|"Echoes in Shadow" Snowdon © Glyn Davies 2012 - Prints available HERE|
So I close the bedroom window, enter the sunlit kitchen, stick the kettle on and make a brew :-) Yesterday was Elidir Fawr, today was - revision for Carol, and a photo-day for me! I was still sore from yesterday, the first hill-walk in months it seems, and not enough stretching! I make myself a hot flask of coffee, check out the route map for Yr Aran, one of secondary Snowdon peaks which I'd not climbed before, checked my camera gear and then "Glyn!?" followed by expletives, as some Mac issue was causing Carol problems for advertising her new personal training advert ! By lunchtime I was ready for the off :-) I had written-off the chance of Yr Aran as the days are so short, especially when you try and combine the walk with any considered photography, so I just headed for the valley anyway, and just planned on checking out the famous waterfalls below the Watkin Path.
The sky was once again clear blue, cloud deserted acres of the stuff above the low and sharp winter sunshine. Trees looked gorgeous, intricate orange sculptures adorning roadsides and valleys. Hillsides were textural and defined, every crag and face picked out in the intense sun but the roads were almost empty, and apart from the occasional cyclist the normally bustling town of Llanberis was crowdless. I wound my way up the Llanberis Pass, the shadowy lee of the hills looking cold and blue-frosted. About five cars were parked at the Pen y Pass car park for the main routes up Snowdon, and I saw an army bloke steaming under his Bergen. I overtook a slow car on the windy decent towards the Pen Y Gwryd and then met no vehicle whatsoever en route to the mirror flat lake of Llyn Gwynant. Leafless trees on the far bank pierced the reflected blue sky in cross-hatched symmetry and not even a bird stirred the lake.
|"Cold Hill Start" Nant Gwynant © Glyn Davies 2012 - Prints available HERE|
I reached the Bethania car park where there sat one lonely vehicle. A light flickered above the men's toilet door and it was a surprise to find it open at all. I syphoned the python then kitted up, it was 1.00pm now. I meandered up through sunlit woodland, moss covered boulders tempting me to stop and stare, but I was already being drawn to the falls, the promise of pounding rivers and eroded curves. Yr Aran watched me from above. I soon reached the falls, but the south facing aspect meant the sun was flat on, and although lovely to listen to, the river simply proved uninspiring to me today. Conversely, the ice covered track alongside the waterfalls teased me with a route to a view of the highest peak in England and Wales, just above the hanging valley ahead. At this point I met "Kronmueller"one of my Flickr contacts coming DOWN the track, the first person I'd seen here at all. It was so good to meet with him rather than just seeing his avatar, though he says we have met at my gallery at some point and I've shot portraits of his good friends!
The summit of Lliwedd appeared in view, towering above everything else, but now I could see the backlit peak of Yr Aran too, rimming a vast slope of shadowy hillside. I could even discern the faintest of tracks up to the col below the summit, I'd read it was steep enough for some people to need hands as well as feet in places. I looked at my watch, an hour had passed, could I dare hope to reach the peak by say 3.00 ish ? That would give me plenty of time to eat and drink on the top, take a few photos en-route and still get back to the van before night closed in. I decided, and started, and ascended, and within a few meters had to negotiate whole ice slopes where streams had simply frozen right across the route. I had no crampons or axe so had to veer off route to use frozen grass stretches to find friction and gain height. I did NOT want to face this in semi-light on the way back. Fortunately, the higher I climbed, the steeper it got, and the less sheets of ice blocked my way. I soon found myself on the col, faster than I thought. I even allowed myself to shoot a frame or so back towards Snowdon main, and the huge massif of Lliwedd to my right.
|"Before There Were Sleepers" Snowdon © Glyn Davies 2012 - Prints available HERE|
A quick ten minutes I thought, and the summit was mine. I have never needed those poles as much as that ascent ! I know I hadn't eaten properly and had probably raced quicker than planned to do a route I'd dismissed, but my legs ached, my heart pumped and my lungs started working as the summit was a series of small false summits, which just stretched and stretched and stretched ! Funnily enough though, I was there by 3.10pm so within my 'mental schedule' for a safe return. The wind was racing over the peak from the South East, just like yesterday, and it was cold in the afternoon air, the wind chill factor noticeable. I took my clothes off (well my tops!) to put on a clean dry T-shirt and instantly the lack of sweat made me feel warmer (or was it just the contrast from the icy wind on my bare torso!). I piled down two sandwiches, three Penguins (the biscuits not the birds) and two large cups of coffee from my new 0.7 litre flask ! :-) I felt like a new man - and it was all downhill from here :-)
|"Clarity Before a Fall" Snowdon © Glyn Davies 2012 - Prints available HERE|
And it was! Now, my left knee was in agony, for such young pensioner of 47 I shouldn't be suffering like this, but I do, when I am not in the hills regularly. I put up with it, like the man my wife says I should be, and the poles once again helped my progress. There was enough light to avoid the icy dangers of the steep slopes though and within such a short space of time compared with the ascent, I was nearly back on the main Watkin path. I found an unusual landmark here for an even more unusual self portrait, before I was back alongside the river in the gathering dusk. I took one shot just due to fascination with the azure blue in the crystal clear river pool, backed by a pink evening sky, and then it was a gloomy trudge back to the van, and a final cup of hot coffee. I'd done the route in four hours including photography, eating, drinking and simply marvelling - Did I do a third day in the hills ?
All words and images are strictly copyright © Glyn Davies 2011 - All rights reserved
Glyn's landscapes are all available as 200 year archival prints on his website at www.glyndavies.com