Saturday, 6 March 2010

Thin as F**k

This weekend produced two very thin ice routes and an amazing winters mountain route.

Myself, Phil and Scott headed to North Wales this weekend, we had planned to head up to Scotland to try the famous point 5 on the Ben Nordwand but serious snow fall and very high avalanche danger put a stop to this.
We arrived in Llamberis around 9pm on Friday night, we had travelled up in Scott's transporter, this would also be our bed for the weekend. We parked outside the local boozer and didn't waste anytime in heading in for a few pints. I personally wanted a hot chocolate with marshmallows but the guys found it funny to keep ripping the piss about this.
Anyway after a few beers and me kicking both there arses at pool we decided to retire to the van, I was lucky enough to get a spot on the bed whereas Phil had the comfort of the rear arch in his side.
We awoke at around 530 am to the sound of Scott's alarm, i think it was at least 630 before any of us slipped out of the sleeping bag.
We didn't really have any routes in mind for today as we were not to sure what conditions would be like so we decided to head into the devils kitchen area at Ogwen and see what things were like. After arriving at Ogwen it wasn't long before we started to notice how thin all the ice routes were. although there was still allot of snow around on the hills most of the Ice had stared to melt. The top section of the devils appendix was still there but barley holding onto the rock. we walked round underneath south gully, central route and chicane, they were all very thin, probably only central route was climbable. we decided to head on round and check the screen and ramp out, both of these didn't look too bad from a distance, when we got a little closer we started to see that the screen was way to thin to withstand any of our weights but the ramp didn't look too bad.
we got ourselves kitted up and soloed up the first pitch of the ramp, Scott was on lead to attempt the crux pitch of the route, he set off sailing up the bulged ice with no problems at all even managing to put a few screws in on the way. After moving out of site myself and Phil waited for the shout of safe, there was a short silence and no movement on the rope, eventually more debris come down the route and we got the shout of "Safe". Phil followed on up next making light work of the line especially as he hadn't done much ice previous to this. I then followed on up stripping the route as i climbed. Overall the route was very nice with pretty straight forward climbing for grade III.
When we arrived at the top we decided to head back round and have crack at central route(III/IV). we arrived at the bottom of the route and allot more of the ice had melted since this morning we had we looked at it, Phil wanted to try and lead which myself and Scott didn't have a problem with. So off he went,while he was climbing myself and Scott were starting to get a little concerned when Phil was about 25 metres up without any protection in the wall yet, he was having to climb a mixed line just to the right of central route as the ice on the route was in no state to climb. He eventually managed to place a sling ( Not the best) which made me feel much better. after climbing for around 30minutes we finally got the shout of "safe" I set off up next, the climbing was pretty hard due to the rock being very loose, i managed to dislodge a rock the size of a football which hit me in the knee an cause me some serious pain. Scott was climbing on up behind me, he seemed to be having allot of trouble with hot aches in his hands, i eventually made it up to Phil after some tough climbing,( He must off been shitting it on the lead)
when I arrived he had somehow managed to make a belay out of nothing using his two axes and a very suspect ice screw. Scott followed on up, he was now in quite allot of pain with his hands. he eventually shook it off with a few painful face expressions and groans, we sort off soloed up the last to easy pitches to the platue at the top, by this time it was starting to get a little late so we decided to head back down to the valley, we all arrived down safely an headed for a much earned beer and some food, whilst eating the conversation mostly consisted on how great Phil's lead was, although they both seemed to have it in for me again as i was yet again getting the piss ripped out of me, this time on the fact i hadn't lead anything this weekend, I personally thought i was being kind letting Phil lead the route as i had lead the routes on the previous wales trip but them too seemed to think i was scared and they I enjoyed my top roping....little do they know...
Day 2 - We decided to go for a winter mountain walk today up Tryfan, the weather wasn't the best and we were pretty certain none of the ice routes would have been in nick, we set off from the road at around 0800 making good progress, I was enjoying myself allot, it had been along time since i had just had a nice walk up a mountain, every now and again we would take a snow gully and make things a little more interesting for ourselves but nothing to hard so it got dangerous. Phil even thought it funny to give me the spindrift effect by throwing snow down the gully whilst i was climbing ( Thanks Mate).
we arrived at the summit in good time and all feeling pretty good, we had a bite to eat then started the descent down the other side of the mountain towards Glyder Fawr, we did plan to go back down after Tryfan but because we were having so much fun we decided to carry on over the top of glyder fawr and then come down the ridge the other side which would bring us out on the platoe at the top of Cniefon Arete.
Climbing up the ridge of Gylder fawr was awesome, we were climbing some pretty interesting stuff, we had crampons with us but none of us were sensible enough to bring an ice axe. we eventually came to a section which would have been a little two difficult and dangerous without a rope and gear, we turned around and looked for the safer option, we ended up climbing up this pretty steep snow slope with no crampons or axe, I remember looking between my legs and thinking...shit, one slip or even one slip from to two above me and that's it, we wouldn't stop until we hit the bottom, luckily this didn't happen and we eventually all arrived safely on the summit. we walked for a short while in white out conditions before deciding to check the map for directions, after some confusion we eventually found the ridge that we wanted to descend. At this time the clouds started to clear and the views were amazing, there were quite a few teams climbing on the Clogwyn du area which looked amazing. We put our crampons on and descended the ridge to the platoe below.

After taking a few photos and chilling for a while we took the slow walk back down to the van, i could of stayed up there all day as today was probably one of the best days i have had on the hill for a long time. ( Thanks Guys).
I did take some photos of us climbing the Ramp and central route but for some reason my camera f**ked up and they didn't come out.

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