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.

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