Overnight I stayed in the Pen-y-Pass hostel, and amazingly comfortably and welcoming YHA (No I was not paid by them to say that!) but after a few too many pints and a decent fish and chips I was out like a light. For the second day I had planned to do The North face of Tryffan, a very challenging and steep scramble up what I like to refer as “the dragons back”. Another early start, I arrived fresh and alert at the base at 7am. All Packed and ready to go, a quick drink and I was of, walking around kilometer to the start point taking in the scenery and weather as I go. From the start Tryffan plays its tricks on you, hiding the route, loose rocks and black ice where all immediate problems I faced. An initial path of stepping-stones and cut grooves guide you up the initial 250metres, but just like Snowdons ridge line the path quickly faded into thin air. Those feeling of isolation and worry slowly start creeping into your mind, the fear of something going wrong and being left for dead are all to real when you are the only sign of life on the mountain. Pushing on, I am forever stopping to re-asses my route. Unlike most other climbs there is no clear and defined route up Tryffans north ridge, instead several routes follow several different directions. The most frustrating feeling if following a defined route and loosing it, blindly pushing on believing to be on the right course only to have it disappear under your feet. Looking down you can see each of the individual trails, each of course being easier than the route I decided to take. I always work on a rule of 3 summits when climbing, the first you climb is always blind, and from here there are another 2 you have to traverse. Reaching the first summit I scour the plateau for any signs of footprints. No such luck, im the first and only guy up here today and possibly this week so going to have to take it extra careful. As the clouds begin to roll in the temperature begins to drop, and the slush at my feet begins to give way to a hard layer of ice underneath. Passing Cannon rock I reach the second plateau and straight ahead the nose of the north ridge juts out in front of me. An intimidating mass of Granite boulders and sheet ice, there is only one way up and I’m going to have to get over this.
Strapping on my crampons and pulling out my ice axe, I began to hack away at the ice in front of my to get a good footing, progress has ground to a halt but better to be safe than sorry. 1 hour later and I have managed to carve out a reasonable path up the ridge, complete with a few bum-clenching moments. But at last my hard work pays of, and I can see how the ground is beginning to steadily level out revealing the summits greatest prize, the Twin sisters. Two giant rectangular blocks of stone sit at the highest point at Tryffan, and look as though someone has driven a wedge between to separate them. They say for good luck your meant to climb and jump the gap between them, but in these conditions id rather make my own luck.
Orientating my compass and quickly checking my map, I aim for the second lower summit, I have no plans on conquering this, but now I need a way of this mountain, iv got what I came for. Sheet snow covering everything, descending becomes just as arduous as the climb its self. The risk of falling through a snow covered gap or twisting my ankle is all to real, its no good getting all the way up here to fuck up on the way down!
Passing the south summit on my left I drop out of the cloud line. With the view opening up, I look back up behind me to see the summit I have just conquered, a feeling of great pride overwhelms me as this has been on my list for years, but no time to stop and rest I have to get down and get home! For another 40 minutes I keep descending over the far side of mountain, watching each footstep to ensure I don’t slide and take a tumble. As I progress the ground steadily becomes smoother and the rocks begin to dwindle in size and my pace begins to quicken. Finally down into bristly ridge I remove my crampons and stuff them in my bag, a quick photo opportunity and now there is nothing but a nice clearly defined, stone path taking me down to the carpark, surrounded on all sides by wales finest mountains!