realising this (1 hour later), Rónán informed the others that the Llech Ddu was no longer a realistic probability and in any case it turned out the other group were already near the top of it. Cutting their losses, our intrepid explorers returned to the cars and decided on the North Ridge of Tryfan which, since it starts near enough from the road, is much harder to get lost trying to find.
This ridge is superb. It provides quality scrambling on good rock, and you can essentially pick your own difficulty as there are numerous options and bypasses available. The weather was again fantastic and the late start meant the ridge wasn't crowded. Thoroughly enjoyable - the scariest bit is probably jumping between Adam and Eve on the summit! Our group returned to the bunkhouse, had dinner, and toasted snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
However, at 9pm Kyle pointed out that there was as yet neither word nor sign of Claire, Rachel and Emma. Kyle and Rónán drove down to where there was phone signal and eventually made contact with Emma through facebook messenger, who sent one of the more unusual messages I've seen:
Perhaps some context to this would be useful. The previous week, a mountain biking mishap had led to some pointy pedals taking a chunk out of Rachel's right shin. Over the course of their day's climb on Tryfan (on a 7 pitch route, not sure of the name) this wound had become rather swollen and painful and a fall on the last pitch had led to Rachel banging it off the rock and made things altogether worse. In high spirits nonetheless, the three headed down via the South col and Kyle and Rónán drove up to the base of Tryfan and walked in to meet them on their descent. After stopping back at the bunkhouse for food, Kyle drove to Bangor hospital to get Rachel's leg checked out where, it being a sunny Easter in Wales, half the world appeared to be in some state of sunburn or injury. Despite being reassured that there was in fact a doctor on site (a doctor? in a hospital?) and meeting people who had been there for almost 12 hours, Rachel was seen quickly and dismissed and told to return the following day, but only after being given drugs she was allergic to, followed by an injection to counteract the allergic reaction.
But Monday was a new day, and all was well. Paul and Peter returned to the slate quarries for some bolt clipping, while Lisa, Rónán and Kyle took a pilgrimage to North Wales' finest gourmet establishment/greasy spoon, Pete's Eats, to bid farewell to their friends travelling back to Stevenage. Claire and Emma set off up yr Wyddfa/Snowdon while Rachel joined them after a trip back to the hospital. Vicky, Rónán and Kyle paid a visit to Dinas Cromlech, the (in)famous crag perched above the Pass, with a double-Pigeon-Rock walk in. Every route at this imposing crag is famous and steeped in climbing history. The walk in is quite exposed and a bit unsettling (especially the scramble at the top), at least for Rónán and Vicky, whose psyche had evaporated and both wanted to be attached to something at the base of the routes. Kyle, undeterred by such trivialities as fear, tied on and climbed the ultra-classic Cenotaph Corner (first climbed by Joe Brown in 1952). This E1 route was described to us as "basically a VS with one E1 move at the top" - an entirely fallacious and sandbagging description. It's very much top end E1, but nonetheless superb.
Rónán then had a go at Left Wall, the notorious E2 crack which had been gnawing at him since about 2012. This route is never desperate and has good gear but just keeps going and going and Rónán snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, peeling off with terminal pump one move before the security of the finishing jugs. Kyle and Vicky seconded, naturally, in good style.
Lisa hadn't been feeling well and hadn't come climbing earlier but did unfortunately turn up at the crag just as the other three were leaving - but the Cromlech boulders provided some compensation.
Tuesday was our last day and after cleaning out the hut everyone drove to the roadside Bus Stop Quarry, a slate crag. This gave a couple of trad and sport routes to keep us entertained for a few hours before we had to get the ferry. Slate is strange rock to climb on - very smooth so almost impossible to smear on, but with sharp edges that are surprisingly good, if you can reach them.
We took the fast ferry home, arriving in Dublin port at 6.45pm. The Dublin port tunnel costs €10 until 7pm and €3 after so we, along with everyone else heading northbound, drove as slowly as possible out of the port to wind down the clock. It was a bizarre sight - cars stopped on hard shoulders with hazards on, everyone else going 40 kph, until the stroke of 7 when everyone suddenly sped up.
But yes. This is all a very roundabout way of saying that we had an excellent and eventful 4 days, with perfect weather and great craic. This report is written from my perspective so I’ve missed a lot of what other people got up to - apologies. Thank you everyone for coming and thanks particularly to Vicky for organising, and for providing the biscuits!