A Grand Day Out 7: Meeting Frostyby Nigel R Lewis Feb/2009
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The drive north up the A470 was like driving through a ski resort. There are score of families out with toboggans and sledges, people skiing and lovely sunshine. This is going to be great.
I'm attempting to fit in all the Welsh Hewitts this year, and today's goals are Fan Frynych and Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad itself. Wales are playing Scotland in the rugby, so I've been left to come alone.
By 1150hrs, I'm locking up the car. I set off up the path from the lay-by into the cwm below Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad.
Visibility is good, and I can see what route I'm going to take. At the head of the path is a sty and then I'm into deeper snow. I'm in the right area for the path, but you wouldn't know it. Someone has broken a trail, so I just follow their steps. Sometimes the snow is knee deep, other times no higher than the top of your boot. The wind is fairly light and it's great to be out.
Sometimes the footprints I'm following don't always take the best line, so I strike out across what would be a bracken field in the spring. As I get higher, so visibility drops and the wind picks up. By the time I've reached the bwlch between today's peaks, I can see no more than a few hundred metres.
A guy walks past carrying his cross country skis. He says it was great skinning up hill, but he's having difficulty skiing down because of the tussocks of grass poking through the snow.
From the head of the pass, visibility drops right down and I start to pace out my distance. From a certain point I need to follow a bearing if I'm to find the trig point in this gloom. When I get there, it's not too difficult at all, and I follow a line of footprints onto my bearing. Although visibility is bad, I'm definitely on a path and definitely going in the right direction. I take a few cold pictures on the summit of Fan Frynich, but I could be anywhere! I certainly can't see the edge of the mountain.
I follow my back bearing to the bwlch and get stung with ice pellets in my face. I can barely keep my eyes open. This isn't pleasant. From the bwlch I follow the path toward the top of Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad, mindful that the edge is quite close. Rime has formed on a wire fence so that horizontal hollow box shapes stick out from the wire sections. Visibility is still bad and as I near the top I can see that there are little cornices forming.
As I start to drop back down toward the road, it clears and I can see as far as the Storey Arms. My only problem now is what will the ground be like when I reach the steep bit of the descent? If it's really icy, it will be hairy! But, when I get there, not only is it easily passable, there are a few sections where I can bum slide down the powdery steep snow.
It's a quick romp back to the car, but even then, the snow and gloom catch me up so that the drive home is less than easy.
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