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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Obscured by clouds -2 day's in the Glyderau.

I received a message from Chris @Chrisw00dcock to ask if I was out for the weekend as he had a window for an overnighter on Saturday night. I already had a 2 day trip planned in the Glyderau , so after a few more messages we arranged to meet in Capel Curig. I pulled into the car park by joe browns at around 8 AM ( we had arranged to meet at around 8.30 ) The journey from my house takes around 2 hrs 20 mins but I like to allow 1/2 hr or so incase of traffic. Chris pulled in around 10 mins later and after an introduction we got our kit ready and set of along Nant y Benglog. We left this soon after to take the path leading to Creigiau r Gelli.

 Climbing upwards I could see the higher summits holding snow..It was raining at our level, I knew this would turn to snow as we gained height and we continued on.

The forecast had predicted  snow flurries before clearing in the afternoon. The next weather front was due to move in through the night, bringing winds to 50mph, heavy snow that would turn to rain as the temperature rose during the night. Passing over Cefn y Capel the rain turned to snow and the ground became firmer under foot, Bwlch Goleuni was crossed and then came the steep climb to Gally yr Ogof.

The path descends from here, passing a pool - which today was frozen over- a covering of snow hiding it from view requiring careful navigation to avoid walking through it.

Another steep ascent and we gained the summit of Y Foel Goch where we entered a world dominated by white snow , heavy mist and moderate snow fall - a whiteout, much different to conditions in the valley, this is a dangerous place for the ill prepared and Chris commented it was like something out of  'Scott of the Antarctic' and I agreed with him ! The next section leading down to Llyn Caseg fraith passes several pools surrounded by some very boggy ground, I made good use of view ranger to steer us safely through them- visibility down to less than 10 mtrs at some points.

We would  need water for a high camp in the Glyderau, so next point of call was to locate Llyn Caseg Fraith to collect water. This also Turned out to be froze over and hidden from view- I managed to locate the shore line on the far side, but also located a boggy area next to it! and as I turned my right leg went crashing in through some thin ice up to my thigh , I signalled to Chris to head for rocky ground further away, then made my way gingerly towards it. A few minute later and Chris suffered the same fate !

I had originally planned to camp near Castell y Gwynt on a spot I spied on my last trip- some flat grass amongst a rocky area which would provide shelter , or head to Glyder Fawr to a site I had camped at on the same trip.

Commencing the climb to Glyder Fach the full on winter conditions combined with wet clothing was taking its toll on Chris and I decided on plan b - a sheltered spot just under  200 ft from the summit which I had also previously used would provide a good pitch for the night.

Once there we prepared a site for the shelters, the Soulo was quickly pitched so I could get max in, then I helped Chris put up his Trailstar  before he got in and into his down bag for a brew and to warm up.

With Chris safely in his shelter I set to melting snow for Camp, I'd taken my winter stove/pot and sufficient gas - and was very glad I had  with all water sources being froze over.

After filling Chris's water bottle I could relax and get myself settled in my tent with a hot brew, the snow had stopped by now and the wind had dropped to a gentle breeze. I spent a relaxing few hours with the doors of the inner wide open, and also the outer tent door, warm in my down bag with a brew before I had my customary whisky to 'toast' my day in the mountains. The low cloud still obscured the view, but nonetheless it was still very enjoyable to just lie and appreciate 'just being' there.

As darkness fell the skies began to clear and the first stars appeared , lying there warm and content I gazed up through the outer door, totally mesmerised by a spectacle few people seldom see.

I hadn't been able to get any footage or pics during the day, my sony rx100, unlike the Fuji is not weather sealed and I didn't fancy getting it wet, so once dark enough I got out to take some night shots.

Camp on Glyder Fach

Stars over Glyder Fach.

Stars over Glyder Fach.

Later that evening the wind began to pick up and the snow returned signalling the next frontal system making its way in, reluctantly I closed the outer door and enjoyed the rest of the evening relaxing listening to sound of winds and snow on the flysheet, enjoying a meal and a few more whisky's before  I called it a night.

I awoke a couple of times in the night, the wind was changing direction  blowing spindrift in through the top vent so I closed it, then closed the inner tent before opening the mesh panel fully to try and vent it.

When I awoke the next morning the winds were very strong and it was still snowing heavily , I went to check on Chris who informed me he'd had the best nights sleep ever - around 14 hrs ! a little spindrift had made its way in covering his gear, but the Trailstar hadn't moved an inch. Chris was pleased with how it had handled the weather, no surprise to me - I've used one for the past 3-4 yrs and know it can cope. Chris located his cup and I went back to my shelter to melt more snow taking him a morning brew soon after.

The winds were very strong by now I'd say around 50 mph, but was unable to confirm this due to loosing my skywatch on a previous camp! The snow had now turned to sleet, causing the outside of my flysheet to be covered in a thin veneer of clear ice - 1st time ive experienced this phenomenon.

After breakfast I went over to Chris and told him to put his clothes into his bag to warm before packing everything away under cover. Returning to my tent I packed up before dropping the soulo, then went over to help Chris drop the Trailstar.

The return path was via the miners path towards Cwm Tryfan, but 1st I had to locate the start- fresh snow had covered the paths. Viewranger once again came in very handy, locating  the descent line that traverses around the top of some crags, before dropping steeply down into the Cwm, Chris especially enjoyed this part, partly due to the fact that he finally got some views.

Tryfan appears through the mist, on descent along the miners path.

The path leads down to the Valley floor where the path along Nant y Benglog, provides an easy return to Capel Curig.

This was Chris's 1st wildcamp in full on winter conditions, and he coped very well. He must have enjoyed it , as he's since informed me he will defiantly go back - hopefully to some views.

As I said at the beginning, I was unable to get any pics due to the conditions and the fact that the views were 'obscured by clouds', so here are some pics from a previous trip to show that the views, on a good day, really are spectacular. 

Pool, Glyder Fach and Tryfan.

Looking back to Y Foel Goch, from ascent to Glyder Fach.

Tryfan with Pen yr Ole Wen beyond.

Llyn  Caseg fraith and Tryfan.

View along the Y garn ridge from Glyder Fach.

Panorama looking West from Glyder Fach. 

Camp on Glyder Fach , the top of  Tryfan just visible.

Once back at the cars Chris produced a couple of gifts as a thank you for taking him on a trip- totally unexpected, but very welcome nonetheless.

Whisky for me and treats for max...

Till next time.
Happy WildCamping.
Daron :-)


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Hilleberg Soulo mod.

I've had a Hilleberg Solulo for a few mths now and spent around 6 nights in it so far, its stood up to heavy winds, snow and rain exceptionally well and I've always felt secure in it. I initially wanted a shelter that was free standing , was easy to pitch and ( although I hate to use the word ) bomber in a winter storm . most of all I wanted a shelter that I could simply pitch - move in, and then forget about it over night - no getting out , tightening guys, or moving snow off the fly sheet. In all of these aspects it has been superb.

whilst pitching on rough/stony ground I came across an idea for a mod to make life easier. One such pitch was in the Black Mountains where I was pitched on an exposed ridge in 45mph winds. I had to pitch on short-ish heather - around 12" in depth and experienced a problem getting the  ground pegs in well enough to get a taught fly sheet, the tent coped well , albeit  with a bit of fly sheet flapping.

On another occasion on stony ground, I couldn't get the pegs in and had to tie a length of dyneema to extend guy point to where I could get the peg in.

the mod basically consists of 6 lineloks on a short loop of cross grain ( these were obtained from paul at treadlite ) he has a store on ebay. These are fitted with around 12" of 2mm dyneema. The Total weight is a very acceptable 25 grams!

Below is a little video showing the mod.

    Till next time..
Happy Wild Camping.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2 Day's in the Arenigs.

For the last backpack of the year I chose to revisit one of my favourite area's for when I want peace and solitude and it didn't disappoint.. I only saw 1 person ( at a distance , descending Arenig Fawr ) during the whole 2 days I was there. The area in question was the Arenigs-  a quiet, wild area located in the eastern corner of Snowdonia.

Checking the weather over the previous days showed a good chance of snow, so with a sack full of winter gear , and my faithful hill walking companion in tow ( max - my 7 yr old springer spaniel ) we set of on the 2 hour drive from my house to the quiet country lane at the foot of Llyn Arenig Fawr.

Parking in the small layby I shouldered my pack and took the track that leads round Llyn Arenig Fawr to the small bothy and the start of the ascent to Arenig Fawr. I intended popping in, but as I got nearer I could see smoke coming from the chimney signalling it was occupied. Due to its compact size I decided to leave them in peace and commenced the uphill climb.

Y Castell from ascent to Arenig Fawr.

Soon I reached the snow line and the breeze picked up which combined with a temperature of around 0 deg c , gave a whind chill of around -8 deg c. Rime frost clung to fence posts and wire, creating some wonderfull sculpture type shapes.

Arenig Fawr north and south tops from Bwlch Blaen y nant.

Rime frost covered fence near Arenig Fawr summit.

Topping out at Bwlch Blaen y nant the main summit of Arenin Fawr comes into view and I took a pathless direct line to the summit cairn and a memorial plaque dedicated to crew of an American Flying Fortress  (B17) which crashed on the summit during World War 11.

Approaching Arenig Fawr summit cairn.

Max and Arenig Fawr summit cairn

Arenin Fawr summit cairn and memorial plaque.

View North from Arenig Fawr.

Continuing south along the ridge I picked up the fence line running SW. There were good views of my next target - Moel Llyfnant from here and soon I reached the Bwlch where I collected water before climbing to the summit.

Moel Llyfnant from descent from Arenig Fawr.

Looking back to Arenig Fawr.

Ascending Moel Llyfnan, looking back to Arenig Fawr.

Once I reached the summit I scoured the area for a sheltered pitch, and found a nice sheltered spot between 2 rocky outcrops- very near the summit cairn. As I was  pitching a blizzard blew in covering every thing in snow - inc max who did his best to shelter by some rocks whilst I raced to get the soulo pitched. Once up I quickly detached the inner to keep it from getting covered in snow , then got in and sorted myself and max out - warm dry down jkt/pants and booties for me, I took max,s winter walking coat off,  and put on his very warm camp coat .

Camp on Moel Llyfnant.

Warm and dry inside the tent I made a brew whilst listening to sound of snow on the flysheet- it would continue most of the night. Around sunset there was a brief lull and I took the opportunity to get out and re-attach the inner, there was a lovely glow over Arenig Fawr so I took a few pic,s at the same time.

Evening light over Arenig Fawr. 

With the temperature dipping I was soon back in the tent. Before getting in I took a temp. reading  -3 deg c. and it wasn't dark yet - it was going to be a cold one ! A few more readings were taken during the evening as I was curious to see the difference between inside and outside of my tent. I have no idea of what temperature dipped to, as after a meal and several whisky's I fell asleep. when I awoke I reached for my skywatch but couldn't find it - once home I realised what had happened - I put it by max in his bed to see how warm it was, but fell asleep before reading it - it must have got caught on his coat , and dropped off when I let  him out of the tent the next morning.

Waking at around 7.30 am I peered out of the tent door, there was a lovely pre-dawn glow so I made myself a coffee, then got out to watch the sun come up. There was lots of mist coming and going but I got some good pic,s during the clearer periods.

Moel Llyfnant summit cairn.

Sunrise from Moel Llyfnant.

It was a cold one, Frost on the Hilleberg Soulo.

Camp on Moel Llyfnant , quite a bit of fresh snow fell during the night. note the snow depth behind my tent !

Moel Llyfnant summit cairn and Arenig Fawr beyond.

Moel Llyfnant.

Looking North from Moel Llyfnant.

After breakfast and a few more brews I packed the gear away and got ready to leave my lofty snow covered home for the night , following the fence line north I left it to descend the pathless snow covered hillside towards Amnodd - bwll where I picked up the good forestry track and followed it NW which lead back to the quiet lane, which left an easy road walk of around 2 miles back to my van .

Till next time
Happy wildcamping
P.s if anyone finds a skywatch on Moel Llyfnant , give us a shout :-)

Arenig Fawr from descent from Moel Llyfnant.

Heading towards Amnodd- bwll. Arenig Fach beyond.