Our second attempt at taking the kids up Tryfan, Snowdonia, after our first was an exercise in learning how to turn back by snow, ice and a much more challenging walk than we anticipated in February.
This time accompanied by our pals again and one other little scamp to add to the mix we left our lay-by at the foot of Tryfan around 10am. This time conditions were much much better, though the ground in the low levels was super boggy. The kids were plastered in water proof trousers and big boots and instructions to absolutely not get their feet wet before we’d even started the ascent. Wet feet almost always signal the end of a walk for us!
We opted for the Eastern side this time. Heading directly up towards Llyn Bochlwyd. Oddly that great big ball of fire in the sky showed its face intermittently so there was lots of changing layers until the higher points when it remained coolish. Zero wind made sure that wind chill wasn’t any concern we had near perfect conditions which after what feels like an eternity of winter was aaaaaaaaaamazing.
We cut the corner of the main path and headed directly up a rather horrible scree slope hoping to shave a few minutes off our journey time. We are slow moving. A walk that is meant to take 3-4 hours can take us double that or more due to little legs and lots of stops to eat Kinder Happy Hippos and collect rocks.
I’m keen to find a path most of the time. I recently messed up on Moel Sych by dragging everyone across a snowy heather and grass hillside in near whiteout conditions which was absolutely punishing. It made me appreciate a good path. Tryfan however, as Sarah gradually managed to drum into me has no real paths, there are faint tracks here and there but it’s mainly a climb through rocks and boulders, especially on the final ascent. Sarah stuck with Finn and I stuck with Erin and we climbed through the huge boulders, slabs and cracks high above the ground. I honestly couldn’t get over how well they both did, Finn needing the occasion boost up higher spots and Erin needing unsnagging from time to time they did super well.
This final ascent though is tough. I found it really hard going. Not from a physical sense but I was pretty damn nervous, more nervous than I’ve ever been, about the dangers at this point to the kids and just before the summit there’s a really close exposure point with sheer cliff face inches away. Again no paths here, it’s climbing rocks and crawling on my hands and knees. I honestly think I would of turned back if conditions hadn’t been really damn good and Sarah hadn’t reassure me in their physical ability and sensible attitude to it. It’s a serious mountain that way more experienced people than I die on every year. It made me realise that the last attempt in the snow and ice was daft. There’s no way we could of got up the last part not with the kids. Not worth the risk.
After the bad bit we hit the summit. Panoramic incredible views around Snowdonia. The kids picked a flat rock and demolished the picnic. There were quite a few folks up there too. Many coming the more challenging North Ridge route and many people commenting about how amazed they were to see our little gang on the top. It was great vibes up there though. We chatted with other climbers, families and watched a couple of insanely brave souls jump from Adam to Eve (I’m just going to add that it’s definitely not me ;)). The weather was amazing, spots of cloud but not a breath of wind. 3000ft up in Snowdonia and no wind. Amazing.
Coming down, we followed a few other folks down the same side we came up but a slightly easier route than we’d taken up. (you still have to do the bad exposure bit though :’(). A slow and steady descent thats pretty demanding on the knees. We headed the long way down and around the distinctive Miners track around the banks of Llyn Bochclywd before cutting across some grim boggy sections back to the car. The sun beamed down the Cwm and into the valley, amazing light, warm and put a skip in our step (along with more chocolate) a really great end to our most challenging ‘walk’ to date.
The kids were simply amazing on this. Way more able than I’d given them credit for and if that last exposure step near the summit wasn’t there I’d be super into doing it loads but it is and I won’t lie it made me shake with fear as the kids got close to it. Obviously this is a pretty personal reaction to it and people do it every day, but I really feel like I need to chuck a warning in on it. The kids walked all in all for 8 hours. That’s crazy and for Finn (5) who barely can be bothered to walk to school it’s even more unbelievable. Giving the kids something different and something challenging really does make a difference.