Snowy ground, cloudy skies in the Brecon Beacons

Saturday 14 January 2017

With more snow in the Brecon Beacons, I had to get up high and have a walk. I wanted to go as high as I could, all the way up Pen Y Fan. Now of course, snow and a weekend meant plenty of other people had the same idea. Most people climb Pen Y Fan from the Storey Arms - a route I've still not done as it seems so busy and that's not why I head for the hills. Instead I did a much bigger walk (described below the photos), for the majority of which I saw very few people.

The day started with some sunshine and a little warmer than forecast, staying just above freezing, although with a strong wind on some of the edges. I had taken an ice axe and crampons, but there was no need for them on the soft and deep snow. Later on I used microspikes, which helped me speed past many of the heavily laden Fan Dance competitors on the compacted snow climbing steeply up to Pen Y Fan.

A decent covering of snow, with sunshine in the morning

A decent covering of snow, with sunshine in the morning

Looking out over the Blaen y Glyn valley from Craig Fan Las

Looking out over the Blaen y Glyn valley from Craig Fan Las

Snow showers blowing over

Snow showers blowing over

Beautiful Brecon Beacons ridges

Beautiful Brecon Beacons ridges

The weather gets more overcast

The weather gets more overcast

Walkers on the ridge from Fan Y Big, Cribyn behind

Walkers on the ridge from Fan Y Big, Cribyn behind

Looking from the snowy ridges down Cwm Cynwyn to the green fields below

Looking from the snowy ridges down Cwm Cynwyn to the green fields below

The steep pull from the gap up to Cribyn

The steep pull from the gap up to Cribyn

Whiteout looking down from Corn Du summit

Whiteout looking down from Corn Du summit

The Gap (Bwlch ar Y Fan)

The Gap (Bwlch ar Y Fan)

The Gap from Graig Fan Ddu

The Gap from Graig Fan Ddu

Back down near the lower Neuadd Reservoir

Back down near the lower Neuadd Reservoir

A longer route up Pen Y Fan

Today I took paths I know well, starting at the top car park above (and to the west of) Talybont Reservoir. From there, the climbing begins immediately up onto Craig y Fan Ddu. The Beacons Way turns off the edge here after a bit, but today it was untrodden and to avoid trying to find the way and break trail in the fairly deep snow, I stayed by the edge of Graig Fan Las and then turned back on myself along Craig Cwareli. Fan Y Big was next, still below the clouds, although my next summits of Cribyn and Pen Y Fan and Corn Du were all covered in cloud. Eventually I dropped back out of the cloud, on the Graig Fan Ddu ridge south of Corn Du. It was getting fairly late by the time as I came down the slippery slope to the lower Neuadd reservoir, before following the easy Taff trail along forestry track and road back to the car park. A long day, something like 19km and 1000m of climbing - hard work in the snow and wind.

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