Early last Saturday Ian Archer and I headed south down the M5 bound for the Brecon Beacons intent on climbing a winter route on Pen Y Fan.
The are five gully climbs between grade 1 and 3 and a rib at grade 2. An hour and a half of sweat and toil brought me to the foot of the mountain. Ian, the youngster, on the other hand had skipped along easily.
A brief exploratory foray into the Grade 3 Central Gully revealed a lack of decent snow cover so we traversed round into Near Right Gully grade 2 which was more shaded and more complete.
Climbing upwards steadily was straightforward but there were several awkward steps at chest height which needed considerable care. Axe placements were best achieved in the frozen turf as the snow and ice weren’t substantial enough.
A final airy traverse under a rocky band with the slope sweeping away beneath our feet and we pulled out onto the summit.
We had lunch on the summit with the many hillwalkers and began the descent. We were briefly entertained by an RAF rescue helicopter airlifting a climber to hospital. His friends watched from above. Apparently he had slipped in the gully next to ours and slid some twenty metres injuring his leg. He was soon gone however and we made our way back to the car.
A good mountaineering day and it was good to get a winter route done in a more unusual area.