Photo: Snow storm and whitout on Fan Brycheiniog, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales. Dec 17, 2011
Winter arrived in the mountains of Brecon Beacons national park this weekend. So as the weekend came, and with a friend visiting, it was off to the mountains for a bit of hiking.
Saturday we headed out west to the Black Mountain range for a hike up Fan Brycheiniog. Well, there was no plan really, but as we arrived on scene to less than ideal conditions, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a super long day in the hills. I had actually been hoping for colder temps to freeze the super-bog of a trail that makes up most of the approach, but nope, not cold enough and the super-bag was as bad as could be. Not to mention it was covered in a layer of snow so it was difficult to avoid missteps into the mud at times. The path up the hill hill to Fan Brycheiniog was barely visible and had sections of thigh deep snow drifts. Once on higher ground, snow stayed about ankle deep for the most part with deeper drifts here and there. Winds were in the region of 40-50mph once up high, with a face stinging icy snow falling most the time. It was pretty much impossible to look into the wind, so we had took look down at our feet if walking into the wind – which was the whole way up the mountain. We were more or less in whiteout for most the hike as well, but the clouds cleared from time to time giving a nice view over the frozen land.
Sunday we had plans to hike Pen Y Fan from the south, but the road was too icy to get to the trailhead so we headed to the main parking area on the A470 between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil. Conditions down low were mostly calm, but the summits were hidden in cloud. The forecast for Sunday had been better that on Saturday, but I’m not sure how true this was. While there was less snow falling, once we reached the gap between Windy ridge and Corn Du, a strong, icy wind made it difficult to walk straight. Again, conditions were complete a whiteout, even worse than Saturday. Luckily I know the way quite well or it would have been pretty easy to get lost up there. And I’m always amazed, especially on Pen Y Fan with its close proximity to larger cities, by the amount of people up there totally unprepared for conditions. Once we were back down and heading towards Brecon the clouds cleared from the summit for what would have been a nice view at sunset. Oh well…
Photo: Winter conditions near summit of Fan Brycheiniog, Brecon Beacons national park, Wales. Dec. 17, 2011