Saturday, 29 December 2012

Plenty of Time to Prepare

Well I do hope you all had a good Xmas and you all had lots of goodies you asked for !

The weather here as been grim,  mainly wet and windy for most of the Xmas period. Winter climbing is just a distant memory. This means trips to the climbing wall, other training and generally trying to maintain some momentum.

This lull is giving me time to sort out and prepare for a lecture I am giving alongside Simon Panton -  my co-editor of the North Wales Winter Climbing guide.  The lecture is on Thursday 17th January at the Liverpool John Moores University Art and Design Academy in Liverpool.  This is part of a series of lectures to promote adventure and is being arranged by the Liverpool John Moores University Outdoor Education department.

LJMU have been running one of the most prestigious outdoor education degree courses in the UK for over 40 years.

The lecture is free , as part of the ethos for the series , with the whole series of lectures being sponsored by Cotswolds, with this particular lecture  being supported by DMM and Mountain Equipment. Limited places are available so to ensure you gain entry then free tickets can be obtained by following this link    

Having  recently given lectures for a variety of mountaineering clubs back in December about a trip to Alaska , they reminded me how hard these types of events are. So I look forward to this event for some trepidation. So if you think you can face Simon and I chatter on then come along to support the event. 

 Snow, Ice and Adventure in the Welsh Hills: Tales from the frontline of North Wales Winter Climbing

by Mark 'Baggy' Richards and Simon Panton (authors of the new 2011 North Wales Winter Climbing Guide)
What are the tales behind the extraordinary wave of winter climbing activity and renewed focus on undocumented winter climbing routes in North Wales?
North Wales has some of the best winter climbing in the UK. Recent years have been superb winter conditions in Snowdonia leading to an extraordinary wave of winter climbing activity, triggering an explosion of new routes and a renewed focus on the many undocumented routes climbed since the Welsh Winter Climbs guidebook (1988). The authors of the new guidebook North Wales Winter Climbing Guide, Simon Panton and Mark 'Baggy' Richards (Alumni of LJMU) will tell the story of winter climbing developments in Northern Snowdonia over recent years. This will give insider views on the adventures that underpin this new winter guidebook and they will offer personal tales of previously undocumented routes in the area.

Outdoor Education at LJMU has been inspiring the value and application of outdoor adventure in society for over 40 years

LJMU’s Outdoor Adventure Public Lecture Series hosted by the Centre for Sport, Dance and Outdoor Education aims to provide a forum for sharing stories and journeys of outdoor adventure, whilst instilling the spirit of outdoor adventure within local and wider communities. LJMU has trained thousands of outdoor educators to promote a spirit of adventure and maximise the benefits of being outdoors across a whole range of individuals, groups, and communities. LJMU leads international research into the benefits and practices of outdoor adventure, outdoor education, and outdoor leadership, and is committed to making a difference through outdoor learning practices.

This free lecture series 
embraces and celebrates the spirit of adventure within us all 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

438 and counting

As regular followers of the blog are aware, this time of year I hand over the blog to our armed forces serving oversees.

My personal view is one of sincere thanks and appreciation.  I have no real idea of how tough their job really is and the the suffering many families go through.

438 is the total number of UK armed force personal who have been killed upto November 11 2012 whist serving in Afghanistan. 

What’s it all about?
“It’s about the blokes, our men and women of the Armed Forces. It’s about Derek, a rugby player who has lost both his legs, it’s about Carl whose jaw is wired up so he has been drinking through a straw. It’s about Richard who was handed a mobile phone as he lay on the stretcher so he could say goodbye to his wife. It’s about Ben, it’s about Steven and Andy and Mark, it’s about them all. They are just blokes but they are our blokes; they are our heroes.  ( Help for Heroes website 2012 ) 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Quick Update

Holiday Blues

The last few days have been wet and poor again. The hills looked very bare today with very little snow around.

I suppose for many this is good news for the lead upto Xmas , Xmas and Boxing day as there is no need to worry what everyone is upto on the hill. However, not so good for all of us that have time off and could get out.

Happy Xmas to all blog visitors, I do hope the blog is proving useful again this year. Lets hope for more winter in 2013.

Something to wet the appetite

Tony Moody on the one the UK's classics

Central Icefall Direct - Llanberis Pass VI-I

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Backcountry Action

The weather has been a mixed bag of late. Tuesday was another grand day and I had a few reports of the snow being quite firm in the shade above 850m. However, it has been generally wet and warm since then.

The main info of this post,  is an update on action down on Cadair, often referred as the back country.

Hugh and Tywyn lad Dan Commander climbed a handful of short new lines high up on Mynydd Moel. All done on 10/12/12.  Good effort lads. So in the last spell of winter we had 8 new routes 4 up North and the 4 below

Upper Cut II

The Seeker VI-6

The Hooks of Hamza V-5

Right Hook IV

Upper Cut II

The Seeker VI-6

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Off the radar

Sorry to say, thoughts of winter climbing are well off the radar at the moment. There still is snow on the Carneddau and Snowdon, but how long this will last with the forecast I am not sure.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Feeling wet wet wet

Afraid to say that the weather is  a little wet here in North Wales. After such a promising start things do look poor. With warm temps forecasted for the coming week, if those prove to be correct then I doubt there will be much left.

Driving up the Ogwen this morning ( when pics were taken ) snow was still very much hanging around in the gullies of recent good venues such as  Y Garn and Nameless. This evening I was surprised to see how much snow was still in Cwm Lloer.

If temps did manage to hang around freezing in these venues then many of the easy gully lines will hang in there for the time being.

Looks like my trip up to Craig Daffyd on Wednesday climbing Central and R/H Trident with  a short new route Being Frank IV-4  was my last outing for the foreseeable future unless the easy gullies hang in.

On that subject,  one route which was not reported last season was another line on Craig Dayffd. With few lines left, Lee and I managed an independent line between Sangram and MR- P’s Last Great Problem. The first pitch delivered a slightly steeper crux than it  looked, giving a nice sequence of moves on the crux, mainly on turf.   The 2nd pitch climbed a parallel crack, splitting a short steep wall with a mixture of face climbing then some back and footing. Burning The Midnight Oil came in at VI-6

Last week a few ascents of the girdle of Trinity Face were done. For more info on girdles in Scotalnd, Lakes and North Wales follow the link

One last thing, check out this link for some cool updates and great shots of recent events up north. Some cracking new lines done in the last few weeks. Take time to scroll through posts. Great Blog Simon.


Glyder Fach


Friday, 14 December 2012

will it ? won't it ? and another new route

Wednesday,  whilst the masses where elsewhere,  Lee and I had the mountains to ourselves over in the Carneddau.

Being another stella day we decided to go up the Craig Daffyd to climb Central and R/H Trident with another small game plan. 

The game plan paid off as we climbed a short new route which we named Being Frank IV-4 . This takes the most obvious and challenging line through the buttress that splits Hidden Gully and Wayword Prong.

The question now is, with reports of snow lying low this afternoon will there be conditions on Saturday.  Considering the forecast today which may be a little incorrect then what do you have to loose. I will leave that one upto you. 

Myself,  I am on other duties so that makes my decision an easy one.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Another cracking day

Sun, more sun and still cold

It has been another cracking day here. Normal venues of late have been the places to visit with quite a few teams enjoying the ice up in Nameless Cwm.

Full details of the two new routes on Ladders last saturday in this link. 

I am sorry to say, if your not already aware a big change is in order as from Friday.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Good Ice at Mecca

Looks tops up there. Cheers to Tim for sending over the beta.

Hi Bags

Went up to a quiet Nameless Cwm today with Marty Chester. Did Left hand with the Central finish behind Gareth and Owen. Pillar chimney went on great ice and allowed us to go around the outside of the chockstone for a change. Cleft gully was perfect ice all the way as well, and a quick dash up Right hand gully to finish a fun day.

Just a few other teams enjoying great snow conditions up the back wall of cwm.

Cleft Gully

Pillar Chimney with Ice

Top of left Hand

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cracking Day

Today has been beautiful.

No wind, clear skies and some climbing to be had.  With a hard frost overnight and temps staying below freezing high up, then no change in conditions from Monday.

I went up onto Trinty Face with an open mind. Even though we have some good bomber neve around reports of a mixed bag on some routes and the steeper routes needed to be listen too.

Lee and I started with the girdle of the Trinty Face.  This gave a nice outing on a mixture of snow/neve but never nothing to worry about ( for the grade III/IV climber )  for the first section into Central Trinity. The grade to there being about III , but bear in mind, your climbing sideways and on most pitches (50/60m ) you will have  2/3 runners as there is not much kit round. Belays are not that common ! So no place to be pushing your grade, taking a novice out or hoping you will be OK. The second needs to be as competent as the leader.

The section after Central Trinity gave a little more spice in particular a short traverse section on a small ledge ( mentioned in the guide ) Spicy grade III . Once here, this section was not really in great condition, so we crawled as much as we could on the ledge which had snow/neve on and used the 2 obvious nut placements. We avoided using a good lip for tool placements  higher up ( being 300mm in width ) as no snow and softer ground with a lot of vegetation around. It would be best avoiding this area at the moment as any placements are not going to do the surrounding vegetation much good.

After this we descended Central Trinity which is in good condition, as is Left hand Trinity.  Next we climbed Snowdrop IV in conditions I would describe as delicate. The neve/snow was there but you had to be careful, tactful and in no rush. Make sure your happy on grade 4 for this.  Variety of vegetation showing which was not frozen that well , but enough snow/neve  and odd bit of ice to avoid having to use any vegetation if you careful and happy on grade IV.

We look at  Mistaken Identity and decided not to climb this as we did not think it was in nick and not enough snow/neve on the route. Therefore we headed over to Snakebite Direct IV\3        We missed the first section on the main pitch due to what we decided was not the best conditions and followed others up Snakebite III  then joined our intended route. This again required a carful approach so as to use the snow/ice and neve rather than the vegetation showing.  This route ad few good runners.

The Spider and the Fly have good neve all over them. The rest of the crag has a mixture. There is good neve in many of the easier gullies but the stepper ground has many pockets of vegetation showing and crusty snow/ice some of which you just kick through.

Quite a few teams around on the easier routes and up upto IV and Sods Law ( new route after the guide came out V )  had an ascent in good conditions.  Great neve for walking and skills in the basin and on the zig zags and on the top.

One thing to remember on Snowdon there is not an abundant of quality turf/soil based turf. There is a lot of vegetation which is full of air and is not great for tools even when frozen so that is when more neve/snow ice is required.

Currently the face is not plastered with perfect  good snow ice/neve so you have to be careful not to hack at the vegetation, thus ripping it off.  Lots of discussion of late on the forums regards vegetation. My take on this is respect where we are , respect other concerned parties such as Counrty Side Council for Wales etc and take care. Do not let the enthusiasm take over, do an apprentice rather than getting straight on routes at your limit which are not in perfect nick. Just some thoughts, take them or leave them, no one is perfect,  use some common sense and hopefully we can help avoid issues shown in the picture below.

Belay on R/H Trinty today. I suppose as conditions are not really good then snow/ice anchors/belays are not there and maybe some climbers feel a little exposed as conditions are not really good. Sensible approach to get good belays.  But a possible result of this is hacked up areas. No big deal you may say, you may be correct.  We are all entitled to our opinion all I am doing is showing what the crag is like in parts. Climbers can make their own view.   Enjoy the conditions and weather on Wednesday and Thursday if you get out.

Top half of RH Trinty

Monday, 10 December 2012

Now is the time to Ave IT

The time is here, the time to get out, bunk off work, sell some brownie points do whatever is takes.

There is quality neve on the hills and in the Gullys, its cold,  the weather looks good for the next 2-3 days, all the soft snow has gone, so get out there and enjoy if you can.

Admittedly the most off the crags are black, I say most, so the hardy mixed boys and girls may be disappointed, but hey go for a cruise.

Big Tim with Big Dave !! took a timely visit to Snowdon and was rewarded with good neve.

They did the Girdle and a few other routes reporting a mixture of good neve and not so good neve, so pick your routes and be ready for some poor snow on route.  Many of the easier gullies had bomber neve.

On the Girdle

View from the top of the Zig Zags on Snowdon ( Tim Neil )

The next e mail, is the biggest surprise of the season so far. Al Leary out in winter , when it is dry and sunny. I had heard he had took a turn for the worst !!!! maybe for the best if this is what he decides to do. Mind you that turn was over 20 years ago.

Hi Baggy,

long time no hear ; are you still out there ?

I persuaded the wife to go cragging at The Gold Coast on Saturday ( and quite nice it was too, until the rains arrived : however........., that meant I once again !! had to come out and accompany the wife into " The Badlands" !

As a result, I can offer your blog a quick, amateur's opinion of current snow conditions on Y Garn.

In general, the snow in the gullies is pretty good, especially as height is gained. Gullies A,B, ( the initial section of C, then shuffling out left a bit  ) and Banana Gully are well stomped; however ,if you step off the beaten track, then the snow tends to be a bit soft and hard going.

Bit of a chilly wind blowing on the summit, but rather fine views were to be had all round ; felt a bit over-equipped though ( especially in the footwear department ! ),  when the fella in the wells came past me.

All the best


Gully to LH buttress of C Gully

Spotted by Al on the near the summit. Some would say foolish ! Mind you cheaper than a new pair of modern boots. not sure what crampons would fit ?

To be fair the chap is a liability to the folk that might have to rescue him.

Coming off the top of Y Garn

Check out those Predators


Sunday, 9 December 2012

I got that wrong- It is 3 not 1 and no surprise who ?

This took me by surprise I could say, but with Mr Parkin and Mr Benett   nothing really does where winter is concerned. Well done chaps.

It just goes to show if you keep an eye on the conditions, consider the aspect / altitutde and use the binos and scope then there is always something on offer.

Well more of that 3 not 1
Hi Baggy,

The unsatiable Mr.Parkin, Mike Pyecroft, Rod White & myself headed to Ysgolion Duon today. We all headed up the easy approach to Central Gully.

By knowing the area very well we managed to rock hock up the lower  slopes, had    a devious means  to  circumnavigate  the crux (non-existent) icefall to firm  ground at 800m

From above the chockstone the neve, turf & rime were great. Mike & Rod tried to find July Crisis but I think ended up on something new, slightly to the left @ IV perhaps. Chris & I found a nice 2 pitch III/IV to their left. Short new routes  / alternative finishes to Central Gully perhaps?

C parkin en route

So a potential 2 new lines to the over expanding Ladders, 3 new lines on one day and its not even in stellar nick and its only the start of the season.

PS it was pretty grim up top (& down below for that matter!), another quality day in the hills!

Seems else where little was on  offer apart form the regular venues of late, Cwm Lloer, Nameless cwm.

The weather bagged out midday on Saturday, but the forecast still looks come come Monday

Ian Parnell  and John W did Mankini  last Thursday which was a  day of s!!! weather, so that must  have been fun. Good to see the Peak lads making a effort when they can to get over and contribute to the local scene.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Theatre of Dreams & 1st new route of season

Those of you who are footy fans will be aware that the Man United ground is often referred to as the Theatre of Dreams. Have to admit,  I am not one for men kicking a ball around being paid obscene amounts of cash, but that's my view. I am often taking the micky out of a friend of mine who is a avid Man United fan about the Theatre of Dreams, but actually liking the term. Well I found a more suited use.

What I can say is that the real Theatre of Dreams is right hear in North Wales.  It is North Wales in winter mode. This is the place that dreams are realised and memories made.

This last week has seen a great start to the winter season and all that passion from climbers is already oozing out. The forums are alight, the blogs up and running and the psyche is back.

4 ascents of Travesty, lots of the easier routes climbed, mid grade mixed routes climb and our first new route of this season. It all came out of nowhere. Routes such as Banana Gully and C gully on Y Garn and Torquing Shit or just a few examples of routes climbed today.

Personally, I  have time to get out the last few days  but have be held back which has proved frustrating.  With a a tweaked Achilles after caving mid week one decided better to play safe, especially as I have  another days caving work in the Peak on Sunday, followed by some roofing work on Monday.

Injuries never come at a good time, hopefully I can nip this one in the bud early.

With such a grand morning today, my trip to the climbing wall to get some training in was a hard one to stomach. The inevitable wait was on for the texts to come in this afternoon. That brings me back to that new route. My partner for today was Rich Stone until I let him down at 7.00 am this morning. That never stops Rich , so off on his own,  he only went and soled a new route. Achilles Heal came in at IV-V on good quality turf and rock giving 2 pitches. Thanks for that text rich B!!!!!!!!!.

So the first new route of the season has been claimed unless you know otherwise ? More will follow I am sure and quite a few of them hard and above VI.

The weather looks more promising from Monday/Tuesday onwards, with good reason to expect some decent conditions.  So the desire and passion to get out for will still be there. I have a funny feeling the crags will be busy mid week.

Hope many of you had a good day out today and managed to feed that rat for the first time this season.

On the subject of terms, I notice one blog is backed up by the statement
Dribblings from a bloke who quite likes climbing but cant really be arsed training.
Lets hope he does not train as he climbs grade VIII already !

Finally my kit begging to be used. Only quality pics on this blog.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Temps seem warmer this afternoon.

Looks like the mixed routes are the things to aim for, mind you rising temps on Saturday so better out early. The rise in temps is going to be a good thing as it will help bring the snow into better condition when the temps drop again on Monday.

Many gullies seem to have a lot of new soft snow in. Ridges, grade 1-3 scrambles will be a good bet in addition to the mixed / more rocky routes.

However,  this wind has been full on so scouring could have taken place meaning turf exposed and frozen and maybe some of the underlying neve will be exposed.

Reades Route was done today in quite grim weather. Good rime and ice on arrival, by midday the temps had gone up and a lot of snow rime disappeared.

Also routes to side of Parsons Nose done mid week, but this crag was out of nick this morning and reports of climbers walking up there and deciding the crag was not in nick.

Travesty was climbed 2 again on Wednesday that is 4 ascents this week already.

Sking on the Carneddau could be good on Saturday

Few pics from this afternoon




Thursday, 6 December 2012

Back and fresh snow on the hills

Since returning this afternoon from my mini break to Yorkshire looks like a fair bit of snow has landed. Reports of skinning and skiing on the Carneddau sound good.

A variety of rocky/mixed routes have been climbed and some of the cliffs look very white from the pictures I have seen.

I reported the other day that routes on Snowdon are not going to be in nick at the moment, but folk still seem to be going up there. Most routes require neve and good snow conditions.

I would say a good amount of snow has fallen high up this afternoon and looking at the forecast things should quoted down Friday.

At least the weekend looks worth a visit up here. One thing a lot of turf is going to be buried and it does not sound as there is a lot of that frozen at the moment.

Moving onto a Scottish theme

There will be the inaugural Scottish Winter Climbing meet held this Feb in Fort William.

This is supported by the MCofS and is a social and get together for all folk into Scottish Winter Climbing.

Its hoped that it will become an annual event and can be hosted at different venues throughout Scotland in future years.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A sigh of relief

For all of you who are stuck in work and wondering if your missing out or considering having a day off !!! then fear not. Well not few the next few days at least.

Last night the hills were stripped with very little snow left. The temps did rise as the forecast suggested. However,  the temps have gone down since this morning.  I forgot the camera today on the hill but to give you a feel let me explain.

Tryfan is bare apart from a scattering near the top. Glyders are the same with Glogwyn Ddu being bare/black also. The back of cwm is dotted with snow and not looking white.

Tops of Carneddau have the most snow, not sure on the crags.  I went  onto Y Garn this afternoon and this is holding a small amount of snow in Banana Gully which I went up. To be fair the snow required step kicking and was not wet. Once the temps drop this will give a nice outing on neve at grade 1. The snow line is at the base of the buttress in the cwm. Snow on the top 100m was hard and water ice was on the paths above 800m.

Based on this and reports from weekend I would say Cwm Lloer will be the same.

Grib Goch is bare and is the Parsons Nose apart from the very top. Snowdon was in the cloud.

We could do with the turf freezing before the snow comes again and as I write this post, its hailing outside and I am at 100m above sea level.

The forecast suggest more snow and lower temps this coming week. This is all very good whatever happens. It is so good to have some conditions this side of XMAS.

I will not post until Friday of this week as I am away working in Yorkshire taking a group caving, no need for me to worry about snow conditions for a few days. Check out yesterdays post if you have not done so.

The pics below are on my drive back from work taken at midday.


Back end of Glyders

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Slow off the mark this year for me

I had been out walking and scrambling on the Glyders on Sunday 25th March and found ice and more snow than expected. With the forecast at the time ( for the week just gone  ) it was obvious that some kind of early and high conditions would form last week.

This was great news,  and for me,  a time to get some early season excitement. Having had a good sort out of my winter kit over the last month, purchases made, kit altered, repaired etc, I was in go mode. It was not even December.

So why no posts your ask. The answer to this ? I was off down south on Wednesday due to work and not back in N Wales until this evening. So I joined the club that looked at forecasts, updates and pictures and could do nothing but get disappointed.  So I was one of many just waiting to see what was in nick and who had done what.  In the meantime the text were coming in thick and fast.

Looking around the web and talking to quite a few folk today, seems the regular hard routes on Glogwyn Du came along with some slightly easier routes up there. The hard routes were quality ticks especially for the first real day of the season grade VII/ 8 and VIII/8 . There are some fit and psyched bunnies out there. Bring it on.

Baggy - it was mint on Clogwyn du today. very few people on it though. R and  R ticked Blenderhead and me and Neil griffiths ticked Taversty. Good day. fingers x'd it stays.

Quite a few teams have been out in the Carneddau with reports of good build up for this early in the season and after just a short time, but not enough to climb. Enough to hang on and rip out turf and get really scared , but why bother damage the turf, plants etc why not just wait that little longer.   Cwm Lloer loos like its been a poplar venue also.

Every one is really keen but we do have to wait and find suitable objectives.

Reports of routes on Snowdon surprised me and reading between the lines and speaking to local climbers who know a thing or two, there were no real conditions. This really worries me, in particular the post on UKC where a climber said RH Trinty was not frozen, the turf was not fully frozen and the route had very little neve etc, but was OK at about IV. No it is not OK, that whole face needs to be frozen with neve, it holds rare plants and actions like this just trash it and ruin for others.  Snowdon in particular does not have quality turf unlike other crags so more care is required here. It is quite easy to damage the plant life etc.

You may ask who I am to decide who should do what ? However, I do feel I have a good understanding of the area, the issues,  and having worked with the BMC and Countryside Council for Wales  in the production of their White Guide.

Its aim is to inform and educate winter climbers about some of the fragile and internationally important habitats and plants that could be damaged by winter climbing activities, and how climbers can help to minimise any potential damage by identifying best practice.

Many of the best winter climbing venues in Snowdonia are also very important, legally protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which potentially could be inadvertently harmed if climbed in poor conditions or with poor techniques.

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 activists Mark “Baggy” Richards

.In addition to this, being the guide book author with Si Panton, then a duty is owed to the environment we play in.  That is enough from me, but I feel you do need to think carefully of what you do and when.

There seems to be a fair amount of snow above 600m with other reports of ski touring on the tops of the Carneddau.

The forecast for the next 6 days is quite good, with a possible fluctuation in temps and more snow. One thing I hope is that all this snow does not insulate the turf.

I am away again Tuesday for another 3 days, bad timing as this Monday looks poor and warmish temps.  Hopefully looking ahead the change for better conditions near the end of the week will pay off and lead into a good weekend.

Finally Will it ? Won't it ? Will it - it goes on, well if I knew it was going to be a good one this season I would happily share that with you. Who knows, fingers crossed.