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:
Despite only getting 1 hours sleep last night (sick children!), I managed to drag myself out the door at 5.30am and head down the A55 to Snowdonia with Davey.C. Pretty awful when we arrived at Ogwen at 7am, varying every few minutes between heavy snow, terrential rain & killer hail, coupled with zero visibility. I felt tired & unoptimistic!! However we mooched up to Cwm Cneifion (finding a great huge swathe of ice en route which we spent some time on practising step cutting techniques) Very poor visibility in Cwm Cnefion, and if anything even worse at the base of Clogwyn Du. However route conditions seemed excellent. We spoke to 2 climbers who were about to do Y Gully right hand direct & a team were also just starting on Pillar Chimney. We did Hidden Gully, which was in perfect nick. The Easy Route start off was neve, and Hidden Gully itself was the same with also good ice, even if we did get constantly covered in powder snow pouring down the gully. Every single axe placement went in with a reassuring 'thwack'. A 'little gem' of a route, if only it were 5 times as long! Near whiteout conditions on top, but easy enough to find our descent route, Gribin ridge. A lot of powder snow on the ridge, as it had been snowing most of the morning & apparently a bit last night too. We spoke to a climber who had just done Main Gully on Glyder Fach who was raving about what great condition it had been in. There had been a good 2 inches of snow fallen on the car when we got back to it, and Ive just heard it was still snowing 4 hours after we left Ogwen. Just worth bearing in mind that a good few inches of fresh unconsolidated snow will be covering everything. Another great winter day in Snowdonia.
How are you? I was out in Cwm Bochlwyd today and the snow is excellent. Its good hard neve at all levels and I imagine its the same across the whole of the park. Not a great deal of ice around but you can see that its trying hard to form. Quite a few teams in Cwm Ceinifion - Tower Gully, Tower Slabs, Hidden Gully and Right Hand Y Gully all look really good. There was a team climbing one of the hard mixed lines on Clogwyn Du, the crag is whiteish so I guess that means its fair game if that's your bag.
Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A moderate fall of snow, heaviest on Sun morning. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -5°C on Fri afternoon, min -7°C on Fri night). Winds decreasing (strong winds from the NNW on Fri afternoon, light winds from the NW by Sat night).
Days 4-6 Weather Summary: A moderate fall of snow, heaviest on Tue afternoon. Turning milder with moderate rain (total 11.0mm), heaviest on Wed afternoon . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 2°C on Wed afternoon, min -5°C on Mon afternoon). Winds increasing (light winds from the WNW on Mon night, fresh winds from the WNW by Tue afternoon).
Days 7-9 Weather Summary: Light rain (total 9.0mm) at first, then becoming colder with a dusting of snow on Thu night. Freeze-thaw conditions (max 2°C on Thu afternoon, min -5°C on Sun afternoon). Winds decreasing (strong winds from the SSW on Thu afternoon, light winds from the WSW by Fri night).
Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A moderate fall of snow, heaviest on Sun morning. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -2°C on Fri afternoon, min -4°C on Fri night). Winds decreasing (strong winds from the NNW on Fri afternoon, light winds from the NW by Sat night).
Days 4-6 Weather Summary: A dusting of snow. Milder later with heavy rain (total 40.0mm) on Tue afternoon . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 4°C on Wed afternoon, min -2°C on Mon night). Wind will be generally light.
Days 7-9 Weather Summary: Moderate rain (total 14.0mm), heaviest on Thu afternoon . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 5°C on Thu afternoon, min -4°C on Sun afternoon). Winds increasing (light winds from the SW on Fri night, fresh winds from the E by Sun afternoon).
I was on my own today & headed up to Cwm Glas. Very mild indeed again with snow still melting. Pretty much no snow in the lower cwm (sargeants gully area), but in Cwm Glas Mawr there is plenty of snow and many of the winter routes there lookedgood. I headed up Parsley Fern gully in knee to waist deep unconsolidated snow in the lower part of the gully, really hard going. I dug a pit here and isolated a block of snow, but there was no avalanche risk here. Another 100m or so up the gully it was a different story. Snow was firming up in places, but when I dug another pit & started to isolate a large block the whole thing immediately avalanched full depth under its own weight. I am no expert, but that was slightly concerning. Anyway it was good to be out, and maybe if we get a good freeze or two (although forecasts don't suggest that unfortunately) those gullies will be there for the taking. Sinister gully is one I have my eye on.
Top pic: Cwm Glas Mawr Middle pic: Panorama shot Botton pic: Llyn Padarn in Llanberis this morning
I've been out again today. Fresh snow fall down to just above Ogwen so me and Rachel Kingham headed into Cwm Bochlwyd and climbed The False Gribin. It isn't in the guide but was very pleasant, and makes a logical approach to Y Gribin itself (better than the path!). The snow is still soft but seems to be firming up. From the Football Pitch we decided to call it a day and headed back down.
Top pic: Rachel on False Gribin Bottom pic: Cwm Bochlwyd
Mike & I decided on Crib Goch today as a good route choice. It was suprisingly warm on the walk/scramble up to the ridge proper. In fact at one point I was down to a t-shirt, bizarre considering the weather we have had here in Wales recently. Very little snow left, and what is left is at present soft slush, at all levels. We did not need crampons or axes at any point.
Trinity gullies have been well stripped, and what snow there is needs a considerable amount of freeze/thaw for them to come into condition. Hopefully we will get that before it all melts.
Pic 1: Crib Goch ridge Pic 2: Mike on top of final Crib Goch pinacle Pic 3: Glaslyn Pic 4: Avalanche debri across the Miners path Pic 5: Cloud bubbling over the ridge in front of Lliwedd
Lots of snow stripped very low down now, but still lots in Cwm Lloer (and Cwm Cneifion by the look of it). Me and Gareth Harvey climbed Hourglass Gully. Deep soft snow, with avalanche debris at the base of it. Because of this I moved right above the narrows onto more broken ground, and somewhere in the process lost a crampon. If anyone who reads your blog stumbles across it then there'd be beer money in it for them...Anyway, apart from that it was a pleasant day, and the weather was far better than that forecast.
Top pic: HourGlass Gully Middle pic: Looking back at Cwm Loer Bottom pic: Idwal stripped bare!
The big thaw has well & truly set in down in Snowdonia, so today I thought I would go for a walk on my local hills, The Clwyds. Headed for a brisk walk up Moel Famau (1818ft), which is the highest in the range. There was still tonnes of snow, in some places 3 or 4 feet deep, but bizzarely at the summit by the Jubilee Tower it was pretty much bare. Definetly one of my very favourite places to be.
Despite horrendous conditions on the A55 (jack knifed lorries, car crash, abandoned vehicles) I managed to get to Snowdonia today. Went up Pen Y Pass first but had to follow the snow plough. Eventually got to carpark at about 10.30am, to discover it completely deserted (and blocked) except for the wardens van which was covered in snow, and a 4x4. Not a soul on ther hill, spooky. So seen as there was literally nowhere to stop, I dropped down the other side and headed down to the A5. The roads were eerily deserted as I slithered my way along in my Ford Galaxy! There was not a single vehicle at the layby at foot of Tryfan, although in fairness apart from the road, all parking was covered in about 2 foot of fresh snow! However at Ogwen cottage there were a good 20 cars as per usual, not in the carpark but on the road side. Making the most of the fast melting ice. And it is melting fast by all accounts. Climbers were on the usual suspects at the head of Idwal, but reports suggest sugary ice at best, and total melt down by the end of the day.
Much warmer condiions are forecast for the next few days plus 5 or 6 at mid level, and not getting below freezing again until next tues/wed. Then warming up again towards the end of next week.
My friend Mike went for a mooch up to Cwm Cnefion on tuesday and reports deep thigh to waist deep powder snow impeeding progress. Bit of a nightmare seemingly. Still plenty of activity in Idwal/Devil's Kitchen area ice though.
Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A light covering of new snow mostly falling on Tue night. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -1°C on Tue morning, min -5°C on Tue night). Winds decreasing (near gales from the SE on Tue morning, light winds from the WNW by Wed afternoon).
Days 4-6 Weather Summary: A light covering of new snow mostly falling on Sat morning. Becoming milder with light rain (total 5.0mm) on Sat afternoon . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 3°C on Fri afternoon, min -2°C on Sun night). Winds decreasing (gales from the SSE on Fri night, calm by Sun night).
Days 7-9 Weather Summary: A light covering of new snow mostly falling on Tue night. Freeze-thaw conditions (max 2°C on Mon morning, min -3°C on Wed afternoon). Winds increasing (calm on Mon morning, fresh winds from the SSE by Tue night).
Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A light covering of new snow mostly falling on Tue night. Freeze-thaw conditions (max 1°C on Thu night, min -3°C on Tue night). Winds decreasing (strong winds from the SE on Tue morning, calm by Wed afternoon).
Days 4-6 Weather Summary: A dusting of snow giving way to moderate rain (total 13.0mm) heaviest on Sat morning . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 4°C on Fri afternoon, min 0°C on Sun night). Winds decreasing (near gales from the SSE on Fri night, calm by Sun night).
Days 7-9 Weather Summary: A dusting of new snow. Freeze-thaw conditions (max 4°C on Mon morning, min -1°C on Wed afternoon). Wind will be generally light.
Ok ok its not Snowdonia, but thought it might inspire some to take a drive south, it has me!
Tim Jones climbed Torpantau Waterfall, which is in the Brecon Beacons on thursday. Looks good doesn't it!
"Climbed Torpantau today with Wayne Penzer it's in good nick from bottom to top and the main pitch is in excellent nick. Roads are tricky and you definitely need 4wd to reach the car park. Walk in was tough it looks like someone had been in yesterday and we widened their furrow so it should be easier now."
Wow! Stunning in the mountains today (friday), bright clear blue sky, and tonnes of brilliant white snow. You would think you were in the Alps (apparently, never been myself). Today I met up with Ali Andrews from RAF Valley, and we headed up to Sargeants Gully. Nant Peris area was pretty much deserted with hardly any traffic, and empty laybys, and it wasn't even early about 9am. Cascade climbs (see photo) were deserted, but they looked in great climbing condition to me.
I only went as far as the start of Sargeants with Ali as I wasn't feeling too well. Ali continued on to solo Sargeants Gully, and I spent a couple of very pleasant hours taking photos & walking back to Llanberis. (and feeling sorry for myself!)
Although all ice routes seem to be formed/forming, powder snow, and lots of it are still the order of the day. Freeze thaw is desperatley needed.
Bryant's Gully (very clear gully in centre of top photo) is a really good grade II scramble in non winter conditions, and although it is s.facing I think it might provide some good ice now. I will have a look next week and report back.
Top pic: Looking across to Bryant's Gully on the Glyders. Bottom pic: Cascade & co.
Climbed Pistyll Gwyn at the top end of the Dyfi Valley today. Of the other falls in the area Nant y Cafn seems to have to much force of water to freeze properly. Craig Wen could be possible but thin and as for Maesglasau a couple more days of cold could to the trick.
Still mega down here. Gwth IV,5 has been today's route of choice, 7 pitches long all but 2 of them on ice. Team Corris had a pair on Central Gully III,4 as well. They whinged a little about deep snow but it wasn't that bad. We're off on another jolly boys outing tomorrow to check out the Dinas Mawddwy water falls, don't know how frozen they are yet. Pictures show Nick Mortley belayed beneath the crux left wall pitch and then heading for the light near the top of the route.
Can't believe it! I added the counter at the bottom of the page to see how many people were viewing this blog, expecting maybe a few a day. I started it 48 hours ago on 201 (Didnt want to start it on 0 in case I wasn't getting any hits and that would be depressing!!!) Averaged 230 hits per day!! Just shows how much interest there is in climbing in wales at the moment!
....which means another day NOT in Snowdonia for me. A couple of hours of very heavy snow yesterday from around 3pm onwards saw gridlock in N.E.Wales on the roads. Even the good old A55 was shut for a while. A combination of this & my kids school being closed has resulted in another day not in the mountains for me! However sledging will be fun. This site may be of use to those of you travelling on the roads Traffic Wales
Today we headed for Cwm Idwal. Tim Jones & i climbed 'South Gully' (IV**) on Clogwyn y Geifr. The ice was in good condition. There were blizzard like conditions at the top of our climb. When descending, we spotted climbers to the left of Devil's kitchen and in the kitchen itself. Apparently 'The Devil's Appendix' was climbed today. There were a few other climbers on 'The Screen'.
John Norman from Clwyd Mountaineering Club reports:
Had another cracking day today with Tim Davies, in Idwal this time. After warming up on Idwal stream we did South Gully which is in great condition, and many of the routes there are holding good ice. South Gully,Central Route,Chicane Gully,The Ramp,The Screen,Coldhouse Crack and Idwal Stream all got climbed today by various parties. Grab it while you can the conditions are good.
Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A light covering of new snow mostly falling on Tue morning. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -2°C on Mon night, min -6°C on Wed night). Winds increasing (light winds from the WNW on Mon afternoon, fresh winds from the NE by Wed morning).
Days 4-6 Weather Summary: Mostly dry. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -2°C on Sun morning, min -7°C on Fri afternoon). Wind will be generally light.
Days 7-9 Weather Summary: Light rain (total 6.0mm), mostly falling on Wed afternoon . Freeze-thaw conditions (max 3°C on Wed afternoon, min -5°C on Mon night). Winds increasing (light winds from the NE on Mon night, strong winds from the SSW by Tue night).
Even more info from Huw Gilbert of Huw Gilbert Mountainering who while I am temporarily out of action, is pretty much running this blog for me! I'll be back.....
Stuff from today though it must be painful reading if you can't get out. Central Gully on Pen y Gader was really good, it can be climbed direct without the escape to the rib that the guide book suggests. The crux pitch isn't completely banked out but there's only a couple of thin moves to climb it.
Very cold down here today we were able to walk across llyn y Gader at the neck where the main lake meets the inlet. Ice routes on Cyfrwy seem to be complete but couldn't comment on the thickness of the ice. Any ice that we encountered was very good. The snow is firm as well, really hard in the bowl at the top of the Foxes path. Crampons or Step cutting, it's too hard to just kick your way across.
"Andy made another long commute from Yorkshire today and he and myself headed up to Craig y Cwmglas Bach, high up in a north facing corrie on Carnedd Dafydd. We had an idea to climb a route called simply The Gully (iii/ii) and then walk across to the slightly higher Craig Dafydd and take a look at Goliath (iv/v). We were however way laid by the prospect of a new or at least seldom climbed route on the front of an impresive feature known as 'The Pillar'. The line is pretty obvious and follows a narrow chimney on the left side of the front of The Pillar joining with the crest after about 80m, you can clearly see the line on the crag diagram in the Winter Climbs Guide Book. The Pillar even gets a mention in the crag's opening narrative but no route is given. We did find an old peg at the base of the buttress but nothing was seen on the route. As for the route itself we climbed it in 3 pitches plus a rope length across the ridge which joins back to the mountain at the top. There was a fair bit of good ice in the chimney, pretty much a continuous line about a foot wide in the left corner. Via this and wide bridging we scratched our way up it, though we are both agreed that it was flippin hard which at our standard would logically put it at about grade V. The difficulty eases to IV after the first 15m or so. Just before the chimney line ends the ice runs out and the chimney overhangs, we dodged this by climbing steep turfy steps just to the left. Another steep pitch mostly on turf then leads to the top. As a prelude to our little adventure we did climb The Gully. It's an excellent little route, a deep and twisting line that was chock full of quality ice. Another point of note from today is that a layer of unstable windslab has formed at the top of the snow pack. The snow on the wider slopes at the top of routes felt a little 'off' under our feet. On carrying out a hand shear test it didn't take a much force at all for 9 inch deep slab to slide. Advice would be to be pretty cautious about venturing onto any areas of accumulated snow such as the approach to routes and the easier angled gullies."