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Tryfan and Bristly Ridge - A Winter Climb

If a mere hill becomes a mountain in winter - what, then, does Tryfan become? On my first ever visit to North West Wales I made a beeline for Tryfan’s North Ridge and Glyder Fach’s Bristly Ridge, both classic grade one summer scrambles. I had done plenty of grade one scrambling in the Lakes and was confident I could tackle them. And I did, having an immensely enjoyable time doing so. In climbing slang, I was stoked!

Fast forward three years and a whole load of experience gained and equipment purchased and I am once again at the foot of Tryfan’s unmistakable North Ridge. This time it’s winter, the mountains are coated in snow, I have an ice axe, crampons, a helmet and two companions with rope and all manner of climbing gear. In short, I am ready to tackle North and Bristly as a mountaineer in the truest sense of the word.

The grade one scrambles of summer had transformed into gnarly grade twos in winter, with some sections of Bristly even encroaching grade three territory. This would be the most technical mountaineering of my life so far. The snow line was such that from minute one we were into crampon territory. There was to be no gentle introduction today.

During the following eleven hours, we negotiated the North Ridge, I soloed Sinister Gully whilst all others roped up, we abseiled due to fading light and glissaded off the mountain in a speedy escape. All of it was thrilling. Some of it was nerve wracking. This was a full on winter mountaineering adventure. All of a sudden, I had completed a grade two winter day. The goal posts had been shifted...

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