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Friday, February 01, 2019

Winter arrived overnight in North Wales and dumped a huge amount of snow on the mountains. I spent all night checking wind speeds and directions trying to figure out which slopes and approaches would be more prone to avalanche. I also messaged a few mates to see what the conditions were like on the ground and the same messages came back “Gullies are loaded”. Fresh snow and steep gullies are never a good mix and if anything slides your in the firing line from the start of the route until the end. Given the forecast I decided to stick to ridges and had a couple of adventures in mind for the next day.

North East Spur – Y Garn (III)

Walking into Llyn Idwal it was clear we were going to be wading in snow all day and I was glad I put the gaitors on. Me and Jade headed slowly up the approach towards the start of the route attempting to pick the shallowest line but inevitably ending up in deep sections of snow.

The start of the route is quite low down in the valley but I was surprised to find sections of rock covered in a thin layer of ice. Eyeing up the steep corner I knew I was in for a tricky lead and once I left the ground it took some working out to get established into the corner and make upward progress. I took my time as the last piece of gear was well below my feet and a fall would have guaranteed I missed out on the post climb hobnobs

The next part of the route we moved together managing to cover lots of ground with a short amount of rope between us, after stopping for a quick bite to eat we were ready to take on the main section on the castel which is where the proper climbing begins.

A short swim up a deep powder filled corner brought us to some steeper rock sections which meant less snow wading and more mixed climbing. The final section was nice and steady grade III mixed and gave some superb hooks and short techy sections. 

Topping out we headed for devils kitchen and followed the path past Idwal slabs and back to the car. A jumbo pack of hobnobs awaited in the boot and given the effort we had to put in I had little faith they would survive the night.

Cneifion arete. (III) 3/4

Ace, ace, ace. That’s the only way to describe Cneifion arete. I’ve done this ridge countless times but in winter it rarely feels like the same route. The first pitch gave some excellent hooks but with the lack of ice on the route I ended up using one axe and a hand. Big rock spikes gave plentiful gear and the exposure was just awesome.

The second section went by easy enough and before long Jade and I were moving well together keeping a few runners between us as we moved.

We swapped over around halfway as Jade ran out of gear and I took the next section towards to top. Sticking to the right hand edge ensured we could climb in just rock and the short tricky sections were fun and well protected.

We topped out around lunch time and the wind was starting to howl. Windslab was starting to build on the lee of the ridge and some drifts were getting waist deep. As we headed back home we decided to stop off at the famous Sibod Caffi and experience one of their amazing scones and some coffee. A great way to end a perfect two days winter climbing in Wales.


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