Reports - winter conditions and activity

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lakes Conditions, Dollywaggon and Tarn Crag. 28-02-13

Once again the weather spoilt us today,  surely its time for a bit of clag, wind and sleet?!  Blue sky and sun in soft-shell is getting too normal....

In terms of conditions there is still some great climbing to be had, the bright sunshine is still taking its toll on some routes and anything in the sun is basically in summer condition.  But out of the sun its a different story, the snow and turf is still frozen hard after another very cold night and there is still plenty of ice.  The rock is continuing to strip back and even out of the sun on Dollywaggon there was a bit less general whiteness than 2 days back, this said some routes were still in great condition.  I was out with Jill who was keen to have a look at a Cold Climbs route so having been up 2 days ago I new Chock Gully would be good.  It was definitely a case of keeping the faith as the crag looked sun bathed but once on the route and into the gully itself the route was in great condition, frozen solid throughout and with great ice on the main pitch.  A great route with interest on every pitch and tricky for the grade...  After that we headed to Dollywaggon and climbed Thrash Corner, another brilliant little route with good ice and turf throughout and a thin icy corner, its given IV/5 but is easy for the grade with the ice on the corner...

2 great routes and classics of the Lakes!

Chock Gully IV/4 (5?)**
 Chock stone after the main crux pitch down below this one...

Thrash Corner IV/5**
Pitch 1

 Crux corner

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Scafell Ice 27-02-13

Today gave another fantastic day out in the Lakes, ice climbing and bright sun gave a continental feel to the day!  When will it end?

Ed and I headed up to see what was looking good on Scafell Crag,  I was surprised at how much was stripped away.  Bar the easy gullies there was very little to consider climbing unless in rock shoes! I had thought perhaps Steep Ghyll or Moss Ghyll might have been good but both were far too thin to get on.  The one definite exception was the ice to the right of the Shamrock, The Direct Route cascades looking great from a long way off.  We headed for there and climbed 2 different pillars that had touched down out of the gully on the left.  Both were really good pitches of steep ice and well worth the trip.  All said there was probably more choice in the Helvellyn/Dollywaggon area yesterday with some mixed options as well.  

Another great day of good ice and sun with everything well frozen in the shade.

Thanks to Ed Luke for the photos.

 Abb descent back in for a 2nd route...

Ed on the 2nd route

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lakes Conditions, Helvellyn area. 26-02-13

Still some great conditions to be had, mainly gullies and ice but some mixed holding on in!  Due to bright sunshine anything that catches any sun is suffering a bit.  Out of the sun the snow is frozen hard and many routes are in great condition.  Today I went to Falcon Crag and Chock Gully which was thin until into the gully proper, there was then good ice up to mixed moves around the crux chock.  After that I did Thrash Corner on Dollywaggon North Crag which was in great condition, bomber snow, turf and ice, others were on Dolly Mixture which looked good also.  Then it was over to Jogebar Gully on Nethermost Pike which was OK where steep and shaded and had some good ice but the lower part was suffering in the sun a bit.  Then a quick visit to Helvellyn and Bladerunner was well worth it with some of the best conditions on the route I've seen, lots of ice in the lower groove.  All the gullies looked good, V-corner was climbed also, VB looked quite stripped but could be OK just about via the classic line? certainly the turf and snow on it will be good.  All this was topped off with another day of bright sunshine...


Dollywaggon North Crag

Viking Buttress Area, Helvellyn

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lakes Conditions, Blea Water 23-02-13

 Blea Tarn Gill, left hand fall

 2 pillars on crag at top left of the main Gill

 Mad ice formations

 Looking down the right hand pillar

Birkett's Gully, upper section

Some good ice about the Lakes and the snow condition is generally good and well frozen.  Great End is meant to be good with ice etc forming well, Central Gully and variations possible and Window Gully and the Icefall finish climbable.  Lots of other bits around I'd guess, routes on Tarn/Falcon crag have been climbed, ie. Chock Gully, and also routes on Dollywaggon Crag.

Today I went for a quick look at the Blea Tarn Icefalls, a few routes were climbable, the ice varies and is thin in places but was also very good with a bit of selective route choice.  I climbed the upper part of Birkett's Gully (the narrows upwards) and it was generally really good, plenty of good ice about to link up and snow fairly solid.  I also did the left hand main icefall on Blea Water Gill, the right hand option looked thin...  Above and left of the top of the Gill is a small buttress with 2 pillars, the left was thin with a big ice umbrella at the top but the right one was good, I climbed that at about III and the ice was very good.  The ice pillar on the same level as the main falls of Blea Water Gill and out to the left was not doable just yet.

Lots of other bits of ice around the Cove which could be worth a look.  Access to the car park is possible despite the road closed signs.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ben Nevis, Climbing Article 18/19/20 - 02 -13

The last 3 days I've been climbing on the Ben with Glen (  He's putting together an article about climbing on the Ben for a well known magazine.  We had a skills intro day, a day on Tower Ridge and finished up with the Curtain yesterday.  If you had ordered conditions and weather for photography and making the Ben look its best you couldn't have asked for more!  It was awesome...

Look forward to the article...

Needless to say that many of the Bens best ice routes and ridges and easy angled mixed is in prime condition.  Tower, Castle and Observatory Ridge all good and icy, North East good.   Point 5, Zero, Hadrians Wall, Orion Direct and many many more all looking brilliant!  Some of the best days I've been out on the Ben for sure.  Tower was in easy condition with hard snow and ice, The Curtain was great with a thin exciting 1st pitch but with enough gear not to be out of hand, and on Monday night I did a quick head-torch solo of Zero Gully which was in great condition and the moonlit Summit plateau top out is installed in the memory! 

 Glen off the train from London and time to organise kit....

 Next day on Tower Ridge

 Climbers on Indicator Wall

 The Rum Cuillin beyond

 Indicator Wall

 Tom and Matt

 The full camera crew

Hadrians Wall

The Skye Cuillin Ridge beyond...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Winter Skills Course 16/17-02-13

Had an awesome weekend running a Winter Skills Course for

We had a good day on Saturday doing a circuit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, then the high pressure arrived and gave one of the best days I can remember on Aonach Mor yesterday, great conditions for skis with the Dubh Coire looking great, great conditions for ice and mixed also, the Ben looking white high up, and all in perfect weather!