The rain was light at the base of the Ogwen Valley, yet on the summit of my chosen mountain, Y Garn, clouds had taken charge and likely, given the forecast, strong winds too.
Storm Abigail was due to arrive in Wales and I was intent on getting back in the hills, most of my training so far since summer had focused on the Bangor 10K, apart from the Alpine run in September, and it had been several weeks since I’d been able to get into the hills, I was feeling the need to be there and I was going to do my best to make sure this storm didn’t get in the way.
Still, with 75-80mph winds forecast it was going to take some thinking to work out the best option to get a good amount of ascent in.
I only needed to run around five or six miles, so distance was fairly easy. Initially my first mountain choice was Elidyr Fawr, a huge peak which breaches the 3000ft mark, with the longest continuous slope of ascent in Snowdonia, at about forty five degrees all the way up. However near its base the path crosses a stream and, after rain, the slope beyond floods with water, not dangerous but certainly a place to ensure cold wet feet for the rest of the day.
It was enough to make me search for a second option, and that came in the form of Y Garn, hopefully by ascending the East Ridge I would be sheltered by the main face of the mountain, and as I found myself leaving the shore of Llyn Idwal the weather didn’t seem all that bad.
The East ridge rears up hard from the lake shore and a staircase of rocks set into the mountainside transport you up to around half way, probably about 1000ft from the valley floor and in the bowl which sits directly underneath the summit, around another 1000ft above. The stairs are a hard introduction to the mountain, but ahead of me the way consists of scree slopes and a narrowing path which brought me to a place of windy turbulence, close to the summit I got my head down and kept on, reaching the summit cairn and hunkering down for some shelter.
After a brief stop I moved down hill and into the strong wind which had whipped up the rain, making progress difficult, and the rocks wet underfoot. I reached Llyn y Cwm [Lake of the Dog] and them turned down in the Devils Kitchen, a cleft riven through the wall of rock, dripping with water, making progress tentative at best given any one of the rocks I was passing over could have been incredibly slippy, I took my time.
This was a place of mountaineering history, many of those famous Victorian mountaineers practised their craft here in this sometimes foreboding place. I’ve been here in the winter when it seemed like the moounatin wanted nothing more than to force me back to where I’d come from. Sometimes those days can be incredible. Hard and incredible. Hard days reveal parts of ourselves seldom viewed.
Back at the lake I glanced up at the high mountains, wreathed in cloud and foreboding, it had been a good run.