Friday, 29 April 2011

An Evening on Snowdon

I've just finished up the week with Worcester Uni on their Mountain Leader Training Course at Blue Peris Mountain Centre. Yesterday we walked over Yr Aran, looking at navigation on 1:50,000 scale maps, then dropped into Cwm Tregalan to set up camp. We chilled out for a few hours in the afternoon sun before heading up the Watkin Path to Snowdon. We summited at 8pm, cooked some dinner and watched the sun set over Anglesey. It was a little chilly up there due to the NE wind but it was well worth the effort. As darkness approached quickly we dropped back down to Bwlch y Saethau then spent a few hours perfect night navigation techniques.
This morning we walked out, enjoying yet another sunny spring day. I really can't believe the weather we are having!
Best of luck to all the team - I'll see you in a couple of years for assessment!

Looking North West from Snowdon Summit

The Team on Snowdon

Monday, 25 April 2011

Mountain Leader Training Course

For the past two days I have been working on a Mountain Leader Training course for Blue Peris Mountain Centre. Snowdonia is again treating us to amazing weather and it is a real joy to be working in the mountains with a great group of enthusiatic people. Today we scrambled up the North Ridge of Tryfan looking at managing a group up and down steep and rocky ground. Yesterday we headed into the Northern Carneddau to look and advanced navigation techniques.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Scrambling on Cneifion Arete


On the last day of their course with The Rock Climbing Company I took Jim and Andy up the Direct Start to Seniors Ridge then The classic grade 3 Scramble - Cneifion Arete. On the way up I introduced the boys to some more advanced rope work techniques and by the top they were choosing there own anchors, attaching themselves with clove hitches and using an Italian hitch to belay. Another great and sunny days in the mountains!!

Spring Rock Climbing in North Wales

Well Spring in North Wales is once again providing us with excellent rock climbing weather. It has been a little damp today but the past week has just been amazing with all us locals heading for the high crags and seeking the shade. Cloggy has seen plenty of action along with Dinas Mot and even Craig Ddu has been dry! I've managed to get in a few routes despite being busy with work. On Tuesday after a day of navigation training and a night navigation session Jim of V12 and myself managed to squeeze in a 2 pitch E3 on Carreg Wastad called Twisted Sister. I don't think it gets climbed a lot but is definitely worth doing despite the hardest moves being on the section it shares with a E2!??

Yesterday Jim and I headed into Cwm Idwal and stopped at Clogwyn y Tarw on our way up to Suicide Wall. I climbed the classic hand crack- Herfords Crack HVS - a route I've wanted to do for ages as I quite enjoy my jamming (easy jamming that is!). On Suicide wall I seconded Jim up Capital Punishment, an E3 which should really be E4 due to its bold and sustained nature. Jim held his nerve and I followed enjoying the amazing rock and the rope above my head! I then got on and enjoyed Route 2 - a fantastic E2.

The forecast is good for tomorrow and pretty good for the week so get to North Wales before the monsoon arrives!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Phew, what a scorcher!!

What an amazing spring we are having in North Wales!!! I have been working for the Rock Climbing Company for the past few days on a navigation and scrambling course. We have enjoyed amazing warm and sunny weather in the mountains and put in a good few miles! On Monday we hiked up Cnict and then on Tuesday up Yr Aran. We spent most of our time focusing on navigation skills needed to get off the beaten track. Today we scrambled up the Gribin Ridge on to Glyder Fawr looking at some basic ropework on the way.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Hillwalking and Navigation Course

On Monday I met up with client Richard who wanted a couple of days introduction to hillwalking in Snowdonia and navigation training. So on Monday morning we dragged ourselves out of Pete's Eats into the welsh rain and headed up on to Moel Elio. As we made the summit the skies cleared and we were treated to a fine and sunny afternoon. The bad weather in the morning was great for practicing walking on a bearing, every cloud has a silver lining....

Today we decided to focus a bit more on navigation techniques so we headed to the Northern Carneddau. Richard put into practice orientating the map, taking a description of the route, pacing and timing as we made our way over Moel Faban, Y Gyrn and round Moelwynnion. Its been a great couple of days and I wish Richard the best of luck with his various adventures (including travelling down the Congo!)

Richard on the Moel Elio Ridge

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Classic Mountain Walks in a Heatwave!!!

The past two days I have been working for Plas y Brenin on a guided classic walk weekend. The weather has just been amazing with wall to wall sunshine, high temps and sunburn all round! On Saturday we trekked up Moel Siabod, taking in a little easy scrambling as we went. Today we headed up Cnict fron Gelli Iago and apart from our time on the summit we hardly saw a soul. Bliss...

Cnict Summit

The South side of Moel Siabod

Scrambling up Moel Siabod's SE Ridge

Moel Siabod Summit

Monday, 4 April 2011

Rainy Day Rock Climbing Options in North Wales

Its grim here in Snowdonia today - gale force wind and rain... lets face it North Wales has a bit of a reputation for bad weather, and that reputation is not unfounded. However armed with a little bit of local knowledge and a dash of optimism it is often still possible to get out rock climbing when it looks like the day is a write off.
First off if you've come up to Snowdonia for a weekend or holiday its worth bringing climbing gear/hiking kit/biking gear/canoeing gear so you start off with a few options in the bag.
However if you are really keen to climb some rock the following ideas may help you out:

Find the Rain Shadow: North Wales is well known for its rain but there is often somewhere to climb dry rock - especially if you are prepared to drive a wee way. The mountains are always the wettest places so if the forecast is bad forget heading into the hills. The options are Tremadog, Anglesey, Llandudno and the Llyn Penisula.

Tremadog - This is the classic option for most people as there is a wide range of grades, great rock and a cafe at the base of the crag. It is home to famous routes such as Christmas Curry (S), One Step in the Clouds (VS) and Vector (E2). A lot of the routes dry pretty quickly although in summer the bottom pitches can hold dampness for awhile due to the surrounding jungle. There are actually a few routes that stay dry(ish) in the rain - Striptease and the first 2 pitches of Vector, Cream and Void.
Southwesterly frontal systems sometimes pass over the top of the crag before unleashing their rain on the mountains but probably best on a NW wind. Keep the faith on the drive down the Aber Glaslyn and don't give up until you round the 'magic corner'!
Check out this webcam in Porthmadog for current weather.

Climbing the Mich Finish to Christmas Curry

Anglesey - For most people this will mean Gogarth and Holyhead Mountain but also includes some sport climbing around Benllech. I often look out of my window across to Anglesey and see blue sky whilst there is cloud above Llanberis. If you get there and it still looks a bit dodgy you have the option of cragging on Holyhead Mountain rather than committing to a big sea cliff route. I also think Holyhead Mountain is an underrated crag and had lots of good routes across the grades.
Avoid Gogarth and Holyhead Mountain however if there is a strong westerly wind blowing at low levels - there is little shelter. Wen Zawn - home to A Dream of White Horses - is baltic when its windy!!. Its a great option in early spring as it tends to be a lot warmer than the mountains (provided that you are not in the wind). I have even climbed tops off in February on Castell Helen. Its especially good when there is a cold easterly wind blowing. One more tip - never rush in the morning to climb on Gogarth. Most of the crags face west and can be greasy before the sun comes on to them so have a lie in and a coffee at V12 before heading out!!
Check out the webcam at rhosneigr for latest conditions (though it is sometimes hard to tell).

Jen climbing Resolution Direct on Gogarth Main Cliff

Llandudno - Or more specifically the Ormes and crags around the A55. There will be a new guide for the Ormes coming out in the summer and the crags around Colwyn bay can be found in the A55 sport climbs guide book.
This is the most reliable area for good weather. Yesterday I drove out of Deiniolen in the rain - it was even raining in Llandudno but the the Great Orme was dry, bone dry. Pen Trwyn is the best spot to head for as it is very sheltered from strong westerly winds and gets a good dose of sun until 2pm. The problem here is that there is not much to go at below E1 or 6a and to get the best out of the sport climbing you need to climb 7a.
If you are after lower grade climbing then head to Castle Inn quarry and Penmaen head in Colwyn Bay.
Check out the webcam of the Great Orme before you go to check the weather.

Jim cranking out Mean Mother on Lower Pen Trwyn

The Llyn Penisula - The big finger that sticks out into the Irish sea often has weather that feels more like Devon than North Wales. There is excellent bouldering down at Porth Ysgo - perfect on a crisp winters day - and a fine selection of mega adventurous sea cliffs. An area for well seasoned and experienced climbers. It also has some great beaches!

Jen scuttling along the travers of Fascinating Witches at Craig Dorys

Rain Proof Rock!!
There are a few areas/routes where you can climb in the rain:

Tremadog: As mentioned above it is possible to climb the first couple of pitches on vector buttress provided its not too wild. This will involve abseiling off before the top. Striptease can all be climbed in the rain as it stays reasonable dry (it does seep though and is not very quick drying)
Carreg Hylldrem: There is good area here for bouldering, including a couple of micro routes that stay dry. The classic Hylldrem traverse (HVS) stays dry in the rain due to the massive over hangs above. The last pitch does get wet but it is possible to miss this out and abseil off.
Parisella's Cave: If your feeling strong and fancy some bouldering head to the Great Orme and Parisella's Cave which stays very dry. It does seep a bit after a few days of heavy rain.

If all the above fails then head to the Beacon Climbing Centre, drive to the limestone crags near Llangollen or put on your wet weather gear, big boots and climb the uber classic Lockwoods Chimney on (in) Clogwyn y Bustach. Check out an older Blog post for mosre information on this route.