Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Another cold day and another new route

Another fine, cold day here in North Wales.

A local team managed to claim a first ascent of a little used and dirty rock route, which gave two good pitches. Details are sparse. Well done chaps.

Now then Bagster!

Just to let you know that I was on Clogwyn Du yesterday with Andy and thought I would update on conditions. Not much ice build up and what was there was a bit hollow and rippy; the turf was also a little soft in places (we did Torquing Shit which was a good choice and stayed off the main crag) It would have defo felt a little wrong doing the main crag routes that rely on turf.  Clogwyn LH would be fun but obviously more interesting would be all the mixed variations, some ice in Pillar Chimney but loads of bottomless snow in the gullys. Defo nount going on in Cwm Idwal, nothing even a 1/3 formed.

It did seem significantly colder that evening at the van but it just needs the turf to freeze up more and the snow ice to stick to the rock a little better. Think climbers should give consideration not to head up there thinking the links of out of El Mancho, Blender Head,  Travesty, etc are in good nick.  I think the turf will need at least a few more days, it's all insulated under the snow 

Cheers Jon R

Monday, 30 January 2012

Winter is on its way

Well we have hills that look like its winter a last. Long time coming, lets hope it stays this way for some time.

I have had 2 texts already today, with  mixed routes being climbed, mainly rock based, saying turf was not that well frozen.

Bring it on folks

Pictures taken this morning

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Dawn of a New Ice Age

Now you might feel I am getting carried away with the recent snow fall and lowering of temps. Well,  it does look like it may be the first good spell of what could be classed winter conditions this year and it is worth getting a little psyched up.

However, what I am referring to is the video clip contained within this link.

DMM will proudly be showcasing their new ‘all mountain’ range of ice axes at ISPO Munich 2012, 29th January – 1st February. The five axes include the perfect winter walking axe right through to the ultimate full-strength leashless technical tool.

Alongside this, a new range of cams and other exciting goods. Well they have been busy in that factory of theirs.

Once you get to see their new range you will be well impressed and wishing for an upgrade.

In view of conditions today, their has been low cloud and it has been raining on / off most of the day, so if the forecast is correct their will be more snow falling higher up. Seems warmer today which is a good thing at this stage. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

What a grand day at last

At last, light winds, hills clear of cloud and a covering of snow and even better it is a weekend.

This morning there was a ground frost near sea level and the tops were free of cloud. Snow is down to around 600m and the hills do look like it is winter.

A great day to get out on the hills.

Hopefully some reports will come in of conditions.

As mentioned yesterday,  I am unable to see what is what this weekend. However, I had a nice time out on the beach with the family this morning,  followed by quite a big ride around Angelsey with a friend who had planned to visit this weekend. Certainly gave the legs a blast.

Even better news, the forecast for the next week looks really good. Snow , low temps and some freeze thaw action.  Is this winter arriving at last.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Its white but is it right ?

Wednesday morning took quite a few locals by surprise. There was actually snow on the hills and down to about 500ms.

Thursday was a cold day with a few more winter showers.

Friday morning the snow had risen up to hill to approx 700ms. It  did not seem as cold as Thursday, due to the wind not being as strong, but we were having sleet at sea level.

In terms of conditions, one has to remember this is snow on top of what I think is un frozen ground. The temps before the snow arrived were not cold enough to freeze the turf.

Mind you the L - Term forecast is looking very good into next week, so is this the next mini phase of winter madness. Looks like Pete H was in the know , due to his comment on the last post.

The only routes that may be in condition over the weekend, in my mind,  will be mixed routes, that need to be white and do not rely on turf.  Maybe I am proved wrong. The one down side to all this is that I am unable to get out this weekend.

This is a good time to highlight the new and recent White Guide to Winter Climbing in North Wales follow the link for all the details. The guide is free from V12 or free download from the link

The guide is a combination of work from Dr Barbara Jones (BMC Volunteer and previously Upland Ecologist for CCW), Elfyn Jones (BMC Access & Conservation Officer), Joe Roberts (BMC volunteer and CCW Access Policy Officer) with input from Simon Panton and North Wales winter activist Mark “Baggy” Richards. To be fair Barbara was the one of the key people to kick start this guide. However, with input from CCW and the BMC this is a great example of how organisations and climbers can work together. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Deprerssion has set in

Well,  if your one of the crew, who are down in the dumps due to the lack of any winter here in Wales, then join the club. I reckon the club is a huge one this year, no doubt with the addition of many new axes just doing nothing but looking good, new and shinny.

Seems patience is running out out for some up north, with many accusations of routes being climbed not in condition. However, we have to remember this is UKC where the term pinch of salt springs to mind.

However, Nick Bullocks blog post on that subject is worth a read to pass some time away.

Quite an interesting subject, when is a route in or out of condition ? . When Simon Panton and I were putting the new North Wales Winter Climbs guide book together last winter. Ah last winter, days and days of ice, quality routes, great conditions, anyway back on track.  We decided to hold a local meeting to discuss that said topic. We choose a list,  of what we believed at the time represented a cross section of North Wales leading and new route activists  and how surprised were we !!!!  when all but a handful turned up, approx 30+.

All huddled !!! together in the back room of the Vaynol Arms in Nant Peris, the bullshit flew,  so did the opinions. But that  was what was required,  as the meeting proved a fantastic forum to discuss ethics for North Wales in terms of when are routes in condition and what type of rock routes are taboo to climb in winter.

This meeting formed the basis of the advice given in the new North Wales Winter Climbs guide.  in regards as to what type of rock routes should not succumb to the metal pointy brigade and what are winter conditions.

Brings me to last weekend, clear skies, light winds and bone hard ground to near enough sea level. Those turfy routes would have been well frozen, but black. One might say, well that is fine as no scrapping of snow off routes to find holds and pro, no hacking away to find pro, very easy to see where your pick and points are going, no chance of your tools ripping, best conditions for the vegetation. Lets not all rush out there just yet. Lets keep some sense to it all, otherwise as soon as it is cold for gloves, I am off out to have a crack at the Gates !!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Cold , Frosty, Black and routes falling down

Still no sign of any snow. Its proving to be a long dark winter this year.

However, some updated info regards a few winter routes.

Subject: the demise of Capstone Heel Hook V-7

Rich Stone has reported  a change at Craig Dafydd......the capstone at the top of Capstone
Heelhook has gone and has taken out the pillar below.

On closer inspection, a small rock fall from above has dislodged the capstone and it has hit and taken the top off the pillar between Capstone Heelhook and Si Pantons \'Samuel\' resulting in one large crater below the crag and loose stuff all over both routes.

Samuel looks still passable, but may be dangerous and very loose

Unfortunately the top of Capstone Heelhook is destroyed and seriously unstable.

Real shame that, as it was one of my routes. However, all is not lost, Gaz and me always thought it was VII-8, now we will never know !!!!!!!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Get Sharp, Stay Sharp

Be great to think I meant from actual climbing.

Over the years I have often been asked the question off my clients, can you sharpen your own picks ?  how do you sharpen your own picks ?  is it hard to sharpen them ?

I even got asked those questions last week.

So I thought , there could be a useful blog piece to fill in the gaps between climbing. Anyway I am glad to say Andy Turner thought the same, which has saved me all the work. Nice one Andy.

So if your interested in pick sharpening then   visit Andys Blog

For me a good file and a small vice to hold the axes makes a great difference.

However, I am not always that good at following my own advice as you can see from my turfy / mixed picks at the end of last season. The top  pick being only 2 seasons old.  I have to say the picks in my mixed and ice axes were a lot better. However, the pics below certainly did the job and all that sharpening every time I had been out, far to much hassle, so often left it to the next time, then the next time !

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Warm, wet and no snow

The blog title says it all !!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Still nothing

Sorry to say, no need getting any type of hope up currently. The hills were bare this afternoon

Monday, 2 January 2012

Poor weather and more training

Happy New Year

I hope you enjoyed your festive break ?  Also,  thanks to all of you who visit the site. It certainly helps maintain its purpose. It would be even better if I had winter conditions to report of, lets keep hoping.

Managed to get out in some half decent weather on the bike and get a few miles in. The weather is so warm at the moment it it seems like Spring at times.

On the way up the Lllanberis Pass