Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Grand Day Out on Glyder Fawr

Yesterday was one of those special days in the mountains. Snowdonia is well covered in snow and ice at the moment and with a good forecast I decided to bail from my mums and drive back to the mountains. After a couple of days of thaw followed by a heavy frost I thought that the ice in Idwal might be in good nick. So we hiked up to the Devils Kitchen only to find that most of the lines were not complete, very wet and thin. Time for plan B - Cwm Cniefion, which is probably the most reliable spot for winter conditions. So we walked up over the top of Glyder Fawr on perfect hard snow and in bright sunshine. The views were just stunning.

Snowdon from Glyder Fawr

We then climbed down into Cwm Cneifion and decided on Hidden Gully - a great little grade 2 with a couple of icy steps. It was in great condition and a real joy to climb. We finished the day off by descending the Gribin Ridge - a summer grade 1 scramble.

Take care out there folks - the rescue teams have been very busy and the paths are very icy! In fact the most dangerous part of yesterday was walking down from Llyn Bochlywd. The weather here now is properly grim - windy with sleet, and snow supposed to be arriving soon.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Merry Xmas to you all

Merry Christmas!!!
Hope Santa brought you everything you needed - I got a stack load of warm socks... not complaining though, I can never have enough socks!
I'm back at my Mums in Cheshire eating a lot but looking at the forecast for more cold weather I think I will be heading back to Snowdonia soon for some more winter walking and climbing.

Enjoy the rest of the holidays!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Winter fun in Scotland

Just back to a very wintry Snowdonia after 4 days up in Scotland. With a large Siberian air mass over the country I knew that it was a good time up North. So I drove up to the Cairngorms with my good friend Jamie on Thursday evening. After a cosy night in the van at the Cairngorm Ski Area car park we made our way into Corrie an t'Sneachda as it was getting light. The cliffs looked amazing and the weather was pretty calm. We climbed Crotched Gully and The Runnel - both covered in amazing snow/ice. Then to finish the day off we marched over the top of Cairngorm in a white out.

The next day we attempted to get up Creag Meghaidh but we got caught out in a fierce blizzard so retreated only to find the road completely covered - which made for an interesting drive to Fort William (especially as one of the rear brakes had seized!). We chilled out the next day as we were without transport and snowed in!

On Monday we made it half way up Aonach Mor on the Gondola then traversed round through very deep snow to its west face and climbed a very alpine style route in blissful solitude. It was quite hard work as the deep snow covered ice, frozen turf and cracks for gear. We topped out in the dark and navved down to the Gondola, where to our great fortune we managed to blag a ride down with staff, despite missing the last public Gondola by 2 hours. We earned our beers that night!

I'm really pleased with how my new La Sportiva Nepal Evo's performed - really comfy straight out of the box and they kept my feet toasty in spite of some pretty cold conditions. Money well spent!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Check out these guys' videos - they know how to climb hard and have fun... if you need some inspiration on these cold, wet and dark days look no futher!

Inspirational Videos

A weekend with Rob Jones and Co.

One month ago I got a call from a Mr Rob Jones. He had a plan - to climb up Mt Blanc with a few off his mates then paraglide off the top! He also told me that none of his crew had done much in the way of mountaineering or rock climbing and he was the only one who could paraglide - he wanted me to help out.
Now I always like someone with a bit of ambition so I booked him and his team on a weekend to introduce them to the scrambling and the mountaineering skills they would need to ascend Mt. Blanc - I'm leaving the paragliding to them though!
So they arrived in Snowdonia late Friday night/Saturday morning and pitched up in the campsite despite torrential rain and gale force winds. Thankfully the weather had relented by the morning and we made our way the North Ridge of Tryfan, practicing various rope techniques as we went. As we summitted the weather came in a way so we bailed down western gully and got back to the car park by 4pm.

Rob posing on the Cannon, Tryfan North Ridge

With another poor forecast for the next day and another wild nights camping for Rob and the team (they could not be persuaded to stay in a bunkhouse!) we headed to Lion Rock at the end of Llyn Padarn. This is a great little venues for teaching rope skills and we covered abseiling, gear placement, building belays and then they all had a go a leading and ascending to the top of Lion Rock using a variety of climbing and scrambling techniques.

Daz on his first lead

We finished off, as all good days should do, with a pint of Guinness in the local. It was an excellent weekend and it is always a pleasure to teach and coach an enthusiastic and quick learning group. Rob and his team have booked on to a winter skills course and I will see them again in the Spring for more climbing and scrambling action - lets get some more rubber on the rock team!

Friday, 4 December 2009

El Chorro - Spainish Sport Climbing and Sun!!!

Just arrived back in a still damp and now even colder North Wales after a fantastic 2 weeks in El Chorro. This awesome sport climbing location is just 1 hour from Malaga airport and at this time of year the temperatures are just perfect for climbing. I went out with friends Rhys and Lucy and stayed at a guest house called the Olive Branch, run by ex-pats Mel and Gary. We had a fantastic time there. It has a friendly and sociable atmosphere, great facilities - including a pool table and a swimming pool and is situated less than 5 minutes walk from the nearest climbing area. To visit their website follow this link: The Olive Branch.

The climbing is all on magnificent limestone, with harder routes taking steep overhanging faces with good holds, tufas and stalactites. I manage to climb my first 7c climb on my third try so it was a successful trip for me. It was even better to come back with a tan and find out that it has rained nearly everyday in the UK!