Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cwm Idwal

Mark, Emily and I headed into Cwm Idwal today to escape the battering the wind was giving the tops. There was some fresh snow on the summits although its purely cosmetic at the moment, it was certainly cold all day though. We climbed NW Face Route with Mark on the sharp end of the rope, descended the Idwal Slabs descent route and then climbed Seniors Gully for a blast. A great day out again, thanks both. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Conditions

As the rain continues to fall I am making preparations for my annual journey North to Scotland. One of the most persistent of weather patterns each winter period is a mild and stormy Christmas holiday and this year is no exception! It is worth remembering in this darkest hour that January often brings a shift from tropical maritime to polar air, bringing heavy snow to the Scottish mountains even if not sunshine! The first half of next week looks cold with freezing levels down to 400m and fresh snow on the hills. A thaw later in the week will serve us well to stabilise the snow pack ready for the next fresh dump. I will keep you informed!

Crib Llem Spur

I have been out with Mark and Emily today who have become regulars at this time of year. Whilst we hoped for blue skies, sunshine and crisp neve we made the most of what we were given and had a great day out on the Crib Llem Spur on the Northern end of the Carneddau. This grade 1 scramble was nicely sheltered from the wind, stayed dry most of the day and gave us a bit of fresh snow on the tops. Thanks both for a great day out, blowing away the cobwebs and burning off the excess of Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Have some fun this winter

Still some snow on the mountains

I took the dog for a walk up onto Lliwedd this morning to make the most of the beautiful winter sunshine. There is still some snow about as you can see from the photos but it looks pretty wet and warm tomorrow. A beautiful morning this morning though! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A great week in Chamonix

I am home now after a great couple of weeks, the first in Morocco working and the second in Chamonix skiing with friends. It has been dumping with snow all week in Chamonix and we had an incredible 6 days of skiing fresh powder. Not many lifts were open so we did a mixture of touring and off piste leaving my legs completely knackered now!

Friday, December 07, 2012

100% Success on Toubkal

We have had a brilliant week this week in Morocco, clear blue skies, wall to wall sunshine and lots of fresh snow to play in! We arrived last weekend and have spent the week in the Atlas Mountains, making the most of the perfect learning environment to cover winter skills before going on to climb the three highest mountains in North Africa, all over 4000m and including Toubkal. A great week with great people, thanks all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunshine and snow

Its been a beautiful day in the mountains of Snowdonia today, blue skies, sunshine and snow capped peaks - world class! I was joined by repeat clients Elliott, Mark and Ryan and we headed up onto Pen Yr Ole Wen for some Welsh winter skills. We did some crampon coaching in Cwm Lloer before putting them and the axes to use on the East Ridge - the usual rock step an easy snow gully today. The summit gave stunning views to Ireland and the Isle of Man. The snow was perfect neve on all but the summit plateau where we found some breakable crust - a stunning first day in crampons for the boys. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bristly Ridge in the snow

Charlie, Laurie and I headed up Bristly Ridge today on the Glyderau. It has been a lovely dry and cold day and it must have been even colder overnight as the snow has re-frozen nicely to give some nice patches of neve up high. The turf is also freezing nicely now over about 800m. Charlie & Laurie wanted to be on the sharp end of the rope so we were able to look at the judgement of when to pitch and when to do something different! A great day out in some lovely light and conditions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crib Goch in the snow

Winter has arrived in the mountains! Laurie and Charlies advanced scrambling course turned into a winter mountaineering course this morning after the snowfall of yesterday evening and last night. As I drove down the Ogwen valley this morning there was snow down to about 600m so it was time for a change of plans. Fortunately they were both size 8 feet and so I was able to lend them some winter boots, crampons and axes and we headed up Crib Goch. It was pretty breezy on the East Ridge but the wind died down as the day went on and was fine on the crest of the ridge. We put crampons on about 3/4 of the way up the East Ridge as there was plenty of verglass as well as the fresh snow. For Charlie it was a first winter outing so well done both - a nice tick for November! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snowing on the mountains

I have been out with repeat clients Laurie and Charlie today, they have booked me for 3 days advanced scrambling and hopefully today was the bad weather day! It has been extremely wet all day and pretty breezy up high again too. We climbed North West Face Route into the Idwal Staircase and Seniors Gully before descending back into Cwm Idwal. As we came off the hill the rain was turning to sleet and its looking fairly white high up - its also due to get colder as the week goes on so this might be the start of the Welsh winter!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

ML Wild Camping

Well the last couple of days have given some fairly challenging conditions for the ML teams and our camp was definitley wild. Last week I bought a new set of Arcteryx waterproofs and they were given an impressive test!

I took the ML trainees from Pen Y Pass yesterday morning, over Lliwedd Bach and down into Cwm Tregallan. Our route had been planned with the forecast high winds in mind but nonetheless we had a fairly physical time of it. You know its windy when you can't crawl forwards!  The boys did exceptionally well and never stopped smiling, rising to the challenges thrown at us and making the most of the learning conditions. Stream crossings maintained interest and it didn't stop raining all day.  Having been out on night nav we settled into our tents and to top the howling wind and rain were treated to a thunder and lightening storm!
We met up with the assessment team who had endured two nights of the same weather - in their debrief this morning I was pleased to tell them they had all passed - well done boys - and the sense of satisfaction matched the sense of relief at having survived! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ML Training

I have been out with my ML Training team today, joined by fellow instructor and friend Bryn who I managed to drag out of his office at Mountain Training Cymru for the only nice weather day of the week! We spent the day looking at the use of the rope in the ML scheme and based ourselves in a dry and even sunny Ogwen Valley - lovely!