Sunday, 26 December 2010

Wales hardest?

Had a day out with Pete today, he was keen to get on a line he'd been keeping an eye on in the Pass, before the thaw set in.
This wasn't your average Scottish style mixed line. Not that there's anything wrong with them.
This was something different.
A steep wall for about 15m followed by a hanging ice dagger to the top. The wall itself is the line of a summer E4 past three insitu pegs, but with the wet streak that ran down it and the dirty nature of the rock, I don't think it would ever make classic status. Whereas as a winter line, it produced an excellent, pumpy test piece unlike anything else currently existing in Wales.
Pete worked the route ground up with a few rests, before pulling the ropes and going for the clean ascent with some style. Clearly the training had paid off!
I tried it on top rope with a few rests, then after he'd led it, I nearly seconded it clean, only falling after reaching the ice when my axe ripped. I was pumped stupid after though.
In terms of the grade, I'm unsure. Overall it felt harder than Cracking up, but as for the individual moves maybe about the same. After all, unless you're doing fig fours, axe dyno's or footless swings through a massive roof, how can you get harder than tech nine? So for me, lockoffs and long reaches between small edges for 15m means the overall grade will get bigger, but as for the tech grade I don't know. I wonder what the crux move is on the Hurting at XI 11?

All in all with the insitu pegs, its a pretty safe test piece that I'd recommend to anyone keen on pushing their grade, and I look forward to hearing about the onsite! 
endurance training required ( for me that is!)

Spot the winter line :-)

Monday, 20 December 2010


If we had completed it, this would have been one of the best routes I've ever done, and in my view, on the best winter crag in North Wales, when it's in condition. But three pitches up with 15m of climbing before easy grade 6 ground, and a gear ripping fall, straight on to the belay meant no tick...this time.

So fingers crossed that we get the conditions again and Rob's broken ankle recovers in time and we don't get the car stuck and we remember our head torches and we don't fall and...! 

There's loads more I could add, like the epic walk in through thigh deep snow and the free hanging rappels in the dark, but I'll save it for the successful post!
Somewhere on the best winter cliff in Wales!

Friday, 3 December 2010


Walked into the Black Ladders on Thursday with Rob, to try a new line I've been thinking about. Unfortunately it didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, after 7hrs of climbing we 'd gained about 40m and it was time to call it a day.
This is going to require something extra. 
The problem is with this line, its not about getting stronger, working out a sequence or finding a crucial piece of protection , it's just finding the courage to move out above two peckers for about 8m into the unknown. 
Still, they don't all give up their secrets straight away, and that'll make the success taste even better!                                                                                  
Rob looking for a way through the first line of overhangs.

And higher on the same pitch.
Chris parkin's shot, as Rob nears the second belay.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Account Opened

Early season winter conditions, meant a trip to Scotland with Dave Almond was not to be missed, and after leaving Liverpool at 10pm we were on the way to the Ben for an attempt at Sioux Wall.
Unfortunately it was 4am by the time we arrived in the car park and after sorting the pile of kit dumped hurriedly into the car, there was no time for any sleep and we were on the way.
With the temp at -9 and a steady breeze the wind chill was probably about -20, and standing at the base of the wall, we were in two minds as to wether to try something easier, as belaying was going to be less than pleasurable. 
We both wanted this one badly though, so without further ado, I knocked off the entry pitch and belayed at the start of the proper climbing. The next two pitches were fantastic, covering some steep ground on positive placements with good protection. (Mux you gotta get on it!)
Dave led onto the summit plateau and we were back at the car by 6pm, tired but happy to get this modern classic so smoothly. Good to see the White Goods training paying off!
After a few to many beers in the Clachiag, we went into the Lost Valley on Sunday to try Neanderthal, but it was about 11.30 by the time we got on it, and the weather was deteriorating. After climbing the 2nd pitch and bringing Dave up it was 3pm and bitterly cold, so we decided to call it a day as the next pitch was going to be at least two hours to lead and I didn't fancy seconding it in the dark. As somebody once said "I'll be back".
The drive home was quite exciting as the road south was blocked, so we tried the A9.
This was closed at Perth but with a sneaky detour we got around the police road block and cruised down the empty road putting fresh tracks through the new snow!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Croz Spur

Got a text of Dave Almond the other day, saying could I meet him in Chamonix?
That was on the Saturday and by midday Sunday I was on the way.
The plan was the Croz Spur via the Slovenian start and with a great weather forecast we were confident we'd pull it off, but you never know with alpinism until its in the bag, so we weren't gonna get too excited.
My summer this year has mainly consisted of sport climbing in a bid to improve my rock grades, so by the start of September it was time to get some endurance fitness in, as the focus swings towards winter and  big days in the mountains. For me this means loads of days out in Wales, and this year I finally knocked of the Welsh 3000's and with 12000ft of ascent and 25miles in under ten hours, I felt ready for the Alps...well OK.
The Montenvers train was closed so we took off on a leisurely stroll up to the base of the Grande Jorrasses, and after 7 hours came across a small serac near the start of the route that would make an ideal bivy.
We settled in and then the snow started.
You can't control the weather, so Dave set the alarm for 3.30 and we agreed if it was still snowing then , we could go back to sleep and come up with a new plan, as we wouldn't be getting on the Croz.
I was using a very light sleeping bag along with a belay parka that wasn't keeping me that warm so tied to the fact I don't sleep great on first bivies, I was waking regularly, and witnessed the perfect weather arrive way before 3.30, so no excuses, game on.
I awoke to the sound of voices, another team coming our way, they were early. I dosed back to sleep.
Later more voices, I stuck my head out and said hello. Something wasn't right. I checked my watch, 5.45. Shit, Dave's alarm hadn't gone off, time to get the skates on.
A quick brew, some chocolate and we were on the way. By 7am we had crossed the shrund and after years of thinking about it I was finally on the face that had occupied so much of my thoughts.
Following the rope snaking out in front of me, the doubt's crossed my mind. Was I capable of stepping off a plane and climbing a 4000m peak? At that moment I wasn't sure and when I got to Dave at the first steepening, I was happy to let him continue in front.
I'm sure if I'd felt better I would of enjoyed the climbing. The Slovenian section linked together the lower snowfield's via steeper gully climbing with the odd delicate move on thin ice until we arrived at the top of the second ice field.
A rock wall split by a vertical fault leading to a large roof was the line of the Slovenian and about 20m up this, an icy ramp led out leftwards to some snow ledges, above these a steep ice fall led directly to the upper snow slopes, this was the way of the Croz and the line for us.
Looking up I was in my place, mixed climbing, a jigsaw puzzle to be solved inch by inch. I changed gloves and racked the gear as all thoughts of tiredness miraculously disappeared. Straight away it was technical. Two thin seems led upwards to a peg, something to aim for. Pick's just catching I torqued my mono's in to the seem and moved higher, left foot on a small edge right bridging out I hit a patch of ice in the crack only for it to fall away, but this cloud had a silver lining and with a bit of chipping another peg was revealed giving me the confidence to move higher. This proccess was repeated again to a third peg but this time I could only clip the old tat that hung from it.
With calves burning I looked up at a ten foot section that would require full on commitment. I knew it was the right way but wasn't ready to commit, so looking left I attempted a tension traverse to reach some ice in the next groove. It wasn't happening and in the back of my mind I knew were I had to go, straight up into the unknown with full commitment but no falling.
This is what climbing's about for me, intense moments of pure focus where every move is controlled and precise. Even when I reached the ice and it shattered away, I found enough to get the pick to hold and pulled up, to the reassuring thwack of solid ice above and I could breath again.
I placed a screw and moved leftwards onto the icy ramp where the brilliant mixed climbing continued to the belay.
Dave led through across the snow ledges and up the ice above, continuing to the top of the third snow field. From here a gully led in two pitches to a notch on the ridge which we followed to the final rock tower. It was slow going and difficult to protect, with powder snow over loose rock, so it was getting dark when we reached the final section. Here we decided to take the righthand variation. This started with a pitch of delicate climbing at about Scottish 6, moving rightwards across slabs, to reach the exit gully, all quite tricky in the dark.
Dave took over the lead again. Moving across into the gully he clipped a peg on the left and got a wire in the right wall. The ice in the gully was to thin for screws and he couldn't see any more rock pro above, I watched, heart in mouth as he started up the 10m of unprotected thin ice, wondering how I would deal with the situation if he fell. I relaxed as he pulled over, into the easier gully above, then later as the rope came tight I followed the pitch, scrabbling my way up as blunt tools and monos struggled to penetrate the hard ice.
One final pitch led to a breche on the ridge. It had taken us four hours to climb the last three pitches and 16 hours in total for the route. I was hoping there would be a bivy spot on the ridge  but out of the option of climbing along it to see if we could find something or abbing down, we chose down, by four slow abseils and finally some much needed sleep in the burgshrund at 2.45.
I was pleased to find that although I was moving slower than I would of liked, I could leave home and climb a 4000m peak via a technical route and get back in a round trip of four days. Hopefully this will open up some more oportunities in the future.
Bring it on.


Sunday, 25 April 2010


I always feel slightly melancholy when leaving Chamonix, especially when it's been a good trip.
The contrast between everyday life and the mountain experience when things go to plan, is so vast I have a hard time readjusting. Theres just a buzz about the place that I can't get enough of.
Anyway as you can probably gather, things went well.
The original plan had been to go to Cham to get some acclimatisation, before meeting up with Mark and attempting the Bonatti direct on the Matterhorn, but due to a lack of enthusiasm I ended up staying in Cham  for the whole trip and meeting some much needed new alpine partners.
On arriving I decided to stay at the ski chalet gite which I'd recommend as it's reasonably priced and well positioned with a nice little walk up the hill to keep the legs working.
On walking through the entrance, I heard the rattle of climbing gear and English voices coming from the first room, so I poked my head round the door to enquire about conditions and see if anyone needed a climbing partner.
A blonde, curly haired, nineteen year old lad called Tom seemed keen. Well as keen as you would be, when someone you don't know asks if you want to climb, as you never really know what you're getting into, until the climbing starts.
We decided to climb the Frendo Ravenel as a test run before the Ginat on the Droite north face, but things didn't get off to a good start when we got stuck in the queue at the Grand Montets for about two hours, and it wasn't until eleven that we got to the start of the route. The next problem was route finding. I'd been to the start of the route before with someone that had climbed it previously, so I was confident that I knew where I was going, but after about 200m we realised that we were on the next route to the right and with Tom wanting to get the last lift down, we decided to bail.
But the day had served it's purpose, as we'd seen each other climb and felt confident, that as a team, we were ready for the Ginat.
The next day, early afternoon we headed up to the Argentere hut, putting a track across to the start of the route at the same time, including digging through the bergshrund, which turned out to be the right thing to do as it was overhanging and took a good 40minutes.
After a great meal and a few hours sleep we left the hut and made our way across to the face.
It had been snowing in the night and the tracks from the previous day had gone but the hole we had made in the bergshrund was still there, and at 4am we started the route.
In my mind I had broken the day down into sections, as a way of gauging our pace and also keeping the focus narrowed down to the section you're on at the time, rather than the end goal, that always seems a demoralizingly long way away. The sections went as follows: The approach, the section to the gully, the lower gully, the median snow slope, the 5 technical pitches, the gully to the breche, the descent, and the walk to the hut. So 8 sections, 1 down, 7 more to go, and up to the top of the snow slope our time seemed about right, 4 1/2hours off my target of ten for the route.
After so many years thinking about it and the odd previous attempt, it was great to be on the face, and when dawn broke, I was finally able to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the exposure of looking down, and seeing the face sweep away to the glacier below.
The technical climbing started up a steep corner to our left before gaining a right trending mixed ramp for pitch two. I headed up the corner on a narrow, vertical ribbon of ice, when suddenly the ice under both feet broke away. Five metres above the last screw this was not the place to be coming off.
The rest of the pitch eased a bit, to about 75 degrees, but with only one screw left for the belay I had to run it out for the last 15m.
Tom led through on the mixed pitch up some tricky corners and we moved on. The axe placements had to be sought carefully as the cold temperatures were making the ice brittle and it took 4 or 5 swings to get a stick. This slowed things down and  after each pitch I would re-estimate the time to finish. Although we were using a single 70m rope and this worked well on the lower face, the ground we were on now was dictating the places to belay and it seemed to be around 50 or 60m per pitch.
So I started up pitch 5 (a beautiful ice ramp at 85 degrees) with one more above to go, before reaching the upper gully. Next Tom led the final pitch, keeping to the left, on the mixed to give some relief to the calves. With about 15m still to go he took a small fall and decided to belay where he was, the time was about 5.30, our target was well out the window.
By the time I had climbed up to Tom, finished the pitch, and we'd moved together up to the breche it had just turned seven, but the route was in the bag, with only two sections remaining to the hut.
After five ab's down the south gully it was getting dark, making it difficult to find the fixed gear, but the ground eased off, so I started down climbing and told Tom to tie the rope to his harness and drag it down. When he arrived by me, the rope was nowhere to be seen, somehow it had detached itself and fallen. We didn't come across it lower down so I'd just have to put it down as bad luck, anyway the route was worth it.

The next plan was to head up to the British route on the Sans Nom, another route I'd wanted to do for ages. But Tom wasn't available for a few days, so I teamed up with Phillip, a 24 year old Austrian lad that was keen as mustard.
I needed something short before the next big route so we headed for Pointe Lachenal and a route called Star Academixte. The climbing started off quite straight forward, for the first 3 pitches, then it kicked in. The fault we were climbing petered out, and I had to traverse left across a steep slab, on exfoliating flakes to reach the next fault, where steep moves gained easier ground below the final chimney.
The route was climbed in about 3 1/2 hours, before the slog back up to the Midi and the lift down.
It's funny how a 250m route seems small, and is dealt with so differently compared to the equivalent in Scotland, although I suppose the approach is a bit shorter from the Midi.

By 2pm the next day Tom and myself were making our way across to the Sans Nom. It was clagged in and snowing lightly, but after wading through deep snow, we got to the top of the coulior that leads to the glacier, and the face.
Conditions didn't look good, with a load of fresh snow plastering the route and bare rock where ice should have been, we decided to head back to the top station and a change of plan.
The station was busy, with about 8 Spanish, 2 Dutch and 4 British climbers all spending the night.
We got talking to Andy Houseman and Dave Evans who were heading up to climb Late To Say I'm Sorry on the Grande Rocheuse. I'd heard the route to it's left, (Bourges-Mizrahi) was in condition so the next morning we headed up at about 3.30 and after a final 40m of neck deep digging we crossed the bergshrund at about 5am.
This time around I was better acclimatised, we were moving well and it wasn't long before we reached the steeper climbing, where we roped up.
Tom decided he needed a crap at this point, so perched on a convenient rock he let loose down the face, fortunately it was off the climbing line, as apposed to the last time, on the Droite, when it had landed all over the place.
Two pitches of ice up to 90 degrees and a snow gully, led to the ridge, and one final tricky pitch, before the spectacular knife edge summit, reached after 9 hours of climbing.
A quick descent down the Whymper coulior and an hours wading through soft snow had us back at the Couvercle hut in time for tea!
If only it went like this every time I went to Cham!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Drove up to Scotland on the 29th March with Adam, to do some late season ice on the Ben. Unfortunately it coincided with an extreme weather spell of snow, low temps and wind gusting to 80mph. Still, as we were spending a night at the CIC hut I was confident we'd get something done.
We met up with Duncan at the north face car park and after a quick pint, bedded down in the car, for a leisurely 6am start in the morning.
It was snowing when we got up, and after persuading Duncan it was worth the walk in we set off on what turned out to be an alright approach, as the ground was well frozen..
It was meant to be busy in the hut but due to the weather everyone was heading down, so we settled in with a coffee to wait and see what the weather was going to do.
After a while the wind seemed to die down a touch. It was all the encouragement we needed and within ten minutes we were ready to go, which was just as the lull ended, but we'd made up our minds and headed out.
 The route choice was Vanishing Gully as it didn't go to the summit and was a short walk from the hut.
It was a good choice and gave two really good pitches on good neve, split by a cave belay that kept us out of the wind and spindrift.
back at the hut a guide turned up with two clients. They'd just climbed Italian Left Hand Route and apart from us, must have been the only other people on the mountain.
After dinner we finished of the leftover wine and drank Adams whisky, before hitting the sack for a good nights sleep and another leisurely start in the morning.
The wind had dropped slightly the next day but we still wanted to avoid going on the plateau, so we picked a route on Observatory Buttress, as you can traverse off rightwards from the top of the difficulties towards Good Friday Climb.
Rubicon Wall was in good nick. I ran the first two pitches together and Duncan led through, with a great lead on thin ice, getting two runners in 40m. The top pitch was a lot thicker and I was able to place good screws all the way.
So although my plans of climbing multiple grade sixes and sevens on this trip didnt happen due to the weather, it still felt good to get something done considering the conditions and it at least meant we had one of the UK's best venues virtually to ourselves for two days.
Right, now all I need is a good alpine trip, then I can concentrate on a summer of sport climbing to get me fit for next winter!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

It feels like winters nearly over in North Wales, so with the thought that it might be the last chance this season, I took the day off work and headed in to the Black Ladders.
Dropping the kids off at school meant it was 10.30 by the time I started the walk in, but the path was clear of snow and the weather was perfect, so although I had a heavy pack, I was able to make good time and reached the crag at 11.45.
The plan for the day was to back rope solo something, maybe the second ascent of Tora Bora, a new VIII 8 but was I up to it? Standing under the crag I had my doubts, the face loomed over me, everything looking vertical or overhanging.
I emptied the pack.
One 70m single rope.
One rack of gear.
No extenders.
No pegs or turf protection.
In the bottom of the pack a half rope left in from the weekend! No wonder it felt heavy!
So what to do?
Tora Bora was out of the question, with no pegs or turf pro. Anyway I might as well admit, I would probably of bottled it on my own. The excuses were already piling up, too late to start, didn't look in nick, and anything else I could think of.
I decided to go for Gallipoli, a two star V5 that went in the same area and wouldn't be too difficult.
Traversing in from the right I moved up to the base of an ice fall and got the rope out.
I would attach myself to it and trail it behind, just belaying the tricky bits as I needed to.
The ice fall was actually quite steep and seemed to be delaminating at the top, where every axe swing hit rock or useless reed grass. Cautiously I moved up to reach a peg belay and a traverse left. The route starts to feel quite exposed here but I didn't want to use the rope until I reached the gully proper, as its not easy rapping a traverse.
At a large pinnacle I set up a belay and back roped one long pitch that took me into the gully, with some good moves up a steeper section, to the next belay. Then I set up the ab and rapped back down, taking out the gear and dismantling the lower belay before reascending.
This was repeated for one more pitch before reaching easy ground and the top, on a stunning day.
The route length is given as 250m, adding on the pitches I climbed twice, makes 370m. It took me two and a half hours to climb at a steady pace, then back to the car by 2.45 giving a round trip of just under five hours, not bad for a trip to the Ladders.
So if this was my last route of the season, although it wasnt hard, the feeling of independence and complete self reliance you get with back roping something like this, on a big cliff, made it a memorable day.
Now all I need is a week in the alps as the icing on the cake!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A few pictures of Dave on and off Harvest Crunch, taken by Clive Heblethwaite who was climbing Moss Ghyll.

At the semi rest after the first roof.

Making the hard move left under the second roof.



Monday, 1 March 2010

Went up to the Lakes yesterday, with Dave, Adam and Neil, to attempt Harvest Crunch on Scafell.
After the success of last week we were flying high, but after about an hours work on the route Dave managed some literal flying - backwards off the slab and over the roof - and although he got back up to his high point, the thought of more baffling blankness, whilst moving further away from the gear, saw us retreat.
The climbing up to the high point had looked spectacular. A steep slab/corner, buried in snow, led to the first roof and a good cam. Then a good torque on the lip, allowed a big span right to reach a crack, and with feet on small edges, more good hooks could be reached over the roof.
The next section was the crux. With good gear placed to his right, Dave hooked his left axe in the roof above his head and with feet smearing on the blank slab, reached across and cammed his right axe in an invisible hold in the roof. Next with feet scrabbling for purchase he made the big span left, to a thin crack and brought his right axe across to match. This all looked desperately powerful and the closest thing I can think of to compare it to, would be trying to climb Pincushion at Tremadog, with axes!
Anyway it wasn't to last much longer.
The torquing crack he was using would only hold, while pulling out and pressing with the feet, so while letting go with one axe and trying to place a cam the inevitable happened, feet skidded down the slab, axe ripped and Dave was upside down twenty feet lower!
Reading the description, it mentions pulling over the roof using ice, and although it doesn't say this is crucial ( it wasn't for the move over the roof) it would probably mean there would be ice on the slab and that would have made a massive difference.
With our tails firmly between our legs we thought we'd just romp up Moss Ghyll and call it a day, but that proved to be an under estimation.
The first pitch of the gully we'd climbed to reach Harvest Crunch, had proved to be quite tricky when climbed direct, involving overhanging chock stones - not what you expect on a grade four.
I climbed out of the cave, through the "window" and across the infamous Collie step and up a short snow slope to a choice of exits. the obvious challenge was the direct, Collier's chimney, this gets V5 so it can't be hard, can it?
The chimney slants up at about eighty degrees and the left wall was coated in a thin veneer of verglas, two chock stones are jammed, one at thirty feet - that I could see a nut behind - and one about twenty feet above that. There was no protection until the jammed nut so I squeezed myself in and tapped my way slowly upwards with difficulty. There was little room to swing the axe or kick the feet so the verglas had to be lightly chipped until you had an edge that you could pull on and it was with much relief that I clipped the wire. Above, more straight forward climbing, around the chock stones led to the upper gully and the top.
So Harvest Crunch. VII 9. I'd say hard for the grade compared to other sevens, but with very small cams the gear would be alright, and if the slab had just 5mm of ice it would have made the difference, so maybe just about right.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Reflecting back on Erazerhead I find it interesting that the urge to get back out is less than it would be on an easier route. Its only been a couple of days but normally by now I'd be scanning the guide books looking for the next objective, obviously this fix was a bigger hit and like any other drug the effects are lasting longer.
The climb itself was interesting, in that most winter lines I've done have followed distinctive features, a corner or obvious crack. This line was more intricate revealing itself as you climbed.
A couple of thin hooks, gain a bit more height, then scrape away the snow, (before the arms give up) to reveal the next hold, then checking the wide angle view, looking for the bigger features to link together.
It made for exciting climbing with a high level of uncertainty and once I'd committed to the wall it was going to end, either with success or major air time due to the run outs.
This time it was success.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Yes Yes Yes, I finally did it!
After a lot of training and a few trips to the crag, things came good for Dave and me, and the line I've been dreaming about for most of the winter has fallen, but it didn't give up without a fight.
I walked in to Clogwyn Du on the 11th with Tom but the crag was completely black other than the ice streaks of pillar and Left hand so it would have to wait until I got back from a weeks skiing with the boys, hopefully the cold spell would last.
I arrived back on the saturday to fresh snow and made plans with Dave for the following day.
9.30 saw us at the base of the crag in perfect conditions, no excuses now I had to go for it.
I thinned the rack down to the bare minimum that I could get away with, no point carrying more weight than you can help.
Now that I'd committed in my mind I just wanted to get on with it, so waded up pillar in deep snow, set up the belay for Dave and started to look at the route.
A steep groove cuts up and slightly leftwards for about 6m, at the top of this you can stand in balance to place some good gear and survey the ground above. Then the real climbing starts, you move up, the wall pushing you out and suddenly you're off balance and the weight's on your arms, there's no gear so you move up a bit more, now the gears by your feet and the arms are starting to feel it. A flat topped spike with a small lip on is just good enough to take a weighted sling and I managed to place a dodgy BD pecker, then thin hooks on nothing edges allow you to get your foot on top of the spike with the sling on, above and slightly to the left is the crack you're aiming for, there's no more gear so just go for it. More thin moves and you can reach the crack, thankfully there's bomber hooks to start but its still pumpy, now reach up and hook the top of the crack and the good turf where the angle changes on to the slab.
At this point with both arms locked off and about 8m to my last gear I was starting to worry.
After having climbed the hard ground below was I going to fail at an unclimbable slab and take a massive lob? Scraping the slab and clearing snow, as far as I could reach, time was running out. I would have to lower my expectations of what I was looking for. Rescraping the slab the pick caught on a small edge, I brought my left axe up to match, and moved my feet up. Keeping dead still, hardly daring to breathe I lifted an axe and hooked a good turfy edge, somehow I was still on the wall, I let out a whoop, partly satisfaction but mainly relief. One more move up and a insitu peg is reached and with feet on the turfy edge you can at last stand in balance again.
I stood here for a while placing another peg and a wire while trying to work out the moves above.
A slabby ramp leads diagonally leftwards to a flared crack and the turfy ledges of the belay. Using small hooks for the axes you work your feet up until they are in the gear break then a long reach left gains a good hook at the base of the crack and a small wire placement.
The flared crack didnt provide any hooks so I lent to the left and with feet smearing on the right wall laybacked up to the turf above, and finally reached the belay.
Now I could relax, it was Dave's lead.
Above a groove leads via steep bridging, to a big flake, and with gear behind this, you move left to reach another groove, place a 0.5 cam and swing leftwards to get a foothold,the ground is now overhanging and you need to move quickly to reach the turf above, before the pump kicks in. Now the ground eases and a few short steps lead to a belay in the groove of Travesty.
All that remains is a quick romp up this pitch to the top and trip to the pub where the pints tasted fantastic!
Erazerhead VIII 8

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Walked in to Clogwyn Du on Sunday not expecting too much, maybe take some photos of the crag to see if the summer line of Hebinwi would go in winter.
As we approached the predictably black cliff I was pleasantly surprised to see a line of ice running the full height of Clogwyn Du left hand, including what looked like a direct finish.
Another team were not far behind, so we got our skates on, (or should that be crampons) and leaving one rope in the bag, quickly got ourselves established in the gully. I moved up onto the first pitch which soon becomes interesting, a rock rib splits the gully providing good hooks for the right axe, while the left uses the ice on the wall. Above, the gully turns into a narrow chimney and after placing some gear thin moves left lead to the ice. It was running with water but it seamed to be solid enough and six metres at about eighty degrees gets you to the belay.
Dave led the next pitch up to the chimney of the direct finish, another team were established at the stance so he took a hanging belay in the bottom of the chimney as he didn't seem to keen on the ice above.
This next section was really good fun, made more exciting by not having any ice screws.
I moved up placed a rock 3 in a icy crack as psychological protection and moved up using the thin ice on the left, another rock 6 on the right, then delicately commit to the blobs of ice and move up and left around an ice chandelier and on to easy ground.
Dave topped out and told me both pieces of gear came out!
Glad I didn't know when it mattered!
After leaving the gear at the top we descended back to the base of the crag to get photos of Hebinwi (will it go in winter? we'll have to wait and see...) then climbed back up via Clogwyn Du right hand.
An unexpected good day out.