The first signs of spring are in the air but it’s still winter on the blog
Back in February we reached a pivotal moment in the family. As you know TJS is very much the mountain man like his Mom and Dad. TJF is however less keen. On this weekend we had a breakthrough. Not the one I’d hoped for but better than nothing. Rather than trailing along behind us on a family walk all day, TJF insisted she could be left alone for the day so the rest of us could go for a proper walk. Far from being a sacrifice she was more than happy to be given her independence and spend the day playing on her iPad and heading into town with one of her friends to spend my – sorry – her money. The chances of her joining us on days out in future seem slim but as long she’s happy that’s the main thing
The forecast for the weekend was bland. Grey and overcast with a chance of sunshine. Saturday was accurate so we plumped for Sunday and the morning looked promising so we headed for the Brecons to find some winter snow to walk on. As we reached the mountains the clouds evaporated and we were treated to a spectacularly good day. The forecast often sells you short with promises of sunshine that never materialises so today was pay-back
We parked up on the northern side of the range with a plan to climb Cribyn and Pen y Fan. It’s a longish traverse to get to the base of Cribyn but the almost warm sun made it real pleasure. The views across to the Black Mountains were particularly fine.
We could see the main summits capped by snow making a fine contrast with the spring-green fields.
After the long climb up the road we emerged into warm sunshine under a deep blue sky with snow-capped mountains behind. Days just don’t get better than this especially when it comes as a surprising contrast to what was expected.
The views were just spectacular and the snow gave Cribyn and Pen y Fan an altogether more dramatic feel.
We lunched in the sunshine just below the steep climb up Cribyn. I managed to knock over my stove while brewing up forcing me to melt snow to get another. Bear Grylls – nowhere! 🙂
Cribyn looked majestic, standing much taller than its modest height with its winter gear on.
The climb up the north ridge is brutally steep, but today, interesting hard packed snow on the path. On days like this the sun and sky simply pull you up and the summit seems only a couple of steps away.
We exchanged smiles of good fortune and pressed on – it’s a long descent and an even longer climb back up Pen y Fan
The gullies and ridges on Pen y Fan’s crumbling north face are little visited in normal conditions but in winter they are climbers delight. There were several people snow/ice climbing. I was fondly reminiscing of my younger days when I used to climb these sorts of things. Sadly I think those days are behind me as I don’t possess either the fitness or sound knees for such madness. These days I’m content to watch and admire and take an altogether more sedate approach to my outdoor enjoyment
As always on a sunny day Pen y Fan was crowded but when the weather and views are this good the crowds just seem to fade and you don’t see them. You just see your own companions and their pleasure with a grand day. Needless to say the views were sensational.
A few minutes of care was needed on the descent of the summit rocks, hard compacted snow making for some interesting movements. We passed several people still on the way up looking very unhappy and uncomfortable. They may look and feel easy under normal conditions but underestimate these mountains in winter at your peril.
The walk down the long north ridge of Pen y Fan was simply wonderful. Blue sky, crisp air, warm sunshine and the crunch of snow underfoot is a pretty damn fine feeling.
One of those days when you just want to stay high and for the views to last forever. We wandered, stopped, paused and eked out as much time as we could before we reluctantly dropped out of the sun, into the cold shadows and back to the car.
The best day of the winter bar none. If only TJF could learn to enjoy it as the rest of us do. I live in hope