The purpose of this blog is to report on winter climbing conditions in Snowdonia, to keep you lot who like nothing better than climbing ice, snow, frozen turf etc in ridiculously low temps informed!! As well as it being a record of some of my own winter climbing adventures. Feel free to email me any of your own conditions reports & photos you have & I will post them here. The more info on winter conditions the better! email:

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Y Garn

Going winter climbing has become a bit of a tradition on Christmas Eve the last few years, so despite the lack of winter conditions around at the moment I thought I would at least go for a walk this morning. There is still some snow high up, particulary on NE faces. I had a wander up to Cwm Clyd as this is where the most snow cover appeared to be to have a look if any of the easy gullies (A,B or C) were vaguely anything like in condition (I was 99% sure they wouldn't be) I did go up A Gully which was the only one which had snow cover (albiet a thin strip!) from bottom to top, but snow conditions were mainly crappy. Better from around 800m or so, but not worth it really. No crampons were worn & I used one axe as a walking aid before anyone moans at me about turf damage! :-)

So here's hoping the new year will bring some freezing weather & snow!
Have a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Y Gribin & Cwm Cneifion

Headed out early this morning down to Ogwen. When I pulled up in the car park at 6.30am it was 11 degrees which did not bode well. Really low cloud cover (from Ogwen cottage!) and drizzle. I headed up Y Gribin ridge with Holly the Collie, snow cover started from the 'football pitch' area but was wet & sporadic. I thought that higher up on the ridge the snow would be more consolidated but was wrong, snow was wet, turf was unfrozen & any ice whch had been forming was melting fast. Even on the Glyder Plateau the ground was saturated & very little snow.
Looks like winter has deserted us now here in N.Wales with no forecasts to suggest things will change anytime soon I'm afraid.

Pic 1: Clogwyn Du & Easy Gully area stripped bare
Pic 2: Tower Gully/slabs area same story
Pic 3: Holly the Collie at least had fun in the snow

To blog or not to blog...

....that has been the question for me the last couple of weeks.
And after several emails from winter enthusiasts requesting info on conditions & asking if I was going to blog, I have decided to blog!

So winter has kind of kicked off in the mountains of Snowdonia, then seems to be fizzling out again as I type. Last weekend saw lots of ascents of easy mixed routes/ridges etc & a few gullies being done, and a few hard 'itchy & scratchy' mixed lines. There is still a decent amount of snow around higher up, but its quite warm up there just now & a freeze is needed to consolidate but is not forecast unfortunately.

As usual keep your eye on the forecasts, MWIS, Met Office, etc & the conditions blogs like:

Mark 'Baggy' Richards
Rob Johnson MIC -
Huw Gilbert Mountaineering

Also this years Snowdonia Conditions thread on UKC is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

And if high grade 'itchy & scratchy' madness is your thing:
Dave Garry's blog
Greg Boswell's blog
plus many more along those lines if you dig around.

Please feel free to email me at any conditions reports you have (with pics if possible) & I promise to include them on this blog.


Right so its 4.42am and I have a free morning, so I'm off to do the 130 mile round trip down to Ogwen. Will post back on here tonight with conditions reports (read wet melting snow & no ice I suspect but hey ho)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Its getting closer folks, not long now. Talk on UKC is all about winter.
Watch this space.......

Saturday, 2 April 2011

See you next winter

I won't be posting again on here until next winter. I started this as a winter climbing blog & that is how I'm going to keep it.

Til Nov/Dec then.........

Monday, 28 March 2011

Still not climbing, but having a great 'summer' day in the mountains

I am still not able to climb due to a shoulder injury, but there is still plenty of great times to be had on foot in the mountains. Today Davey & I headed into the Carneddau for a mountain walk comprising of Pen yr Ole Wen 978 m (3,209 ft), Carnedd Daffyd 1,045 m (3,428 ft) and Carnedd Llewellyn 1,064 m (3,491 ft).
I was in shorts & t-shirt all day & managed to get sunburnt in MARCH!!
A thoroughly enjoyable day. Still can't wait to get climbing again though.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Walking in the Clwyds

I have a physio assessment on my constantly dislocating right shoulder this afternoon, but managed to grab a couple of hours walking up in the Clwyds this morning. Couldn't resist due to the gorgeous early spring weather we are having.
Right, off to the hospital now... see if they'll let me go climbing on Monday.

Monday, 21 March 2011

'Conquering Hero'

Today I have been out riding in the Llantysilio Mountains near Llangollen. I decided to do the 'Conquering Hero' ride as described in NE Wales Bikefax guidebook. The ride starts from the 14th century Welsh drover's watering hole 'The Sun Inn' and in part follows ancient drover's routes through the hills.
It is only 13.7km long but has a respectable height gain of over 600m. To be honest I found this route a real slog, one of those rides which only ever seems to go uphill and never down! Personally I think it would be better done in reverse.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Mountain bike heaven

Back biking on the Clwydian range today (friday). A stunning spring day & 23km covered on dryish singletrack & fireroads.
Time to venture a bit further afield next week methinks though.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Beast of Cilcain

Todays plan was to head down to the Berwyn Mountains with the bike to do longer variation of 'The Wayfarer' route. However having had a heavy cold for the last few days I decided against the 40km+ & approx 1200om height gain of that plan, and instead chucked the bike on the car & headed towards the Clwyds to do a quick lap of 'The Beast of Cilcain' which is a great fun blast. Today it was very very muddy which resulted in me having an 'over the bars' experience near the stream crossing! Doh.

Monday, 14 March 2011

MTBing in the Moel Famau area

Today (Mon) I had a good couple of hours riding on & around Moel Famau. It felt good to be back on the singletrack up there which I know very well. The problem with the Clwydian Range & Moel Famau in particular is legal access to riding. Many of the footpaths & tracks are designated no go areas for MTBs, and in a lot of instances that makes sense. However with a bit of discretion & knowledge of the local hills there is plenty of fun to be had. All legally of course! ;-)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Still nothing wintery going on in Snowdonia. There is a small amount of snow forecast over the weekend along with some very low temps on high ground, but nothing to get too excited about.
Due to a shoulder injury I am just concentrating on MTBing & some mountain walking for the time being, in the hope that my shoulder will improve enough for a trip to Scotland in April for some winter climbing.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Scrambling on Tryfan & Tryfan Fach

Yesterday (friday) I was out on the North Ridge of Tryfan scrambling in the cloud! The great thing about this route is you can pick your lines anywhere between scrambling grades 1-3 which I did. Over the years I must have been up here 25 plus times & never once done it by the same route. Always good fun. It was pretty claggy today & the cloud base was around the 500-600m mark. Sporadic snow cover from around 800m but not neve, just soft melting stuff. No ice anywhere to be seen. Only came across 2 other people on the whole mountain which is very rare for Tryfan.
On the way back to the car I stopped to solo a couple of routes on Tryfan Fach which is always fun in big muddy boots!

Winter proper is still unfortunately eluding us here in N.Wales.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Stunning weather on the Carneddau

Today was a stunning day on the Carneddau. I got some fantastic photos and had a good few hours walking in the mountains & practising navigation.
Conditions were really beautiful. Ground is only frozen on the summits.
There are still no winter climbing routes anywhere near in condition.
Pic 1: Stunning views looking SW from Pen Yr Ole Wen summit
Pic 2: Black Ladders not in condition

Saturday, 29 January 2011

James Kelly reports on Idwal - Sun 29th Jan

Had the following email from James late this afternoon:

Hi Andy,
We (James and Andy) decided to head up to idwal stream today after yesterdays report of Ice on the route, got on the route at 7.30am conditions climable although not a lot of opportunity to place ice screws.

Another 3 teams on the route behind us, the whole route could do with a bit more of a freeze which should happen over the next few days.

1 team of 3 on the ramp again looked a bit thin but claimable, Bottom of South Gully looks claimable again second pitch looks very thin hope this helps anyone heading to the area.

James Kelly

Friday, 28 January 2011

Idwal Stream & Oblique Gully plus general conditions report

Having (obsessively) watched the forecasts for the last few days I decided that today might be a good day to head out & see what was frozen. My initial objectives for the day were 2 gully lines high on Glyder Fawr: High Pasture & Oblique Gully.
I had hoped that Introductory Gully up the right hand side of Idwal Slabs might be in condition, but it wasn't. However the closer I got to Idwal Stream the more climbeable it looked. And on close inspection it certainly was good to go. Plenty of fat ice, although tonnes of water also. I climbed the first 3 or so pitches until it levels out a bit. Well worthwhile & I imagine it will see plenty of ascents this weekend, although wether it will take decent ice screw placements is debateable!
I then traversed across left onto the flanks of Glyder Fawr to have a look at High Pasture. The turf on High Pasture was certainly rock hard, but the lack of any snow or ice whatsoever did not inspire me & I decided not to bother. Also from this point on the crag I could see some tempting looking ice over to the left in Oblique Gully, so that is where I headed. Now the new guidebook gives Oblique Gully a grade of II 2/3 although a sentence in the intro to Glyder Fawr does say something like 'grades could be higher in lean conditions'. Well never a truer sentence was written as it turns out!
Today Oblique Gully was a mix of ice smeared rock, rock hard turf & vegetation, and bare rock. I encountered the first major obstacle early on, it was a 9 foot high cave with blank ice smeared walls on either side. In fatter conditions this must bank out with snow, and the ice must fatten up to enable climbing, but in todays conditions it would have been more like grade V/VI terrain and I refrained. The only way up was to step out left, onto the exposed buttress which is made up of ice smeared slabe & frozen turf. In my estimation this went at around III/IV. Once back in the gully (which was no mean feat!) it was back to approx grade III terrain. Now the new guide says that when the gully splite into two, it is best to take the right hand option, which takes you up to a chimney which is 'sporty' in lean conditions. This was true. It certainly was sporty! In todays conditions I would certainly have to put Oblique Gully at the upper end of grade III, & more realistically III/IV. DO NOT GO THERE IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A GRADE II ROUTE AT THE MOMENT!

From what I saw today although the other Idwal ice routes are starting to form none looked complete. Also looking accross to Y Garn, there are no complete gully lines in any way, just a dusting of fresh snow. Also Cwm Cneifion is much the same story with Easy Route on the headwall (& possibly Corner Gully I/II) being the only snow lines. Tower Slabs has not formed.
Pic 1: Idwal this morning
Pic 2: A pretty bare Y Garn
Pic 3: An enticing looking Idwal Stream
Pic 4: Idwal Stream 1st pitch
Pic 5: Idwal Stream 2nd pitch
Pic 6: Idwal Stream 3rd pitch
Pic 7: Base of Oblique Gully
Pic 8: The 'impassable cave'!
Pic 9: Higher up in the gully
Pic 10: A bare looking Cwm Cneifion

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cwm Glas gullies & Trinity Face

I have had quite a few emails in the last week & noticed a few questions on UKC regarding any snow which may be left in the higher gullies. So today I decided to head down the A55 and have a wee look. The forecast for the day according to MWIS, MetOffice, & MetCheck ALL stated very clearly that today would be a day with fantastic visibility, 90% chance of cloud free summits, sunny & clear skies. That sounded too good to miss, so off I went heading up Cwm Glas Ridge which leads right to the summit of Carnedd Ugain. My plan was to get some great photos of Cwm Glas area gullies & the Trinity Face to see how much if any snow was left in the popular gully climbs. BUT as you will see from the pics below this was not to be, due to thick cloud cover from around the 700m mark. So absolutely no stunning views as promised! However I can report that the ground is frozen solid from around the 800-850 mark, but the gullies are stripped clean. From the top of Cwm Glas Ridge I could see (now & again when vis was more than 10m!!) that all snow is gone from Cwm Glas, with only the odd patch left where cornices have been at the top of Parsley Fern & adjacent gullies. Nothing else. It is all gone. There was no snow at all on top of Carnedd Ugain, but it was very cold with rock hard ground. As far as the Trinity Face goes, again I couldn't get a photo of any use (see below), but the same story seemed to be true from the odd bit I could make out.
So all round bad news regarding any hopes you may have had of the nest few cold days refreezing remaing snow, as it has all gone. It is going to take a big dump of snow & a freeze/thaw cycle, which unfortunately is not forecast for at least the next week or so.
Pic 1: A great view of Cwm Glas (!!)
Pic 2: Another great viw, this time of the Trinity Face (!!)
Pic 3: Summit Carnedd Ugain

Saturday, 15 January 2011

No news for you

Sorry all, but no news whatsoever for you at the moment due to the fact that nobody including myself is going out. It has rained most of the week here in N.Wales with warm temps of up to 12c. No real cold weather or snow forecast for the next few days from what I can see. Possibility of -1 to -3 high up from monday night for a couple of days, but its not looking good.
The only consolation is that Scotland is crap at the moment too, so no need to be jealous!
I will be out climbing in Snowdonia on monday & will post on here what I find regarding remaining snow in gullies etc.. but don't hold your breath for good news.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Another big thaw?

Looks like we have another big thaw in progress in the mountains. Temps are above freezing high up & forecast to stay that way for the next week with no snow forecast either.
Looks like it may have to start from scratch all over again.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Cwm Cneifion report by Mike Nolan (Sun 9th)

Hey Andy
Thought I'd send over this conditions report. I hope it's useful.

Picture 1: Cwm Idwal from Sub Cneifion rib.

Nothing at all in Cwm Idwal, the only ice we could see was the top pitch of The Devils Appendix.

Picture 2: Clogwyn Du from the base of Tower Slabs.

3 or 4 teams on it at about 3:30. 3 people were on Clogwyn Left Hand, seemed to be hanging around on pitch 2 or 3 for a while, can't have been in too good condition, it was relatively warm, about +4 in the car park so I assume it was still pretty thin.

2 teams headed up hidden gully which looked great, snow was perfect, couldn't have been any more solid. Plenty of it in the gullies in Cwm Cneifion too!

Also, slightly unusual maybe, somebody was *rock climbing* up Travesty, couldn't see any tools anyway and it looked pretty bare so I only assume. Far too cold for that!

Picture 3: Tower Slabs

Slabs were in great condition. Although, alot of water falling at the bottom. Decent fat ice and vegetation was in good condition.

Had a quick look at Tower Gully which also had great solid snow. Didn't get to see the crux because it started going dark so I couldn't check the ice up there.

One more thing. On the approach up to Cwm Cneifion, shortly after the Sub Cneifion Rib, the path crosses 2 snow fields. I'd really advise having an axe ready at least for this bit as a slip would be pretty bad. Same goes for the approaches to the climbs in Cneifion. Crampons and axes should be put on as soon as you come into the bottom of the Cwm because the snow is difficult to get up without them. We saw one guy slide about 20 meters before he managed to arrest.

Hope there is some useful information you can use there. It was a great day and better conditions than I expected!


Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tower Gully, Tower Slabs, Hidden Gully & more...

Today I headed down into the mountains expecting to see a covering of fresh snow, but it seems that yesterdays forecasts of blizzard conditions for several hours had not come true.
Cwm Cneifion was my chosen destination & my route for the day ended up as: up East Wall Gully then up Tower Gully, down Easy Route then up Hidden Gully. Down Corner Gully then up Tower Slabs.
Once again Cwm Cneifion provided top class bomber neve & a suprising amount of fat ice. Tower Gully was in excellent nick all the way including the small ice section. Easy Gully was a pleasure to descend on top class firm snow. Hidden Gully was the 'little gem' it so often is, again full of bomber neve & ice. Corner Gully proved a good descent choice next, only slightly steeper than Easy Route, and with a slab of 7 or 8m of ice which would be fun if ascending. Last but not least Tower Slabs was in great nick, with far more ice than I had expected, with teams on it all day long.
I also went for a look at Clogwyn Righthand but it was a bit too thin in my opinion (I was soloing!)
All in all a very rewarding day!

Also Alan went up Parley fern LH today & reports 'super neve' all the way with fat ice in all the right places.
Pic 1&2: Looking up & down Tower Gully
Pic 3&4: Looking up & down Hidden Gully
Pic 5: Looking back up Corner Gully
Pic 6: Clogwyn Du
Pic 7: Right & Lefthand
Pic 8: Tower Gully & Tower Slabs
Pic 9: First pitch of Tower Slabs (thanks to the 2 climbers who let me solo past)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Black Ladders by Carl Davies

Hi Andy,

Did Eastern Gully on the Black Ladders today. The walk in was interesting weather starting with drizzle, turning to hail and then quite heavy snow by the time I reached the crag. So route location was a challenge but I worked out where it was in the end. I skipped the direct start on the ice and traversed in from the right. There was ice on the direct start but it was thin and didn't have a proper look as to whether it would have been climbable or not. There was a team that started Pyramid on the second pitch. There was ice on the first pitch of Pyramid but it didn't look very well bonded to the rock. Eastern was great with good neve which became more solid the higher I got. Dusting of powder over top of it. There were two chockstone problems which were moves of III. I belayed myself over both of the problems (slung spike on first and a slung snow bollard on the second), the second holding a little ice. Pretty windy up top, with plenty of spindrift just before the top out, but on the way down the visibility cleared and had some nice views of the crag on the way home. I met Hugh Gilbert and Nick on the way down, haven't met Hugh but recognised him from his blog picture! They were the team on Pyramid and they said it was great. We also spoke to someone on the way down who had done Icefall Gully. Seemed to be plenty to go at in the Ladders.