ELLIOT SIMPSON: The Crib Goch Classic

Montane Ambassador Elliot Simpson recently tackled the iconic Crib Goch Scramble, but found conditions too good to ignore.

Like most of the summer, the weather had uncharacteristically been delivering on its promises for weeks.  This provided an unexpected change in how I experience the outdoors.

In years gone by good weather was something to be exploited.   You make the most of it; scraping as much distance, altitude, rest, or enjoyment out as possible before the clouds close in and the day descends into the usual attrition against the elements.

This summer has been different.  Uncharacteristically still, bright and warm days have stretched on with unnerving dependability.  Days spent outside have begun with the same excited energy, developing into an uneasy balancing act as the anxiety burns-off as the day goes on.  The eye is constantly flicking to the horizon and scanning for dark clouds, whilst skin is primed, awaiting the bite of a cold wind to herald the arrival of a front.  It has taken many days of preparatory self-talk during the hours spent travelling to adventures to re-wire thought processes to accept what on the face of it is a very simple realisation; its going to be nice.  Not just a bit nice, but really nice. And not just for a bit, but start to finish – from the humid mornings to the glowing embers of near Mediterranean evenings and even into the still, starlit night.

With this acceptance has come an immense freedom.  A freedom to move without compromise, choosing a pace to maximise experiential saturation of the environment I have immersed myself in.  A freedom to linger longer without guilt or fear that any enjoyment or peace will be paid for with extra effort and suffering later.

This revelation reached its zenith when some friends and I made our most recent pilgrimage to Snowdownia for a camping trip to Crib Goch – a classic scramble that is renowned for its wild nature and exposure.  The BMC website says, very sensibly, to attempt it during good weather on your first time, so this summer seemed the perfect time to do it.  Being able to move as slowly and as deliberately as we wanted without worry of burning into good weather time made route finding on the blocky slabs of the lower sections a joy.  Meanwhile the increased exposure of the ridge further up unveiled the surrounding area in almost theatrical fashion.  Indeed, if ‘…all the world’s a stage’ the exposed ridge-line gave us first row seats.

Overall, the pace wasn’t slow, but it was tranquil.  Stops rejuvenated the body and the soul, as we enjoyed the odd breeze cooling our faces, and we were bathed in a Caravaggian light from start to finish.  The route was great, and an ideal first ‘proper’ scramble, and probably perfectly manageable for the less experienced in good conditions.

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