Next stop, Ogwen, North Wales
Phil, Tommy and I packed the van an headed off to the Ogwen Valley in North Wales, the plan was originally Scotland, but 80cm's of snow in roughly a day had smothered that plan. Plan B, head to North Wales, was executed, but not without interest.
North Wales, was a tad warmer than expected and we should have stuck to our plan of staying high. We walked into the Devils Kitchen area above the Idwal Slabs, selected The Ramp (III) with only the top pitch in condition. We roped up and I lead the unprotected and on crumbling ice first pitch, rigged a rubbish belay and Phil and Tommy followed with no issue. Next I lead the top pitch, once again with no issues, but the ice was not great and gear minimal so only two pieces were placed, but the climbing was easy.
Rigging a hanging belay at the foot of the gully at the top, Phil and Tommy made there way up and soon joined me and then disappeared to the top.
He had planned to stay high to allow for cooler conditions and we should have done. But Phil was keen to try Central Route (III/IV). We headed back down, my crampons balls badly in the wet snow, so progress was a bit slow, to the base of a very wet and barely there Central Route. Tommy and I said to Phil, there is no need to get on it as it wasn't in condition, but he was keen and set off on a very thin route.
Phil, battled his way up and in many sectors opting to climb the rock as the ice appeared thin and rotten, after sometime and an excellent lead, we go the call of safe. Tommy started up and I soon followed to cut down the time. After the first few sections it was clear the ice was very thin, but higher up still stuck to the rock and delicate tool work and the ice felt much better that the loose and friable rock. As Tommy and I chatted about it being a great lead, Tommy asked me what I thought it would be as a summer route, I said "a stream, mate" Nearer the belay the ice had got better, but not great for a belay, Phil had wisely whacked his axes into the still frozen turf and the belay looked pretty sound to me.
We congratulated Phil on the lead of the crux and he set off to finish off the route and Tommy and I soon followed. We un-roped, packed the gear and headed for the top again.
We decided to head down from hear and called it a day.
The next day with the weather expected to be warmer we opted for a winter walk, up over Tryfan, taking in Bristly Ridge alternative alternative route, not having a rope so having to work a route around the sentinels on then climb a long exposed snow slope with no axes, which Tommy pointed out once or twice as I wish I had my skis to ski down it. We made it to Glyder Fach, headed across towards our descent route of Y Gribin, made a slight navigational error in the clouds, descended, corrected ourselves, found the top of Y Gribin as the clouds broke and presented beautiful vistas and the Namelss Cwm and its climbing routes in very thick and perfect conditions, Doh! We should have climbed.
We made our way down using our crampons for the first time to the plateau on Y Gribin, where Phil and Tommy took some picks and then we made our way down and back to the van for the long drive home. We all agreed that it had been a successful weekend and the winter walk was certainly not a let down. See Tommy's blog "A Vertical World" link to the left for photo's and more.
Next stop Scotland.