Author Topic: Bwlch Main in the Dark  (Read 390 times)

Bigfoot_Mike

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Bwlch Main in the Dark
« on: 22:43:06, 10/10/18 »
I am planning a 2nd attempt on the Welsh 3000s next summer from south to north (the last failed attempt was over 25 years ago). I may be mad, but I had the thought of including the 3000 foot tops, which means adding Bwlch Main. The plan would be to start in the dark and cross Bwlch Main for sunrise around Snowdon summit and have some light for the traverse of Crib Goch. I have previously ascended at night via the Miners Track.


Is this ascent viable in the dark? If so, which of the routes up would you recommend? I donít really have the opportunity for a daytime recce, except maybe the day before the attempt.


Thanks in advance,


Mike

phil1960

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #1 on: 07:42:18, 11/10/18 »
Good luck with that  O0  Iíve done Bwlch Main in thick fog and rain which was easy enough with care, but in the dark I would suggest even more care and a decent headtorch and it should be fine.
Touching from a distance, further all the time.

ninthace

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #2 on: 12:46:08, 11/10/18 »
Wouldn't have thought it a problem in good visibility with a decent torch provided you realise you have got there and don't just blunder into it. If you are wanting to do Crib Goch in daylight the chances are it would starting to get light by the time you are crossing Bwlch Main anyway.  My concern would be the approach route - what sort of navaid will you be using?
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Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #3 on: 12:48:31, 11/10/18 »
Bwlch Main is not that dangerous, as there is a distinct and clear path throughout its length and unlike Crib Goch, its quite wide as well, so its possible to use this route, but it will just add more distance to an already 35+mile journey.
The thing with the Welsh 3000s route, is that you first have to ascend Snowdon, and descend from Foel Fras, which will add a further 9-10miles on top of the 27mile route, which ever direction you choose.

You would be far better off just using the PYG track to ascend Snowdon, skipping out Bwlch Main altogether, because any long distance route over the whole of Northern Snowdonia that is approaching 36 miles and possibly more in length is going to be a tough undertaking, so why make it any more demanding.

Get hold of a copy of Ron Claytons book on the Welsh 3000 route, it shows all the different routes and even offers advice on saving time if your after the record.

Ascending Snowdon via Bwlch Main from Rhydd Ddu, is a novel idea, but its far better to get to the top of Snowdon by its shortest way, the PYG, then its just one heck of a long slog to Foel Fras.
« Last Edit: 12:52:15, 11/10/18 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #4 on: 13:22:00, 11/10/18 »
I am not so worried about the danger of Bwlch Main. I am more interested in route finding in the dark on the main Rhyd Ddu path, or the South Ridge from Rhyd Ddu or Watkin Path. If time allows, I would scout out the lower portions of the route on the day before the attempt. Currently my navigation aids would be map, compass and torch.


I am aware of the distances involved, having tried before via the Miners Track. Is the distance and height gain really that much more significant starting over Bwlch Main? On my last attempt I found the biggest issue was forgetting to eat. With a start at 0200 and breakfast at 0130, it would have paid to eat again before reaching the summit of Elidir Fawr, given the effort involved.
« Last Edit: 13:53:10, 11/10/18 by Bigfoot_Mike »

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #5 on: 15:09:54, 11/10/18 »
Distance wise, traversing the Rhydd Ddu path via Bwlch Main, is an interesting and different alternative to the Miners and PYG tracks.
The only difficulties i can see, would be route finding in poor visibility.
Bwlch Main is quite an exposed section of the upper reaches of the Rhydd Ddu path, and is very exposed in strong winds, but its far far safer than Crib Goch.
There are no real navigation issues using the Rhydd Ddu path to the top of Snowdon in darkness, but its a very strange alternative to reach the top of Snowdon, although its an interesting approach, and probably not used by many attempting the 3000s, as it involves a bit more distance on an already very long day out.

When attempting the Welsh 3000s, you need as much energy in reserve for those final Carneddau miles, and adding  more mileage onto a already very long and arduous route, just because you have thought of a novel and different route, makes little sense.

Not that i think using the Rhydd Path is a bad idea, its not, but you want to try and make the welsh 3000s as straight forward as possible.

If the weather is suspect, the Miners or PYG tracks are the best routes to get to the top, as their the quickest, and finding that the wind is too strong via Bwlch Main will put pay to any attempt on the 3000s.

It took me two attempts to complete the 3000s in one day, and on the first attempt back in 1989, it took me nearly 17hrs, far too long,  simply because i was unsure of the exact route and shortcuts available, and i had carried insufficient food and water.


Any 3000s attempt is going to leave you very tired at the end, so it makes more sense to reach the top of Snowdon feeling as refreshed as possible.


Experimenting on differing approaches to the top of Snowdon can be left for another day, when you know you will not be walking close on 36+miles.




Ive now managed the full distance in just under 9hrs 23min, but that was only after knowing the route like the back of my hand, and being able to attempt it, when the weather was perfect.


Your main objective is to finish this magnificent walk, and the best solution is to get to the top of Snowdon by the quickest route possible.
« Last Edit: 15:13:53, 11/10/18 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

Owen

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #6 on: 20:20:25, 11/10/18 »
I have done the Welsh 3000's three or four time all quite a while ago now as I don't live so near anymore. I can't see any advantage in starting via the PYG or Miners track. Doing it that way around would leave you descending Crib Goch and then presumable the north ridge of Crib Goch into Cwm Glas Mawr and ending up by the CC hut Ynys Ettws. You'd then have a long walk down the very busy narrow road with no foot path all the way to Nant Peris, not a safe place to be.


I've always started with Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl, Garnedd Ugain and then Snowdon summit. If you want to do Bwlch Main it's just a short out and back from here, should only add twenty minutes to your day. From Snowdon summit follow the Llanberis path down as far as the half way station. Go under the railway line at the bridge and there's a good path (not marked on my 1:50,000 map) that goes to Nant Peris. You then only have to cross the road before starting up Elidir Fawr.


I've done it, timing it so as to be up around Crib Goch's ridge at dawn. I've also timed it to be there just before dusk when I did the route overnight. Another tip is when you descend Tryfan follow the path down the west side of the mountain and around under the Milestone Buttress. Don't go to Ogwen Cottage, instead head to the other end of Llyn Ogwen to Tal y Llyn Ogwen and follow the Afon Lloer up. Just before you get to the Tarn take the ridge on the left and climb it to Pen yr Ole Wen. This is a much more gentler way up the mountain than flogging up the loose scree slopes from the cottage.   


When are you planning to do it? Obviously, if you want to do it in day light you'll need to do it around mid summer, but it can be quite good fun doing some or all of it in the dark.   
« Last Edit: 17:01:08, 12/10/18 by Owen »

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #7 on: 20:35:13, 11/10/18 »
Thanks Owen. I had intended to start off very early up to Snowdon summit in the dark and the down Crib Goch + North Ridge. I didnít want to ascend CG in the dark or start too late. I have gone up by the Miners Track in full darkness previously. I agree with you that the walk down the road to Nant Peris is horrible, especially when followed by the slog up Elidir Fawr. I will consider your suggestion of starting with CG. An alternative I was considering was to use the Foxes / Goat Path from CG North Ridge back to Pen Y Pass and the via the PyG and Miners Track to Bwlch Tryfan. this does add miles, but avoids the road and Elidir Fawr slog.


I was intending to use the route you suggested to descend Tryfan, having done this before, and then past Glan Dena to start the Carneddau.

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #8 on: 20:43:14, 11/10/18 »
Thanks Dyffryn Ardudwy. I donít mind adding a bit of distance to add some interest, or to make a slightly different challenge. It looks like Bwlch Main would be the only 3000 foot top not on my original route. It would be a shame to miss it, especially as I will be travelling down from NE Scotland with a few fellow middle aged misfits. We wonít mind taking a while to complete our expedition, most of us being tortoises rather than hares. Perhaps a detour from Snowdon to Bwlch Main, as suggested by Owen, might be slightly easier.

Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #9 on: 20:45:56, 11/10/18 »
Phil1960 and ninthace, thank you for your input on Bwlch Main. I suppose the main challenge will be route finding in the dark.

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #10 on: 13:16:02, 12/10/18 »
The decent into Cwm Glas Mawr is actually the quickest way to save valuable time, and possibly energy.
I know none of us are after the amazing record of 4hrs 19min, but if one touches the summit of Crib Goch, which is a small cairn of stones not far from the pinnacles above Bwlch Goch, and then returns the way you came back to  Bwlch Goch.
You then go down the easy scree slope in Cwm Glas.

Joss Naylor, and everyone who is in a hurry, have used this route, as its the quickest route down into Nant Peris, and a lot of it is on fairly easy  grass, with a few easy rocks to navigate.


Navigating down Cwm Glas is very straight forward, as the way down is never really in doubt, there are many safe routes and paths down into the lower cwm and it saves considerable time however fast or slow you are going.


Its one of those remote areas of the National Park, that few visitors bother to explore, seeing Dinas Mott and the jagged cliffs of Crib Goch above, it looks very intimidating, but its not, its very straight forward, as long as the visibility is good.

After all, saving considerable time on the Snowdon section, may result in reaching Foel Fras before darkness, still shattered and tired, but completing the 3000s in one outing is all about saving distance and valuable time.

This is where the Ron Clayton book comes into its own, as it shows every single route and alternative for those attempting the 3000s in one day.
« Last Edit: 13:24:42, 12/10/18 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

Mel

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #11 on: 13:26:10, 12/10/18 »
The OP's question is about route finding in the dark not shaving a few minutes off the world record :-)
No expense spared in pursuit of a bargain ;)
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Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #12 on: 13:27:20, 12/10/18 »
The decent into Cwm Glas Mawr is actually the quickest way to save valuable time, and possibly energy.
I know none of us are after the amazing record of 4hrs 19min, but if one touches the summit of Crib Goch, which is a small cairn of stones not far from the pinnacles above Bwlch Goch, and then returns the way you came back to  Bwlch Goch.
You then go down the easy scree slope in Cwm Glas.

Joss Naylor, and everyone who is in a hurry, have used this route, as its the quickest route down to Nant Peris.

After all, saving considerable time on the Snowdon section, may result in reaching Foel Fras before darkness, still shattered and tired, but completing the 3000s in one outing is all about saving distance and valuable time.

This is where the Ron Clayton book comes into its own, as it shows every single route and alternative for those attempting the 3000s in one day.


I wouldnít miss a traverse of Crib Goch to to descend from Bwlch Goch. For me it is not about the shortest or fastest route. There has to be some interest and excitement as well, not that Cwm Glas Mawr is boring. I may well add some distance to the walk to avoid the walk down to Nant Peris and the slog up Elidir Fawr. I will look into starting via CG and descending to Nant Peris from near Clogwyn station. I might also use the Miners Track from PyG as an alternate route in the Glyders. I still have 9 months to get fitter and plan our route.

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #13 on: 13:42:13, 12/10/18 »
If your ascending Snowdon in the dark, ALWAYS use the most direct and easiest routes to the summit.
As we all know, the Summer weather can be unpredictable, so ascending Snowdon via a route that is very exposed in poor conditions, may put pay to any attempts on a 3000s in a day.

I can remember back in the early 90s, making my way up the Llanberis path in June , for an early start on the 3000s, but the weather was so windy, that it was impossible to stand above Clogwen, even though the visibility was good, that put pay to any attempt on the 3000s.

If you miss Elidir Fawr, and use the Miners track from the Pen Y Gwrydd then the whole 3000s will be a waste of time, as you will have missed several summits along the way, making route planning and timing more important for a successful very long day out.

Its 15 summits or nothing, there's no point in adjusting the route to suit your mood, because if its the Welsh 3000s you intend completing, Elidir Fawr, Y Garn and the entire Glyders must be traversed.

Owen

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Re: Bwlch Main in the Dark
« Reply #14 on: 14:24:56, 12/10/18 »

If your ascending Snowdon in the dark, ALWAYS use the most direct and easiest routes to the summit.


Why? It's just as dark on any route. I've done the whole route in the dark and had great fun doing it.

As we all know, the Summer weather can be unpredictable, so ascending Snowdon via a route that is very exposed in poor conditions, may put pay to any attempts on a 3000s in a day.


So don't do it when the weather isn't good.

I can remember back in the early 90s, making my way up the Llanberis path in June , for an early start on the 3000s, but the weather was so windy, that it was impossible to stand above Clogwen, even though the visibility was good, that put pay to any attempt on the 3000s.


Should have read the weather forecast then.