Wednesday, 31 March 2010

WGL and Fresh Snow

I woke this morning to sound of snow avalanching off my roof! About 4 inches of snow came down last night and it has been snowing sporadically through the day; this combined with near gale force winds has made it pretty grim to be up high! The forecast is to remain cold so take care if you are out and about in the hills - my advice would be to go for a coffee insted at the moment!

For the past few days I have been instructing on a WGL - Walking Group Leader training course based at Blue Peris Mountain Centre. This is an award for those who want to lead walking groups in non mountainous but remote upland and moorland terrain. You can find out more information on the award by visiting the MLTUK website.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Navigation Refresher Day

I had a great day out today with Jo and Dean who I took up Tryfan back in February. They wanted to go over some navigation techniques and skills so we headed up to Gelli Iago to see if I could get them lost. We had a fantastic stroll up to the top of Cnict and round to Llyn yr Adar covering contour interpretation, identifying features on the ground and relating them to the map, pacing and compass work. It is a great area to do this as the paths are generally pretty vague and it is easy to get off the paths and make your own way through the wilderness. It also has the added benefit of being quite and very beautiful.

I beleive that the key to good navigation is being observant of all the features of the landscape around you and the ground under your feet. So do do this you need to get into the habit of looking around, getting all the clues from the land and then looking at the map, rather than just burying your head in the map!

Jo and Dean with Cnict in the background

Dean, Chris, Jo, Garry and myself on Tryfan

I then finished off the day with a hours bouldering at the Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass. With the clocks going forward tonight the time for evening climbing missions is now upon us - just bring on the sun!!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Spring sport climbing on the Orme

I'm typing this report up with slightly sore tips after a good days cragging at the Great Orme, Llandudno. It felt properly spring like down by the sea, with the sun out and music drifting over from the amusement pier. After a quick warm up I decided to try Mean Mother a fingery 7b, however I think my enthusiasm got the better of me and after 3 good goes I had to admit defeat for the time being. Need to get some fitness and grow some skin!

Jim post crux on Mean Mother 7b

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Alone on the wall

Last night I watched 24mins of the most gob smacking, awe inspiring climbing footage ever - Alex Honnold free soloing Moonlight Buttress in Zion and the NW Face of Half Dome, Yosemite. Now if this doesn't mean much to you let me elaborate. These routes are 400m and 700m respectively and on the UK grading scale would come in at E5/E6 and to climb them free solo means no rope, no partner, no protection no second chances. Now I have done a few free solos in my time but they have been short routes and well within my grade. To have the mental capacity to solo these hard and long routes is just mind blowing.

The camera work is stunning and watching Alex climb up these shear walls really gives me the hebhejebbies. One slip and he will have plenty of time to consider his landing! This guy is really pushing the limits of climbing and this feat is probably the most impressive feat of rock climbing since Lynn Hill free climbed The Nose of El Capitan.

Follow this link for a sneaky preview!

Monday, 22 March 2010


I'm just back from a week of fantastic skiing in the Three Valleys with Yorsten Lodge School. My Mum is a teacher at the school and for the past 2 years Jen and myself have joined the trip as extra staff members. Snow conditions were really good at the start of the week although it all got a bit slushy on Friday and Saturday. I've been really inspired by the off piste skiing we did and I'm going to have to start doing some ski mountaineering soon.

Showing Off!

Jen and David off-piste

About to descend to Courcheval

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Somme - best day of the winter yet?

The Somme is one of those routes with a bit of a reputation! So when friends Jamie and Jamie suggested getting on it I thought OK - but your lead guys! We walked in early to find great conditions and amazing weather. I fired off the first ice pitch a gentle grade 3 and a good warm up for what was to come. The Jamies had a hard pitch each - the first of these was steep and technical using a variety of techniques on ice, turf and rock. The second gives the meat of the route - 40 m of sustained but steady thin ice which is very bold - I was nervous just watching Jamie climb it. He definitely deserved his beer that evening. It was a good route to break in my new Black Diamond Cyborg crampons on! Topping out we were greeted with warm sunshine and amazing views across North Wales and beyond. We really have been spoiled this winter... lets hope next year is just as good.

Rory on the initial grade 3 ice pitch

Jamie high on the bold 3rd pitch - amazing ice but scarily bold!

Fully psyched after seconding the 3rd pitch

The Glyders and Snowdon from the top

Walking off over Carnedd Dafydd