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Winter 08/09Dec 3rd. Cwm Cneifion. Clogwyn Du. Pillar Chimney Variation.
Climbed this today with Ivan. Quality route! Great conditions up there, check out the photos in the gallery. Lots of rime and snow on the rock, turf nicely frozen and some good ice in the top of 'Clogwyn Left Hand' which we traversed into and finished up on the 3rd pitch. The variation 2nd pitch around the front of the pillar is pretty cool with a well protected tricky crux on the slab, tech 5 I reckon but what do I know. I'ld say in current conditions the route is IV 5.
The top gully pitch (not the chimney) of 'Clogwyn Left Hand' looked stella, a party was on it today. Bottom pitch(s) reported to be a bit bare.
Dec 5th. Cwm Cneifion. Hidden Gully.
Much warmer than wednesday, +3 in the ogwen parking lot at 7.30am. Snow line has risen to 5 - 600 metres. Lots of snow up in cwm cneifion - boot top pen in the bottom cwm and shin to knee deep post-holing in the upper cwm. Starting to consolodate from the powder of the previous week, if temps drop again as forecast it'll be bomber. Plan was Clogwyn Left Hand but once we got to the upper cwm it was obvious any turf wouldn't have been frozen so we went up a very banked out Hidden Gully (II). No sign of the chockstones mentioned in the guide, it's in grade I/II condition and the rest of the grade I stuff on the back wall of the cwm is well filled, would make a good day out for those so inclined. Had to battle against the strong wind/spindrift to get into the top of Easy Gully to descend, pretty wild up there today.
Caught a glimpse of Clogwyn Du on the way out and it looks like the ice behind the pillar has really fattened up since wednesday. Not much rime on the bottom half of the cliff but the top is still rimed. Clogwyn Left Hand also looking really good now, didn't look into the bottom gully though. If the freeze thaw keeps on at this rate these two routes are going to be FAT early next week. Check out the pics in the gallery.
Dec 7th. Cwm Cneifion. Clogwyn Central.
Back up to the Cwm today with Jamie. Hard freeze at all levels last night, Llyn Idwal semi frozen and rock hard turf on the walk in. Inversion higher up and quite warm in the cwm however. The snow is now bomber neve yeah! We started up Clogwyn LH but the warm temps have wreaked havoc on the icefall. Didn't fancy the dry variation because it still needs ice at the top, so I went up the right hand groove which links into Clogwyn RH. This is a really good pitch with fun moves, average gear in the condition I got it (quite a bit of snow and ice in the cracks). Once in Clogwyn RH we traversed the obvious small ledge (exposed but gear) back left across the top of the icefall and into Cloggy LH. I think this line is worthy and usefull for when the ice is a no go on the Left Hand. Called it Cloggy Central for the topo because it deserves a description. The first pitch is the one described in the book as making a 'hard step right at six metres', I thought V/VI 6 for the grade.
Loads of people in the cwm with multiple parties on tower gully, tower slabs, corner gully, easy route, and hidden gully. One party on Pillar Chimney Variation and one on Clogwyn Right Hand, phew!.
Saturday Dec 6th Cwm Cneifion.
Did Hidden Gully (2) solo on sugary snow then descended down Easy Gully (1). Then did Nameless Face (2-3) on good ice and descended Nameless Gully (1) before the mad dash down the mountain slipping on verglas rock back to Ogwen for dinner.
Sunday Dec 7th Cwm Cneifion.
Did Tower Slabs (3) on great ice and neve then walked over Glyder Fawr and down the Devils Kitchen. While walking out, we had a surreal moment. Jennie clocked a collie dog 'topping out' Easy gully. As we looked at each other the owner followed up a bit puffed with trekking poles and crampons aboot. You can imagine our thoughts; the owner was trying to get his dog back while the dog though was a new fun game climbing the steeping slope on hard snow....brilliant.
Wednesday Dec 10th. Cwm Cneifion.
Clogwyn Right Hand (3) Climbed this today and ran it out in 2 pitches, 1st pitch to the cave, 2nd pitch to 20ft below the easy ground at the top.
The turf was not frozen on the 1st pitch and snow conditions were not great with a mix between hollow sugar snow and slightly better 'soft neve', climbing was 'runout' and sketchy at the 'steps area', I would say the 1st pitch was pushing in to grade 4.
After the cave belay things got a lot better, with more consistent snow, frozen turf and some bomber neve thrown in. There is better gear in the gully proper with a good Camelot 5 placement on the right. The crux ice step was good, although it was starting to melt somewhat! making you pay a little more attention to how much weight you put on the ice on the left :) got a solid screw placed just below the step in a bomber section of water ice.
All in all a great route.
Dec 10th Cwm Cneifion. El Mancho.
Not quite as cold as the forecast was suggesting today but still good conditions in the cwm. Climbed El Mancho with Dave and Jamie, in tricky conditions - thick rime, verglassed cracks and quite a bit of snow made finding gear hard work but the turf was good. On topping out I think we were all in agreement with previous parties who reported this to be one of the best mixed route they've ever been on.
It's worth noting that some of the easier angled stuff may have more of an insulating layer of snow over the turf preventing it from freezing.
Quite a few parties out on various routes, most stuff looks to be in good condition. The Pillar Chimney Ice Pitch awaits a brave winter warrior.
Tomorrow's now looking like another good day for climbing.
December 15th Cwm Cneifion. Clogwyn Left Branch
It was a lot warmer in the Cwm today but the ice pitch on Clogwyn Left Branch looked very inviting so me and Pete headed up for a look, some nice mixed moves up to the start of the ice pitch, I was enjoying myself, but then it all went wrong! I ended up in a safe stance realy wanting to commit to the hollow falling down ice, but it was like hitting a cardboard box, all hollow and insecure, in the end after faffing around trying to find some good gear above me I backed off and made one tricky move to my last sling runner and Pete lowered me back down.
We swapped over and Pete had a look, managing to get right up to the start of the corner where he found soft turf and univiting ice and decided it wasn't worth the risk.
There was also a pair on El Mancho - Ian and Matt,we watched them for a while before heading back down to the warmth of the Caban and a bottle of beer and slice of cake.
The forecast isn't to good for the next couple of weeks, with warm and wet weather and the freezing level up around the tops.
January 6th 2009. Cyrn Las area. New route 'Back in Black' on Equator Walls.
Megan and I planned to take a look at Blenderhead thinking that the buttress may have been rimed after a weak front came through. Walked up to Llyn Ogwen and it was obvious from here that Clogwyn Du wasn't rimed up so we headed back to the car. Had some quizzical looks from a climber asking us if we'd been climbing the ice routes in the kitchen when we told him we were'nt looking at the ice routes.
So we drove over to the pass and walked up to have a look at a line I'd been scoping last week. You can't see it with the naked eye but if you look through a pair of binos at equator walls it looks like there is a corner/chimney on the left of the smooth walls possibly containing ice. It was worth the walk up to see. We ended up climbing a superb thin ice and mixed route that takes an ice smear in the corner past some tricky mixed moves. With some consolidated snow the bottom pitches and the awkward top out on the last pitch would be easier but in the condition we had it the route felt hard and serious in places. Difficult to know what to grade a route like this because it's hard ice climbing as well as tricky mixed climbing. It felt harder than El Mancho which seems to be considered VII 7, and harder than the only other VII I've done in the uk. I don't really know, needs more people to climb it and give their opinion.
Lots of possibilities for linking ice pitches in the Cyrn Las / Cwm Glas area. Not many routes fully in but there's lots of individual pitches in fat condition. Face Route's main ice pitch is in good condition. The bottom pitch isn't there but it can be bypassed easily. I've put up some photos in the gallery.
Jan 10th 2009. Clogwyn Du. Blenderhead.
Headed up to a clag-filled Cwm Cneifion with Mark Richards (baggy). Finally got on Blenderhead after a few false starts earlier this winter. Intended on trying the direct start, i.e. the full Hebenwi route, but the bottom wasn't rimed enough to count in mine and baggy's eyes. So we did the original Blenderhead route which was rimed up. Baggy did the first pitch, I got the second pitch and was well pleased to hang in there for the onsight, it was much pumpier than it looked from the belay but very well protected, a good one for pushing the grade I reckon. Baggy led the last pitch - a real sting in the tail pitch up a steep chimney/bulge! A great way to see out the last of the winter conditions, for now.
Ice everywhere in the kitchen but thawing rapidly, will be gone by monday I expect.
Feb 5th 2009 Lower Cwm Glas
Face Route (IV) is in good condition; did it by torchlight/moonlight with Rob from Browns last night. Great plastic ice for the picks, with good foot ledges of sugary snow covered in a meringue crust made life easy. Perhaps a soft IV at the mo? Evidence of an earlier ascent visble in places. Quality ice screws up to full length too! Go do it!
Feb 4th '09. Llech Ddu
Mark and I climbed a few new routes and FWA's on the left-hand side of Llech Ddu. Lots of powder snow in gullies and on ledges, if it thawed and refroze it would make for great steep neve/mixed conditions. The turf is well frozen. The routes we did were the best we could make of conditions on the cliff. Plenty more potential new routes (10?) if it were to rime up properly. Black Ladders is plastered with snow, rime and some ice in places. Ice is visible in Water-Fall Gully area, not sure how fat it is. Upper slopes look loaded. Cornices visible in various spots. Craig Dafydd looked in brilliant fully-rimed up nick, we didn't fancy the slog up powder-covered scree however! Need more hill fitness.
Feb 6th '09. Devil's Kitchen.
Climbed South Gully with Jamie, it's in good nick, easy hooking the whole way on the left, right hand side looks good. Most routes in the kitchen look in and fat. Appendix is climbable but the start will get destroyed by someone if (when) it's mobbed, should fatten up a bit more if forecast is right. Cascade is in but will get fatter, Central Ice-Fall Direct is in to the top pitch, top pitch looks super sketchy, hopefully will form better if forecast is correct. Face route's in as Geoff mentioned. **** loads of ice routes to go at, someone should go check out if Trojan on Cader is formed.
Feb 7th '09 Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Went up to Cloggy yesterday (Saturday) with Chris Forrest but found Jubilee Climb occupied by a group that seemed to be in situ & Black Cleft yet to come into condition above the ice; i.e turf wasn't frozen yet. Ice on the crux pitch was thin but thick enough to climb...I'm assuming this bit as Jack Geldard, Ray & Streaky were ahead of us! Better luck next time.
Lots of good ice to the left below Boomerang but little else as yet.
Feb 7th '09 Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Went up to Cloggy and got on Jubilee climb (we were the group that were in situ). First pitch was a traverse on half frozen turf to the base of the main groove, this was easy but gear was sparse. Then had one very long pitch to the top of the main groove before the route traverse's left. We found this pitch very hard (hence the delay), Tom climbed to the bulge and thread then got lowered off, no 40ft fall i'm affraid as has been rumoured. Hamish then did very well to get up the groove to belay at the base of the traverse. The groove gave some very engaging and awkward climbing but with good gear, route was covered in soft snow and offered us alot of spindrift. Hard to belive that the route is V, but good none the less. Abseiled off from the top of the groove as darkness approached. Came across an incident on the walk out, eventually got back home at 10:30pm, a long old day.
Feb 9th '09 The Black Ladders
Walked up the Black Ladders and climbed Western Gully with Hamish. An awesome route with some good, honest physical climbing. Still getting to grips with these Welsh grades, but provided much interest. Included the direct finish with some a superb pitch of V ice. Soloed up to the start of the main gully proper and then roped up from there. Only one other team on the route, also got to watch Parnell on the Scot Report which look engaging to say the least.
February 10th '09. Black Ladders.
Dave Ev's and I climbed Western Gully with the direct pitch past the first cave - so missing out the traverse right and back in to the gully. A superb hardish pitch worth 3 stars alone, we both thought the direct pitch was modern tech 6 with average gear for the grade.That's the best mixed route I've done anywhere! Slab crux pitch we both reckoned well protected tech 7 (and a bit of a holiday after the direct pitch).
Awesome nick right now all over the ladders. Llech Ddu's black, Craig Daffydd's very white.
February 12th. Cader Idris, Cyfrwy
Trojan still in nick on Thursday morning. First pitch very delicate (just a couple of teeth of picks penetrating before hitting underlying rock) but ice good and it provided great, concentration-demanding climbing. Ice thicker above and fantastic exposure. A five star route if ever there was one - for both sustained interest, position and scenery. Looking over one's shoulder while traversing round the overhang and seeing the sands of the Mawddach seemingly a stone's throw away is probably a unique experience in British ice climbing - Welsh ice is just brilliant!
Feb 13th '09. Cadair.
Dave and I walked in to Trojan in the mist..........
It wasnt in. Argggggggghhhhhhh. Ice rotten and falling apart.
- Oh bugger - I feel guilty about posting that now. If it's any consolation (altho' I know it won't be) I've had three tries to get the route over the last seven years - most of them ending in the same way as yours, just too late, sometimes by a matter of hours. So the moral of the tale is - keep trying and you'll get there - hopefully! (Incidentally, was fascinated to see that Colonial Virgin was virtually complete yesterday - and would certainly have been climbable had we been braver. This is the only time I've seen this; It's not even in nick in the picture in Cold Climbs. So it's clearly an unusual winter - and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't get more suitable weather patterns before the end of the season - remmeber, the last time Trojan was probably in decent condit was during a mid-March spell of weather.
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