Monday, November 29, 2010

Cwm Glas

Hi Rob,
Had a look up in Cwm Glas today after you gave it a mention yesterday. Sargeant's gully was mostly climbable with good enough ice, bit thin in places. The first more difficult step was climbable, but with blunt, worn crampons and on my todd I skipped it. Ice on higher couple of tricky steps was pretty poor but may be ok after another few days. I went up Parsley Fern Gully which had plenty of ice smears and one about 10 metres long halfway up, all climbable. The last 30 metres before topping out was old snow with nice frozen steps but the rest of the gully inbetween the smears was powder snow ontop scree which was hard work.
Sinister gully had ice on the approaches but there was no ice on the normal ice pitch. No ice on those higher grade lines to the left of Sinister. There was a team doing Parsley Fern ahead of me and I met a couple that had just done Clogwyn y Person Arete, that they described as a good wintery scramble.
Looks like more cold then a little rise in temp over weekend then back to cold NE - E wind for next week, could all change by then though!
Great start, still many months to go yet!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mountain Rescue Training

I have been playing in the snow today with the Rescue Team. We decided to make the most of the wintery conditions and do an impromptu session on stretcher lowering on snow and ice. As you can see from the pictures we managed to have a laugh and the weather and views were absolutely stunning. We were in Cwm Glas and the ice was starting to form nicely. One team was rather optimistically heading up Sergeants Gully but it looked rather thin!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Mountaineering in Snowdonia

Today Danny and Rob wanted a half day looking at the ropework involved to go out winter mountaineering for themselves. We headed down the Llanberis Pass and used the mixed ground above Bens Bunkhouse to look at tieing in, taking coils, building simple single point belays and body belays. The ground was frozen even at this low altitude and there was ice in the watercourses. It was also a beautiful sunny morning and the view up the Pass was stunning.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Winter Mountaineering in Snowdonia

 Wow what a lot of snow! I have been joined for the next two days by Rob & Danny. They were originally booked for an advanced scrambling course but we had to change our plans in the cafe this morning! My friend Huw took the guys on the navigation course out over the Carneddau whilst we decided to opt for a winter mountaineering day. There was a lot of fresh snow all the way down to the road and the boys had not worn crampons before so we headed up the Gribin Ridge (1). Along the way we looked at some ice axe and crampon skills and avalanche avoidance. We topped out on the Glyders and then descended Easy Gully (1) into Cwm Cneifion looking at the rope skills involved on snow gullies. It was a stunning day to be out. Climbing Conditions: There was a team on Clogwyn Du as shown in the photos and the crag looked nice and white. We found that on the Gribin ridge the snow added to the sport but was largely unconsolidated powder as you would expect. On the summit the ground was frozen and there were some nice patches of hard snow to enjoy. Easy Gully was basically snow on rock and scree, it was good fun but really needed a base of harder snow to look after our ankles! There was ice starting to form high in the Cwm but we are some way off having ice to climb on.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Navigation & Hill Skills Course

I have been joined by repeat client John and his friends Gary & Nick and by John and James for a two day navigation and hill skills course here in Snowdonia. There was fresh snow down to Capel Curig this morning and we spent the day going no higher than 450m on the Gyders to avoid the heaviest snow. We also stayed off the footpaths all day to avoid the compressed snow that will be found on the busier paths. We spent the day looking at micro navigation skills and emergency procedures in the mountains and had a cracking day out. The snow came through in bursts of heavy showers and was still falling as I drove home. The mountains look beautiful as you can see in the photos.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trail Magazine Winter Feature

The January issue of Trail magazine is on sale now and includes an 8 page article that I have done with them on winter skills. It has timed nicely with the arrival of the first winter snows and will be a great aid memoir for anyone that has done a winter skills course and a nice appetite whetter for those that have one planned. Over the next couple of weeks I will place a PDF version on the website with the other articles I have done with them over the last 18 months if you fancy a read.

Crib Goch in the Snow

I have been out with Kate today who is on my trainee instructor mentor scheme. As I drove down the Ogwen Valley this morning I was surprised to see snow on the road and a good coverage on the tops. After a cup of tea in the cafe we decided to make the most of the snow and head over Crib Goch. Kate had not worn crampons for a couple of years but had previously done some winter mountaineering and climbing and so was well within her comfort zone. As you can see in the photos the Northern aspects all have a nice coverage of snow whilst on the Southern side of the mountains there was less to see. We made our way over Crib Goch and discussed when to put the crampons on. As we gained height on Crib Y Dysgyl we were glad of them as a good layer of hoar frost and fresh snow covered the ridge. There were plenty of folk sliding down the zig zags on their backside who would have been glad of them too! As I drove home it was snowing hard again so it looks promising for the rest of the week.
Climbing Conditions: At the moment the snow is unconsolidated (except where its been compressed on the path) and needs a bit of a thaw and re-freeze to provide a snow pack for climbing on. The turf is also not yet fully frozen, even over 1000m. There was no ice forming yet today on the Trinity Face on Snowdon but rime ice is developing nicely and so with a couple more days of cold weather there could be some good mixed climbing to be had. The classic grade 1 ridges like Crib Goch, North Ridge of Tryfa, Bristly Ridge & The Gribin are already giving some great sport.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Scottish Winter Mountaineering Dates added

My 3 day winter mountaineering courses in Scotland all filled up very quickly so I have added another course to run on the 14-16 March 2011. You can get the full details here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Its been snowing

I spent the weekend on an MREW First Aid course and then have been out today with Jim who is on my trainee instructor mentor scheme and his Dad. It has snowed overnight last night and Saturday night and Jim wanted to concentrate on roped scrambling in preparation for his MIA training. We went into Cwm Idwal and scrambled up North West Face Route and the top of the Idwal Staircase. We looked at the descent from the Idwal Slabs and then headed up into Cwm Cneifion. As you can see from the photo the upper Cwm is looking nice and white but at the moment it is little more than a cosmetic dusting. It is forecast to stay cold for the rest of the week so with some more snow and lower temperatures we could see the start of the mixed climbing season here in Snowdonia soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A beautiful day

It has been a stunning day here in Wales. We have had clear blue skies with that soft winters light that really shows off the colours of the mountains. Mark, Barry, Brett, Tim, Chris and I, assisted by Alec, headed up Bristly Ridge and over the Glyders. We descended the Gribin Ridge and clicked away merrily on our cameras, enjoying the views as much as the scrambling. It was a fitting end to a great week in great company and I wish the boys all the best in their future mountaineering.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cwm Idwal Scrambling

Today I have been joined by my good friend Alec (another MIC) to reduce the ratios down for the scrambling element of the 5 day navigation and scrambling course I am running this week. I took Barry and Parm into Cwm Idwal whilst Alec took the others onto Tryfan. It has been very wet all day and again we have had some fairly strong winds to avoid. We made the most of the weather though and covered lots of new skills with plenty of laughs along the way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cwm Tregallan, Snowdon

Today the weather forecast promised lashing rain and gale force winds and so the boys and I decided to stay low and do some micro navigation practise. We walked up the Watkin path on Snowdon and spent the day practising micro navigation skills for poor visibility off the path. We were without Alan who hurt his ankle at the end of the day yesterday. The weather was not quite as wet as forecast and we were nicely sheltered in the Cwm and so the day worked well. We bumped into the farmer bringing his sheep down for the winter in readiness for the arrival of the snow - there was no obvious snowfall this morning though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Y Garn

The boys and I headed up the North East ridge of Y Garn today on the second day of our navigation and scrambling course. It was another stunning day and felt very wintery on the to with a brisk wind and temperatures only just above freezing despite the sunshine. We descended the North ridge and the guys planned a route taking us off the paths for our descent. We put into practise the skills that we had learnt yesterday and threw a few new ones into the pot too and descended onto the old A5 before making our way back to Idwal cottage.