Paul James, MIC - - Winter and Rock Climbing Conditions

Monday, 20 December 2010

20-12-10, Carneddau, Snowdonia - Ski Touring

Skining up to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn.

With the van, our road and most of the town being completely snowed in, it has given a great opportunity for some urban skiing around Bethesda! I have been out Ski touring the last couple of days with great weather, it has been ace. Sunday Kath, Helen and myself went for a short ski up and down Y Gyrn. Plenty of powder and other people out enjoying the cold snap, sledging and digging! The wild Carneddau ponies are wandering / wading looking for something to eat. Today a team of us went up to ski the higher tops of the Carneddau. Up Carnedd Daffydd, Carnedd Llewelyn and Foel Grach. It was bitterly cold, with a slight breeze and whiteout for a time. However on the summit of Llewelyn skies cleared to show amazing views of a snowy Snowdonia. The snow wasn't as good as yesterday but it was still good and the journey was great. We found lots of patches of wind slab and a fair few raised foot prints on the summits. 'Whats going on here, it didn't look like this yesterday?'

Y Gyrn ski.

Yr Elen

Ski off Foel Grach, Awesome!

End of the day and home run.

Friday, 17 December 2010

17-12-10, Epic Snowfall in Snowdonia

Epic snowfall in Snowdonia over the last 24 hours. Roads have literally 1 foot of snow on them. Buses not running, only a few brave folk driving / sliding around. Winter climbing will definitely be wading, swimming to get to the crags and then more, if the crags can be seen. Turf should be frozen under the powder but the ice won't have improved. With more snow forecast tonight and tomorrow, looks like I will have to get the skis out again.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

14-12-10, Black Ladders, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Snow hasn't returned, but the freezing level is dropping slowly. I went back to Tremadog yesterday and climbed a few routes on Bwlch y Moch with James. The sun wasn't out so it was quite chilly! Today Matt and I headed into the Black Ladders on the Carneddau, after a hot (or should I say 'cold') tip that Icefall Gully, IV,4 had some climbable ice. I can confirm that there is still a bit of ice hanging around on the cliff. All of the rocks are black and there is pretty much no snow apart from some in Pyramid and East Gully. There are a fair few ice curtains on the approach slopes on the left and there was indeed several good pitches of grade IV climbing to be had on Icefall Gully. We headed up the frozen but grassy slopes to the summit of Carnedd Daffydd.

There is going to be a new winter guide for the main winter climbing venues of northern Snowdonia. It should be out over the Christmas holidays. The old guide is massively out of date 1988 so this should be a great source of inspiration! and explain where all these new routes have been climbed!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

12-12-10, Tremadog, Snowdonia - Rock Climbing

Snowdonia has under gone a massive thaw since Thursday, +2 on summits plus some rain also. Lots of snow has disappeared and most ice has been stripped. There are still a few smears here and there however winter climbing will be off the menu until the freezing level drops well below the summits and some more snow returns. Myself and Luke went Rock climbing at Tremadog. It was dry and warm. We headed to Craig y Gesail and climbed most of the routes on the Midas buttress.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

08-12-10, Llanberis Pass - Winter Climbing

It is still very wintry in Snowdonia and I have been out climbing the last couple of days. Yesterday I was out with Tim and James. We headed Cwm Lloer and climbed a snowy First Trinity Groove IV,4, then we headed up the icy first pitch of Moonlighting at about III,4 then traversed into Broad Gully to the Summit ridge, a great day.
Today I went out with Norman and John to climb their first ever winter route, we ascended Sergent's Gully II. Enjoyable stepped climbing all the way. It was slightly more busy here with many people out for the solo ascent, plus 3 teams climbing the classic and rare ice formation of Central Ice fall Direct VI,6.
James seconding First Trinity Groove IV,4.

Monday, 6 December 2010

06-12-10, Carneddau, Snowdonia - Ski Touring

The mighty whitey Tryfan!

A stunning day in Snowdoina. Blue skies, calm and still and wonderfully white! We headed out for a quick ski tour on the Carneddau. The snow cover is OK to ski on however you will have skied better! We ascended Pen yr Helgi Du from Ogwen. There were a few groups out walking. The snow has started to transform slowly, however it is still powdery and deep in places. The ice is getting thicker and the cold period is forecast to stay around. New winter routes are being climbed all the time, Baggy tells me there have been at least another 11 new routes climbed over the weekend. The new winter guide book being written by Ground Up should have plenty to inspire, word on the street is that it should be sent to the printers midweek so available before Christmas.

PJ Mountains will be running Winter Skills courses throughout the season both in Snowdonia and the Scottish Highlands. Courses can be tailored to your specific needs however a basic 2 day course would cover; use of ice axe, crampon technique, moving around on snow slopes, navigation and avalanche awareness.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

05-12-10, Cwm Lloer, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Busy day in Cwm Lloer today. 3 teams and 3 new routes climbed! I was out with Gaz and Dave, we climbed a new route and called it 'The Whiskey Made Me Late', V, 6 (5,5,6) (photo right - Gaz on second pitch). It starts up a groove between First Trinity and Second Trinity, then takes a counter route to the already climbed winter route First Trinity, climbed by Andy Cave and Rich Cross. A good 3 pitch turfy route, with plenty of gear. A team next to us on the right climbed Third Trinity Groove suggesting VII,7. Tom and Will climbed the rib between Left and Right Y Gully, they said it was a steady grade III and called it 'Don't Forget Your Sole'. There is a lot of snow at present, Tom and Will said they saw and triggered a slide in Left-hand Y Gully.

There was a thaw yesterday and plenty of rain at lower levels, this effect has made the snow heavy in places and with lower temperatures all this week it should firm up nicely.

Friday, 3 December 2010

03-12-10, Glyder Fawr, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Windy at the top of Glyder Fawr, upper cliff, with Tryfan in the background.

A blustery winters day in Snowdonia today. I was out with Keith and Kath, and we climbed Central Gully on Glyder Fawr upper cliff. The turf was well frozen, more than on Sunday, and gave good entertainment for all! It is a 5 pitch grade IV with an icy tunnel under a huge block on the second pitch (photo below). The snow is still quite fluffy and hasn't had chance to transform since it fell over the last few weeks. However the freezing level rose to about 600m today and it is forecast to be above the summits tomorrow, then eventually drop to valley level early next week. It will mean disappointment and wetness for the weekend climber however it is what the snow and ice needs to get better. Cwm Idwal was busy today, teams climbing Idwal Stream, South Gully, The Ramp, The Screen and Devils Cellar.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

02-12-10, Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Today, I walked into Cwm Idwal with Kath to have a look at how the ice is forming. There is ice and it is getting fatter however, it is only really Idwal Stream which is in good condition. South Gully is climbable along with The Screen, however they will feel hard for the grade. Other ice climbs may just about be climbable but it will be a few more days before they are in good condition. It was slightly warmer today +1 degrees in the valleys. A slight thaw is forecast over the weekend, so with if gets cold again early next week (fingers crossed) Cascades will be great. We climbed Idwal Stream today in 3 pitches at about grade II+. There were a lot of teams climbing it by midday, and I imagine it will be very busy at the weekend!

South Gully - The Screen.

Devils Appendix area.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

01-12-10, Glyder Fach, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Today I was climbing with Kathryn and Gaz. We headed up to Glyder Fach and climbed a new winter route, which follows the summer line of Oblique Chimney. It is a good quality 2 star mixed route with three pitches of interest. Grade V,6 (5,6,4), it starts up the narrow chimney featured right and then the obvious chimney above. Frozen turf and hoared rocks, hopefully this cold snap will continue for a few weeks more.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

30-11-10, Cwm Lloer, Snowdonia - Winter Climbing

Snowdonia is in the grip of winter. Current feel of climbing conditions is that it is very cold, freezing in valleys, not much ice, still forming though, snow is very powdery (groupel) and unhelpful, but the turf is definitely well frozen. Classic ice routes and gullies are not in yet, mixed turf routes and ridges are. I have been stomping around the last 3 days, had a look up on Glyder Fawr upper cliff Sunday, tried to climb Twisting Gully (photo, right - pitch 2) but had abandon due to lack of gear and enough ice to progress. I walked into Black Ladders (photo, above) and saw 2 teams climbing, near East Gully and Passendale. I have had good day in Cwm Lloer today with Kathryn and we climbed Eastern Arete (Lloer Spur) IV,4 (photo, below) and Grooved Ridge IV,5. Both good 3 pitch, turfy routes. An inch of snow fell last night and more is forecast tonight, if is warms up a little then refreezes the snow will be ace, however we will have to settle for frozen turf and powder for the next few days at least!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

27-11-10, Costa Blanca - Rock Climbing

Didre UBSA, HVS 5+ - Penon de Ifach, Calpe.

Another enjoyable week rock climbing on the Costa Blanca. The weather has been getting cooler but still warm. We have climbed on Penon de Ifach the great square blocky cliff by the sea off Calpe, Sella and Montessa. Here are are some more photos of the climbing.

I have arrived back to a cold and snowy Snowdonia. There looked to be a fair covering on the hills, however a closer inspection will be required tomorrow. I hear people have been getting out climbing winter routes, so hopefully with a cold spell here to stay for a few weeks, North Wales will be winter playground again!
Photos - Right, Montesa with its idyllic castle, short but pocketed gritty limestone!
Alicante from Calpe.

Calpe from Penon de Ifach.

The crux pitch Diedre UBSA, HVS 5+.

Cragging at Sella, excellent crag although getting a little polished.

Mollo Falqui.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

21-11-10, Costa Blanca - Rock Climbing

I have been in Spain, climbing on the limestone cliffs of the Costa Blanca since last Wednesday. The weather has been dry and warm (18 degrees), a little breezey but nothing to complain about. Myself and Kathryn have climbed at a different crag everyday, all sport climbing, around Gandia and Xalo. My finger tips are getting sore but we still have another week left. Hopefully climb some trad routes on the big cliffs near Benidorm when it gets less windy. The highlight so far is probably 'Sonjanka' 6a+ (photo right) a six pitch sport route which climbs the length of the cliff.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

07-11-10, Tremadog - Rock Climbing

Criccieth Castel from Craig y Gesail.

I have spent the weekend climbing at 'costa del Tremadog' on the far left hand end. The sun has shone at times and has been fairly warm. We enjoyed the routes on the Midas Buttress of Touch Up, Touched in the Head, Touchstone, Soft Touch all graded E1. The crag is usually quiet but there were 3 teams here today. We have been having heavy rain the evenings and even snow down to 300m last night, however the buttresses on Tremadog dry very rapidly and are often warmer than the mountain crags.

Signs of imminent winter arrival were present this morning and still late this afternoon, with a lite dusting of snow on the Carneddau (photo below). A few winter routes have been climbed in Scotland already this year.

PJ Mountains will be running Winter Skills, Winter Hillwalking and Mountaineering courses throughout this winter season from the Scottish Highlands. So if you want to be guided in the mountains or learn essential skills to stay safe and explore the mountains for yourself in Winter the enquire .

Winter has arrived!!

Friday, 5 November 2010

05-11-10, Peak District - Rock Climbing

The last week has been very wet both in Snowdonia and the Peak District. I managed to get a bit of sport climbing in at Penmaen Head (Colwyn Bay) before the rains arrived at the weekend. Myself and Kath went to the Peak for a few days, to find dark overcast skies, with occasional drizzle in the mornings then heavy constant rain in the afternoons. We did however manage to climb at Black Rocks and Cratcliffe Tor (photo right - Kath seconding 'Suicide Wall', HVS 5a).

Friday, 29 October 2010

27-10-10, SLT,Coasteering,Gorge Walking - Snowdonia

The last couple of days I have been working with Sussex Army Cadets in Snowdonia. The first day we went to the sea cliffs of Holy Island and did some Sea-Level Traversing, with ropes staying dry, and in the afternoon went Coasteering. The team really enjoyed themselves and found it an 'awesome' adventure. The day after was stormy and wet, we headed to the Afon Ddu gorge. The weather in Wales has turned very wintery, rain and strong winds.
Outdoor adventure days for families, friends and parties are available from Snowdonia Outdoor Adventures. Bookings for 2011 are already been taken. If you book by April 2011, organisers of groups of 6 or more can book for free.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

24-10-10, North Wales Limestone - Rock Climbing

Today I have been sport climbing at the limestone crags along the A55 near Colwyn Bay. We spent the morning at Penmaen Head, climbing some excellent flowstone walls. Maybe North Wales' premier low-mid grade sports crag. Then headed to Castle Inn Quarry to climb the excellent Indian Summer F6a (photo - right) and the Trad Route Pioneer Cracks E1. Fine View Wall has some excellent rough limestone reminiscent of Pembroke.

PJ Mountains can offer Sport Climbing Rock Courses, from Intro level to Advanced. Sport climbing (bolted) is a fairly safe introduction to rock climbing, and North Wales is an ideal place to learn the ropes. For more details please contact