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March came in like a lamb, but went out like a lion.


Cold, dry, sunny days made way for milder temperatures and torrential rain. The normal Welsh winter.


But late March / early April often offers up quick, dramatic winter storms and this year was no exception.


Derek had called it weeks ago and come the 29th colder temperatures returned and the rain slowly shifted to sleet and then snow on the higher ground.


The hope had been to let the snow accumulate on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and for me to get up there on Wednesday afternoon, the last day of March, to log 5 consecutive months of skiing in The Beacons.


Unfortunately commitments at home kept me from the mountains on Wednesday and Thursday and all I could do was sit and watch the storms roll in, changing from rain to sleet to snow and back again.






After a tumultuous night, this morning broke calmer, grey and damp. There was still snow on the hills around my home, so after getting my Dad set up in front of the Super 14 rugby double header on Sky I set off into the gloom.


By the time I got to Penderyn the drizzle had become a drizzle sleet mix, and when I parked up in the Toilets car park the intensity had picked up coupled with a wind to rival Patagonia.


But the snowline was at the bridge and it looked like I could pick my way back later.


After a couple of days teaching in the rain in Niseko my first two winters there, when I went out on my own last winter I told my clients that if it was raining I wasn't teaching.


And yet here I was heading up in the freezing rain. Needs must.


A third of the way up I met Telegenic, and his dog Loki, from the Dark Snow forum heading down. He'd driven over from Bristol and was contemplating going back up with me but discretion was definitely the better part of valour this time.



Telegenic doing his best Strider / Vigo impression heading home to brews and a barbecue. Wise move





I passed his tracks heading up and at first I thought they were skin tracks. I later worked out that he'd pretty much straightlined it from Bwlch Duwynt!


After taking Telegenic's pic the camera stayed in the bag, which meant I got to the Bwlch Duwynt saddle in 30 mins. At this altitude it was more snow than rain, with around 50-60cm depth in places.


I'd anticipated heading over to Pen-y-Fan, but the wind howling over the saddle nearly knocked me on my arse. By far the windiest I've experienced up there.


Turned tail, and then clicked in ready for the descent. But not before chatting with a father and daughter from south of Sydney, Australia who were on a 4-week walking tour of Britain. They were dressed for the weather, but they certainly hadn't expected conditions like this during British Summer Time.


Passed a number of families and groups out walking on the way down. Despite the weather, the path was busy.


The snow was slow, but very skiable and I managed to pick my way back to the bridge. Didn't fancy walking out.


There's been as much rain as snow during this storm. If the temperatures were closer to those of January, there would be 1.5 to 2m up there. Bloody Gulf Stream.


As is the case, this afternoon has been sunny and clear and tomorrow morning promises to be the same.


Good Friday?


Even with the rain, the wind and being soaked through a Great Friday.

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Drove over early this morning to see how much damage the rain had done.




There was no snow on the slopes below Cefn Crew - the home run - and the snowline had raced in 24 hrs into the clouds and mist. Who knows if there were turns to be had up high.


RAC corner on the road to Brecon.








The drizzle continued throughout the morning, but the sun came out in the late afternoon and I went to sleep under a cooler, starry sky.

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Easter Sunday.


Family lunch at home with my dad and aunt, an afternoon of rugby on the TV, and come tea time the clouds cleared to leave a dry, hazy sky.


On a drive in early March when the remnants of that storm were all but gone there was a sliver of goodness on the NW slopes of Fan Gyhirych (725m) above the A4067 Abercrave to Brecon road in the Black Mountain (Mynydd Du).


So I packed up the car and headed over to see if anything was left after the previous days' rain.


In fairness there was snow up high on Fan Fawr and Corn Du as I drove by, but both walk-ins were far longer than the roadside hit off Fan Gyhirych. Plus views of Fan Brycheiniog in the setting sun would make up for any lack of snow.


Parked the car in the layby below Fan Gyhirych and 30 mins of easy walking later I was taking the last steps up the snow filled gully to the left of my intended line.


If ever there was a day to have brought the tripod and my remote shutter this was it. No wind, dry, and could have set up the camera from this vantage point to get an action shot cutting back on this slope with Fan Brycheiniog as the backdrop. Next time!


Fan Brycheiniog from the slopes of Fan Gyhirych





The sun came out as I crested the slope onto the summit plateau.


Fan Brycheiniog from the summit plateau of Fan Gyhirych





Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du from the summit plateau of Fan Gyhirych





Looking down the line. Straight, jag right, then jag left 'til it runs out. Cray Reservoir in the background.





The long shot





Looking back up at possibly the last turns this season. Not a bad way to finish if it is.



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I canna believe you ski that Mike ... you are seriously keen! Hiking for it, then finding a line inbetween the grasses and rocks - you have my admiration - thats for sure!

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The 7-month streak in the Beacons hasn't materialised. Yet wink


3 deg C at the car park early this morning which could easily translate to at or below freezing temperatures and snow on the peaks some 500m above me.


But it's all a guessing game as the upper slopes are shrouded in mist, with light rain driving across the lower slopes.


Colder temperatures and a chance of snow Sunday into Monday looks more promising.


Snow in May in S Wales?

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