Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pen-Y-Fan North Face

North Face of Pen-Y-Fan.

Climbed it today, 23/12/09. Did 2 routes, Near Right Gully and Central Gully.

Near Right Gully was very enjoyable, thin powder at the bottom getting thicker to at least a foot or 2, more in parts, with harder neve-esque patches and a few fun ice steps to get a bit of front pointing in on. Turf was rock solid all the way up and the top snow field, although powder swimming, was fantastic fun on the frozen turf all the way up to the short right hand headwall. About a foot in places.

Went back down after to do central gully. Similar in conditions, but the rock steps are a bit tricky in parts with not much ice on them and rock not fully frozen in place, although there are still ways up. As we got half way up, it started to snow, lots, and we were covered in spindrift avalanches. The snowfield at the top is quite steep and very deep in places with 1-2ft of snow and good solidly frozen turf underneath, but the final 50 metres or so before the headwall is a thick covering of powder on top of axe blunting rock. Still perfectly climbable all the way to the top though, and lots of fun.

Once we'd summited, over the 6 horus we'd been there from 11am-5pm there had been a good 4-6 inches of fresh snow dumped on the summit, and the path lower down near the woods had a fresh dusting. Approach path is pretty slippy at the moment, either stick to the grassy sides or stick your crampons on. There will be a lot of fresh powder up there over the next few days as it's unlikely to get chance to consolidate, although back in the carpark it was a bit warmer in the evening so perhaps the temps will drop slightly and give a good bit of freeze thaw.

Either way, if you're happy to powder swim at points, and mixed climb at others, the gullies are most definitely climbable and a hell of a lot of fun. Felt pretty serious at points with the white out and blizzard conditions, not what one expects 30 mins from cardiff. Definitely worth a crack!

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