Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mountain Rescue Training

I was out with the Llanberis MRT today looking at winter stretcher lowering in the Llanberis Pass. We enjoyed some nice sunshine and enjoyed some banter that usually revolved around the many different ways to tie any knot. I then went round to Nantle and did some dog training with a few friends from SARDA Wales. A very pleasant day and a good forecast for tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sinister Gully & Crib Goch

I have been joined for the day by regular client Jim who is on my instructor mentor scheme. Today we headed up into Cwm Glas and climbed Sinister Gully. The guidebook gives this III (4) but it felt a grade easier as it was well banked out with snow and there was just one pitch of ice. The snow was in good condition once we were in the upper Cwm and the ice on the route was great. Once we topped out we decided to make the most of the excellent snow conditions and traversed Crib Goch in reverse, descending the East Ridge. A great day out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Navigation & Hill Skills Course

Today the team and I headed up towards Drum on the Northern end of the Carneddua from Llanfairfechan. This allowed us to enjoy a mountain journey whilst practising the skills that we learnt yesterday, building in some new ones and avoiding the compact and hard snow that is prevalent higher up. As I type it is snowing hard outside as forecast and it looks likely to temporarily get warm tomorrow before refreezing again Friday. This should help the climbing conditions for the weekend as there is a lot of snow about at the moment that is unconsolidated.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Navigation & Hill Skills Course

Today I was joined by Ken, Ric, Ian, Matt, Alan and Joe for a 2 day navigation and hill skills course. We were assisted by Jim who is on my mentor scheme. There is snow down to the road throughout the Park and so we headed into Cwmffynnon and stayed low where the snow was just unconsolidated powder and so we didn't need to worry about axes and crampons - this being a summer skills course! We looked at micro navigation techniques and had some lovely views across Snowdon. It would have been great conditions for a winter skills course!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Skiing and Sledging in Snowdonia

I got home in the early hours of this morning. The drive from Rjukan to Oslo was like driving in a Cairngorm blizzard and the airport was like the summit plateau with temperatures of -15c, strong winds, heavy snow and a team of 5 snowploughs needed to keep the runway open. Driving home was not too dissimilar and so I was up early this morning for a spot of ski touring with the dog on the hills behind the house and a skiing and sledging session with the kids. It looks like it is due to stay cold for the next few days too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow news from North Wales

Hey Rob,
Sounds fun out there, still fun here too! I did Trinity right hand today, conditions are very different from last week. This route WAS all good neve with a little ice. Today it had a crust ontop of a few inches of powder and even the neve underneath had softened. The two steeper corners did still have good placements. Got softer towards top. Route out to right was blocked by big cornice, traversed across left, where cornice is very small, to top out. All more serious than last week with these new conditions. Spoke to a team who were going to do Snowdrop, don't know how they got on. Footprints up left hand trinity and a team topped out on right hand when I was returning over Crib Goch. Crib Goch was pretty plastered with fresh snow but as a result was nice going. Spoke to someone on Crib Goch and seemed like Parsley Fern had the same softish conditions. Spectacular day, sunny, no wind and a great cloud inversion. Staying cold for another few days so maybe it'll all stabilize again. No photos, forgot camera.
Enjoy the rest of the trip,

Rjukan Ice Climbing - Day Three

This is our final day of climbing here in Rjukan. We fly home tomorrow afternoon and so might squeeze a spot of skiing in tomorrow morning at the local ski centre. Today we headed to the Lower Gorge and climbed LP Plata (WI3) and Kursutra (WI3). The second route was very fat and so the first 10m or so were more like WI4. It has been snowing heavily for the last 48 hours and so the easier grade routes now need a lot of cleaning as they have a foot of snow on them in places! After a spot of lunch we drove up to the Krokan area and Paul lead an unnamed WI2 with me alongside on a rope offering advice and filming! Preparations were in full swing for the ice climbing festival that takes place this weekend. It has been a great weeks cragging and we have all got tired calves now!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ice Climbing in Rjukan

After a winter spent in Scotland and Wales so far this ice cragging is taking a bit of getting used to - the walk in today was 5 minutes long!! That meant we did not need to have breakfast until 8:00am!!

Today we headed to the Ozzimosis crag and as the snow fell lightly all day and with temperatures a steady -5c we climbed Ozzimosis (WI4) which was pretty brittle, Presangen (WI 4), Klassik 4 (WI 3). Having seconded 8 routes over the last two days Paul then lead Svada (WI2). Paul did my 5 day learn to lead course in the Cairngorms last December so put his new skills to good use. (Water Ice 2 is equivalent to Scottish grade 3 so he did well). Another great day out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rjukan Ice Climbing

I am working in Rjukan this week with regular clients Paul & Jason. Rjukan is the ice climbing capital of Norway and is one of the best ice climbing venues in Europe. They have had a cracking winter so far and the conditions here are great. We flew out Sunday night but Pauls bag was picked up by mistake by someone else so we spent yesterday retrieving that from Oslo!

Today we headed to the Lower Gorge area and climbed Camillas Foss (WI3), Skrotfossen (WI3), Pentium (WI3) and Swiss Army Left Hand (WI5). We then headed to Vermork Bridge and climbed Host (WI4). The routes in the Lower Gorge were far fatter than the pictures in the guidebook and were in excellent condition. At Vermork Bridge the ice was a little more brittle but was still very fat. I have been able to place screws at will all day and the walk ins are less than 10 minutes for each venue - at Vermork bridge I had the novel experience of belaying off the roadside crash barrier! A great first day out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Buachaille Etive Mor

We headed back down Glen Coe today for the final day of our 5 day winter skills course and had another fantastic day of blue skies and sunshine!! Thats five in a row for us! We went up Buachaille Etive Mor and had more fabulous views, no wind and temperatures well below freezing. The snow is nicely consolidated and it was a fine way to round off a great week.
I am in Rjukan all week next week so conditions reports will halt for a week.

More news from Snowdonia

Hi Rob,
Another great couple of days. Yesterday went up Central Gully (II/III), Glyder Fach. Quite sporty in the lower section, with an ice, rock, frozen turf mix! Good neve then into the broad gully. Nice at top too weaving through all the huge bouldery rocks onto the plateau. Came back into the cwm via col gully then went back up a litttle II gully onto the tail end of Gribin Ridge. Batts went in camera so no pics I'm afraid.
Little gully(II/III) today on Trinity Face. The icy crux corner low down was a bit thin and had to break out rope and a bit of gear half way up, maybe time I found a buddy! After that it was pretty straightforward snow ramps and icy turfy corners. Came back down Gribin, no snow but nice scramble. Staying cold and snow forcast early next week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stob Ban, Glen Nevis

For day four of our winter skills course today we headed up Stob Ban in Glen Nevis. We looked at the additional navigation skills that we require in winter as well as some emergency ropework, more avalanche avoidance skills and enjoyed summit glory minutes before the cloud descended! It has been cold and dry all day again today with bright sunshine all morning and clouding over this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stob Coire Nan Lochain Traverse

Today the team and I headed to Stob Coire nan Lochain. Once again we were treated to Alpine conditions (perhaps people will soon start calling them Scottish conditions!?) with crystal clear blue skies, bright warm sunshine and temperatures below freezing all day. You know you have had a good day when the shades have seen 10 hours service! We ascended the East ridge and descended the West ridge on good hard snow and with stunning views across the Highlands & Islands.

News from North Wales

Hey Rob,
Was out in Cwm Cneifion today, looking nice and wintery with rime starting to form. Went up Tower Slabs which had some good ice. Did Hidden Gully couple of times to do both exits. Snow is mostly neve, its great. There were two or three teams around Hidden chimney and Left Hand gully. I finished on the lower part of right hand gully, then traveresed round right and had a play on a couple more smears. Cloudy but mostly clear on tops.
Sounds like you had a good one too.
Fishing is hopeless so might take another look at Snowdon tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Buachaille Etive Beag

Today we headed down Glen Coe and ticked off our first Munro of the week. It was a beautiful blue sky day with little wind and temperatures below freezing all day. We enjoyed some fine views from the summit and did some more ice axe arrest, crampon skills, avalanche awareness and poked our head in some snow holes that had been built by previous groups. A lovely day out.

Monday, February 08, 2010

5 day winter skills course in Scotland

I have been joined for the week by Richard, Steve, Vic, Paul, Joe & Paul and assisted by Jim who is on my mentor scheme for a 5 day winter skills course. I am back in Fort William for the week and today we headed to Aonach Mor having spent an hour this morning going through kit and understanding the weather and avalanche forecasts. We spent the day looking at skills such as avalanche awareness, axe and crampon techniques, ice axe arrest and even a spot of ice bouldering. It has been cold with temperatures about -5c at 900m and dry all day with light Easterly winds. Friends are reporting great climbing conditions at all of the usual venues with good ice and neve in abundance!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Looking like its getting colder

I have been out on a rescue this afternoon but otherwise been at home all day. It has been a bright blue sky day here in Wales. This came in from friend Carl:

Hi Rob, some more snow news today! Went up Pen yr ole wen via Broad Gully to avoid the crowds. It was ok early this morning with sugary snow all frozen solid. Walked over to Carnedd Dafydd and descended via Crib Lem and traversed round to the Trident gullies. A few bits of ice hanging on there (think I was on Central Trident), but at the top that sugary stuff wasn't solid and took some time to find a safe way out. Back up to Dafydd and back to car. I did manage to aviod the crowds! Going to be a bit BBRRR.... by Monday apparently.

Bryn reported great conditions with hard neve, blue skies and sunshine on Parsley Fern today.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Good conditions back on Snowdon

I haven't been out today but this came in from friend Carl:

Hi Rob, bit of snow action today. Trinity Right Hand was very nice, bit of a step by the chockstone but v good placements above. All hard snow and bits of ice most of way to top. bit sugary near the top. Back via Crib Goch, best I've ever seen it, all hard snow. Dusting everywhere but raining when back at car though :-(, looks like that could be it for a while.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Warmer on Snowdon

I took the Trail Magazine team of three up Snowdon today to put into practice the winter skills that we refreshed yesterday. It was raining most of the day, turning to sleet over about 1000m. The snow pack was saturated and we saw evidence of some small wet snow avalanches. The snow line has risen to about 600 metres. This should partially refreeze overnight but then the freezing level is rising over the summits again later in the day tomorrow. It felt very Scottish today, it was very windy on the summit (50-60mph) and we had no visibility for most of the day. The depth of snow has obliterated the path above the intersection of the Miners Track & the PYG track and we were breaking trail on virgin snow to the summit ridge!