The purpose of this blog is to report on winter climbing conditions in Snowdonia, to keep you lot who like nothing better than climbing ice, snow, frozen turf etc in ridiculously low temps informed!! As well as it being a record of some of my own winter climbing adventures. Feel free to email me any of your own conditions reports & photos you have & I will post them here. The more info on winter conditions the better! email:
Now we have a lot of snow! Very powdery & very deep in many approaches to routes. We went and climbed Idwal Stream today. More ice than I had expected, considering how bare it was just 2 days ago. It was a gorgeous day, clear skies and perfect winter views. There were 3 other teams on the stream with us, one team from Southampton, one fron Plymouth, and the other team of 6 we spoke to had come down from Fort William! I spoke to them and they told me how they had been hearing so many good things about N.Wales winter climbing this season, they just had to come down & experience it for themselves! Top pic: Davey on second pitch of Idwal Stream. Botton pic: Looking down from top of second pitch at Scottish climbers.
Deepest sympathies to the families of the 2 men killed in an avalanche on No.4 Gully on Ben Nevis this week. Very very sad news.
Today Mike & I did the bottom section of the North East Spur on Y Garn, then cut across right to Cwm Clyd to take a look at the gullies there. It was blowing a gale with very poor vis & graupel stinging our faces on the way up. We decided on a blast up Banana Gully which had a good amount of snow, although the bottom 100m or so was frozen crust on top, with soft snow underneath. Got much firmer higher up though. Top 50m or so of Banana Gully was a full on howling gale & hard graupel almost unbearable. Small cornice at top, but once we were over it the wind was honestly the worst I have ever encountered anywhere, a full on raging storm with vis dowm to about 3 or 4m! Testing but fun, I think! Lots of snow still forecast, and low temps.
I've never seen so many people climbing in North Wales before. Thought I'd send these photos anyway in case they are of any use. Cwm Glas and Snowdon gave fairly good climbing today. The snow is far from perfect but was solid enough where it needed to be. Not much ice around though, the little ice pitch into Sinister Gully hasn't formed but the left hand alternative has good snow. Cave Gully is climbable but the steep section is a bit lean. Surprisingly there is also a lot of rock showing through on the narrows of Central Trinity. Right Hand Trinity was by far the best route of the day with pretty good conditions throughout. It was very busy though. Have a look at the lads in the photo, having a whale of a time but the barrage of junk being kicked down the route has clearly left it's mark on the guy on the right.
Initially we (Stewart & myself) went into upper Cwm Glas with the intention of climbing Parsley Fern Gully, but there was a lot of powder in the toe of the gully, & so we decided to break left, to climb Parsley Fern Left-Hand.
We then went onto Snowdon, before coming back on ourselves to do the Crib y Ddysgl-Crib Goch Traverse. There were a few tricky moves when descending Crib Goch North Ridge, but otherwise it was a good day.
Pic 1: Stewart on Parsley Fern Left Hand Pic 2: Stewart on Crib Goch
Andy McQue and I walked up to Idwal today to see how things were looking, and well it was not too good. Most the ice in Devil's Kitchen area looked to have gone. The only thing that still looked to be formed was South Gully, but we did not take a close look. Instead we did East Wall Gully up the left hand side of Idwal Slabs. Pretty much stripped bare until the last 20m or so where there were some snow & ice patches. However once we popped our heads out into Cwm Cneifion it was a different (and much whiter) story. We headed up and did Tower Gully, in what at times was some very testing weather! Snow being blown up the gully as we were climbing. Plenty of snow & ice in there & well worth a visit. Not perfectly consolidated neve snow etc etc... but great fun, and the severe wind & hail made it quite interesting. Very poor vis today, so no idea what anyone else was on in Cwm Cneifion. LOTS of snow forecast for tuesday. Pic 1: A miserable sight above Idwal. Pic 2: East Wall Gully. Pic 3: Andy encountering ice in Tower Gully. Pic 4: Me at 'the Tower'.
It was a great day today here in N.Wales! The hills were alive with the sound of ice axes, jangling gear on harnesses, and as the day went on the frequent shouts of 'ICE'!! Big smiles all round. Now I am no expert by any means on ice climbing, but pretty much everything from the guide book looked climeable today, even the infamous Devil's Appendix looks close to being fully formed. Forecast suggest a few days of warmer weather, then back to freezing conditions again next week. Pic 1: Panorama of Devil's Kitchen area, from Idwal slabs (left) right round to Y Garn (right). CLICK picture to enlarge. Pic 2: Andy McQue starting second pitch on The Screen (IV). Pic 3: The Ramp (III) left, & The Screen (IV) right. Pic 4: Unknown climbers on South Gully (IV).
Davey & I headed up towards the Devil's Kitchen area above Idwal area today looking for ice! To be honest we weren't too optimistic, but were very pleasantly suprised. We could see 6 climbers on Idwal Stream (II)(frozen but still wet), 2 on South Gully (IV), a team on The Ramp (III) with another team of 2 waiting to get on. We decided to head into the Devil's Kitchen (IV) itself as there was plenty of good solid ice at the entrance. All the lower sections of the gorge were good & frozen with lots of ice, and we pitched these sections in eager anticipation of what lay ahead! Unfortunately the final climb up the right hand side of the large cave on the back wall had not formed yet (pity!) Give it another few days/week or so..... So we turned back and abbed off a couple of the steeper sections. We weren't disappointed as it was an all round good day! So overall, very little snow, but the ice is all forming very well. Top pic: Davey abbing off ice on lower cave on our retreat. Bottom pic: Good ice in the gorge.
Today Mike & I walked up to Cwm Cnefion to investigate snow conditions there, and the possibility of gullies in condition. We were looking to do Tower Gully or Flake Gully, but ended up on Broad Gully. Turf far more frozen today from around the 600m mark. But snow has a frozen crust, with soft snow & in some places soggy turf underneath. Routes have to be picked very carefully in these conditions. A good day was had practising winter skills, and generally enjoying being back in the snow in Wales! Top pic: Mike high on Broad Gully as it veers left Botton pic: View across Cwm Cnefion from base of Flake Gully area
Good news for all lovers of winter climbing & walkng, because winter is back in the mountains!
There was a decent dump of the white stuff towards the end of last week and on sunday night, so I went for an investigate on monday. I was on my own, and headed up Y Garn's NE ridge up to Cwm Clyd, and then headed up to the junction between A & B gullies, and opted for A (trends more leftwards). Snow conditions were far from ideal with covering on rocks being unfrozen and having no substance, and mainly unfrozen turf, although improving past about 800m.
Top pic: Looking up at A & B Gullies from Cwm Clyd
Bottom pic: Looking down on Cwm Clyd from junction of A & B Gullies