Tuesday, July 15, 2008

what I did at the weekend

One of the great things about climbing mountains is that you don't have to tick them off your list and move on once you've done them; you can get a completely different perspective by climbing the same peak from a different direction. A couple of classic examples would be the contrast between slogging up Ben Nevis by the zig-zag "tourist" path and the spectacular experience of going "round the back" via the Carn Mor Dearg arĂȘte, and the ascent & descent of Snowdon by the usual Pyg Track/Miner's Track combo (with millions of others) or via the Snowdon Ranger Path/Rhyd Ddu path combo, which a) is generally deserted and b) finishes up outside a pub, which is nice.

Pen y Fan is another case in point. I've been up a couple of times (in varying weather conditions) from the Storey Arms car park on the A470, and had a near miss a year or so ago starting from the car park at Torpantau, but on Saturday we (me, my Dad and my brother-in-law Ray) attacked it from the north side. If you want to emulate us (and I recommend you do) then you want to head into Brecon along the B4601 to here, then turn off and follow the road back under the A40, take the leftmost fork at the 3-way junction and follow the road right to the end, at which point you'll arrive at a car park, here. Follow the path up hill from the car park onto the right-hand ridge of the two ahead of you, and keep going along the ridge until you see the unmistakable shape of Pen y Fan ahead of you. There's a sharp uphill scramble to get onto the summit plateau, but nothing life-threatening. Thereafter we headed eastward along the ridge to the shapely conical summit of Cribyn, and a little further along the ridge before heading back to the car park via the old Roman road down the valley.

I think there's a strong case for saying that this is the best route up and down Pen y Fan, largely because it's the only route which shows you the famous side of the mountain (pictured above) on the way up. Horseshoe-shaped ridge routes are inherently pleasing, as well. I suppose strictly one should make the short detour across to Corn Du before heading for Cribyn, just for completeness' sake.

Pictures of the walk can be found here.

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