What a winter already! And all the better for only driving 2 hrs to Wales, rather than the epic flog to scotland… The Welsh winter scene has taken off in a big way recently, thanks to the amazing conditions, a fresh set of eyes for the mixed climbing potential, and a whole load of fit psyched locals. Even during the last 2 weeks there’s been an amazing number of new routes climbed – and its not just the mixed stuff thats awesome at the mo with Central Ice fall and most of the Idwal routes being in good climbable nick (well, until todays thaw, but colder weather is on its way again). So with all the recent action, and Si pantons excellent looking new guide on the way (Christmas?), Wales is definitely in the spotlight.
At the end of Nov I was over with Nick Wallis and Tom Holdsworth to climb El Mancho, adding a new direct finish. This followed a steep crack through the overhanging headwall just right of the ‘bellyflop’ section – short but well steep and pumpy ending with a hard rockover (which I blew on the first attempt, ripping some gear and ending up on the slab -ouch). A few days later I hooked up with Dave Hollinger on the Black Ladders to climb a new route up the blunt rib between Cannon rib and Polar Bear. 5 good pitches, the 3rd sharing the crux traverse of Maginot Line (Chris Parkins epic traverse from last season) to access an offwidth crack on the 4th pitch. We called it the Great Escape (VI,7) as there was a foot of snow in Sheff, so we almost didnt! On Wed this week I teamed up with Nick again to climb one of Wales’ most classic ice lines – Central Icefall Direct on Craig Y Rhaeadr. The ice was mainly cold and dry, with a few thin patches but in pretty decent shape overall – thanks to Matt Stygal for showing the way. Bullock, big Pete Rowlands, Streaky and a few other locals were out to play too, so a very sociable day out. PS Pete I’ve never seen so many folk hanging from a single screw belay before, have you been on a diet?