Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Craig - y - Llyn and Cwm Du

These great reports and photos in from Tom Gibbison who's been out at both Craig Y Llyn and Cwm Du over the bank holiday weekend. Photos are copyright Peter Derrett

Good Friday:  I’d heard of an icefall over in Cwm Du (over the hill from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad) a few years ago.  With a long weekend pending and Torpantau looking like it was going to have queues to rival a Cypriot cashpoint I persuaded my brother Ben and his mate Pete to come and check it out.  The fall was in great nick and gave us two long and three short pitches of grade 3.  At one point Ben commented that “This is better ice then the Ice Factor” and I couldn’t disagree, first time placements were the order of the day.  It’s a lovely valley and we didn’t see a single person until the walk out.  A cracking route – better and longer then Torpantau in my (entirely subjective) book.

Easter Monday: Craig y Llyn:  On Monday we decided to check out Craig y Llyn.  My Bro was working nights, so we enlisted a replacement in the small but perfectly formed shape of Jimbo, who seemed determined to kill himself by using a rather Heath-Robinson looking pair of home made axes.  Leaving Bristol we were concerned that it was a bit warm as it hadn’t frozen overnight.  Pulling up in the layby at the crag our concerns proved to be entirely unfounded, the earth was rock hard and the wind was bitter.  There were only really two lines formed up, Douglas Gap and Iron Claws.  We didn’t have a guide, so went straight for the tallest fall (turned out to be Iron Claws), it was stood at the bottom of this we noticed the big ice umbrellas on the top pitch.  Jimbo had the scent of gnarl in his nostrils, and it took me some time to persuade him that we should warm up on Douglas Gap first.  Some warm up!  The first pitch was steep and very brittle, quite a surprise after the lovely plastic ice on Friday, all the more surprising was the fact that Jimbo’s home made axes seemed to work quite well.  The rest of the route was easier, so we finished it quickly, abbed down the mankiest piece of cliff I’ve ever seen and went over to Iron Claws.  Up close the ice umbrellas were even more crazy than they looked from the bottom.  By the time I’d arrived at the stance at the bottom Pete and Jimbo had spotted a runnel leading right up under the biggest umbrella, where a neat sidestep under a rock overhang would take us round the side.  This strategy was pretty successful with good ice and bomber turf just where you needed them most.  We had to dodge the top 10 feet of the fall but there’s no way we were touching those umbrellas. Another quality pitch.  Past about 2pm it was absolutely baltic, the easterly was howling up the gully and we were wearing our belay jackets to climb in.  A cup of tea from the snack van at the top sorted us all out for the drive home.  Happy days.


  1. Hey guys, this looks awesome, but I always seem to find it hard to find out how to get there if I don't know the area. Any chance someone could enlighten me?


  2. Hi,

    There's topo guides available from Up and Under outdoor shop in Cardiff.