Earlier this week I had a last minute request to guide Bilberry Terrace on Lliwedd. This is the hardest scramble in Snowdonia. Well in retrospect, it is not the most techincally difficult but in combination with a few steps, its length and inescapability make this the most commiting line. So much so not many people climb this route.
However I have climbed several of the climbs on Lliwedd and whilst the size was not an issue, the route finding might be. So I took the work on on the provision that it was dry on Friday. Despite some low cloud and high humidity Chris and I headed up on the first Sherpa Bus to Pen Y Pass. The walk in is relatively short and pleasant, being not too steep or too boggy, save for a couple of places.
At the bottom of the route, looking up at a cliff drapped in flag, we set off. I was hoping that the line would ‘reveal’ itself to the mountaineer in me. To acertain extent it did as whilst there are a few vague descriptions in the guide they are close enough to make the line reasonable to follow.
We short-roped the whole thing mainly in pitches, but with the occasionally walking between steep sections on the ramp line. The route is a work of genius, never desperate yet nearly alway exposed to the massive scale of this route which proabably covers 400+ metres of terrain.
The initial step to reach the Bilberry Terrace is one of the cruxes, with a balancy move to reach the ledge and the only place I had to belay of wires. A long walk along the ledgewe did in pitches, with me running along to a spike and bringing Chris up to me. At the end of the the route heads up a corner, another of the cruxes to a ledge, before it traverse right on a continuation of the terrace.
This is followed to Pinnacle Corner, which ironically is a notch in a ridge. The guidebook says that this is the half way point and the end of the ‘easy route finding’. We had made good time to here. With words of warning like this I rechecked the guide and headed out across the next pitch. What I found was that the route finding was OK, however what the guide should probably say is that this is the end of where Mr Ashton took reasonable notes, as despite being in the near 10 reprint the guide was pretty vague where it needn’t be. I am going to add a route card to Snowdonia Mountain Guides website with my amendments.
Having ample time we opted to follow not the gully to the right of the final ridge you traverse out to, but the shattered ridge. This was because it looked more interesting and in keeping with the rest of the route and whilst the desciption says arrive on the top 4 steps away from the summit. The ridge meant that instead we had the rather unique experience of stepping straight onto the summit.
It was barely 1pm so we turn right and headed to Y Gribin and descend down this to the Miner’s Path and back out to Pen Y Pass. It was a fantastic day out at work, especially as it was a route I hadn’t climbed before and is perhaps the most challenging scramble in the whole of Snowdonia.