Wednesday 11 February 2015

When I said Stunning

Here is the evidence of such a cracking weekend ( just gone )  If you were lucky to be out then a weekend to remember.

These were taken by one of the trainee instructors from Blue Peris Outdoor Education Centre based in North Wales. 

The next trainee intake at the centre is Sep 2015, interviews are in June,   full details on how to apply follow the link.

I drive up through the Ogwen Valley today. Snow is still there high up, but  it was hard to see how much due to cloud. However, I could see the back of the Kitchen and any ice looked  very thin and not climbable from the road.

First picture shows Snowdon ( R/H ) the Glyders and then Tryfan

Sunday 8 February 2015

Stunning & Alpine

These words sum up the weather and conditions this weekend. Sorry for those of you who could not get into the mountains this weekend, but its been one of those rare weekends. Crisp, clear, hardly any wind, sunny and winter climbing on tap. The pictures below are of Snowdon taken from the slate quarries this weekend whilst I have been directing a Rescue Emergency Care , 2 day first aid First Aid course for Blue Peris ( Mountain ) Outdoor Learning Centre. However, it has seemed warmer than in the week and the temps do look like they will rise over the next few days. Should be ok to help consolidate the snow, mind you some will go, not sure about any ice that is about, feel that will disappear.

More new routes will have no doubt been added over the weekend. For full details of last weeks ticks got to V12

Here are some pictures of the classic and often in condition Glogwyn Ddu Crag.  

Bob Johnson and Alistair Borrett.

Bob Johnson start of pitch two - main pitch

Thursday 5 February 2015

A winter we can be Excited about at last

Well its certainly winter here in N Wales. At last some conditions we can get excited about. Its been nearly two years since conditions like this could be found on Welsh Mountains. Its been a long wait and lets hope its going to keep lasting even if its on and off for the next few months. If so, we will have another bumper batch of new routes.

As expected people have been busy and new routes keeping falling. Visit V12 climbing blog for some recent new routes in N Wales , Simon has more time than me these days to keep you updated.

Tuesday and Wednesday this week were stunning days, really cold and blue skies, loads of climbers getting out and missing work by the looks of it.  Seems Glogwyn Ddu has been a busy place,  from the texts and e mails i have received off climbers This is expected being high up and often in condition. A possible new variation on the classic left hand branch may have been climbed.

The ladders is reported to have a lot of rime , but looks grand form Bethesda.

I took a variety of pictures yesterday, on my travels driving around the park,but I am afraid they got deleted by accident .

Hi Baggy,

Went out a couple of days back and got some proper Scottish conditions and did Right Hand Clogwyn Du with Rob Jones. We did a variation at the top  which was not in the guide (i.e. not the diagonal variation described). It heads left at the top of the gully and goes straight up a left facing corner initially, its steep but good pro, to pull onto a ledge and into a cave (signs of ab tat at this point). From here, make a bridge too far and gain a precarious standing position on a fin. Make committing moves through the large roof to arrive onto another ledge. Exciting stuff. Just when you think its in the bag, you're faced with a desperate undercut corner with a useless wide crack at its join. Turn your attention rightwards and scale the second fin and stand precariously on it (good sling runners) then,  lean left and hook your axes over the wall and commit to a swing and smear into the wide crack. Walk your axes along and yarn upwards swinging a leg, an elbow (or anything) over the top of the wall. A physical, well protected pitch.

Cant see it recorded anywhere and it looks a harder and better variation to the one described so were claiming it, unless someone else has been and climbed it.

Four Tool Direct V5 *** Stu Stanley/Rob Jones 2/2/15  35m 

Pictures of Rob

Also for those of you that are not aware, there is a temperature probe in Cwm Idwal which is giving us some really useful information in regards to air and turf temperature. It is an excellent addition to the Welsh Winter scene. This link will take you to all the info.

Feel free to send any pics/info over of any grade, the lower the better, as the I/IV grades are what most climbers climb . And remember UKC log books and the UKC Snowdonia thread ( of which JOSS is doing a great job ) are all great sources of conditions in NW.

Get out there, swing them tools,  get into the action and Enjoy.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Well its the best we have had for nearly 2 years

Firstly, a warm welcome back to my followers, I know its been some time since my last post, but the lure of the welsh winter scene is too compulsive when new routes are being ticked. For those of you that are new to the blog, then it may not be the font of all information it used to be, but I do hope it proves to be of interest.

So, why this post? Well looking out of the window with the white stuff settling on the ground and receiving another text of another new route, I was inspired to get on the keyboard to share the information.  It crossed my mind in the last spell over Xmas but I managed to resist, but not this time.

With the winter of 13-14 being a disaster then this season whilst not being a belter so far, is a great improvement and climbers are managing to get out and we have some new routes.

So does this mean the blog is back, I am afraid no, well not like it used to be, but if I get info of any new routes then those will be highlighted.

With the forecast looking very good, then things should improve nicely, but we do need more snow.  So I hope you manage to get out.

So where to start ?

Why not with today

The Eigiau 'Out There' *** Saturday 17th Jan 2014

This trip is exactly that proper out there, and utterly brilliant, very steep, sustained, fairly safe and in a wild position.  (Rich Stone and Andy Humphries)

Steps through Space (IV,4)
Is a cracking line through steep ground down in mid Wales. Huw Gilbert and Dan ? ( Dec 29th 2014 ) Great find there lads.

Tryfan East Face and Crib y Ddysgl - 27th and /28th Dec 2014

No stopping Mr. Stone, in the last spell over xmas 2014 a few weeks back he managed to slot in another 2 new routes making a tally of 3 so far this season.
On solo (V/5) on terrace wall north tower and a variant on Gambit Climb help focus the mind for this winter.

No report could fail to mention the quite impressive and demanding first ascent of Wide Asleep X 9

This futuristic climb is another superb, bold, technical and demanding offering form local base talent Pete Harrision.

From a personal view, I am so pleased Pete never made it back to Canada where he was based for many years If so, then North Wales in winter would be lacking quite a few futuristic climbs. Keep them coming Pete.

I remember one new route I held the ropes, whilst Pete inched slowly upwards, in cool control. Climbing 40ms, with one runner up some insecure corner I was blown away how much harder  it was, than it had looked  from the ground. Not only this, but when I got to the section where Pete found himself hanging off one arm on some techy torque when the patch of neve disappeared he was standing on, I knew then he was in a different league of mine.

Wide Asleep gives a very hard route,  giving pumpy, insecure and bold climbing up the steep face 10m left of Cracking Up. Start at the base of a pillar below the centre of the wall.

30m 9 Climb to the top of the pillar. Traverse leftwards and up below the bulging wall. Swing out rightwards onto the steep face, and then climb the pumpy steep wall above on poor insecure hooks in a seam. Step right at an overlap to reach a crack, and then follow this to a good belay on ledges.

30m 6 Climb to the sloping terrace and continue directly above up a crack-line that cuts through a couple of steep undercut steps.

Pete Harrison, Ian Parnell 28.12.14. Onsight first ascent. No pegs placed.

If it holds the grade it'll be the first or second grade X on-sight first ascent in the UK?

Off on a slight tangent, but does highlight another example of what u do do with a few pointy pieces of steel

Nick, why do you want to go to the Tour Ronde, the Tour Ronde is for a Conville Course.” I had never attended a Conville Course, but if this is what they involved, it was obvious I had missed out – sign me up please.
This gave me a personal smile and i suppose many of you will not get the point. However, not to worry, if your like me , unable to burn that enthusiasm off, then keeping in touch with Nick's blog will either fully P!!!! you off or get you well motivated.  It's now the latter.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Who would have thought it ! and is it frozen in the Cwm ?

After so much action over recent years, the pay back has certainly come this year. One extreme to the other.

Mind you, its only climbing after all, with so many people having been really affected by the weather in view of floods etc.  

Check out this new initiative, which is really a great piece of work.

Need to know how cold it is in Idwal, is the ground frozen ? at what depth ? well the answers are all here. 

We really do need to consider our actions in particular in the Cwm.

The info is found here :-

Thursday 5 December 2013

The new season is upon us.

Hi and welcome back. 

My last post back in April does seem a long way off even though its only been 7 months.  I had no idea when I embarked with the blog that time between seasons would become shorter.

I also had no idea that the conditions we would encounter would provide such interesting and amazing climbing conditions,  so many new new routes and provide so much energy in North Wales winter climbing.

I do hope that this is the case this winter. If this proves to be,  then we are in for some really new hard routes. The approach to training in view of new routing in N Wales, as ever, is on the move and hopefully those climbers will reap the benefits. 

I have to pass on a huge thanks to all those that have supported the blog, the thanks I have received off so many climbers and the way  that climbers have used it to move Welsh winter climbing onto another level.

It brings me to say,  that the blog , as you know it, is to cease this season.  Why ? you may ask when we could be on the brink of another great season. A very good question, the answer being the time it takes up and the mental energy it takes out of me.  

The success of the blog and its associated areas, means it takes over a lot of my mind in the winter months. Combine this with my own desire to get out, put new routes up, keep track of the all the action means    I find it a constant pressure. Yes,  self induced I admit and a pressure which I find extremely interesting,  exciting and fulfilling  However, after 6 or so years I need to ease off. 

That is the issue, easing off. Not something I am good at. So its all or nothing and I am afraid its going to be nothing this year.  

So I offer my apologises if you will miss the blog. However, I hope you all have a cracking winter here in North Wales. 

Finally,  I thank Mountain Equipment and DMM for their support.   It has helped towards its success and help provide so much information. 

Maybe next year 2014-2015 I will be back.

Cheers Baggy 

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.