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.