Sunday, 24 February 2013

Alpine day on the Eagach

Yesterday Dan and I headed up north to climb the classic Aonach Eagach ridge which has been on our wish list for some time now, and what a perfect day to do it! The weather got better and better and resulted by noon in a stellar day!
With the recent stable weather of the past week I knew the ridge would be in good condition and should go for us without any issues. The ridge from Am Bodach onwards still has a cover of snow, mostly continous, which is pretty much all neve now, the pinnicles and rock are bare of any snow and are dry, which left the ridge in the simplest of winter conditions.
We arrived at the parking spot and set of at 7.40am. There was already two cars in the parking area so we knew there was more than likely teams ahead of us. After slogging up the steep slopes of Am Bodach to its summit, we geared up and got the rope out. Having not done the route before we thought it was probably best to do so, so we decided we would approach the route alpine style and move together.
We down climbed the first awkward section descending Am Bodach and we were soon on with the route. Having managed to get passed a team who were moving verrryyy slow we arrived at the summit of Meall derg.
After Meall derg the route starts to get really interesting with lots of small sections of climbing/ down climbing and it was here we passed a second team who weren't moving to quickly either.

 
 
We then tackled the pinnacles which were good fun, we again moved together over them as we didn't need to pitch or abseil anything today.
More small sections of climbing and down climbing followed, the ridge here gets fairly narrow in places and is also quite exposed.

 
 
The remainder of the ridge is straight forward, a nice plod. We reached Stob coire Leith and then up the final rise to the summit of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh.
We opted to see the ridge out to its end and descend the col just before the Pap of Glencoe instead of making a shorter descent directly south of the summit before the Clachaig gully as some teams do.
By the end of the ridge we couldn't see any of the other slower parties behind us along the ridge, just a lone soloist who must have also passed them.
Speed is defiantly of the essence on this route to avoid a big day or possibly benightment, and also alpine experience goes a long way as teams were putting in pitches which is very slow going.
We did the route road to road in 5.50 hours, (this could be shortened by taking the shorter descent although it is advised to descend the col).
We then had the 6km walk back to retrieve the car, although once we reached the Clachaig Inn, Dan took one for the team and left me in the pub, (and a couple of pints) with the packs whilst he jogged back for the car!
Clachaig to the Aonach Eagach parking spot up the A82 jogging and drove back in 50 mins.......
In BIG BOOTS!!!
Fair to say, I bought him his dinner!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Y Garn East Ridge

I made the most of another rare free day today, got up and out early and headed over to the hills to see what I could get done.
No snow (just yet!), means no winter climbing, damp icy rock means suicidal  rock climbing, and rolling solo meant nothing to spicy, and wanting a bit more excitement than a long plod, lead to a grade 1/2 scramble seeming the way forward.
A flick through the guide book left me with a few options, I decided on the East Ridge of Y Garn as a suitable objective. The route description sounded great, and I like it when I see the combination of a 2* route and 'often overlooked'!
The route also sounded 'soloable' for me and also escapable for  the majority, which again made a good objective. I decided to link this ridge with summiting Y Garn, and then continuing on the high level route over new ground for me and bagging Foel Goch, Mynydd Prefedd and  Carnedd y Filiast.
I had never really paid much attention to the northen, less fashionable end of the Glyderau, but how naive could I be!

I made an early start from Ogwen cottage, leaving the car at 7:45am, I soon was over the styal's and at the base of the East Ridge. The first section of the ridge has some good scrambling, but its quite broken with heather. I soon made progress and gained height and as I witnessed a glorious sunrise I was a good 1/3rd of the way up.

 
 
The difficulties of the route and the best climbing are contained in the upper half of the ridge. When the ridge loses its identity, you trend up and left to a large triangular shaped buttress. Here I guess you can make the route more difficult with a direct approach, I went with the guide book and approached from the left. A groove is climbed which suddenly leads to an airy crest, a few steps over a knife edge ridge and a massively exposed step around a corner and your onto the final climbing up some large blocks which looked very intimidating on first glance, fortunately, when as normal your get up to the rock, a line of weakness became apparent.

From here i was soon at the summit of Y Garn, a quick coffee whilst enjoying the clear views across Snowdonia and Anglesey, then back on my way heading up the ridge to Foel Goch. After summiting Foel Goch, I headed down the scree and back up to the summit of Mynydd Perfedd. A final plod brought me to the rocky summit of Carnedd y Filiast.

 
 

I descended north from Carnedd y Filiast, down what can only be described as a bog riddled nightmare, down to the old Ogwen road. An hour later after running out of sweets to chew on the road that seemed to go on forever, I returned back to Ogwen cottage and back to my car.
I really enjoyed the day, the route was good quality, the walking was pleasant and the solitude was amazing, (only passed 2 people on my descent all day).
From leaving the car to returning took me approx 4 1/2 hours, which makes a fantastic short day!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Llandegla

Yesterday Dan and I made the most of the early morning sunshine and had a quick blast around the Llandegla black and red runs.
Its the first time we have been to Llandegla in a while, so we got to try out the new sections of trail which opened in the winter.
The new sections were brilliant, especially the, 'Golden Trail', which broke up the tame plod back to the trail centre. The extra trails also now add some seriously steep uphill near to the end of the red trail which wasnt really welcomed, but the circuit as a whole is now brilliant, that be the red or black runs.
   
                                               The new Golden Trail section rode by The1BigH

Monday, 16 July 2012

Grooved Arete

With yesterday's promising forecast and a seldom free day, I decided to get out and get on the classic 3 star Grooved Arete up on Tryfan's east face.
We have wanted to climb GA for some time now, but as you would expect, each and every time we have headed up, the route has been busy, and with Dans patience, well........... we have never had the pleasure.
I was joined by my usual sidekick in Dan, and also a good friend, Liam, who has recently tried his hand at some bouldering.
We all made the plod up to the Heather Terrace, but on arrival at GA it was obvious that again, the route was taken. This time though we stuck it out. We would be climbing as a 3 for a start, also, this is what we came here to do, and do it we would!!
With the team above finishing the second pitch, Dan took the sharp end and started up the 1st pitch.
He was soon bringing Liam and I up, and instantly the route was interesting. The thrutchy awkward moves up the unhelpfully sized crack weren't textbook to say the least, but in no time at all we joined Dan at the belay.
Pith 2 was my lead, some straight forward climbing really, I overshot the belay though, and made my belay a little further on. Again Dan and Liam were soon with me, and we were making good progress.
With me overshooting the second belay, Dan's third pitch was cut a little short. Only a few metres of climbing then a walk over to the next belay. By this point we had merged two pitches into one, so our next pitch, (our 4th) was the 5th in the guide.
The 4th pitch was my lead, and what a fantastic pitch it is. A rib is climbed on the right up to a groove. This is climbed using a rib on the right, brilliant climbing all the way, then a precarious move is needed to step to the adjacent rib on the left of the groove. This was the most difficult move so far and could well be the crux.
Dan had the famous Knights slab pitch which didn't take him long. The Knights slab is brilliant. Holds everywhere you need one, and the climbing flows beautifully. The move of the slab in the top right corner and around the arete is the other stand out difficult move on the climb. Dan brought us up,  and after a brief moment, Liam was round the arete and at the belay. I followed and by this point we were moving well.
The last 2 pitches I again led together, and again were excellent. The steep wall with tons of holds made a great end to the route.
From here we made our way to the summit as the sky was clear and the views were stunning, a few moments up on the top and it was time to make the long plod back.
I thought the grade to be HVD/S, and a VDiff leader I think may struggle with the two more difficult sections.
So, for me, the route is the best I have climbed on the east face so far. Good holds, apart from 1 or 2 loose flakes, good protection and enough of it, great exposure on the top pitches and the climbing is rarely broken. A seriously awesome route!


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Back on the Ben

Yesterday, for the first time in 3 years, I got a climb in on the Ben.
The previous 2 winter seasons I have been sidelined with my ongoing foot injury, and the other year I didn't climb up there was due to the superb Welsh winter, no need for the 11hr round trip!

Anyway, I teamed up with Dan as usual, and we opted to climb, 'Good Friday Climb', dependant on the condition of Observatory gully.  On arrival at the base of OG a few teams were already heading up and a nice track was in place. The snow was fairly deep, but not so much slab. The only slab we encountered was on the traverse in to Indicator wall from OG where care needed to be taken.
With a good forecast it was obviously busy, and teams were also on, Indicator wall, Smiths route, Tower Scoop, Point 5, Tower ridge, Ledge route and the Castle gully's, with plenty heading up into the Cieste as we passed.

We got 4 pitches out of Good Friday, but protection was incredibly sparse. The gear placements were hard to find under powder, and also well chocked with ice, think 6 or 7 pieces went in on the whole route, with a couple of 25-30m run-out's!
The 1st pitch was deep powder for the 1st 20m or so, then fairly good neve, upto a good ice screw belay on the right just beneath the vertical wall.
The 2nd pitch was the crux, which had a couple of pieces of gear, but the ice was poor to pull over the crux ice step. This led to a belay on the left.
The 3rd pitch was very run out. 1 runner in a 45m pitch! And the final short pitch was straight forward over a small cornice.

    Dan enjoying seconding the 1st pitch





A good day out, and good to be swinging the axes once more!!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Amphitheatre Buttress.

Well, today we had plans of finally getting on the uber classic Amphitheatre Buttress on Craig Yr Ysfa.
This was very nearly scuppered by firstly taking the wrong turn in Tal-Y-Bont, costing us quite some time,  and then finding a bat in the middle of the road, (not the wooden piece of sports equipment bat!). Our furry friend unfortunately only had one wing for some reason, but we moved him of the road anyway, and took a couple of snaps!
Once we finally reached the parking spot, time was pressing on. We knew we had a big walk in, and the route itself is probably the longest route in Wales, (excluding girdles!) at 960ft, and then obviously we had to get back out.
On researching the route it became apparent that some parties have really struggled on AB before, and times of 8 and 9 hours to climb the route were popping up, even if it is only VDiff.
We reckoned we could still do it in a reasonable time, so we pressed on with the long slog towards the crag. On arrival and to my dismay, nobody was on the route! Even in the remote setting with the tedious approach, I would have bet my life someone would have beat us to it in today's sunshine.
Looking up at the first couple of pitches, Dan and I opted to simul-climb until we came to any difficulties where we may have wanted a belay.
I took the sharp end and set of up the initial slabs and continued for a couple of pitches. I found a couple of interesting moves in these pitches, so for any readers, don't let them put you off!
 Dan then led the pitches on the main pocketed slabs, which was brilliant climbing with fantastic exposure. I then switched and led the next couple of pitched which involved the un-noticeable crux. The moves lower down and the slabs Dan led all felt harder than this!
The route then becomes more of a easy scramble for the next couple of pitches until you hit the pinnacles on the knife edge ridge. We easily moved over these, and up to the final corner. This finishes the route of very well and again gives some interesting climbing.


Dan leading up the exposed slabs


The climb itself took us approx 1 1/2 hours, we obviously saved time by simul climbing and moving together. We were followed up by a team of 3 who seemed to be doing a lot of pitching, they hadnt moved too far by the time we had descended and got on with the walk out. This is where the times of 8 or 9 hours could happen if your all not moving quickly, don't forget, the guide book describes this as 9 pitches!
A quick sort out of the rack and rope and we were on our way back, looking for the path that drops back down to the way we walked in, at this point I wish we would have parked on the A5 and come up the tarmac road! We even chatted that you could easily cycle up there!
The slog out was hard, and from the top of the route back to the car park only took us another 1 1/2 hours, so we made up good time all in all.


                                         Dan doing a proper, 'aux cheval' on the pinnacle


To summarise, in my opinion, the route itself is very good, not excellent. The reason being, is that the climbing is far from sustained, and very broken at mid height. For me, this detracts from the quality of the route as a whole.
Saying that, the climbing itself is fantastic, very exposed pitches, which could feel serious to a VDiff leader, simply due to the setting and remoteness. Protection is pleantiful as expected and the holds are everywhere you would like one to be and the scenery is stunning, take a camera!
If you plan on pitching the whole route, do allow a FULL day, and although we didn't do the A5 approach, I would think its much better. The crag is much further than it initially looks when coming from the Tal-Y Bont approach.
                                         

Sunday, 10 July 2011

First climb in 12 months...

Well, as the title suggests, today I donned the rock shoes and got back in the groove..... 12 months on after breaking my foot in Chamonix!
I met up with Dan early this morning, and we headed over to Ogwen. Obviously we chose a reasonable objective with which to try out my mending foot and also to get my head back in gear.
We decided on ambling up to Tryfan's East Face, and seeing what was what. On arriving a team was gearing up at the base of Grooved Arete, im not one for queue's so we walked further up. Pinnacle rib was next up, done that, so we opted for Gashed Crag. I knew it was a bit of a classic, but have never really payed much attention to this one, but the guide book description sounded pretty good so it was game on!

I got us underway on the 1st pitch, 10ft up and the rain starts, typical! Fortunately this passed and it was only the 1st pitch that was climbed in the rain. The rock in places was damp, but overall the whole route was in good condition.
The route get's going after the 1st pitch really, and it gives some really nice climbing. The chimney pitch after the 'Gash' is interesting, and going against what the guidebook says, Dan dispatched this in fine style, complete with rucksack too! This I thought was the crux of the route, and also unprotectable until after the difficulties.
A pitch or two later leads up onto the ridge, which gives 2 pitches of really pleasant, flowing climbing, with bags of scope for protection.
The ridge leads to the final chimney and groove, which is really the only other difficulty of the route. This again is really good climbing involving some nice thrutchy moves!
To summarise the route, it gives nice climbing and longish pitches in some exposed situations. The moves flow, protection on the whole is plentiful, apart from the 1st chimney and the route does have a fair bit of polish. The 2 chimneys are not that straightforward, and I would agree as other's seem to suggest, that the route is under graded at VD.



                                                    Heading up the final pitch of Gashed Crag


Dan bridging on Gashed Crag



Relaxing at the belay


Dan high up on Tryfan's East Face