Brilliant day off with Michele today climbing at Holyhead mountain. A rare occasion where we were both free as grandparents had kindly agreed to look after Ella for the day. We climbed 4 routes up to E2, not bad considering Michele has not really climbed at all for 2 years since being pregnant with Ella.
I have had a great week with Liam, Chris, Keith, Verity and Susan on a mountaineering skills course. Over the course of the week we have visited areas such as Cnict, the eastern Glyderau, a 2 day expedition in the Carneddau, all finished off with an ascent of the North ridge of Tryfan. The group did a fantastic job picking up and honing various new skills including lots of navigation.
I have spent the last two days with Andy and Claire on an Advanced scrambling course. I have worked with Andy on a scrambling course before so had a good idea of his ability and Claire was up for a challenge. So for day 1 we opted to climb in the sun on the brilliant Grooved Arete on the East face of Tryfan. Not exactly a scramble but offered us a good challenge with 250m of climbing up to the summit of the mountain. On the way down we looked at some rope work techniques to finish off a fantastic day. Today we went to Little Tryfan in the morning and Andy and Claire swung leads up the left hand arete line which is a great grade 3/moderate rock climb. Then we nipped around to Milestone Buttress and they led up Milestone Approach route which is another grade 3 scramble weaving a devious line through steep rock climbing terrain. We finished off the course looking at crevasse rescue techniques in preparation for their planned Alpine trip later this year.
Well after a brilliant few days ice climbing myself I was back to some winter skills work for Sunday and Monday. Dave and Steve were keen to learn some skills to look after themselves in winter having never used axes or crampons before. For the first day we did a lovely circuit of Carnedd Dafydd and Pen Yr Ole Wen with some skills in Cwm Lloer. They were also keen for a winter camping experience so I left them in the cwm where we had earlier stashed some kit for the evening. We met again in the morning and after some breakfast heading up Tryfan. This was in incredible condition, more snow than I have ever seen up there. With the usual boulder fields and gaps fully filled in. We descended back along a very banked out heather terrace. Another great couple of days in the hill. Tomorrow I am back out again for some more winter skills before some more work then for PYB.
With some time off for the last week I teamed up with a friend for some winter climbing here in Wales. The conditions have been great and we had a few routes that have been on my tick list for a while in mind. We started with a walk in to the Black Ladders to have a look at “Polar Bear”. We quickly realised on the first pitch that the conditions looked better than they actually were, with the snow being generally unconsolidated and unhelpful. Our back up option was a route called Topcat which was more of a turfy line and in much better condition. The next day saw us at Craig Y Rhaeadr and on a welsh classic “Cascade”. An absolutely amazing steep climb which was in great condition. We followed up with a grade 4 called Grooved Slab. This route again saw us on not so great ice resulting in a 50m pitch with no gear and poorly bonded ice on rock slabs. Day 3 and we were back at Craig Y Rhaeadr to do Central Icefall Direct, another classic route. It lived up to its reputation with 3 incredible pitched on steep ice with a wild pull on to a free hanging ice pillar at the top. Today we went to have a look at The Devils Appendix in Cwm Idwal. With warm temps and thin looking ice we thought better of it although another team did make an ascent. One to come back for on another day when it is in better condition. All in all a great few days with some brilliant routes climbed. It looks like it may be the last of the good ice climbing for this year as temps are creeping up and I doubt we will have another cold snap again before next winter……although you never know!
Well winter is more than hanging on at the moment. Snow line is down to the road and has been for the last week and looks set to stay cold well into next week. Again things have been busy here, directing a slightly unconventional Summer Mountain Leader training course last week and then out on a last minute winter skills course today. Conditions are fantastic in the hills at the moment with lots of winter climbs in great condition. I have 8 days off now and am looking forward to getting out and enjoying the bonus winter climbing on offer!!
Been a busy few weeks again. Working with fast track students all last week with a combination of rock climbing, ice climbing and SPA training all of with was great fun with a really good group of people. This week I have spent 2 days working with a couple on a lead climbing course where we managed to dodge the rain and snow at Holyhead mountain and Tremadog with them leading a number of single and multipitched routes in great style. Today I have been out with a group of international competition winners for Gore. They are completing the 14 peak challenge over the week and today we completed Pen Yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn and Yr Elen. The weather at the moment is full on winter with above knee deep snow on the tops so all the more impressive that they are easily on target to complete all the peaks by Friday, I wish them luck. I have 2 days off now to hopefully enjoy some climbing or maybe skiing!
Well it seems that winter is well and truly back in Wales with sub zero temps at all levels at the moment. My drive to work each morning takes me through Llanberis Pass, so I have been keeping an eye on any ice forming. Today Sargent’s gully was looking good and 4 of the fast track students I am working with this week were psyched for some winter climbing. After a quick run around to gather kit we shot off to the bottom of the Pass and dashed up the hill. Although there was some water running behind the ice, the climb itself was in amazing condition with lovely plastic ice and great climbing. We climbed the route in around 6 pitches with some great little steep pitches along the way. We made really good time so decided to finish off with Parsley Fern gully which was in equally good condition. A descent down Y Gribin finished the day in great time.
I have spent this weekend with Simon on an intro winter climbing course. Simon has done a fair amount of rock climbing but was keen to learn a bit more about winter climbing in order to venture out in winter in the further. Having been away for a week and then working in the cloud last week I was unsure exactly how much snow was still around but hoped there would still be some lines to climb. On saturday we romped up to Cwm Cneifion and were rewarded with some snow gullies to look at snow belays. After some practice building belays using buried axes and bucket seats we set off up a grade I gully to the top. Once there we looked at a series of snow bollards to abseil back down the climb. Today we have been up in Cwm Glas. The weather was much colder, and windier!!! We climbed Parsley Fern gully on perfect solid neve swinging leads all the way to the top. We even managed to find some lovely grade II ice to start the climb. The winds on the top were ferocious, much stronger than the 40mph forecast. We gambled that they would drop off as we descended so went to have a look at dropping down Y Gribin, a great grade I scramble. The gamble mostly paid off, although care was still required as the winds were by no means light. A great couple of days with the conditions being much, much better than we had anticipated.
Well I write this at the airport with trip nearly over. An amazing week with lots done. The last 2 days have been great. We did a trip up the Dome du Miage. This is a big climb of 1500m on skis the first day up to a hut. As its winter most huts are closed but they often have a winter room with blankets and bunks that you can use for free. We arrived at the hut just before sunset being treated to some spectacular views. The next morning we skinned the remaining 1100m to the summit of the Dome du Miage having to crampon up the last couple of hundred meters as the route follows a knife edge ridge to the top. From there we had 2500m of skiing down the Glacier du Armoncette back to the valley floor at Les Contamines. The skiing was in an amazing location but hard work as it was constantly changing from a breaking crust, to hard ice to bits of powder, so very hard to anticipate. We arrived back in the valley 2 hours after leaving the summit which feels crazy when we spent a day and a half skinning up to the top. An amazing end to a great trip!