Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Oh so steep

With no conditions then the only option is to go training. For me,  this is proving a shock to the system at times after such a long lay off due to injury. So what better way to get a good pump on than to get on a overhanging M7+ mixed route !!!. Getting up it was another matter, mind you Big Tim and Nick Bullock  showed me the way.

Just look at those hooks !!!!

Nick lapping Ibex for the 3rd time in a row before moving onto the other routes.

Start of Ibex

That nice Mr Panton of Ground up and V12 has done topo follow the link.

There has been a constant flow of climbers visiting the quarries for the dry tool routes this week, all trying to get some training in, have some banter and take the issue of such bad weather away for a short time.

These routes will either get you very fit or make you walk away feeling very weak, which ever way its all good crack. If you go here you really do need mono points , blunt axes you can get away with as the easier routes !!! have very good hooks.  Axes without double handles will just make you try harder.

There really does not look like much change in the weather for the next week. Small pockets of colder weather but nothing to get excited about.

Wet windy and warm

Well I hope you all enjoyed xmas and things went well.  The weather here in North Wales has been very windy, wet and warm. Tues 27th was a nice day, with very little rain and lighter winds. However, the hills are bare of any signs of snow.

No doubt many of you now have the time to get out onto the hills, if only there were any conditions. Looking back to last winter it was a similar theme.  Just after xmas the thaw set in. However, we did have a fair amount of snow on the hills and once the temps dropped on Jan 2nd certain routes came back into condition.

Looking back on Xmas 010 things were different. We were in a spell of very good and cold conditions with many ice routes in nick.  There was the opportunity to claim some fine routes, such as the 2nd ascent of Terminator.

Lets hope conditions start to build again. I suppose we have all got used to very good recent winters. The previous 3 years have delivered very good conditions over November and December.

As many of you are aware,  the forecast until next Monday is a mixed bag of wind and warm temps apart form a short period today which will result in nothing really. After next Monday, well that is too far ahead in my view as things often change.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Have a good one and thanks to others

As followers of this blog will be aware, regardless of conditions, routes etc, I hand over the blog to all our service men and women at this time of year.

As Fellow presenter ( Lawrence Dallaglio )  of the recent Millies Awards stated:
"Sports stars are often put on a pedestal of being heroes of our country but actually, the true heroes are our troops. When you cross the white line as a sportsman you put your reputation on the line. But when you cross the white line as a service person, you put your life on the line and that is inherently different"
In honour of all , I have posted the list of the full winners of the recent Millies Awards

Most Outstanding Airman - Flight Lieutenant Michael Anderson, RAF Odiham, Hook, Hampshire.
Judges Special Award - HMS Liverpool
Support to the Armed Forces - Walking with the Wounded.
Best Reservist - Air Engineering Technician Michelle Ping, Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch, Sheffield.
Overcoming Adversity - Private Scott Meenagh, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, Cumbernauld, Glasgow
Judges Special Award - RAF Search and Rescue
Best Unit - 42 Commando Royal Marines
Most Outstanding Sailor or Marine - Petty Officer Aircrewman Mike Henson, HMS St Albans, Whitehaven, Cumbria
True Grit - Private Lee Stephens, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Solihull, West Midlands.
Life Saver Award - RAF Tactical Medical Wing, Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Most Outstanding Soldier - Sergeant Ryan McReady, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, Northern Ireland.

This picture is courtesy of Legion Live, The Royal British Legion online community

Friday, 23 December 2011

Trying to keep in shape

With all the thought of winter climbing off the agenda and the rain beating down, it was an ideal day for a trip to the beacon to get some training in.

It was good to see that many of the holds were white !!!!!! which helped give the feel of winter whilst using the fig of fours.

Even more white looking down

Not everyone feels comfortable using the fig of fours, but they can give you a good pump where you need it.

Leading with them helps add to the entertainment value.  However, It does seem strange using rock shoes, ideally using your boots would be better but most climbing walls are no keen on this.

Things were going well, with me on the fig fours and big Tim in a more conventional mode. This all ended when team strong arrived in terms of Nick Bullock, Streaky and Dave Rudkin.  For some reason ??? the banter started flying  around, with much of it in the direction of the me and the fig a fours. 

If you have never give them a go, then I wood suggest trying them out.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Oh Dear

Looking at the pictures below, I am sure you will agree any thoughts of climbing have gone. These pics taken this afternoon show that most of the snow has disappeared. Things do not look that great in view of the forecast.

However, things have switched and there seems to be a local buzz in terms of dry tooling, which is giving not only a good work out but much banter.


Glyders and Snowdon

Today a team [ Adam, Anne, Gerwyn and myself }  went underground. Wales is littered with old slate, lead and copper mines. These provide good sport to visit and give a great in sight into the history of Wales and one of its old industries. This mine allowed for a through trip, with quite a few abseils and a nice long ladder climb to finish off !!

Adam giving us the grin which just tells us he having a ball and thinking he must give up kayaking

We visited a mine near Barmouth and thanks is given to Ross Gregan who came along to give us his insight into the history of the mine.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Back to Black

Monday was very wet and very warm. The theme of warmth has continued over Tuesday and today with lots of snow being stripped.

Quite obvious this is a real shame, as things were starting to build quite nicely.

No doubt heading high onto North to East facing aspects there will be ribbons of snow in the gullies and with the forecast looking more cold Friday and into Saturday, then Xmas eve could give a nice day out if your early.

Sorry it is not better news.

Ogwen today-Glyders and Y Garn covered in low cloud and it was very warm at Ogy Cott

These pictures are from Owen Hayward, from last Sunday on Reades Route.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Its only snow Dad !!!!

Yes it is only snow, but that is the point I said to my five year old daughter, after explaining to her  I was not staying with her and my sister overnight.  They never really understand do they.

It was still 11.00pm and I was still in Liverpool doing the family thing. I had promised them Saturday was not for climbing, so managing to sneak the blog report in at 23.35 was a bonus. However, driving back to North Wales at 1.20am was not. The text from Andy saying an 8.15am start helped, no early start for us, so that meant I could get up at 7.00am get packed etc and be at Ogwen on time.

Ideally, going out on the Monday would have been the best plan, but the weather looked awful for then, so had to make the most of it and get my first day in of the season.

Venue was an easy choice for once and the plan of a few new routes was in mind. On approaching the crag it was good to see things in nick and that my initial plan was working out.

We managed two new routes with names yet to be given. In reference to the grades and more info visit Andy,s blog on this link  . Andy is being conservative with the grades. I suppose the difficulty is, the routes are not really long, they are well protected, but the crux pitches pack a punch with some quality moves. I was not able to repeat Andy's drop knee Egyptian move, I went for the lanky mans dyne technique.

Baggy seconding first pitch of one of the new routes

Andy climbing upto base of route, lots of snow and snow/ice in the gullies

Report from Geoff Bennett

Yo Bagster

See you're up to your usual tricks sneaking off to do new routes whilst no one else is looking!

Was up in the Lost Cwm yesterday ( Saturday 17th Dec ) with Jon Byrne, Louise Tully & Jim McKormack. Managed to put together a III but the turf's not frozen . Ice was not in large enough quantities to complete any of the established lines. Still it was out of the wind (but in the clag all day). Oh better not mention Jim being really hunt over.

Headed for Craig Dafydd with Mike Pyecroft today ( Sunday 18th dec ) and after struggling to see or find anything we did one of your routes Helmand Province; a good route with an excellent top pitch. Noddy & Andy Scott were on another of yours Mr.Ps....Said it was excellent.

Turf still isn't frozen, it's covered in heaps of insulating snow, but the mixed routes are in good condition otherwise. Well worth the slog up there.

See you out there

Geoff Bennett

Report from Owen Hayward

Chris Wood and I enjoyed ‘full conditions’ on Reade’s route yesterday – had to wade through thigh deep snow to get to the route and then excavate thick hoar to find runners and holds. A howling wind added to the excitement. We nearly turned back on the walk in due to soggy ground and slush but as soon as we got into Cwm Glas Bach it was full winter conditions. Suprisingly good adventure and no-one around. Shame it’s all going to go again now – fingers crossed for a frigid new year!

Well I know a few teams are heading out on Tuesday, but I am giving my body time to recover before my next hit. Injuries this year have meant very little climbing or days on the hill.

Friday, 16 December 2011

the buzz is boiling

As you may be aware, snow has fallen over night and also today at times. Reports indicate quite snowy and windy conditions higher up. Snow was down to road level in Ogwen.

Matt Stygle and Kath Bromfiled got out on Thursday and did the second ascent of one of my and Gaz Davies routes from last year. HP.

Andy Turner and Ruth Taylor were out today but found the routes they were wishing to climb, not in proper nick. Higher up the turfy grooves Andy found the turf was not frozen all over and this not only meant patchy conditions but not really in the spirit of things. Pushing turfy routes in anything but perfect conditions means damage to vegetation and loss of turf. Something, many climbers wish to preserve in North Wales.

Conditions from the Northen Corries seem like theres lots of snow to contend with.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Amazing what 24hrs can do

I am away from North Wales, but my daughter informed me it had snowed high up overnight and the hills look quite white above 600m. With the cold temps of late, the ground should be frozen.

I have also had reports of a few routes - mixed ones being climbed, so there are things coming in. With Thursday eve sugessting more snow and cold temps over the weekend, looks like this weekend maybe the first time that some sport may be had.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Still bare

Wednesday and the hills are still bare, just a little dusting on the high tops.

I will put some pictures on later

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Going going gone

The hills were very bare today. Very little snow, if any on the most of the major ranges. Forgot the camera today so no pics.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Back to square 1 as they say, so summer and Dorys

This morning the hills were quite bare, apart from a few places really high up, I doubt there is much snow. However, the forecast does indicate snow showers over the next few days along with the freezing level below the summits. This should start the build up again.

Snowdon Monday afternoon 12th Dec

Without much winter talk, I got into a conversation about Craig Dorys and thought I would share some summer action which happened there this year. Not every ones idea of a nice day out cragging is our Dorys. But some think otherwise.

One chap in the mix for this type of climbing is Nick Bullock and one of his favourite crags came in for some love this summer.

This news piece gives you an idea of what he calls a day out at the seaside.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Blink and its all over again

Last night the temps rose and as a result this morning the hills were looking a little bare. Thursday temps are forecast for plus 5 at 900m with rain, then not much more snow forecast after that in the short term. At this stage I reckon any thoughts of weekend action is off the cards.

All pics taken today




Monday, 5 December 2011

The buzz has started

Even though we only have a dusting, I have already had quite a few e mails, giving updates and pictures. So thanks for these and seems the blog is up and live again, i.e winter reports once again coming in.

This morning [Monday]the hills had a little more snow and lower down to about 500ms.

Black Ladders area Monday morning.

Snowdon on Monday morning

The day delivered a few more snow and hail showers with this picture and report from Hew Gilbert this afternoon.

Heh Baggy,

I took a speculative look into Cwm Glas this morning.[Monday ] Clogwyn y Person Arete was all good fun, As expected little ice is forming and none of the turf was frozen, mind you our route was all rock.

Think we'll have to wait a while for anything other than these non-turfy buttress routes to come in, at least it's a start though. As I used to think before the mini ice age 'anything before Christmas is a bonus'.



[ Huw Gilbert Collection ]

Rob Johnson was also out on Tryfan enjoying the first snow fall.[Pics Rob Johnson Collection ]

We headed up the North Ridge of Tryfan (1) which gave a brilliant day out in the current conditions. It has been snowing on and off all day down to about 500m. As we reached about 700m we hit the freezing level and where the route had been wind scoured it was quite icy. The turf was frozen above about 800m and we wore crampons for the upper third of the route. These are typical early season conditions the best sport is to be had on the ridge lines, the iced up cracks and unconsolidated snow make for good fun!

Y Garn from Tryfan

North Ridge of Tyrfan


Tuesday more snow fell high up, but reports of it being a little warmer.

Simon Verspeak popped up Snowdon [ see below ]

Rob Johnson also went up Snowdon today [ Tuesday ]

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Kids Everywhere ! and a little more snow

Decided to head to the Beacon Climbing Centre today [ Sunday 4th Dec ] to get on some of the longer routes with the Fig of 4's.

Arriving there we found the place packed out with youngsters as the selection for the new Academy was underway.

Not only that, but with so many parents there, the abuse we received for using the Fig of 4's was quite full on. Good job most of it was just banter , we think ?

So, no pics of us cranking it out on the overhangs as photos were banned due to the youngsters. However, there were a crop of the old guard there taking the role of judges, looking all official with their clip boards . Jonny Ratcliffe from Indy Wall was there, pretending to be a judge, when we all know he was trying to enter, suggesting he looked young enough.

In the end it was the bouldering wall for Rob and me, so much for longish routes today.

However, great to see some many youngsters though, enjoying themselves and making routes/problems so easy.

Also an update from Simon Hollaway in view of snow conditions. He was out on the hill and reported a thin covering down to approx 800ms.

North Wales Climbing Academy.

The stated aims of the academy are: ‘to develop children and young people, within any climbing discipline, ensuring the young climbers are happy, safe and prepared to compete successfully at a national level."

The Youth Academy will provide coaching sessions for talented young climbers, offer a coach development program and a structure for coaches and young members to attend masterclasses. The Beacon Climbing Centre has offered to organize and host the Academy for the general fortnightly sessions and will be running a competition in early December to start the process of recruiting talented young climbers.

The establishing of a North Wales Climbing Academy is particularly timely in the light of competition climbing, either as bouldering, lead climbing or speed climbing, being one of eight sports that is being considered for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. A final decision is due to be made by the International Olympic Committee in 2013 when it meets in Buenos Aires. It could even be a young climber from the Academy that goes go on to represent Britain at the 2020 Games.

Anyone wishing to support the Academy in anyway should contact Mark at the Beacon Climbing Centre on 01286 650045.

Friday, 2 December 2011

First snow has arrived alongside the first pictures

Today the tops were covered in a thin layer of snow. However, nothing to get excited about. Next  week does indicate lower temps and periods of snow alongside lower temps higher up. The good thing with lower temps and not much snow to start with,  is that it allows the turf to freeze up before becoming insulated with snow.

Anyway,  the first pictures of the winter season have arrived today and who would have thought they would have come from that cutting edge winter specialist Al Leary. [These pictures were taken today]

Looks like he needs to sharpen his axes

Friday, 25 November 2011

Looking back to first kick off.

These early dark nights really do remind us how lucky we are to get out on those summer evenings. Many of us are waiting to see if we get a winter which will deliver the white goods here in North Wales.

I was thinking of when it all started the previous 3 winters as it these winters have been the ones to deliver the goods of late.

20 October 2008 and we had a good dumping of snow for so early in the season.

Seeing so much snow on the way to work, must get out the weekend. Call to Rob and the plan was made. Meet at Pen Y Pass for 7pm, next morning, get up Snowdon. To be fair, it had only been cold for a few days before the snow came, so we did not think turf would be frozen under the snow. Anyway, great to just get out and back into it. As it turned out turf was not frozen after the first intro section of R/H Trinity, but no worries we scrambled up a snowy/rocky Central Trinity then over Crib Goch and back down in the car-park for 1.00.

Rob Jonson enjoying early snow

So to kick off, the first winter day that produced any real climbing ( well second day really as Matt and Owen got out the day before ) of 2008.

I remember sitting in the office on the Friday morning off 27th November and getting a call off Matt Stygle, asking me for some beta on rocky, snowy mixed lines. It had been cold for a week snow had fallen on the thursday and he was already mad for it. After sharing my thoughts and having to decline his offer to join Owen Samuels and Matt on the Saturday, I popped off to PYB where I was involved in some AMI meeting over the weekend. I was envious that the boys were going out.

Friday was quite a late boozy evening or should I say morning so not much sleep. Saturday morning delivered more snow fall, things were looking good for November. As Saturday evening started to develop into another session, I thought I would give Matt a ring to see how he had got on. You know the score next, a mate telling you how good a day they had experienced and in this instance a second ascent. I was chomping. I decided there and then, to get out with Matt the next day and scrap the meeting on the Sunday. Only issue was I was over the limit to drive and had no kit with me. Plan, stop drinking apart from water, get up at 5.00am , get home scrabble some kit together and meet Matt for 7.00am.

Up early next morning, feeling tied and rough, throwing some kit into a bag at home not really knowing what to take. That first proper day of the season feeling, to much kit, bag to heavy and feeling anxious, as I had to get something done that day.

Meeting up with Matt in Ogwen, Glyder Fach was the plan. Upon arrival we spotted a few new lines, Matt was keen for a first ascent of a establish summer line !! but my enthusiasm took over, up here Matt, look at all that turf, cool line and on and on I went. Hour later, lots of faffing, climbing like a plank, feeling like a wimp I admitted defeat in end. Ok Matt was correct. Rapping off a collection of pegs and wires, I thought welcome back to winter, you just got kicked. Matts turn to pick a line then.

Matt on first pitch of Needles Eye Climb [Given V-6 *** In new guide ]

Sunday 29th November 2008
First off, possibly the first ascent of East Gully Arete, mind you, probably done before and not recorded, Diff in summer - now given IV-5 with a tricky start. Then first winter ascent of Needles Eye Climb. This VD in summer and gives 3 really cracking pitches of climbing. Each pitch being a IV - possible V.

A gem of a climb.

Me on 3rd Pitch on Needles eye climb

Matt out on the Saturday,

Owen out on the Saturday

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The tease has started- The first frost of the season

Well, a very large welcome back to you all.

It seems the thought of all things white is starting to creep up on many of us. As summer has turned to autumn here in North Wales and many locals and that young DMM rep Rob Greenwood have been blasting all things good in the Alps, the rest of us can only move towards that sad mindless state of asking "will it snow". With Rob ticking off 4 major classic Alpine North Faces since the last Welsh winter ended back in Febuary, I am sure he will have to do some work soon for DMM !!

Wish I had £1.00 for every time I have been asked recently , " will it be a good winter Baggy". I have no clue and to me a forecast telling me it is going to be the worst winter for many years, in other words another great winter for us climbers, is just that. If I had that kind of knowledge or knew if the winter was going good, then I would have used those powers last February when Simon and I released our new book. The day after that event, winter went ! such good timing.

The first signs of winter arrived last week, when we had the first frost. To me this is the first day of winter. In addition to this, we have also received our first report of a first ascent in North Wales in winter. Yes, and it has not even snowed yet. Thankfully its not some controversial dry tooling route on the Cromlech. Steady on, mind you those moves would be good at the top of Left Wall. They should, be as that would be your last climb, hard to climb with broken legs after that ascent. Not from falling but from a meeting with the locals.

Exciting picture of frost !!

The new North Wales Winter Climbs book is already out of date, yes I am one of the authors. However, we got something wrong and some one has contacted us. We knew some routes would have been climbed before some of the dates we put in against them. That was one of the main ideas of the book, get the routes in, find out as much information as we could, then print. Then sit back and wait. So if there are any more genuine disclosures then please do let us know.

The route in question is The Scoop in The Lost Cwm (route 21 on page 70 of the new guide).
Juan Vilatela and Andrew Marshall climbed this line on the 10/1/10 and they think the stated grade is a bit high, probably being nearer IV4. If it requires re-naming Juan has suggested 'The Happiest Mexican in Wales'. Their group (CUMC) also climbed the obvious line to the right on the same day (clear on the topo on page 70) which we reckon is about III3 and was climbed by Lucas Laursen, Steven Andrews and Rachel Berkowitz.

Thanks to Steve Andrews for pointing that out. But if you know different we need to know.

The Scoop

So that is the first winter blog post of the 11-12 season. It all started here again and we can only wish for a season like the previous 3 years.

Good to be back, well I say it is, not sure really ? because many of you create me so much work. What ever happened to just using the climbing wall all winter.

One final thing to add, when sending pictures, try and keep the file size small, if you can. If not ,no worries, but small file sizes gives me more of a life on those dark evening sat in front of that Mac reading all of your antics.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The wait is over and the result is Fantastic

The new slate guide to North Wales arrived a few weeks ago and sold out. But fear not, this was just the advanced batch. The main batch arrives very soon. So if it is on your wish list I would not leave it until next spring/summer as it might well be sold out again.

The book has gone down a storm, with many climbers saying this is one of the best guide books to hit the shelves.

Like all guides, it is the work of many climbers who devote their keenness and enthusiasm to help contribute to a books success. However, in the end the, author is the one who pulls it all together and makes a book what it is.

Yes, I may be saying this, as Simon Panton of Ground Up, the author of this guide is a friend and also the co - author of North Wales Winter Climbs with me. All I would say is go and pick up a copy and see for yourself.

Its the same for the Climbers Club Tremadog guide which has also hit the shelves in the last 12 months. Another great job and great book to have.

I have heard rumours of climbers saying how expensive climbing guides are becoming. All I would say, is look at what you get for your money, how long it will last then divide the cost of the book with the entrance fee to your local wall .

The book is an A5 format publication with 376 pages for you to drool over.
After years of neglect the slate quarries of Llanberis have come alive again. A comprehensive re-equipping campaign, coupled with a frenzy of new routing activity has seen the once quiet levels of this vast rock playground buzzing with activity.

Over 200 new routes have been added since the last guide was published. Crucially, much of this new development has occurred at accessible sport grades. Once upon a time slate was reserved exclusively for the elite, but now it is open to all climbers, regardless of their ability or experience.

All tastes are catered for in the quarries, from classic traditional routes such as Comes the Dervish or the magnificent Quarryman Wall routes in Twll Mawr, through the full range of sport climbs running from friendly F4s right up to desperate F8bs.

To purchase the guide on line, from V12 follow the link

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Like being in the Med

No not this month, but at the end of September, the temps went crazy and what good timing that proved. I had planned a circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, with Roger, a good friend of mine, back in April this year. However, we both thought we would be battling with the weather not lapping up the sun.

Struggling with an ankle injury this year, which has stopped me climbing since January, I have spent a lot of time sea kayaking. This has proved much entertainment, big water and a variety of trips to Mid/South Wales. It has also allowed me to spend time with Adam Harmer who is always up for a laugh and time at Summit to Sea Shop run by Pete Barr, This shop is Wales leading sea / kayak shop alongside being a climbing shop. It is found at Valley on Angelsey in North Wales. Time spent with Pete is never dull, the only time I went out with him on the water, this year, ended up,  with us calling the coastguard out, at night, to rescue a drunk hanging precariously to the edge of North Stack. Mind you Pete bagged the souvenir, the empty bottle of bells.

Roger and I left North Wales on the 26th Sep under blue skies and that is how it stayed until our arrival back in North Wales 4 days later.

Leaving Key Haven on the morning of the 27th Sep,  we paddled out and down to the famous Needles and associated lighthouse on the S/W tip of the Island.  Our visit here proved very pleasant and calm, which is often not the case, 5 hours after leaving the Needles and stopping off at Freshwater bay we pulled up on the beach below Blackgang Chine.

This was a cracking night to spend on the beach,  it was so warm and the sunset was an added bonus. Sleeping in our bags was not an option. So the first day, 35km, we spent against a headwind and the tide. Not ideal but this would allow us the use the wind and tide on day 2 to our advantage.

Leaving a 6.00am the next morning to gain the tide,  found us paddling into the sunrise and paddling in our t shirts !!. Pulling up at Bembridge just before 9.00 allowed us to bask in the sun and visit the cafe for scones , cake and coffee. !!!  Good excuse to re fuel.

Next stop,  was just west of Cowes,  after dodging ferries, a variety of boats and a few hovercraft. The tide was pushing us along quite nicely and we decided that Key Haven and the finish to the trip was in order.

Back in Key Haven for 4.00pm, the trip was in the bag, the tan was topped, the cakes were old energy and the pub was calling. 75km done on day 2 , a small goal was ticked and added to the list. Its just all the trips and routes on the list which are not ticked are the problem.