Saturday, 17 January 2015

Well its the best we have had for nearly 2 years

Firstly, a warm welcome back to my followers, I know its been some time since my last post, but the lure of the welsh winter scene is too compulsive when new routes are being ticked. For those of you that are new to the blog, then it may not be the font of all information it used to be, but I do hope it proves to be of interest.

So, why this post? Well looking out of the window with the white stuff settling on the ground and receiving another text of another new route, I was inspired to get on the keyboard to share the information.  It crossed my mind in the last spell over Xmas but I managed to resist, but not this time.

With the winter of 13-14 being a disaster then this season whilst not being a belter so far, is a great improvement and climbers are managing to get out and we have some new routes.

So does this mean the blog is back, I am afraid no, well not like it used to be, but if I get info of any new routes then those will be highlighted.

With the forecast looking very good, then things should improve nicely, but we do need more snow.  So I hope you manage to get out.

So where to start ?

Why not with today

The Eigiau 'Out There' *** Saturday 17th Jan 2014

This trip is exactly that proper out there, and utterly brilliant, very steep, sustained, fairly safe and in a wild position.  (Rich Stone and Andy Humphries)

Steps through Space (IV,4)
Is a cracking line through steep ground down in mid Wales. Huw Gilbert and Dan ? ( Dec 29th 2014 ) Great find there lads.

Tryfan East Face and Crib y Ddysgl - 27th and /28th Dec 2014

No stopping Mr. Stone, in the last spell over xmas 2014 a few weeks back he managed to slot in another 2 new routes making a tally of 3 so far this season.
On solo (V/5) on terrace wall north tower and a variant on Gambit Climb help focus the mind for this winter.

No report could fail to mention the quite impressive and demanding first ascent of Wide Asleep X 9

This futuristic climb is another superb, bold, technical and demanding offering form local base talent Pete Harrision.

From a personal view, I am so pleased Pete never made it back to Canada where he was based for many years If so, then North Wales in winter would be lacking quite a few futuristic climbs. Keep them coming Pete.

I remember one new route I held the ropes, whilst Pete inched slowly upwards, in cool control. Climbing 40ms, with one runner up some insecure corner I was blown away how much harder  it was, than it had looked  from the ground. Not only this, but when I got to the section where Pete found himself hanging off one arm on some techy torque when the patch of neve disappeared he was standing on, I knew then he was in a different league of mine.

Wide Asleep gives a very hard route,  giving pumpy, insecure and bold climbing up the steep face 10m left of Cracking Up. Start at the base of a pillar below the centre of the wall.

30m 9 Climb to the top of the pillar. Traverse leftwards and up below the bulging wall. Swing out rightwards onto the steep face, and then climb the pumpy steep wall above on poor insecure hooks in a seam. Step right at an overlap to reach a crack, and then follow this to a good belay on ledges.

30m 6 Climb to the sloping terrace and continue directly above up a crack-line that cuts through a couple of steep undercut steps.

Pete Harrison, Ian Parnell 28.12.14. Onsight first ascent. No pegs placed.

If it holds the grade it'll be the first or second grade X on-sight first ascent in the UK?

Off on a slight tangent, but does highlight another example of what u do do with a few pointy pieces of steel

Nick, why do you want to go to the Tour Ronde, the Tour Ronde is for a Conville Course.” I had never attended a Conville Course, but if this is what they involved, it was obvious I had missed out – sign me up please.
This gave me a personal smile and i suppose many of you will not get the point. However, not to worry, if your like me , unable to burn that enthusiasm off, then keeping in touch with Nick's blog will either fully P!!!! you off or get you well motivated.  It's now the latter.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Who would have thought it ! and is it frozen in the Cwm ?

After so much action over recent years, the pay back has certainly come this year. One extreme to the other.

Mind you, its only climbing after all, with so many people having been really affected by the weather in view of floods etc.  

Check out this new initiative, which is really a great piece of work.

Need to know how cold it is in Idwal, is the ground frozen ? at what depth ? well the answers are all here. 

We really do need to consider our actions in particular in the Cwm.

The info is found here :-

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The new season is upon us.

Hi and welcome back. 

My last post back in April does seem a long way off even though its only been 7 months.  I had no idea when I embarked with the blog that time between seasons would become shorter.

I also had no idea that the conditions we would encounter would provide such interesting and amazing climbing conditions,  so many new new routes and provide so much energy in North Wales winter climbing.

I do hope that this is the case this winter. If this proves to be,  then we are in for some really new hard routes. The approach to training in view of new routing in N Wales, as ever, is on the move and hopefully those climbers will reap the benefits. 

I have to pass on a huge thanks to all those that have supported the blog, the thanks I have received off so many climbers and the way  that climbers have used it to move Welsh winter climbing onto another level.

It brings me to say,  that the blog , as you know it, is to cease this season.  Why ? you may ask when we could be on the brink of another great season. A very good question, the answer being the time it takes up and the mental energy it takes out of me.  

The success of the blog and its associated areas, means it takes over a lot of my mind in the winter months. Combine this with my own desire to get out, put new routes up, keep track of the all the action means    I find it a constant pressure. Yes,  self induced I admit and a pressure which I find extremely interesting,  exciting and fulfilling  However, after 6 or so years I need to ease off. 

That is the issue, easing off. Not something I am good at. So its all or nothing and I am afraid its going to be nothing this year.  

So I offer my apologises if you will miss the blog. However, I hope you all have a cracking winter here in North Wales. 

Finally,  I thank Mountain Equipment and DMM for their support.   It has helped towards its success and help provide so much information. 

Maybe next year 2014-2015 I will be back.

Cheers Baggy 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Live The Dream-Last Post of the Season

I am afraid to say, that this will be my last winter post of the 12-13 season. I do hope the postings have been of use and I am sorry for the lack of posts / condition reports at various times.

This winter has certainly been a good one and many new routes have been climbed, the ice has come and stuck around and I am certain many of you have had some great days out.

The day after our ascent of Idwal Stream with Michael ( aged 12 - see a few blog posts earlier ) his dad decided to take him to have a wee celebration of Michael's first ice climb. They took a visit to Tremadog and have a brew at Eric's cafe. His dad was kind enough to treat him to a copy of Eric's Eiger Solo film, as this is a classic piece of filming and was such an achievement at the time ( and would be today ). In addition to this they brought a couple of post-cards. Just as they were leaving,  Eric came in, so Michael asked Eric if he would not mind signing one of Michael's post-cards for him as Michael had just done his first ice climb. It was magic, Eric  started asking Michael about the conditions on the Idwal Stream and if there was any water running under the ice. 

The Eiger and Idwal Stream then shook hands with mutual respect.

Just about sums up what this game is about and what a great ending the young and more weathered climber meet .

Michael pleased as punch in Erics cafe

A range of pictures from the Idwal stream day.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Filling in the Gaps under everyones nose

It might be thawing here in North Wales, but reports still keep coming in regards a variety of excellent new routes. Not many gaps left up here ( Grib Y Ddysgl )  but Gaz managed to claim the last few.

Some write ups below for some new routes up on Crib y Ddysgl

Pope's Nose IV,5 * 75m

Varied climbing and something of interest on each pitch.  Start below the snowy groove just right of Gargoyle Route and to the left of a small overhang.

Pitch 1, 25m: Steep initial moves lead into the snowy groove. Head up and right on easier ground to belay on the first rock encountered below the overhanging chimney.
Pitch 2, 20m: Turf and rock steps up and right lead to a snowy ledge below a shallow chimney. Interesting moves and spike belay on left at the top.
Pitch 3, 15m: Step back right and positive moves over the jammed boulders and spikes, ledge then up and right again until below a steep headwall. Easy traverse left to boulder belay.
Pitch 4, 15m: Climb the slab up and right until final moves lead onto the arete. 

Gaz Davies and Will Oates 19/03/13

Tick Tock Tick V,6 * 92m

A direct line up the crag. There are two grooves to the right of Three Cave Gully Start on the slightly more open second groove.

Pitch 1: 25m Follow the groove for a few moves, step left on the ledge and continue up the groove system. Belay on the ledge below a steep sweep of rock.
Pitch 2: 20m Step left and make some steep moves into the continuing groove line. Spaced gear but positive climbing leads to a ledge on the left and belay.
Pitch 3: 22m Step back right and follow a couple of steep steps until it flatens out onto easier ground.
Pitch 4: 25m Easy ground leads up to the remaining rock steps and Clogwyn y Person Arete. 

Gaz Davies and Matthew Hawkins 18/03/13

Matt Hawkins on Tick Tock Tick

Now for a even more rare posting. Due to recent conditions other areas have seen action 

Ffŵl Ebrill IV 4 180m

Just a quick description, not too sure about the grades, neither me or Martin have much experience at the grade, definitely felt harder than III. Pitch 3 had two steep steps first vertical on snow for 2m, after snow for a bit second step of about 2-3m vertical climbing up 3 overhanging 'cauliflowers', easing to belay. Pitch 4 easy snow, ice near vertical up corner for 13m??, easing again to snow slopes above. A cracking day out, proper adventure, seeing as looking at it I thought probably about a II (possibly I, possibly III), I had a bit of a surprise coming over the steepness on pitch 3 to catch a glimpse of the steepness above. Pitch lengths also a bit of a guess based on recollections of rope used.

Needs good hard snow, and well formed ice for the crux pitch, both rare commodities round these parts. It is situated directly west of the north summit of Moel Lefn, and south of craig Cwm Trwsgl. Start just left of a wall, immediately below the invitingly obvious gully, which cuts directly through an imposing buttress (about SH 548 487)

  1. 30m 1 From a tree belay continue in the line of the gully, rock belay on left before first steepening as gully walls become more defined.
  2. 25m 2 Follow the gully past two steepenings. Poor belay on obvious ledge below overhang to the left of the gully, before a steep step below the first deviation of the gully line to the right.
  3. 35m 3 Climb the steep step to snow slope above and follow line up to the right to a second steep step in the corner on the right, before the gully opens out again moving left. Rock belay on left as gully walls once again become more defined.
  4. 52m 4 Continue up easy snow slope to a corner. Tackle the steepness in the icy corner or possibly the rocky wall to the left. Eases to snow above, potential belays on rocks to the left.
  5. 40m 2 Move right, back to the continuing gully line, which again becomes defined for a short distance, before disappearing onto the easing slopes above with a drystone wall and fence on the right.

Gerwyn Madoc Jones / Martin Bischoff  - 2nd April 2013

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Paradise right here in North Wales

One of my clients Al, like many other climbers, has been keen to tick the 3 star classic Cascade (V) for many years. Al is quite a handy ice climber, but a lack of recent time on ice has meant this route is just out of his grasp to currently lead.

With this in mind, and that fact the route may not form for years to come (who knows?)  This week we managed to combine, time off work, conditions, and a slot for me to add this to our agenda.   Considering it was an Easter holiday weekend day, the forecast was excellent and it’s a route on many a climbers tick list I suggested an early start.

Walking away from the cars at 5.30am this morning with clear skies and a cool looking moon over Pen Y Pass our spirits were lifted.  Arriving at the crag we found two other keen bunnies. Well done to them for getting an even earlier start to us. They too were expecting the hoards.

The route proved to be sporty for Grade V, in particular pitch 3 and the other pair of climbers worked with us so that Al and I could progress up the route behind them without getting bombarded with ice. This meant we did not have to wait to start the route until they topped out. I for one, are not keen to climb behind others on ice, nature of the beast, ice will be flying down.  So thanks to those guys for being so polite and helpful.

Topping out into blinding sun with the mountains giving an Alpine feel was a perfect end to a classic climb.  We decided that would do us for the day.  Why not finish when to going is good.

However, back at the base of the crag the temptation to do Central Icefall was there, but we decided that the amount of water running off the climb might be tempting fate.

To our surprise we were the only 2 parties at the crag until the time we left and we did not see anyone walking that way on our way down. 

The walk in this morning 

Al  approaching two of the belays

The Early birds who beat us to the crag

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Youth of today

Today was one of those days when I look back and think Wow, that was a top day. Being able to instruct and guide people on the mountains in winter is a real pleasure. I get the opportunity to see people develop as climbers and mountaineers and achieve lifetime goals.

However, today was a bit more special as Michael aged 12 was able to tick Idwal Stream (II) as his first ice route. Well actually it was his first winter climb. Not sure how many 12-year lads can say they have done that?

Accompanying him on this adventure was his dad Graham. I had taken Graham on a week’s winter climbing in Scotland a few years ago, so it was ideal to know I could focus most of my attention on his lad.

Michael climbed the route in real style, along the way taking an active part in belaying, tying on and sorting ropes out on the belay. We took a nice and steady approach to the day even having food and hot chocolate on one stance.

The full winter experience was had, a cold wind, ice, neve, soft snow, rock, hot aches, apprehension, excitement, fear and that sense of achievement once topping out.

Idwal has a variety of routes in good nick, others are quite lean and some are not in.  Cannot really give you the low down  of each route, as I have not climbed them and it’s hard to say from a distance.


Monday, 1 April 2013

VIII-9 ? - To much temptation , So many new routes, So excited and a Twist to the Storry

I knew it would happen, once back into the mix, doing the rounds on the phone the excitement is just to much. I promised myself I would not be back so soon, but how can I resist. With so many opportunities available to me and no time at all to climb, the easiest option was to turn the phone off. However, once I decided to leave the dam thing on,  it was just a matter of time before the texts came winging my way.

Firstly,  its been a good bumper week here in North Wales for new routes. Mr Panton, I am sure will fill you in on more of the details  ( on the V12  news site this coming week ) However, seems Pete Harrison has great vision as he follows in my footsteps again and manages to finish off another of my attempted routes. Thing is this time, neither of us knew of each others plans/previous visits. 

Big news are 2 new routes by my good friend Rich Stone up on Craig Dayffed. Having to turn down his offers of teaming up I managed to avoid the full on fight of Bladerunner. Having discussed this with Rich over the last 12 months and looked at the line I knew it would be a battle. A quick look through the new winter guide and one will see that Rich has been an active climber on and around the Black Ladders for some years and he is no stranger to adding his mark on the Welsh Winter Scene. I know Rich will be pleased with these routes and will be quite interested to see what the grades pan out to be.

Bladerunner VIII 9 ***110m ( As Rich has stated - Grade will need verifying )

The pencil thin crack in the shallow V groove right of Samuel goes the full height of the huge block that forms an awesome wall. Ridiculously tenuous torques and layaways make this well fall-offable (7 falls over two seasons ) but strenuous to place good gear (small wires and blade pegs) render it a safe-ish, bullet hard test piece. Grade will need verifying.

Rich first tried this route back in Dec 2010 and took 4 falls, 2 from the lower part of the crack then 2 from the desperate last bit. Finally he got back on it this weekend after a period of indifferent climbing over the winter due to prolonged chronic fatigue syndrome. Through, logging, and stone-walling he got  fit enough over the last month and just in time. The route felt desperate and still took a further fall from the lower section followed by 2 from the upper before success. Its the hardest thing either Rich or Andy have done by quite a fair margin and thus Rich states is at the limit of my experience for grading, so it would be good to see what subsequent assentionist make of it.

P1. 50m 5 As for Samuel up steep turf steps to the ledge just left of the tooth / pillar.

P2. 35m 9 Above is the soaring crackline in the shallow groove. Initially scary pulls on thin turf lead to the crack. What follows is a relentless series of powerful but tenuous torques and layaways, passing a small overlap on its left then fighting on up the crack to a piss poor rest at a turf blob below a blackened slit. Pull past this to the obscenely thin continuation of the crack. A mighty heave and deft footwork (monopoints a must) followed by a landed fish flop and soiled trousers get you - sometimes - onto the decent turf ledge. Belay at the back.

P3. 25m 6 A brief but feisty struggle up the corner followed by a couple more big rock / turf steps which lead to The Trident shelf.

FA Richard Stone & Andy Humpheries 30-3-2013

After a bit of a session on the ale celebrating our days achievement Andy was dead to the world Sunday morning so I headed off alone up towards the ladders hoping to make the most of a beautiful day. Half way up the valley got a text saying 'wait for me,' from Andy- the Easter Resurrection. After catching up we headed up the cwm, solid 2 all the way up it was so banked out with neve and ice steps looking for the cracked arete that we vaguely remembered spotting back in 2010 and hence the resurrection was made manifest, a truly first rate climb and a clean ground up on sight flash. Mind you the last 2 days have took there toll a lingering sore wrist has developed into nasty ligament strain and tendonitis.

Easter Resurrection VII 7 ***110m

The arete to the left of the start of The Capstone Heelhook gives an awesome and quality outing with decent protection. Steep turf grooves followed by the mother of torquing cracks on the apex of the arete lead to a difficult V groove. Note : Capstone Heelhook V-7 by G Davies and Baggy 2011 has since changed due to a large rockfall in summer of 2012.

P1. 40m 5 Start 10m left of the bottom of capstone heelhook, below a turfy buttress that leads to an obvious arete with a crack in it. Go up the surprisingly fierce turf V grooves until there is a large spike belay on the arete where the turf ends.

P2. 40m 7 Directly above the stance a pristine torquing crack leads up the arete to a V groove above. Enter this with difficulty and fight on up using the crack at the back of the grove and a thin crack on the right wall to reach turf ledges on the blocky arete.

P3. 30m 4 A couple of steep pulls between ledges lead to easier ground and the finish of The Capstone Heelhook.

FA Richard Stone & Andy Humpheries 31-3-2013.

Not ending here, back to this Pete Harrison story. I get a text this evening off Pete, saying that he had just done a cracking new winter route, one of the best he has done this season. Its Adam Rib ( HS 4A ) and reckons VI-7 maybe VII-7. Pete's enthusiasm oozes out on this text and I had to call him back.

Pete, I really feel mean saying this but did you come across the tat about 10m from the top of the route. yes was the reply, we wondered about that. Well the thing is Pete, I climbed that route with Stu Stanley back on Jan 19th of this year, cracking route and we thought a classic. Well I say route, I backed off 10m from the top, due to very loose rock on the original finish and an alternative finish which looked loose and needed large gear, which we had failed to bring.
We had a good laugh about this and Pete was like no way, that is so weird we both thought about this climb.  Asking me why I had never mentioned this, I replied well the plan was to go and finish it off.

So 3 major new routes in two days, a variety of major new routes last week, Caff  ( James ) doing the Pass Challenge. What is that you ask ? Ah just 3 routes in the pass in one day ?  Easy you might say, well when Neil Dwyer tried it, climbing Right Wall brushing the snow of the ledges was a tad hard even for Neil. I will let you find out more.  Then Mr Emmett making a guest appearance and doing a torchlight Trio.

Phew what a week, I am so glad I have not been blogging all week, to much to keep up with, where will it end, no sign as yet. 

Keep on cranking boys and girls and remember no day out in the Welsh Hills is complete without that lovely Welsh Winter Climbs guide by Ground UP in your pack.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Briefly Back and West Face Tryfan News

It does seem slight strange writing this post, as conditions have been very good at times over the last 2 months and there has been a steady flow of new routes and I have been offline.  It was good to see Pete Harrison bagging Grey Ghost VI-6. When Toby Keep and I had first tried this line the slab had no ice and corner stopped us as it was to hard. I had mentioned to Pete some years ago, if he was ever up in that area to get the top corner climbed.  Well he and Rob Pitt managed to do one better they climbed the slab out left, very nice tick.

With recent conditions looking promising, after the last few seasons this winter is certainly living up to being one to remember with this late spell of climbing. Again, this shows that North Wales still has a lot to offer and there are plenty of keen bunnies out there.  Si Panton has been doing a good job on the V12 blog keeping us upto date with a variety of new lines being added to the Welsh Scene.

Hearing all the reports, looking at so many photos of quality climbing and speaking to so many climbers over the last few months it was hard to resist updating the blog nearly every day.  Regular users of the blog will be aware I went off line back in January. This was for a variety of reasons and I thank all the people who have let me know it has been missed.  I am afraid to say, this post is not a re-start of the blog on a daily basis.

My own climbing has been a real mixed bag, getting in new routes, failing on new routes, ticking some classics, failing on winter ascents of rock routes and even failing on the odd classic.  

This last week once the snow and winds had died down, I reckon there would have been quite a few climbers trying to decide what to do?  Avoid the crowds, take into account all this snow (none of which has not gone through a good freeze thaw cycle) not wishing for a wade fest and the ice not all being in great nick.  One things for sure, the ground was well frozen before all this snow fell. 

With these thoughts in mind I ventured out onto the  West Face of Tryfan. I had last been up there in Feb 2011 with Glyn Callund, where we did the first winter ascent of  Flat Iron Ridge ( VD ) . This gave a nice steady route at IV-4.  I was keen to go back up and explore some of the other routes up there and try some first winter ascents.  This area is never going to give stellar routes but it has a lot going for it. Short approach, away from the crowds, easier grades and a mixture and climbing/mountaineering pitches.

I hooked up with one of my new route partners, Gaz Davies, who I had not climbed with for over year. He was not feeling that well and I was dealing with an injury so another good reason for our chosen venue.

First off we looked at Columbyne (VD) Approaching this direct (this is not shown in the new Ogwen guide) via mixed heather, grass and rock gave a mixture of short steps and a few spicy moments, as we still had the ropes on our back III.   We took a new line on the top pitch climbing between the top pitch of Columbyne and Pierrot. IV-5.  From here we traversed over and above the Wrinkled Slab Buttress and then dropped down the gully to the right of this.

We then choose  Jamie’s Route (S)   Taking a new line approx just to the left of pitch one as described in the guide, gave what winter mixed climbing is all about. Great hooks, great kit, cracking moves, steep but not overhanging techy climbing. 3 stars,  but only 10ms long.  Grade ?  found on a more sustained route it would be at least hard V, but it is a short a pitch, so IV-6 is more appropriate.  This was followed by 100ms of varied grade III climbing over rocky steps, slabs and chimneys. By this time the sun was out on the ridge and it felt like we were in the Alps.

Like all of us, I hope this snow has chance to change to neve and hangs around for some time. This will give some cracking climbing conditions. My thoughts are we have new routes on the way. With so much snow, there just has to be lots of thoughts out there by potential explorers.  

Cwm Lloer has seen many repeats of established routes. The classic snow routes of N Wales I believe are going to give hard work, unless some kind person has put all the steps in.  The ice seems a mixture of good, poor and thin. There is ice where there is often just blank rock and many classic ice routes are not in nick/in poor nick. 

I hope all of you got some winter action in over Easter if you were in North Wales.  With such fine weather just being out in hills walking or climbing should give a few days to remember.

Finally take care, there is a lot of difference snow conditions around, it’s so easy to slip, slide or fall into a hole, take it easy and stay switched on.

Photos - before the battery ran out !!!!!!

Gaz – Powering up grade 2 ground  on West Face Tryfan

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The boys at Liverpool

Simon and I looking a lot more relaxed than at the beginning of our lecture 

Just look at all that ice !!