Winter weather has finally arrived in Wales (well, kind of!). I’ve just enjoyed a couple of days winter climbing up on Clogwyn Du above Ogwen. The freezing level, rather unusually, hasn’t come down to sea level yet this winter and the snow line is still very high (around 500m). So I was rather sceptical walking up through the mud and rain to Clogwyn Du with the irrepressibly enthusiastic winter climbing guru Andy Turner. To our surprise however the final one hundred metres of ascent to the crag showed promising signs of winteriness and through a sudden break in the cloud we saw a totally white crag which even had a pair of in-situ climbers on it!
Our objective was a modern classic test-piece called ‘Travesty’ to kick-start our winter seasons. Having attempted the line the previous winter and gone the wrong way I was keen to get things straight. The crux pitch is a relatively short and wild traverse around the nose of the crag. It went smoothly enough (apart from getting hot-aches halfway through the pitch!) and I was soon in sinker hooks racing up the easy ground to the belay. Andy cruised along to the belay in a matter of minutes whilst carrying a bag (git!) and smoothly led through up the easier but still very enjoyable climbing to a very windy ridge.
The following day I was back up to a considerably busier Clogwyn Du to do a pleasant(?) squeeze chimney called ‘Pillar Chimney’ before work. I also wore my new ‘Stretch Neo Jacket and Pants’ properly for the first time. Both items have a really nice cut and fit and Polartec’s NeoShell fabric is undoubtedly the best fully waterproof fabric I’ve ever used. Very breathable, very waterproof and very comfy when you’re being battered by spindrift! That could well be the end of our first spell of winter weather as temperatures are rising and rain is falling but it was a pleasant change to trying to rock climb in freezing weather.
Other than that I’ve been climbing on slate a fair bit trying some projects and climbing a couple of routes that I hadn’t done before on the awesome Rainbow slab: highlights include the rarely climbed ‘Chewing the Cwd’ E5 6a and getting close to flashing ‘Naked Before the Beast’ E6 6c which James McHaffie casually on-sighted before me.
Anyway, time to enjoy more important things like mince pies and Christmas cake now. Have a good Christmas!