The weather has been fantastic this last week. Cold frosty nights and crisp sunny days.

North Wales can be amazing this time of year; at the beginning of the week I managed to get out rock climbing on slate one day then running up hero neve Ueli Steck style the next with the Plas Y Brenin staff Christmas party in between...perfect!

On the slate I managed to do a route called Chitra 7c in a few red-points. Chitra is a real three star hidden gem. The route is located on the bottom left hand side of lower rainbow walls. We approached from Nant Paris. I have wanted to do Chitra ever since I did the Dark Half back at the end of last year. Both are Nick Harm routes, of similar style; vertical slate walls with big thrusting moves between holds. Chitra was given 7c+ but it's more like 7c now in its current state after a rock fall which deposited two railway tracks at the bottom of the route. We started the route by climbing up the metal tracks and with the second bolt pre clipped since the bottom bolt is slightly mangled. The climbing is not as hard as the Dark Half, but the moves are just as fun. Being slightly off vertical many moves are quite balancy. About half way up is the best move of the route, as Luke said it's the "hardest looking easiest move" he's ever done! A balancy undercut move which requires letting go with all but one point of contact and reaching up past the point of return!

Chrita is located on a steep wall on the bottom right of this photo - approaching from Nant Peris

"The hardest looking easiest move" on Chitra 7c

After a good social and a rather late night I woke up in a rather frosty van to another stunning day.

Morning view of semi frozen lake front of PYB

 Before heading to work I decided the best way to get rid of the dull hangover was to get onto on the hills. After a chilly start (-5 deg C inside the van!) I mission it up B Gully II on Y Garn. The snow was quite good but could have done with a bit more in places.

Y Garn gully lines

Looking down B Gully, could do with a bit more snow but what was there was hard

B Gully hero neve top-out!

Vew from summit of Y Garn

Kicking off the Winter Season!

Yesterday John Orr and I managed our first winter route of the season! feels like a real treat to get some quality early season winter routes done on our doorstep.  Only a week or two ago we were clipping bolts in sunny Catalunya! The start the winter season is looking promising, yesterday we got two routes done..already a 50% increase in the number of Welsh winter routes I did last season!

Bit of morning sun breaking through the cloud on Pen Ola Wen

We headed up into Cwm Cneifion and Clogwyn Du being one of the more reliable venues for early season mixed climbing. The crag certainly looked wintry enough and temperatures were just about cold enough, probably hovering around freezing.

Clogwyn Ddu

First we did Cleft Gully V, 6 on the right hand side of the crag, the first pitch was surprisingly icy, it would probably have taken a screw or two. Not having any screws with us we made do with slings round icicles. The second pitch was quite short but packed a punch. About 5m or so of super steep hooking and can opener moves, I even managed the throw in a crampon heal hook at one point, awesome fun!

Cleft Gully icy P1 

Cleft Gully steep P2
Living the dream! Topping out into Glyderau winter wonder land
Next we headed over to Golden Girl Ali IV, 5 a nice mixed pitch up the right hand side of the tower next to Tower Gully. This pitch gave some cracking mixed climbing on good rock and frozen turf following a series of cracks.

Looking down Golden Girl Ali

Finale section of Golden Girl Ali
Conditions were pretty good, the turf was frozen and there was more ice than we expected. However last night the freezing level rose and snow turned to rain which looks like it has wiped out a fair bit of snow lower down. Hopefully it will freeze again soon and some winter stuff will have remained higher up. The routes we did were predominately mixed routes which don't require much build up of ice and snow. It will be sometime and some more thaw freeze before conditions and good for the trinity face and other classic gully climbs.