Wednesday, 7 December 2011

New season, New routes, New attack plan, New guide.

So with the first smatterings of powder gracing the hills of North Wales this past week, I thought it was about time to rekindle things down this way with a fabulously speculative and entirely unfounded amount of excitement about winter conditions in South Wales.

The last 3 years have seen some incredible winter conditions up in the valleys and mountains of South Wales and there is no doubt that this is an exceptional occurance, however we can but live in optimism of such fantastic conditions prevailing again this year.

Over the past few years many old routes have been re-opened, as it were, and seen an awful lot of little publicised ascents such as Virgin Falls and some of the tougher, thinner lines at Craig-Y-Llyn. However the question remains - what is left. Undoubtedly the numerous mountainsides of the south wales valleys hold a huge number of waterfalls, all of which, given the correct conditions, have the chance to freeze up and provide some fantastic sport. So for me, something big this year is exploration and watching, I'm very keen to see if now that the established winter classics such a torpantau and central gully on Pen Y Fan have been reborn, whether the collective mass of adventurous winter enthusiasts can come up with anything new.
What's out there waiting to be discovered..?

The new guide for South Wales is now also in much awaited production with the finishing touches being added. If anyone has any photos they think might be useful please get in touch with Steven Delaney at SWMC. Isn't that exciting - some new guidebook porn to drool over on those pointlessly wet and slightly too warm winter days in the office - staring out of the window and becoming increasingly impressed that the only white stuff in sight are the clouds - and they're more of a manky grey anyway. I digress. Guidebook - Woooop!

Fantastic conditions is of course, a subjective term. Those of you who live in Cardiff will be well aware that the population en-masse appear to be entirely incompetant at driving when it comes to dry and warm conditions, and from previous experience, 3 mm of snow on the road means all but the climbers amongst us seem to go skidding and sliding about everywhere - what is it that people don't understand about high gears and the fact that simply stamping on the accelerator to get yourself out of a slippy spot just won't work. That said, those of us capable of leaving the confines of our cul-de-sac or navigating the precarious winter hazard that is Cathays Crossroads (M8?) are bound to find more challenging conditions further up in the hills - particularly the notoriously impassable road to Torpantau (see my previous blog post about the time I nearly ended up upside down in a ditch in a landrover at 2 in the morning having failed to reach the car park - fun was had by all). It is for this reason that this year I am prepared for a fight. New winter tyres on a new car, with a set of snow chains in the boot for emergencys and my avi shovel to save myself from spending 2 hours chipping away at the pack ice with my adze... aint nothin' gonna stop me hitting the ice.

Bring it, winter.

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