Monday, 28 December 2009

Udlaidh Ice, Bridge of Orchy

Today I went to find ice with my girlfriend Sarah. There is a lot of soft snow around in the Highlands at the moment, so a popular venue helps cut approach times with well trodden tracks. Udlaidh was certainly popular today, though the ice wasn't as fat as I had expected. Quartzvein scoop was seeing lots of accents but anything harder was a little fragile and thin. We played around on Land of Make Believe. With the sun out it was always going to be a good day.

Unfortunately I left the camera battery charging today, at least it is ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Back to Wales - Polar Bear (VI,6), Black Ladders

Yesterday I was climbing under blue skies on the Black Ladders. I was grateful not to miss out on such a glorious day, after a last minute change of climbing partners late at night, my plans of climbing were then nearly thwarted when Chris discovered he had no crampons while racking up.

Fortunately well known activist Chris Parkin turned up with Greg Cain and allowed me to join them as a 3. We jumped on Polar Bear which offers fine mixed climbing, making good use of the frozen turf. Each pitch has interesting climbing, with nothing too desperate.

We finished a little later than expected so I had a little jog down so I wasn't too late for a meal with friends and family back on the Wirral.

It looks like it is staying cold into the New Year, which I will be spending up in Scotland. I'm hoping for more blue skies and good climbing.

For more photos: Sea 2 Summit Flickr

Polar Bear (VI,6), Black Ladders, CarneddauPolar Bear (VI,6), Black Ladders, CarneddauPolar Bear (VI,6), Black Ladders, CarneddauPolar Bear (VI,6), Black Ladders,Carneddau

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Lochan, Glen Coe

The final day of the pre-Christmas hit was up in Stob Coire nan Lochan on Friday. We climbed Spectre (V,6) which runs parallel to the popular Scabbard Chimney.
A cold day, ice was forming at all levels on the walk in with flurries of snow during the day.
We managed to return to the van for 1430 to make the drive back to Wales, where there is currently fresh snow in the hills.

Scabbard Chimney, Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Ben Nevis

A windy and snowy start turned into a beautiful and sunny afternoon. The freezing level had dropped considerably and the snow line was well below the CIC hut.
We had aspirations for Observatory Ridge, but with three people ahead of us, and it looking a little lean on snow, we decided against it. Unfortunatly most lines in Observatory Gully require ice and this was lacking, even high up on Indicator Wall. I know Smith's was done last week but it must of been quite scary! We opted for Chimney Groove (IV,6) which took us up onto Tower Ridge and then to the top.
The snow is now well frozen, with just isolated pockets of slabby new snow.
For more photos of Ben Nevis see Sea 2 Summit Flickr site

Ben Nevis, Tower RidgeBen Nevis, Tower RidgeBen Nevis, Tower Ridge

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

West Coast Conditions

After the long drive up from Wales on Monday night, Simon and I stopped over at the Bridge of Orchy. We took the relatively short walk up to Beinn An Dothaidh. The turf was frozen at all levels - ideal for the mixed routes. Menage a Trois (V,6) and The Upper Circle (III) both proved to be good fun.
Today I was up on the Ben, which was very wintry with good snow above 900m and ice forming on the higher crags. We climbed Thompson's Route (IV) and Central Right-Hand (IV) both of which had first time placements in the ice. We were also honoured to be invited in to the (new looking) CIC hut for a cuppa tea on the way down.
Back to the Ben tomorrow for some more action.

Central Right-Hand, Ben Nevis (IV)Thompson Route, Ben Nevis (IV)Bridge of Orchy, Scotland

Monday, 14 December 2009

River Tryweryn with King Edwards Sch Brimingham

I returned to Wales over the weekend to run a white water course for King Edwards School. We went on the Lower Tryweryn, which provides grade 2/3 rapids all the way to Bala.

All the rivers around Snowdonia have now dropped to an unrunnable low level with the recent dry weather.

Back up to Scotland tonight to make the most of the cold snap.

More Blue Skies in the Caringorms

On Friday we went up to Fiachile Buttress in the Cairngorms climbing Short Circuit and The Seam - both fun mixed routes. Again the weather was kind and the snow well frozen.

Fiacaill Buttress, CairngormsFiacaill Buttress, Cairngorms

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Beautiful conditions in Scotland

I have been climbing on the Northern Corries for the last two days with a friend Ian.

Yesterday we went up to the Mess of Potage climbing Honey Pot and Hidden Chimney. Today on Western Route on No. 4 Buttress. All provide good mixed pitches with Western Route being quite steep at times.

Yesterday the snow was damp and thawing slightly. Today there was clear and frosty overnight, freezing the substantial snow pack hard. unfortunately though the cracks are also iced up making protection difficult to place.

Coire an Lochain, CairngormsCoire an Lochain, Cairngorms

Monday, 7 December 2009

Dwyfor and Seiont Rivers

The snow may of been stripped from the mountains, but the rivers rose rapidly this morning with mild temperatures an heavy rain. Myself, Matt, Rich, James and Sally enjoyed the Dwyfor at high levels this morning and the Seiont all the way to the sea late this afternoon. More rain tonight should keep the rivers at a good level.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Welsh Winter Conditions - Fynnon Lloer

Today I went up to Fynnon Lloer in the Carneddau with James and Phil.
We found plenty of old snow in the gullies that was in the process of freezing, especially above 800 metres. It still needs a bit longer though to be fully frozen as it wasn't too hard to break through the crust. During the day a fair amount of new snow fell, mainly as graupel. This was getting blown around, collecting in gullies and lee slopes.
We climbed some small mixed pitches on rock, looking at various techniques, then dropped back down to climb Y Gully Left-hand.



Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Snow in North Wales

Trinity Face on Snowdon
Yesterday I went up to Trinity Face on Snowdon with James Bruton. It has been cold since the weekend and a fair amount of snow has fallen above 600m.
We went to have a look at Snowdrop but found a breakable crust with soft snow or unfrozen turf below. Part way up the crux pitch we decided to retreat becasue of the conditions. Instead we moved around on some broken ground and looked at strength of anchors in the given snowpack.

The day before I paddled down the Croesor, with just enough water. This has some fun grade V drops on it. We also spent a bit of time removing a tree from the first IV+ drop. One bit remains but hopefully in its new location it should have a better chance of floating further downstream in high water. The recent floods have certainly deposited a lot of debris in the rivers.