21 May 2024

Bristly Ridge

Bristly Ridge got its name for a reason. It looks quite spectacular! I had noticed it before, of course; for instance, we had come past it on the New Year's Day walk with Sue and Dean. And I had seen people on the ridge. I had been keen to give it a try myself, but it looked a bit too challenging to just try that on my own. I know about all the callouts in this area; I know very well you can't not take the mountains seriously! Before you know it, Mountain Rescue has to come for you.

Then I suddenly saw a scramble on that very ridge advertised on Facebook. And it was on a day where I had nothing timetabled. So I decided I should just seize that opportunity. And I registered!

I had once done a guided scramble before; on Cneifion ArĂȘte. I wasn't sure if this would be similar. I would later find out it wasn't; that was a grade 3 scramble, when we would be doing was only a grade 1.

It wasn't an awful lot of communication about it. Not where and what time to meet, nor what to bring. I emailed the organisation to ask about this, and a man called Richard answered me and suggested he could pick me up. But I didn't get the time and place for pick up until the morning of the trip. He also asked me to fill out some health declaration. So far I wasn't very impressed with how well this thing was organised! But I showed up, health form filled out at 7AM, at the correct time and place.

A man addressed me; it was Richard. He introduced me to the man in the passenger seat: Dewi. It was foggy, and raining a bit, so the views weren't very good, but at least we would probably be okay to park at Idwal cottage. And we were! And met two other participants: Laura and Julian.

Only there did become clear to me that Dewi was going to be our guide, and Richard was going off in a different direction with a different client. Oh well! That's fine. So we set off. While walking, Dewi asked us a bit about our experience. And some generic things such as where we were from. I had the impression we were a nice group.

Starting the walk

We walked up to Llyn Bochlwydd. There we had a little break for coffee and a snack. And slowly, the weather was improving! From there, we walked up to the pass. Again we stopped for a snack. And then the real fun was going to start!

That’s where we were going!

We started walking along the wall to Sinister Gully. And then the scramble began! It was a lot of fun. And the slightly nebulous surroundings were quite atmospheric. And it never got challenging, but I could easily imagine that if you take the wrong turn it might do, and you could easily end up cragfast. Or even slip. And then you have a big problem. It would take a while for mountain rescue to get to you! So I was having a whale of a time, and glad I had a mountain guide with me. I had the impression the others felt the same way.

All three of us in the gully. Pic by Dewi

After the gully it got even scramblier. At some point I recognised the little dip in the ridge that you could see so well from a distance. That had been my inspiration to end up here myself! And we happily climbed up on the other side.

Descending into the dip. Pic by Dewi

Clambering up on the other side. Pic by Dewi

More clambering. Pic by Dewi

We basically climbed our way out of the cloud. Close to the ridge it already got quite hot. And then we reached the actual ridge! It was sunny there. We decided to walk to the Cantilever for lunch. 

I tried to charge my phone and watch with my power bank, but I had made the classic mistake of not checking whether the power bank actually was full. It was not! So that didn't work. Oh well. We had our lunch, and then we did some obligatory Cantilever pictures.

Foggy Cantilever pic by Dewi

At the ridge, looking almost due south

From there we walked on to Castell y Gwynt, and then Glyder Fawr. It was sunny and beautiful. From there we walked back to where y Gribin starts. The midges were out, so we were glad to descend into the mist again. And y Gribin isn't as spectacular as Bristly Ridge; I had quite comfortably done it on my own with a full overnight backpack on, but there was enough fun to be had. And this ridge wasn't going to be taken for granted.

On the ridge

On y Gribin

At one scrambly bit, suddenly Julian's foot slipped. He still was holding on by his arms, but I could see he was desperately trying to find a foothold again, and failing. Luckily, in the end he managed, and pulled himself up again. Phew! 

When he was on solid ground again he was smiling, but he also had a veritable egg on his right bicep. It looked like it had gone into cramp! But we could see from Julian's face that it hadn't. This was really weird. We all hoped his arm would get back to normal by itself. Julian said it hurt a bit, as he had shock-loaded the muscle, but it wasn't bad, and his arm was functioning properly. Hopefully it would be better by the end of the walk.

Dewi decided this was enough excitement, and from there picked an easier going past down. It was still beautiful! At some point we could see Llyn Bochlwyd below us. And we thought we saw Richard and his client walking down. That would be good! After all, we would be car-sharing back down.

Llyn Bochlwyd from above

By the lake we met up again, and from their own we all walked back to the car park together. I had a bit of a chat with Richard. I was totally going to keep an eye on his company! I had had a lovely time. And doing more of that sounded like a good idea.

At the youth hostel I said goodbye to Laura and Julian, and not much later I was dropped off home. What a day! I am up for more of this. I quite like the low levels of faff of a grade 1 scramble, it turns out. Grade 3 is so much handling of ropes and slings and carabiners and whatnot. And this has been the higher end of grade 1, so more exciting than the lower end, but still without ropes, and that seems to be where I am quite happy!

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