Yesterday, the six pupils on Oswestry School’s Adventure Education weekend split themselves between three different activities in three different places – canoeing, scrambling and hill walking. Today, we all used the same overall venue. Two of the group hooked up with an instructor each (Ali and Paul), who took them rock climbing on one of the big multi-pitch routes on the east face of Tryfan. The other four came with me for an adventurous scramble up the North Ridge of Tryfan. The plan was to all meet at the top, ready to pick our way down the South Ridge and walk out back to the minibus.
The North Ridge of Tryfan offers such a variety of route finding options – some very much a walk, whilst others cross the boundary with rock climbing. That, combined with the fact that it is arguably the most mountainous looking Welsh mountain, makes it a very popular venue for those venturing into the Snowdonia hills. After yesterday’s wet and windy day, this morning’s dry conditions and light breezes, Tryfan was quite a busy place.
Picking our way from the minibus towards the start of ridge caused a certain amount of heavy breathing as the ascent is quite steep and quick. However, once nearing the ridge itself, we soon started to spot sections of scrambling terrain that looked too good to walk passed, and got stuck in to the rock. This slowed the rate of progress, and heart rates with it. In terms of distance, the North Ridge is only about a kilometer in length, so there was no rush to get to the top – plenty of time to explore.
At one point, we stopped for a break and I took the opportunity to get the rope out to demonstrate different ways we can use a rope to provide security for people. We messed about with confidence roping on easy terrain, before moving on to using rock anchors as both direct and indirect belays. This was all beyond what was required for the day, but a good opportunity to learn the principles of such techniques.
We reached the top just before 1.30pm, half expecting the rock climbers to be there waiting for us. Although there were a number of people taking a well deserved break at the top, there was no sign of Ali and Paul. A quick phone call revealed that they were about half an hour away but, by the time we were all together and ready to move off, a full hour had passed and my group were glad to be on the move again. The descent of the South Ridge, with it’s huge boulders, always takes a bit of care but we soon reached the saddle and started the easy descent of grass slopes and paths.
Everyone in the group sounded really positive about the day, and the weekend as a whole, but the talking didn’t last long. As we travelled back in the minibus, there was soon six drooped heads with closed eyes in the back. They’d had a demanding couple of days and deserved the rest – they’ll need it with school in the morning.