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:

Monday, 29 November 2010

Climbing ice in Wales in November!!!

Yes it is true, there is ice to be climbed & it is still November! Today I was on my own & headed up to Idwal as I had heard there was a good bit of ice in Idwal Stream (II/III). And there was most certainly was! Not as fat yet as it was when I climbed it last winter in December & February, but plenty to climb. As usual it provided great sport & I had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Apart from spraining my ankle on the Devil's Kitchen descent path, which means I have had to cancel meeting up with my good friend Sean Mercer tomorrow (sorry Sean!) for some winter routes in Cwm Cneifion. I should be back climbing a route or two on Thursday with Davey C, so will have to wait until then.
There were 2 teams climbing White Hope on the Idwal Slabs today, and I saw 2 climbers starting out on South Gully at around 2.45pm which I was suprised at as it is only half formed. No other ice routes in Idwal are fully formed yet, but there is a good build up of ice on them all, so by the weekend I'm sure most will be getting ascents.

Pic 1: Topo of Idwal Stream ice
Pic 2: Climbers starting out on 1st pitch
Pic 3: Looking up pitch 2
Pic 4: Some good steep ice above pitch 2
Pic 5: Me in my element!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Report from Carl on Bristly Ridge

Hi Andy,

Went up Bristly Ridge today. Started up a gully a little to the west of the normal route to start, not sure of its name. We'd taken harnesses and gear so geared up and got a nice pitch out of it. It was probably a II but there was just powder snow with only hooking placements so moves which felt more difficult. A step took us out of the gully and onto the ridge. We wore crampons all the way to the plateau with the snow, mostly powdery, but more consolidated where there's plenty of traffic. Beautiful day with plenty of folk around. My mate had a slip coming down past Castell-y-Gwynt, and pulled his ankle so we cut our walk over to Glyder Fawr short and came steadily down Gribin. There were a couple of teams on left hand, Clogwyn Ddu, which looked thin! It was -6 at the car at 1600 so in for another cold one tonight. It was a spectacular day finished off with a mocchachino at Ogwen cottage. Its going to be difficult to do some work tomorrow without being tempted to have a look somewhere else! Hope you find something good on Tuesday.

What days next week (6th-10th) do you think you'll be out?


Email report from Big Col

Good day yesterday Andy ..Did a walk from the back of Joe browns summited Foel Goch then followed the ridge line to the summit of glyder fach ,returned down the snowy scree slope to cwm tryfan ( interesting!) and descended down the east side to the main road by the campsite then walked along the main road back to capel curig ,approximately 9/10 miles (seemed a lot longer !) Looking to get some ice technique with you this winter so bear me in mind ok ..see picky from yesterday


I have been at home in Deeside all day today, and it has been COLD. Down to -10 overnight. My car's handbrake had frozen on & took 2 hours to free off. If its that cold here it must have been seriously nippy in the mountains!

I am hearing reports of more ice forming, and I notice UKC Winter Conditions logbook page an ascent of Idwal Stream has been logged, and its only November!!!

9 Day Weather Forecast for 1089 m altitude, issued (local time): 11 am 28 Nov 2010

Days 0-3 Weather Summary:A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -5°C on Mon morning, min -11°C on Sun morning). Winds increasing (calm on Sun afternoon, fresh winds from the ENE by Tue night).

Days 4-6 Weather Summary:
A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be well below freezing (max -6°C on Fri morning, min -13°C on Thu night). Winds decreasing (fresh winds from the ENE on Wed afternoon, calm by Fri morning).

Days 7-9 Weather Summary:
A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -3°C on Sat morning, min -7°C on Sat morning). Winds increasing (light winds from the SSE on Sat morning, strong winds from the NE by Sun night).

9 Day Weather Forecast for 708 m altitude, issued (local time): 11 am 28 Nov 2010

Days 0-3 Weather Summary: A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -2°C on Mon morning, min -8°C on Sun morning). Wind will be generally light.

Days 4-6 Weather Summary: A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -3°C on Fri morning, min -10°C on Thu night). Wind will be generally light.

Days 7-9 Weather Summary: A dusting of new snow. Temperatures will be below freezing (max -2°C on Sat morning, min -5°C on Sat morning). Winds increasing (light winds from the SE on Sat morning, fresh winds from the NE by Sun night).

More snow reports from Mike P

Hi Andy

Another update: I had an easy day on Pen yr Helgi Du today with a group of friends. Beautiful, cold weather. Lots of people about, even a few skiers. Like yesterday, we didn't feel the need to put crampons on as the snow is still powdery. Anyway, ice is forming on shaded slopes which bodes well. Worryingly, on the way up Y Braich there were quite a few areas of windslab sitting on a layer of graupel. I'm no expert, but we isolated a block and it moved very easily. It's worth bearing in mind that on other, steeper slopes potentially dangerous conditions could be forming.



Saturday, 27 November 2010

Report from Mike Peacock:

Hi Andy,

Thought I'd check in with a report from today. Me and Gareth Harvey did Tryfan's North Ridge. We geared up with crampons quite low down as the path from the road was consolidated and icy, but 100m further up we took them off again. For the rest of the day we didn't feel the need for crampons, but plenty of others had theirs on.

Cracking route anyway. When we reached the North Tower there was quite a lot of activity going on. Some people were giving up and retreating whilst others were taking the Eastern Traverse. We didn't fancy the powdery top of Nor Nor Gully so took the North Tower Direct, which was quite interesting in the conditions.

Once down at Llyn Bochlwyd the paths became icy again, and the path back to Ogwen Cottage was treacherous!

I've attached a few photos.



Friday, 26 November 2010

Snow snow snow (& some ice)

What a difference 2 days makes!
I set off from my home in Deeside late this morning with no snow in sight. By the time I was by Holywell on the A55 coastroad it was white as far as the eye could see. My objective for the day (well afternoon really) was a winter crossing of Crib Goch & Crib Y Drysgyl, however I discovered a flaw to my plan on the drive up the pass from Llanberis to Pen Y Pass... Snow on the road & lots of it!! I kept going with the mentality of keep your foot down & you will make it! I did make it to Pen Y Pass (just) but couldn't get my car into the carpark due to the snow. So with nothing else for it I slip slided my way down to Capel Curig & on to Ogwen. At Ogwen carpark I got chatting to Jay who had travelled over from Ipswich for a weekend Winter Navigation course at Plas Y Brenin. We decided to hook up for the afternoon & headed up into Cwm Idwal, up Devil's Kitchen path, then for a walk over Y Garn.

There is tonnes of snow everywhere at the moment, but it is very powdery, apart from on the tops where it has been scoured down hard by the wind. We could do with a thaw then refreeze before any of the gullies come anything like into condition.
The ice routes in Idwal are all starting to form, but are a long way off being climbable.
The weather forecast for the next week at least is for some very cold conditions.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Gribin Ridge & snow

Today I headed into Snowdonia to see how the winter was coming along. As I drove through Bethesda up the A5 I wasn't too impressed by the volume (or lack of!) white stuff on the mountains. However looking up from Ogwen cottage towards Cwm Cneifion area filled with with some optimism, & I opted for The Gribin Ridge. There is hardly any snow cover below the 700m mark in the Glyders, but as I got to the 'football pitch' & looked up at the ridge proper it was like a different world! I had just been walking up a hill on an autumn day & ahead of me was a mountain ridge in winter conditions. Excellent! At about the 800m mark where you get onto the ridge, there is a good 2 inches of fairly fresh snow cover & plenty of hoar frost on the rocks. The higher I went the whiter it becomes until when I popped out on the Glyder plateau I was greeted with a full on winter Glyder scene! By the looks of it none of the gullies even high up in Cwm Cneifion are anywhere near 'in condition'. I had a peep into the top of Tower Gully, but there is only a couple of inches of soft snow on top of loose scree & unfrozen turf. Hidden Gully looked pretty awful too. There was a bloke trudging up Easy Route at the head of the Cwm, and I could see again it was shallow snow & vegetation. The ominous looking Clogwyn Ddu cliffs looked dark & sinister & definetly not climbable. There is no ice whatsoever in Idwal, or any snow to speak of. All the popular ice routes are at present wet, black & slimy.
I would imagine that for the next day or two ridges & easy rocky buttresses are the way to go. Routes like The Gribin Ridge, Tryfan N.Ridge, Crib Goch & Crib Y Ddysgl, Clogwyn Y Person Arete, BC & CD buttresses on Y Garn etc..
The forecast suggests more snow over the next few days & very cold temperatures, so by the weekend or early next week there may be lots of fun to be had.

PIC 1: Winter on The Gribin Ridge
PIC 2: A different world on the Glyder plateau
PIC 3: Nothing to see here in Cwm Idwal

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Its been warm, but next week due to get very cold

Its getting closer! Forecast temperatures in the Welsh mountains for the coming week are plummeting. A few cm's of snow predicted here & there. So with a bit of luck, there may be some winter fun to be had soon.

I've been spending a fair bit of time hiking & biking over the last month in an effort to get fit ready for the winter. I went for a blast up Snowdon via the Pyg track on Thursday, with a hop, skip & a jump (literally) back over Garnedd Ugain & Crib Goch. It was a fairly warm day, with beautiful winter light (below the cloud line anyway!)