Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Welsh winter

After browsing through the UK climb website and noticing all the winter routes coming into form in the North wales area Myself and Phil decided to head up there for a couple of days to try and get a few routes ticked. We left for wales on Monday evening, Phil Kindly drove down from Portsmouth and picked me up which meant I could have a nice sleep on the way up, The route up North was pretty straight forward and the weather was looking pretty promising.
We were booked in to stay at Pete's eats bunkhouse, I had never stayed there before but Phil highly recommended it which I can now second that and recommend it to anyone that wants cheap,clean and a good service.
We had a few routes in mind which were the "The Screen(4) and the Devils Appendix(5/6) but we decided to play it as we went and see how conditions were on the mountain before we committed to anything.
We arrived at the car park around 0800, the weather wasn't looking to good, there was allot of drifting snow and the winds were very strong. there were a few other teams getting ready to head up. It took a little while for us lightweights to get out of the nice warm car and into the cold.
We eventually got ready and made our way up to the devils kitchen area, the walk in was probably the easiest walk in I've ever done, it was only made tricky by the thin layers of snow lying on the rocks making them extremely slippery. The weather wasn't the best but we decided to push on.We had a look at our intended routes and they both looked very thin and out of condition, we noticed that south gully looked pretty good so we decided to head up to that area, there was another team in front of us. We arrived at he bottom of the route where the other team were gearing up. it looked pretty thin but climbable, I wasn't to happy about following another team up the route and being in the firing line of all the loose stuff they would drop down. we moved around the corner and decided to head towards "Chicane Gully"(4)

At the bottom of the route things were looking promising, the ice was very thin but looked climbable,After gearing up Phil decided he wanted to attempt to lead pitch one, he set off, he wasn't to happy with the noise the ice was making when he tapped his axe against it, we noticed a mixed line going up the side of the water ice so he attempted this, he still wasn't happy with conditions so backed off, he had also forgotten his big gloves and was feeling the pressure on his hands from the cold, I decided to try and lead the mixed line.The climbing was pretty technical and very thin.loose and scary, But I managed to make my way up the pitch placing some good gear, the weather was now coming in strong with strong gusts of spindrift hitting us head on.

I carried on climbing for a short while and the weather was getting worse, knowing that Phil didn't have any thicker gloves and the weather was going to get worse we decided to abandon our attempt, I place a good number three nut and abseiled down from the route. We coiled the ropes and headed down to the path to take off the gear and make our way back off the hill. I was a little gutted that we didn't finish the climb but i think we made the right decision as the weather was now getting very bad, to my amazement though there were still a few teams just heading up to try some of the routes ( this was about 1400 and in whiteout).

We were pretty keen to come back in the morning and try a different line or attempt the same route again. this idea was thrown out of the window when we woke the next morning to discover around 2 foot of fresh powder had fallen and the weather was near on whiteout. we decided to pack up and come home.

Now i have to taste for welsh winter i find myself wanting to be back there right now as i write but unfortanatly family come first.

until next time....

Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are
naught without prudence, and that a momentary negliance may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; Look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end