Thursday, 26 December 2013

A ski film about climate change. + Snow in the Beacons.

On the warm up to winter I just wanted to share this cool video with you all. 

It's a wicked film, and totally free to watch, about winter sports and climate change. Some inspirational models of how we can all minimise our impact in the mountains and in our lives. 

Now that's out of the way...

YES - there is snow in the Brecon Beacons
NO - There aren't any frozen ice falls, it's not been nearly cold enough for long enough

Quick write up from Pete Spearing here on the conditions underfoot on PyF. 

'Snow had drifted quite deep by this morning and lower down where it was an older fall (Christmas Eve? ) it had even hardened to what is about the closest to neve we get round here though at this height the ground was a long way short of frozen with little more than an icy crust.

Higher up the were patches of slab and the main face and gulleys were well banked out but still with patches of of softer ground beneath though lots better than lower down. If tonight's front passes quick enough before the rain strips everything and we then get a decent dip in temperature it could be looking good. Unfortunately that is two very big ifs.'

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Craig - y - thin

Unfortunately, I'm sat at the base of Douglas Gap at craig y llyn as we speak. The ice has rotted and melted out overnight and is falling down on me as I type. I think this may be the end of South Wales Winter

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Craig Cwm Du

Some brief notes and pics from Mark Gambold who's been up playing on Craig Cwm Du. 

I climbed this morning with Andy Meek at Craig Cwm Du. Had the place to ourselves. Did two amazing routes in excellent condition. First route was the main stream on the far left and was 5 stepped pitches (gr3/4/4/3/3). Second was in middle of crag, a tough 40m single pitch gr4. You will need about 8 ice screws, slings etc but no nuts, warhogs or pitons. Loads of ice routes/features there. Plenty to do. Ice still solid when we left at 2pm and will be in nic tomorrow. Had a fantastic day! The quality of ice for south wales was amazing today! Dont waste tomorrow!!!

Thanks for the update Mark. Keep them coming all! 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Ice in South Wales... A belated April Fool?

Excellent update in from David Linnet. Thanks David! 

I love working for the University of Bristol because they obviously recognize the quality of their employee’s work and sometimes give them an extra Bank Holiday day off or two… ;-) So what to do and where to go? According to the usual climbing forums there were still ice routes formed and being climbed on April 1st in the Brecon Beacons and in the blinkin’ sun! Surely this was an elaborate hoax or a belated April Fool? Well whatever it definitely merited investigation and along with James Pomeroy  and his lovely new Pomobile we ventured over the bridge and found ice! Firstly we climbed a delightful Grade III called “Joe’s Waterfall” with lots of crazynuts ice umbrellas at Fan Hir near Camarthen Fan. Then a quick relocation to Crag y Llyn to have a poke around another Grade III called “The Weeping Wall” was then duly called for. Alas the main section of this fall was not fully formed so after a mutual agreement that discretion is the better part of valour, a quick ab off and a hasty retreat to the fast-food van for cheeseburgers and tea for calorie replenishment was implemented so happy days! :-)

Joes Waterfall

Weeping Wall - Craig y Llyn

Latest Conditions

Latest brief reports of conditions from all over: 

Douglas Gap and Iron Claws in (4/4/13) but thinning. Conditions still pretty baltic.

Virgin Falls
Formed but thin and rotten. Un-climbable (3/4/13)

Not in (3/4/13)

In but melting/softening ice with running water behind central ice and brittle in places (4/4/13)

Joes Fall
In, exact conditions uncertain other than lots of umbrellas (2/3/13)

RAC Corner
In, exact conditions uncertain (3/3/13)

Pen - Y - Fan
Turf frozen. Solid base. Powdery and windblown over the top. Paths very icy (3/3/13)

If anyone has any updates or knows differently please email to ryanatkins09 (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Craig - y - Llyn and Cwm Du

These great reports and photos in from Tom Gibbison who's been out at both Craig Y Llyn and Cwm Du over the bank holiday weekend. Photos are copyright Peter Derrett

Good Friday:  I’d heard of an icefall over in Cwm Du (over the hill from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad) a few years ago.  With a long weekend pending and Torpantau looking like it was going to have queues to rival a Cypriot cashpoint I persuaded my brother Ben and his mate Pete to come and check it out.  The fall was in great nick and gave us two long and three short pitches of grade 3.  At one point Ben commented that “This is better ice then the Ice Factor” and I couldn’t disagree, first time placements were the order of the day.  It’s a lovely valley and we didn’t see a single person until the walk out.  A cracking route – better and longer then Torpantau in my (entirely subjective) book.

Easter Monday: Craig y Llyn:  On Monday we decided to check out Craig y Llyn.  My Bro was working nights, so we enlisted a replacement in the small but perfectly formed shape of Jimbo, who seemed determined to kill himself by using a rather Heath-Robinson looking pair of home made axes.  Leaving Bristol we were concerned that it was a bit warm as it hadn’t frozen overnight.  Pulling up in the layby at the crag our concerns proved to be entirely unfounded, the earth was rock hard and the wind was bitter.  There were only really two lines formed up, Douglas Gap and Iron Claws.  We didn’t have a guide, so went straight for the tallest fall (turned out to be Iron Claws), it was stood at the bottom of this we noticed the big ice umbrellas on the top pitch.  Jimbo had the scent of gnarl in his nostrils, and it took me some time to persuade him that we should warm up on Douglas Gap first.  Some warm up!  The first pitch was steep and very brittle, quite a surprise after the lovely plastic ice on Friday, all the more surprising was the fact that Jimbo’s home made axes seemed to work quite well.  The rest of the route was easier, so we finished it quickly, abbed down the mankiest piece of cliff I’ve ever seen and went over to Iron Claws.  Up close the ice umbrellas were even more crazy than they looked from the bottom.  By the time I’d arrived at the stance at the bottom Pete and Jimbo had spotted a runnel leading right up under the biggest umbrella, where a neat sidestep under a rock overhang would take us round the side.  This strategy was pretty successful with good ice and bomber turf just where you needed them most.  We had to dodge the top 10 feet of the fall but there’s no way we were touching those umbrellas. Another quality pitch.  Past about 2pm it was absolutely baltic, the easterly was howling up the gully and we were wearing our belay jackets to climb in.  A cup of tea from the snack van at the top sorted us all out for the drive home.  Happy days.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Torpantau Report

Pete Spearing just sent this detailed report of the conditions on Torpantau yesterday.

bottom steps thin with running water but climbable with care. Main pitch almost dry with good ice, top step of this (to my mind always the crux) again a little thin with overhanging chandeliers on all but three left where there is enough good ice although steep. Loads of good ice up the left bank at the to of this pitch for a screw belay. Final 'pitch'as usual fat with chewy ice and a reasonable solo as are the last few little steps.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Torpantau is in...

... that's it, someones said it. Torpantau is in. Whilst I'm enjoying the fine countryside of Taunton all weekend, try to save some ice for me when I get back. Report and photos hopefully coming later this evening. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Is it in? Isn't it in?

Well with snow a-plenty and cold temps lingering still ( There's a lot of talk about whether things are or aren't in. From first hand reports I've heard, of which it must be said there aren't many, stuff is forming. There's an awful lot of snow up around the horseshoe and ice is forming in places although was still a bit thin on the weekend. All winter walkers would be advised to take crampons. 

As usual, a lot of focus is on Torpantau - it should be noted that road from the south up near the Neuadd reservoir is IMPASSABLE under current conditions without 4x4, snowchains, and/or a certain level of tenacity. Your best bet without 1 or all 3 of the above would be a walk in over the tops. The difficulty isn't in getting there so much as getting back out of the dip in the road by the cafe, if you get that far you risk getting stuck in the bottom unable to get up the hill in front, or back the way you came. I speak from 3 hours of ice-axe-adze-road-ice-chipping experience a few years ago...

Putting on my mountain rescue hat, it should be pointed out that we've been very active of late with 5 callout's last week all relating to the cold weather. Be careful of slips and falls and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take appropriate clothing and emergency gear and know how to use it. These are tough yet potentially very rewarding conditions.

Please get in touch with any photos or conditions reports to ryanatkins09 (at) gmail (dot) com. 


From Phil  on Facebook... 

I managed to drive all the way to Neuadd yesterday (I have snow tyres). It may be possible to drive to the Torpantau car park but could be risky with ordinary tyres. However the walk from Birch Grove car park doesn't take too long. There is lots of ice around the Pen y Fan horseshoe so I think there is likely to be ice for climbing in most of the usual venues.

From Mal  on the weekend...

Very poor visibility and the fact that paths are snowed out means that navigation is very interesting up there at the moment. The snow around the peaks is very windblown leaving some solid ice patches which require crampons. Elsewhere, a weak crust forming on deeper snow is making the going quite strenuous.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Torpantau is in

The Masterplan Photography chaps have been out on Torpantau this weekend along with a couple of others, reporting good conditions if a little lean on the lower falls. Snow chains or 4 wheel drive absolutely necessary for approach. 

Just back from a brilliant day on Torpantu, low down was a bit thin but the main fall was in good shape, used snow chains to access the car park from talybont and wouldn't have been able to get up without them

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Conditions update and important notice!

So snow has fallen across South Wales, but unfortunately the conditions updates aren't promising.

This in yesterday from David Webster...

Ok conditions update. Went to rac corner/Craig y fro this afternoon, most turf was well frozen from the road upwards if you could find it under the powder! We climbed the main stream, the first pitch was climb able on the left of the steepest ice pillar at about grade 2, the pillar wasn't fully formed yet but should be good in a day or 2 if nobody knocks it down b4! The top pitch was to delicate so we walked around it, it had been climbed today but we would have destroyed it if we had done it. We then went and climbed the micro route I named white fang last year which was climbable but again delicate. Finally rac corner was forming but very thin and although there were doable problems, it is in danger of being damaged before it is fully formed. Took some photos will try and post them on the Facebook group.

thanks Dave.

Also hearing reports from pen y fan north face that the snow fell so much and so quickly it has insulated the turf which isn't fully frozen.

If the temperatures stay low we should see RAC corner and Craig y Lyn coming in over the next few days with any luck but I'd recommend staying away from turf routes or you risk damaging the environment and yourself.

Torpantau road is reported to be impassible although if I get chance this week ill crack out the snow chains and try get down to check it out. 


Saturday afternoon saw a major rescue effort from three of South Wales mountain rescue teams including CBMRT of which I'm a part of. Access to storey arms was blocked by vehicles parked on the road and grass verges delaying access by our rescue teams and ambulances. Subsequently Dyfed Powys police have put out a warning notice to park responsibly in the area. Please be considerate of emergency service access wherever you park, particularly during the winter months where time becomes even more of an issue due to extreme weather. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Winter on it's way?

So, talk abounds of winter being imminently on it's way. Is it true? Quite possible. Does this mean you should go climb something this week. Probably not! 

Bear in mine that Ice. Is. Delicate. 

Sure it might be climable before the week is out. But if everyone flocks to it then, it won't last long. Far better to wait for some slightly fatter ice/rimed up rock and allow everyone to have some fun. 

I would make an educated guess that ice routes would potentially be climbable this weekend and that the P-y-F headwall and rib lines will be in also. That's educated in the sense that I've been up and looked at them. 

I'm not sure that there will be enough snow in the gullies, or what there is almost certainly won't be consolidated. Remember these gullies are NORTH FACING and deep clefts. Thus, they get little sunlight and with the consistent sub zero temperatures up there this means barely any freeze thaw. So please, be sensible. If you can see exposed vegetation and rock, and you're sinking in fluffy powder, maybe stick to the ribs/butresses. 

Now I know in reality this will make almost no difference posting this. Keen winter warriors from all accross the south of the UK will be flocking to the beacons on Saturday morning to climb whatever they can. But I guess it's my hope that if just one or two people read this and climb sensibly, there might at least be more left for everyone to share and enjoy. 

Whilst we're on it, a quick plug. Stay safe out there! At a member of central beacons mountain rescue team, I'm all too aware of how quickly the weather can change and what can one moment be a clearly defined footpath can turn into  a blind whiteout. Take a map. Take a compass. Know how to use them. And if you do one thing for me, when you're walking back down to pont ar daf and hit the windy col -turn right! Forward will take you straight down the Neuadd, and given recent events, I can promise you the bogs down there are a bitch to go a-wandering in.

Climb safe. Climb sensible. And here's a nice photo to get you excited. 

Looking across the NF Gullies on Sunday late afternoon.