A couple of years ago, John and I headed up Moel Siabod, a good mountain walk near Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig. It was a clear, very hot day and one of our route options included reaching the summit via Daear Ddu, a ridge graded as a Grade 1 scramble.

An hour or two after leaving walker’s favourite, the Siabod cafe, we reached the start of the scramble. Huge splintered slabs of rock dropped away on one side to the sparkling lake far below. Neither of us has a particularly great head for heights and as we looked at the pathless ridge curve ever higher to the summit, I didn’t feel comfortable and we decided to turn back. We contoured around the mountain to the top and still had a great day’s mountain walking, but I realised where I needed to build my confidence.

So this November I joined a Mountain Skills day run by Snowdonia Walking Festival. After some training in preparation and navigation (and strong coffee courtesy of Siabod Cafe again), we headed towards Moel Siabod. “We’ll scramble up Daear Ddu” our leader Ross from Raw Adventures casually dropped into chat.

Daear Ddu came into sight, very much living up to its name – “Black Ridge” – with the dark rocks leading up into an ominously cloudy summit. Our small group went a bit quiet – “Really?” we thought. Ross gave us some handy advice about keeping three points of contact with the rock, finding our own way through the boulders, watching where we put our feet and pointing out that you could actually quite easily keep to the left of the ridge and away from exposure to the big drops.

You know what? It was so much easier going with a group and someone to give you the confidence you were heading in the right direction. I really enjoyed it and we all reached the summit buzzing.

I’ve absolutely no plans to tackle Crib Goch – the notoriously exposed ridge on Snowdon where the uninitiated often get “crag fast” and have to be rescued. But I definitely have more confidence to tackle some of the slightly more challenging routes on the higher peaks now.

If you’re building your mountain walking skills, stay at Graig Wen in Snowdonia National Park and we can point you in the direction of suitable routes, advice or training for your own challenges.

Check availability for B&B, glamping, cottages or camping or get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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