29/07/02 - Rich Harding, 8.4km from Talybont
Alex and I arrived at the top of the hill a little after twelve (Alex setting what is surely a new record of 22mins to ascend) to find (see, in my case) a couple taking off and scooting across the coombe, just as I did two weeks ago. They didn't even get as far as me (!) so we chose the Pentreath route :-)
We stopped halfway round the SE face and sat there for almost three hours, chatting to each other and some poor squaddies who formed a regular procession past us, on an eight hour yomp on which they'd been set off at three minute intervals - poor bastards! The couple of times the sun broke through the high, wavy cloud it still had no effect and we watched the couple struggle back up the far side and eventually relaunch and end up a hundred yards down again.
Eventually we gave up and walked back round to the point above the car park for a fly down - I suggested a "nearest to the army trucks waiting for the bedraggled squaddies" comp and we got our kit unpacked, both considering the usual no suit, no vario etc. options. There was now a dull cu over the hill but not particularly different to anything previous. Alex launched and I followed within 20 seconds. Er, we're going up?!
After a couple of minutes Alex was on a landing approach and a couple of walkers were taking photos of him, so I headed back to the point too but hit something working a bit better. Alex saw and headed over and, with a sense of incredulity, we worked this snotty thing over the top of the narrow plateau behind the point. We were yo-yoing above and below each other as we climbed and might not have made it had we been solo, particularly when the climb dissolved to zero, at what I can only assume was a weak inversion. Patience paid off though as it restarted and we progressed to base, both looking down on the couple as they tried desperately, and in vain, to get in the bottom of our climb. We felt so sorry for them - they were in what should have been the correct place and we had no right to be doing this.
We played with the wispies for a while, shouting questions at each other, and went off towards Talybont village along a line of tendrils that marked the northerly edge of the cloud; there was nothing else to go for. A long and fruitless glide led us to the spineback by the A40 at Llansantffraed, we split to search and both landed, although I almost managed to work something off the spine, knowing I only needed five or six hundred feet to make the Black Mountains, but it wasn't to be.
Although the Welsh rugby shirt was only tied around my waist it was still working - second car into Talybont and second car to the reservoir pumping station. Okay, if it's like that I'll walk and someone will pick me up. Er, no. An hour and a half later a not entirely impressed Richie finally made it to his car - I'd been passed by just three m/cs and two cars in all that time; oh, and a police car with blues and twos that made Alex start walking to find out if I'd crashed the car or something. Fortunately he'd only gone a mile and a half when I picked him up. And all this time looking up at a sky in which the broken inversion had left a collection of lovely medium-sized cus. Bugger!