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