Sunday, November 30, 2008

AMI Workshop Staff Training Weekend

I am a member of the workshop staff for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI). Throughout the year we run a range of workshops for people that have completed their Mountain Instructor Award (MIA) training and are preparing for assessment. The MIA is the highest level of instructional qualification for teaching rock climbing and mountaineering in summer conditions in the UK.
This weekend I have been at Plas Y Brenin on a workshop that brought together the workshop staff and the staff from the national centres of Plas Y Brenin and Glenmore Lodge. We spent the weekend sharing ideas, looking at common problem areas for trainees and exploring training methods. It has been a beautiful cold crisp and dry weekend with plenty of sunshine and temperatures barely above freezing all weekend.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Snow on the mountains

I have been out on my bike this afternoon and it has been glorious. The mountains have a lovely dusting of snow and it has been bright and sunny all afternoon. I rode the Marin trail, a 25km mountain bike trail near Betws Y Coed. There are big climbs, big descents, exhilliarating single track and stunning scenery. You ride through Gwydyr Forest which is one of the largest forests in Wales. The singletrack has some very tight, technical, rocky and open ground to contend with, a lovely couple of hours out.

The forecast for the weekend is looking great:

Forecast for daylight hours for Saturday / Rhagolwg ar gyfer oriau'r dydd Dydd Sadwrn
Weather/ Tywydd
Sunny intervals and scattered sleet or snow showers these mainly over the west of the area where the odd heavier one is possible. Another cold start with frost in the valleys and again the risk of some fog or mist patches.
Visibility, cloud base / Gwelededd, Gwaelod y cymylau
Good becoming moderate in showers and poor in any early morning fog or mist. Broken cloud with bases around 750 metres.
Wind, temperature, freezing level / Gwynt, thymheredd, lefel rhewi
variable 5mph/minus 2 Celsius /500 metres

So no excuses, get out in the mountains and enjoy the weather - pack your axe and crampons!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am back home now as I have work this weekend. I spent the morning catching up on admin and then went for a run this afternoon. I parked at Pen Y Pass car park and headed up the Miners Track and down the PYG track. Snowdon and Lliwedd were beautiful in the late afternoon light. It had been raining all morning so the mountain was positively gleaming in the shafts on sunshine that were breaking through.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Its got warm

I walked into Lochain today but after a night of warm temperatures and rain it was all looking a little black! It is due to get cold over the next few days with a period of sustained cold weather over the weekend so the existing snow should get hard and the ice should fatten. It could be good!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fiacall Ridge & Goat Track Gully

No photos today I'm afraid as the camera has packed up on me. I think the cold has got to the lense. I headed up the Fiacall Ridge today which was absolutely plastered in snow and rime ice. It was pretty breezy and for most of the ascent it was raining. The cold temperatures meant that as soon as the rain hit my clothing it turned to ice so I was soon encased in a suit of ice. Thats probably what did the camera in! The Fiacall Ridge can be grade 1 or grade II dependent on the route taken. I did the grade 1 option then came back down to the start of the difficulties and did the direct grade II option. I then headed down to the bottom of the Fiacall Buttress and started up the Couloir. A grade II/III route winds its way of the left hand side and I climbed to the chockstone crux before deciding it was a bit thin and down climbed to the Coire. I then headed over to Goat Track Gully (grade II) which was great value. The turf was frozen, there were patches of snow ice and the crux provided a great ice pitch that would normally be covered in snow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Climbing in the Cairngorms

I have got this week off so have headed up to the Cairngorms for a few days to play in the snow. It was all a bit last minute so I could not find anyone else with a week off work and have come up on my own.
Today I headed into Coire an t-Sneachda. There is snow down to the road in Aviemore but the snowplough has been hard at work and the road to the ski centre car park was clear. The walk into Sneachda was hard work with no visibility and post holing snow. I headed up to the base of the crag and was amazed at the sheer volume of snow, all I could see was white, although the weather meant I could only see about 5 metres ahead of me! I climbed Crotched Gully (Grade II) which was very thin with no ice in the gully. I abseiled off after about 100 metres rather than brave the wind torn plateau. There were teams on Red Gully, The Runnell and the Mess of Pottage and ice had formed on some of the buttresses but there is loads of unconsolidated snow lying about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mountain Leader Refresher Course

I have been out with Tim today on Snowdon as he is preparing for his forthcoming ML assessment. We parked at Pen Y Pass and did some micro navigation around the horns and towards Llyn Llydaw and then looked at security on steep ground on the side of Crib Goch. We used did a bit of emergency use of the rope and then descended to the Pyg Track in high winds, looking at a bit of confidence roping along the way. We dived into a cafe for tea and then did a couple of hours of night navigation this evening. The weather has been moist but without any rain as such, just a constant moist airflow!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I have recently applied to be a trainee dog handler with SARDA Wales. The Search And Rescue Dog Association (Wales) is a voluntary organisation responsible for the training of Rescue Team Members and civilians to become Handlers of air scenting Search Dogs, enabling them to search for missing persons, in the Mountains, lowland, rural and urban areas of Wales. I spent the day today with the team training at the foot of Snowdon and had a great day out. The work that goes into these dogs is incredible and I met a lot of very welcoming and enthusiastic handlers, dogs and bodies!

Whilst I was out with the dogs a friend of mine, Baggy, took over the intro to climbing weekend. Unfortunately Ian had to leave early so Baggy took Simon to Tremadog and gave him an intro to multi pitch climbing getting loads of routes done in some nice afternoon sunshine.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Intro to Climbing Course - Tremadog

I was joined today by Simon and Ian for an introduction to climbing. We headed to the Upper Tier at Tremadog today to avoid the worst of the weather and had a good day looking at the skills involved in single pitch climbing, abseiling and getting a variety of routes done. It was drizzly all morning but cleared up this afternoon. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clogwyn Y Person Arete & Crib Goch

We have had a very pleasant day here in Snowdonia today. The rain has stayed away and we headed up the Clogwyn Y Person Arete, a great grade 3 scramble. We descended via Crib Goch and its North Ridge - a great mountaineering day out.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

North West Face Route, Cwm Idwal

I am running an advanced scrambling course today and tomorrow and have been joined by Michael and Steve. We had some pretty strong winds today so decided to keep off the ridges and the summits and headed up into Cwm Idwal to do this great grade 2 scramble. We then did an abseil off the top of the Idwal Slabs before the boys took over the sharp end in the gully leading to the Nameless Cwm. A great day out and no rain!  

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Navigation & Hill Skills Course

This weekend I have been running a Navigation & Hill Skills course here in Snowdonia with Natasha and Carl. Yesterday we headed up into Cwm Tregallan on the side of Snowdon and looked at micro navigation skills. Today in fairly wild weather we headed into Cwm Eigiau in the North of the Carneddau. The weather forecast predicted 80mph gusts on a South Westerly with blizzard conditions on the summits. There was a scattering of snow over about 950m and the wind was so strong that it blew me over at one point! More food required! We had a great day despite the weather and put all of our new skills into practice on a mountain journey and learnt some new ones along the way. 

Friday, November 07, 2008

Moel Siabod

What a difference a day makes! Today we have had high winds, rain and hail so headed to Moel Siabod to stay low and avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately Wayne had to leave early as he was unwell but Natasha and I braved the elements! 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Intro to Scrambling - Gribin Ridge

It has been an absolutely magical day here in Snowdonia today. As we drove down the Ogwen valley this morning the reflections in Llyn Ogwen were crystal clear and truly beautiful in the autumnal colours. I have been joined by Natasha and Wayne today and as we headed up the Gribin Ridge we thought we had lost our views for the day as the cloud descended. As we reached the top the sky brightened and we were treated to a cloud inversion, looking out on a sea of clouds with just the summits poking through the tops. The clouds then generally lifted to give fine views across the Snowdonia National Park. We did not see another soul all day either! 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Climbing at Tremadog

Andy and I headed to Tremadog today again in search of some dry rock. We went to Craig y Castell and climbed Mensor (Vs 4b, 4c) before the drizzle set in. 

Monday, November 03, 2008

Climbing at Tremadog

This morning I accompanied a SARDA Wales (Search & Rescue Dog Association) dog handler, Sian and her dog Cadi on a small training exercise local to my house. I wanted to find out more about the work of SARDA and Cadi is a springer spaniel which I have a real affection for anyway. Cadi is one of a very small number of dogs that is being trained to search for bodies under water, using a boat as a platform to work from and indicating by a bark when she has scented - incredible stuff! 
This afternoon I headed out with a friend of mine, Andy, for a spot of climbing at Tremadog. The weather was perfect with blue skies, warm autumnal sunshine and even warm rock. We climbed Grim Wall Direct/Grim Wall E1 5b, 4c and Belshazzar HVS 4c, 5a. 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trinity Face, Snowdon

I teamed up with a friend of mine, Baggy today to see if we could get some early season winter climbing done. We left Pen Y Pass car park at 7:30am and headed up to the Trinity Face on Snowdon. We decided to try Snakebite, a grade III buttress route, but after two pitches of unconsolidated snow we moved across into Right Hand Trinity. We climbed half a pitch before deciding that we were in danger of damaging the turf beneath the snow and so abseiled off into Central Trinity. This is a lovely snow gully that we followed to the summit of Snowdon. The snow was reasonable and it was just great to be out enjoying it. We descended via Crib Goch and got some more great photos. The paths on the mountain are very compact snow and very slippery, on the top section of Crib Goch we were glad that we had crampons. The freezing level has risen and it is set to get warmer tomorrow so that looks like the end of winter climbing for now - not that it really began!!