Wednesday, 21 December 2011

First Rotue of the Season?

So, It might not be icy as such yet, but there's certainly been a lot of snow about, and it seems Up and Under's Andy Foster has been out new routing - completing an alternative finish to a current line on pen-y-fan that he's had his eye on for two years. Fantastic work!

2 Years after first spotting the line it is done. Have just got back from putting up a new route on the North Face of Pen Y Fan

Whilst Down Under V, 6
Climb Near Right Gully (II) up to the head wall. Instead of traversing to the left to climb up the frozen turf position your self under the furthest most rock buttress on the head wall. There is a big shield of rock (get a rope tread behind this f...or the belay) then climb with difficulty up the off width crack to a small over hang. Get good axe placements and swing round on to the blank shield (really small edges for crampons). Place a crucial No 1 wire then go for the top via some dice hook and turf placements.
Done 20/12/11 Andrew Foster and Micheal Napier

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Chilly things!

So apparently, there's some snow in the Brecon Beacons. I wouldn't know for sure as I haven't been there yet. But last night I fell over in the car park during an unrelaxing visit to a relaxing spa hotel up Caerphilly way- I put it down to there being ice on the pavement.

This to me seems a good counterpart to the bucket-of-water-outside-the-back-door test. The test results showed positive. The resulting conclusion - it's probably been chilly up high in the mountains. Although don't get too excited, it has almost certainly not been chilly enough for long enough for anything to form.

That said, I saw a pretty photograph of Hirwaun this morning and it certainly looks snowy up that way. Perhaps a nice walk in the snow would be in order tomorrow?

I'm on my way to North Wales tomorrow evening so I'll poke my head out the window on the way past pen - y - fan and let you know if my eyelids freeze instantly shut.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

NB - Depression

Just a warning, I've just realised by this time last year that we'd already had a good session or two on Torpantau and RAC and the like, so if you don't want to get depressed thinking what could have been, stick to this years posts.

New season, New routes, New attack plan, New guide.

So with the first smatterings of powder gracing the hills of North Wales this past week, I thought it was about time to rekindle things down this way with a fabulously speculative and entirely unfounded amount of excitement about winter conditions in South Wales.

The last 3 years have seen some incredible winter conditions up in the valleys and mountains of South Wales and there is no doubt that this is an exceptional occurance, however we can but live in optimism of such fantastic conditions prevailing again this year.

Over the past few years many old routes have been re-opened, as it were, and seen an awful lot of little publicised ascents such as Virgin Falls and some of the tougher, thinner lines at Craig-Y-Llyn. However the question remains - what is left. Undoubtedly the numerous mountainsides of the south wales valleys hold a huge number of waterfalls, all of which, given the correct conditions, have the chance to freeze up and provide some fantastic sport. So for me, something big this year is exploration and watching, I'm very keen to see if now that the established winter classics such a torpantau and central gully on Pen Y Fan have been reborn, whether the collective mass of adventurous winter enthusiasts can come up with anything new.
What's out there waiting to be discovered..?

The new guide for South Wales is now also in much awaited production with the finishing touches being added. If anyone has any photos they think might be useful please get in touch with Steven Delaney at SWMC. Isn't that exciting - some new guidebook porn to drool over on those pointlessly wet and slightly too warm winter days in the office - staring out of the window and becoming increasingly impressed that the only white stuff in sight are the clouds - and they're more of a manky grey anyway. I digress. Guidebook - Woooop!

Fantastic conditions is of course, a subjective term. Those of you who live in Cardiff will be well aware that the population en-masse appear to be entirely incompetant at driving when it comes to dry and warm conditions, and from previous experience, 3 mm of snow on the road means all but the climbers amongst us seem to go skidding and sliding about everywhere - what is it that people don't understand about high gears and the fact that simply stamping on the accelerator to get yourself out of a slippy spot just won't work. That said, those of us capable of leaving the confines of our cul-de-sac or navigating the precarious winter hazard that is Cathays Crossroads (M8?) are bound to find more challenging conditions further up in the hills - particularly the notoriously impassable road to Torpantau (see my previous blog post about the time I nearly ended up upside down in a ditch in a landrover at 2 in the morning having failed to reach the car park - fun was had by all). It is for this reason that this year I am prepared for a fight. New winter tyres on a new car, with a set of snow chains in the boot for emergencys and my avi shovel to save myself from spending 2 hours chipping away at the pack ice with my adze... aint nothin' gonna stop me hitting the ice.

Bring it, winter.