Thursday, December 31, 2009

Black Ladders

I teamed up with friends Andy and Huw today for a day of play on the Black Ladders. It was a stunning Alpine day with blue skies and sunshine and a really nice way to spend the last day of the decade. We broke trail through some deep snow and climbed Pyramid Gully (IV, 5) in 6 pitches. There is a lot of deep snow about and you need to pick a route with care but this one gave us a brilliant day out on good ice. We started to the left of the route and traversed in to avoid a large snow cone at the foot of the route.

The avalanche accidents in Scotland over the last few days are very sad and my heart goes out to all of the friends and families of those involved, may they rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow and Happy New Year

I have been away for a few days visiting family and have returned to Snowdonia this afternoon. There is snow down to the road here on the North Coast and it is pretty windy and wild at the moment. For climbing reports from the last few days have a look at Baggys Blog. I might get out tomorrow so will report back.

From Saturday I will be in Fort William so will be providing West Coast conditions reports from the Scottish Highlands for a couple of weeks. Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

East Face of Tryfan

It has been an absolutely stunning day here in North Wales today with cold crisp temperatures, blue skies, sunshine and snow down to the road. Emily, Mark and I headed up Little & North Gullies on Tryfan (I/II) and descended the North Ridge (I). I have not done a genuine winter ascent of this route before and it gave a really great winter mountaineering route. Mark lead 4 good pitches and then I took us to the top and back down again. It was -2 degrees c when we got in the van at about 4:15 with a starry sky so it will be a cold one tonight. The snow is still unconsolidated and there is a good coverage in the gullies. It needs a thaw and re-freeze to make really good climbing but hey it will be a white Christmas!

Thanks to everyone for all of the lovely cards and the donations to SARDA aswell, have a great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seniors Gully & Cwm Cneifion

Mark and Emily had a great day of winter weather today for their second day on crampons. It had snowed overnight down to the A5 and we had some sporadic snow showers throughout the day and some nice views in between. We headed up Seniors Gully in Cwm Idwal which makes a great introduction to winter mountaineering and even had a nice ice step in it. We then made our way into Cwm Cneifion and climbed a couple of pitches of ice utilising the bulges on the right hand side of the Cwm which give a great introduction to ice climbing. The whole day allowed us to progress axe and crampons skills aswell as take some lovely photos. There were teams all over Cwm Idwal climbing various ice routes enjoying some lovely pre Christmas winter weather.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welsh Winter Skills

I have been joined for 3 days by Mark & Emily for some private guiding. Today we spent the day looking at winter skills in all of the freshly fallen snow. We headed up Y Garn and looked at ice axe and crampon skills including self arrest. We talked about avalanche avoidance and noted the biggest pools of Graupel that I have ever seen and we looked at emergency use of the rope. A great day out. It was not as cold as forecast with valley temperatures around 3c. There was the odd light shower during the day but no real additional accumulations of snow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sergeants Gully, Cwm Glas

I had decided to stay at home today and do Christmas type things. I managed a couple of hours this morning and then the snow on the lawn, the ice on the lane and the blue sky all combined to persuade me out - despite my best intentions. I teamed up with neighbour and friend from the Rescue Team, Phil Benbow, and we headed into Cwm Glas for a walk. We soloed up Sergeants Gully (II) which is described as an ice climb but was really, really wet! It was fun nonetheless. Yesterday I had a walk into Cwm Idwal with Skye and counted 17 people on Idwal Stream - they were also getting very wet! Sorry to Baggy who I called last night to say I wasn't going climbing - I am sure he had a great day out and will be reporting on his Blog later. I was back home for a late lunch and some chores!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Skills with Jim

I have been out with Jim today who is on my mentor scheme. Jim had borrowed a pair of his Dads old crampons and some axes off me and we headed up into Cwm Cneifion to do some winter skills and suss out the climbing conditions. The ground was well frozen and it was below freezing in the Ogwen Valley when we left the car. As we headed up we practiced some crampon skills on the ice bulges in Seniors Gully and then on the frozen streams in the bed of Cwm Cneifion. The very light dusting of snow looked pretty but there was nothing substantial enough to play on. We climbed Easy Route (I) which allowed us to link up patches of old neve with frozen turf to give a fun outing. We then headed across the top of the Glyders getting some lovely views before descending into Cwm Idwal. The temperature was -5 degrees c on the summits with a biting NE wind. There were no climbers out on any routes anywhere which says it all really! A beautiful day to be out hillwalking though.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I have been out this afternoon with Llanberis MRT on a rescue. The mountains are looking very pretty with a cloak of snow and more is forecast over the next few days. It was 3 degrees in Llanberis so will be below freezing on the summits under these blue skies. Ice axes and crampons will be required for any hillwalkers this weekend whilst climbers may find some conditions on the mixed routes. I am out tomorrow working so will report back!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trail Magazine

I have been out with Phoebe and photographer Tom from Trail magazine again today. We were doing a photo shot for a forthcoming issue on scrambling so I was mainly just posing and getting my kit off - scrambling kit that is! The issue should be out in April for all those commenting that they have been missing me after last months multiple appearances!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hidden Chimney Direct

Well I made the long drive home to North Wales today which was hard leaving such nice weather and conditions in Scotland. I managed to persuade Paul to make the walk into Sneachda again this morning before we left. This meant an early start and a walk in by moonlight but there were still people ahead of us. We climbed Hidden Chimney Direct (IV, 5) and were down at the car by 10:30am. Conditions were great with hard snow, some ice and more stunning views. Nice to be home now and starting to think about Christmas with the kids!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Night Safety Video from

The Runnell

Carlos & Paul lead The Runnell (II) in Sneachda today whilst I climbed alongside and offered advice on gear placements, belays and time saving tips. It has been a beautiful sunny day with stunning air clarity and bullet hard snow - hard to get any better at this time of year! It was -7c in Aviemore this morning but hovering around freezing in the Corrie. The overnight frost has meant that the ground is rock hard frozen giving great climbing conditions in the gullies.

We were overtaken by a death roping pair in the Runnell today. Death roping is where two people climb at the same time tied to either end of a rope. Its totally pointless as it means that if one person falls then both climbers fall - worse still in a busy gully it means they clothes line all the other climbers off on their way down. My top tip for all death ropers is this - solo. Its safer. If you don't want to solo then pitch. Moving together is something totally different and should not be necessary in the Runnell. Rant over!

A great day and Scotland has given my clients a wonderful intro to winter climbing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jacobs Right Hand

Carlos & Paul got on the sharp end of the rope today and lead their first winter climb. We headed to the Mess of Pottage and between them they lead Jacobs Right Hand (I) in alternate pitches. The snow was bullet hard after last nights freeze and we enjoyed Scotland at its best with squeaky neve, blue skies, sunshine and cold crisp temperatures. The route was great as there is still lots of snow covering the gear placements so the boys had to work hard digging to find gear and belays - the true winter experience.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ewans Buttress

Today we headed into Coire An Lochain and climbed Ewans Buttress (III, 4). The temperatures had risen overnight and the freezing level was above the summits all day - but only just. The snow is now almost a uniform layer (apart from some of the gully tops) which with the forecast cold weather that should arrive tomorrow will mean some really nice climbing conditions for the weekend. The soft mushy snow today wasn't ideal but we had fun, some lovely views and got some nice photos.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Invernookie, Cairngorms

Paul, Carlos and I headed back into Sneachda today and climbed Invernookie (III,4). The route had plenty of fresh snow on it and some nice ice and patches of frozen turf. There was also a North Wales team on The Seam alongside us and several other teams out in the Corrie. We could also see across to Savage Slit which has been climbed every day for the last 3 days. It was a beautiful morning and the clouds came over and the wind picked up as the day went on. The freezing level was below the summits contrary to the forecast and it had been very cold overnight with a slight temperature inversion.