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:

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Cwm Cneifion today by Darren Hollins

Hi Andy,

Photos as promised from today's trip up "Nameless Gully" Cwm Cneifion.

Conditions up in the high Cwm were reasonable given the extensive thaw - But it has really taken it's toll on Devil's Kitchen - With no ice left on the key routes! There were a couple of climbers on "Cneifion Arête" but that was a rock climb today....2 others on "Tower Slabs" Which was in surprising condition, with a fair amount of solid ice on it! I opted for "The Nameless Gully" between the slabs & Easy Gully, as the top out on that one didn't have big wilting cornices hanging over it (Easy Gully looks dodgy with the cornice situation at the mo!). In terms of the snow condition, it could do with a good freeze - But towards the top of the gully it was just about acceptable.

Hope this helps



Pic 1: Clogwyn Ddu From Cwm Cneifion
Pic 2: Col Gully & Gully of the winds on Glyder Fach
Pic 3: Easy Gully Cornices!!
Pic 4: Easy Gully top out
Pic 5: Looking down Easy Gully
Pic 6: Nameless Gully Top out
Pic 7: Snowdon from the Glyders
Pic 8: Tower Gully top out

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Darren Hollins reports on Idwal ice & NE Spur, Y Garn

Just had the following info from Darren Hollins. He was out & about around Idwal & then on the NE Spur of Y Garn yesterday (Tuesday 28th):

NE Spur, Y Garn: 'Due to the extensive thaw, most of the powder had gone from the lower sections & the main path up to Llyn Idwal was very slushy. Between 300 - 700 meters, the snow was quite soft & hard going! After about 700 meters or so it started to become reasonably hard neve in patches. Things were melting fast though & with today's temperatures being slightly warm again I'd be interested to see how they are (Beware there is a lot of loose rock on the "Castle of the Goats" Following the hard freeze & subsequent thaw!). I'm off to investigate Cwm Cneifion tomorrow!!'

'I've got some pictures from the Devils Kitchen taken yesterday as well - I'll mail them to you later, including a helicopter rescue of some guy with a pulled muscle I think!! Went for a look up there first, before traversing round to the NE spur. I went up to the base of the Ramp & Screen, it was like standing by a shower & my better judgment told me to move away before I got speared by a giant icicle!! Some guys were on "Central Route" on the Kitchen - not sure if they finished it or not though...Hope this helps.




Thanks Darren, much appreciated!!


Pic 1: South Gully - Devil's Pipes
Pic 2: The Screen & The Curtain
Pic 3: The Devil's Appendix
Pic 4: The Goat Path area

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Screen, Cwm Idwal (Devil's Kitchen)

Today Carl & I climbed The Screen. Ice a bit cruddy in parts, but still well worth it. Quite a few people out & about today. We saw 2 teams climb the Devil's Appendix, scary stuff. Will put pics & more info on tomorrow.

Pic 1: Carl on pitch 2 of The Screen
Pic 2: The Screen

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

More Idwal info from Carl

Hi Andy,

Dave , Neil and I walked into Idwal this morning in light snow and a definate warmer feel, with a light breeze. We had a look at the Screen which looked doable but it was thin and we thought gear maybe a little dubious. The Ramp looked good so we had go at that which had good ice where expected. Ice drips were freezing on our sacks so it was still well below freezing. Dave and Neil had to get back this afternoon, so we ran out of time to do anything else. Walked down past Devil's pastures which again looked thin but would go. There was a team on the Sting. Appendix looked complete, if not that fat! Met a party on way down that tried South Gully but said the ice was soft and wet on the first pitch. There was a team in Central Gully which looked to have good ice in the top pitch and also a team on the second pitch of South Gully. A few teams were tackling a snowy looking Idwal stream, it did look nice though. It was pretty busy as we left at about 1130. Looks cold maybe until Christmas Day so hopefull things get fatter through the week. Plenty to chose from tomorrow anyway! Didn't take many shots but have included one from the Ramp.



Monday, 20 December 2010

Cwm Idwal today (Mon 20th Dec)

This morning Davey C & I had a very early start (5am) from up here in Deeside & were at Ogwen by 6.30. It was good to find the A5 nice & clear of snow, although parking at Ogwen takes a bit of effort. A trail through the snow had already been stomped down yesterday (albeit a bit meandering!) up to Idwal. We headed to The Ramp & The Screen area, which were out 2 planned routes of the morning. There is a very good build up of ice on both of these routes, as well as South Gully, Idwal Stream, Devil's Pasture & Coldhouse Crack. Another route I would like to climb is The Curtain, and although the ice is building, it didn't look substancial enough to climb.
There is no consolidation of snow at all, and trail breaking off the beaten track is very very hard going.
Davey had to be back in Ellesmere Port by lunchtime, so we were only able to climb The Ramp, but we had a very worthwhile morning. Just goes to show, quite often a 'suck it & see' attitude pays dividends in Wales in the winter.

Report from Joss (Clwyd Mountaineering Club)

Hi Andy
Four of us managed to get the car up to Ogwen on Saturday and after an overnight stay at Helyg we set off for Bristly Ridge yesterday.
We were the first to break trail through the powder and the walk in was tiring but not too bad.
The initial gully of the route was three foot deep in a steep bank of powder snow and took an hour to pitch. All the holds and protection had to be dug out and it was impossible to step up without finding and digging out an axe placement first. The hard work was definitely worth the effort and the ridge itself was superb, we moved together in 2 teams and the weather conditions cleared up to perfection. We summitted at sunset and walked down under a full moon. Later than planned, the powder snow added a lot of time to the day. A superb route. Some lads at the CC hut had done Icefall Gully on the Black Ladders on Saturday and were heading to do Passchendaele Direct on Sunday. They reported decent ice formation and wild powder snow conditions.
Cheers mate, hope the ankle is better.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A lot of snow!

Oh yes, a lot of snow!
The forecasts were right & a large amount of snow has fallen overnight & today in Snowdonia, with lots more due over the weekend.
I did have a plan with Carl to meet up & climb the Persons Arete, but due to the forecasts we cancelled those plans last night. I did still take a drive down the A55 this morning with the intention of heading up to Ogwen to see how things were looking. However I got no further than the A5/Bethesda turn off & had to turn around & come home due to the build up of snow. There was no way that my car was going to make the drive up to Ogwen! There were plenty of abandoned vehicles on the A55, and I can only imagine how much snow there must be on lesser roads. Llanberis had a foot of snow overnight!
Looks like there will be no real fun to be had in the mountains this weekend, unless your idea of fun is wading through knee to waist deep powder!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tomorrow's weather (Fri 17th)

MWIS forecast for tomorrow says the following: 'Upland gales; sudden blizzards, whiteout Snowdon range. Lightning' Also predicts -7c temps with windchill of -23c.
Worth taking note of if you are planning anything tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Trinity Face, Snowdon

Just had an email from Huw Gilbert with some very interesting news on the Trinity Face gullies on Snowdon. See his blog here: Huw Gilbert Mountaineering blog

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Todays conditions reports & Cneifion Arete....

Today Davey C & I decided that the Cneifion Arete might be the way to go. Looking at Idwal ice (top photo) I'm pretty sure we were right, as none of the ice routes are climbable from what we could tell.
The Cneifion Arete is one of Snowdonia's best all weather routes, providing all year round mountain fun. There was very little snow cover on the arete, and our ice axes & crampons remained on our backs all day. The main problem we encountered was slippery rock, which meant we had to be sure footed at all times.
I had been hoping to report on Cwm Cneifion, but due to very low cloud cover I have no idea how things are looking up there. However all snow we did encounter was in tip top neve condition & I would imagine that the likes of Tower Gully & Hidden Gully would provide good conditions.
Temperatures today felt very mild again. When we topped out it was raining, and back at the car at 3.45pm it was 3 degrees c.
I had heard that Eastern Gully on the Black Ladders was in great nick, but today have heard from two individuals that this is not the case.
Temperatures are due to drop as the week goes on with snow forecast for Thursday & Friday.

Pic 1: The Cneifion Arete (image courtesy of fotoLIBRA)
Pic 2: Davey coming up the 1st pitch
Pic 3: The walk off
Pic 4: Idwal today

Friday, 10 December 2010

A big thaw

I decided it was about time I tested out my ankle today as basically I couldn't wait any longer. It was drizzling on my journey down & as I headed towards Nant Peris with low cloud there was no sign of any snow! I had decided to head up to Cwm Glas with the possibility of a forray on Sargeant's Gully ice if it was still climbable. Very low cloud meant that I couldn't look up from the pass into Cwm Glas so had no idea how extensive the overnight thaw had been. Craig y Rhaeadr has been fairly stripped back & had water pouring off it along with loud cracks & clunks every couple of minutes as blocks of ice tumbled down the crag. Despite limited visibility, very boggy gound & still no snow I pressed on to try & locate Sargeant's Gully in the vain hope it had retained its ice, although my already low optimism was ebbing away. To my dismay when I arrived at what is ususlly the first 'pitch', I saw that it was purely now water with no sign of any ice at all. Not good, but no real suprise. So instead I practised a bit of nav & had a reasonable walk. Ankle not fully mended (was sore upon my return to the car), but improving.
See Carl's report below for the depressing news about Idwal ice.

Idwal and Maesglasau by Carl

Hi Andy,

Dave and I were a little optomistic this morning really and should have taken the hint when the drizzle hit us driving down. We walked into the back of Idwal passing plenty of drainage on the way at Introductory gully and Idwal Stream. The ice routes were still there so we made our way to what we thought maybe the fattest, the Screen. We arrived there to be greeted by a mini waterfall, lots of spray and the occasional small piece falling of it.......ok thaw well underway! We salvaged something out of the walk in practicing building abolokov threads away from the waterfall. We made out way down passing a few teams making their way up and relayed the sad news. Oh well it has been an amazing couple of weeks so can't complain.

Yesterday Dave and I met Mike at Maesglasau Falls in the south of the Park. The story of our day maybe of help to others hoping to climb the falls if it comes back into condition after this thaw. We arrived at 0630, left Mikes van by the main road and went up the track and left the car in a layby on the track just down from the farm. We had read on Baggy's Blog that the farmer likes climbers to check in and out with him for safety reasons. We knocked on the first house but there was no answer. There was a second house through the farmyard (which was the farmers house) but we did not notice that in the dark.

We carried on up the track and just before a gate, the man who owns the pheasant shoot (he rents the land off the farmer) pulled up in his 4 x 4. He was obviously not pleased we were there and told us to keep out of the wood. So if you go up there make sure you take the right gate into the field, not the left gate into the wood. We arrived at the falls following the right hand side of the river. We had 6 pitches of amazing climbing varying from III to IV. I had a bit of a mare on the third pitch and trended too far right into heather and reeds so had to downclimb and traverse left to get back on the correct line. Apart from that it was an incredible route in fantasic scenery. Ice was a little brittle in places but was very featured with plenty of opportunity for hooking. Mike was the only person with a camera and he hasn't sent the pictures yet, so no piccies I'm afraid.

We descended down the treeline on the left hand side (looking up valley) which took us back down to the track below the farm. When we were dekitting at the car the farmer came over for a chat. We told him we had knocked on the door and he did say he had seen our headtorches. He doesn't mind people climbing the falls but appreciates people being courteous and just letting him know. They are his fields you have to cross. He did tell us to avoid the woods. Maybe worth someboby getting his telephone number to phone the evening before if you're planning an early start. He is a pleasant guy but did think we were a little mad when we said we might come and do it again - maybe he has a point!!

Andy, up to you if you'd like to post this, just thought it may help others to keep on good terms with the locals in the future. Speaking of which we helped a farmer's wife coral some sheep into another field on the way down as she didn't have her sheepdog, a few brownie points, surely.



Thursday, 9 December 2010

More news from Tom Hecht

Hi Andy,

Earlier this week, we set off from the A5 opposite Glan Dena at 7.30am; our route took us up via Tryfan Bach to gain the crest of the North Ridge. With a visually appealing sunrise in the East, we ascended as far as the base of the North Tower without any metalwork – powdery (yet plenty of) snow – successfully resisting the urge to balance on the Canon.

Having summited in good time, we made our way over to the imposing looking Bristly Ridge. After a slight delay burrowing through the waist-deep filled Sinister Gully and negotiating the tricky step, the rest of the route went smoothly with Great Pinnacle Gap providing little difficulty bar a careful negotiation of the step down. The snow cover on the tops was, although extensively affected by the wind, not untypically approx. 30cm, yet still very light and powdery.

Our descent via the screes (no issues here) and Cwm Tryfan led us back down to Tryfan Bach in order to scramble up the left-hand flank to nicely round off the day. Photos will demonstrate conditions best…



Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Tower Slabs

Hi Andy,
Seeing the low temperature forecast, myself and my mate Daz Haycock both managed to get days off work to get out on Tower Slabs today (after hearing rumours of things warming up for the weekend.) The ice was plentiful, especially on the first pitch and in OK condition, with some reasonable ice but also some brittle ice which was dinner-plating. The turf was nicely frozen, giving the most reliable axe placements. The snow was still extremely powdery in the Cwm and up to the summits. We saw two other parties on route and a few parties on Clogwyn Du. Descended the Gribin on well trodden and narrow snow paths, very pleasant and alpine-like. Good views of Idwal on descent, we also saw the rescue helicopter winching someone off Tryfan North Ridge, hope it was just an excercise.
All the best

Afon Las, Craig y Rhaeadr & Sargeant's Gully

Hi Andy,

I managed to sneak a day out today. I headed out with Gareth Harvey and Marc Brouard into Cwm Glas Mawr. We decided to do the Afon Las (I/II) as Marc's introduction to ice. It's the outflow of Llyn Glas and was very enjoyable with a few steeper pitches. There were plenty of climbers on Craig y Rhaeadr and Sargeant's Gully and a few on Parsley Fern. At low levels the snow has been subject to freeze-thaw and is firming up, but higher up it's still soft and powdery, so I don't imagine the high gullies are much fun yet.

Hope the ankle is on the mend,


Monday, 6 December 2010

North East Spur** III, Y Garn by Joss

Hi Andy,
Heres a reoprt of yesterday for you mate:
Myself and my mate Daz got out on the excellent North East Spur** III on Y Garn yesterday. After following the initial approach rib, we cut across to the Square Tower and took a direct line. Initial easy steps then led to a shallow groove (III) before gaining the crest proper onto "The Neck" and the final crux pitch (III). I think some people miss out the first groove and thats a shame as its just as tricky as the last pitch and makes a good 4 pitches of the whole climb. A superb route at the grade and well worth the stars.
Elsewhere, some friends went into Cwm Cneifion and Idwal, reporting loads of powdery snow in the gullies but very reasonable ice conditions on the Idwal Stream. Pics attached of the first groove, then of Daz topping out with 'the neck' and the approach rib in the background.
All the best
(hope your ankle is getting better, Ive got a similar tendon problem from injury 3 years ago. It does get better with time. Ask your doctor for Hydrochortizone injections, they help)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

South Gully & The Ramp (Sat 4th Dec)

I recieved this email from Carl at 5.45am this morning (Sunday). Jammy bastard!!!:


Just a quick note as not much time. Did South Gully yesterday which was nice, melting on first pitch a bit. Then Ramp, very good ice there. Very busy, teamed up with couple of Irish Lads, Rory and Mike. Alot more snow up there now. Off to try and beat the crowds to the Screen now, then maybe up into Cwm Cneifion. Hope the ankle is mending, maybe Monday?