Lakes & Wales - New Routes & Conditions

It's all been happening North of the border (See UKC Report by Dan Goodwin), and for once, it's all been happening in the Lakes and North Wales too. The current ice-age conditions have seen new routes aplenty both in Cumbria and in Gwynedd.

Idwal Ice Falls on  Friday January 8th , 235 kb
Idwal Ice Falls on Friday January 8th
© Jack Geldard

Idwal Ice Action on Friday January 8th , 206 kb
Idwal Ice Action on Friday January 8th
© Jack Geldard, Jan 2010


Jon Ratcliffe seems to be quite the man of the moment with his Idwal route The Devil's Appendage. This route (initially graded VI,6 - but subsequent ascents have thought it VII,7) tackles the rarely formed ice line on the left wall of the Devil's Kitchen in Cwm Idwal. You can read a full report of Jon's ascent on the GroundUp Website.

Current Idwal conditions (Friday 8 Jan) are superb. Most of the ice lines are being climbed. The super classic Devil's Appendix is not quite fully formed yet (don't knock it off!) but most other classic routes are seeing lots of ascents (check the UKC Winter Conditions page).

Several new routes have been climbed up on Cloggy, which is reportedly in reasonable condition. A possible new route has jusr ben climbed on Lliwedd yesterday by Adam Wainwright and Streaky Desroy, who reported pretty scary conditions and a difficult approach due to deep soft snow.

The Black Ladders have been the scene of a few epic snow covered approaches. A lot of snow is in that valley and one team took five hours to reach the crag a few days ago. Lots of activity here last week, but this has slowed due to avalanche risk and difficult access. I also heard that there was an accident on this cliff a few daus ago and some climbers were airlifted out - so a speedy recovery to those involved.

In the Pass, Cascade has been climbed by Mark Baggy Richards and Libby Peter. You can read about it on Mark's excellent blog, which is a superb resource for keeping up to date on Welsh Winter conditions.

There is also a great thread running in the UKC Forums - Welsh Winter Conditions.


Brilliant Blencathra, 65 kb
Brilliant Blencathra

Steve Ashworth has been out climbing some new routes in the Lakes with his ascents of D Route on Gimmer and Hangover Dove Crag. His ascent of Hangover on the 3rd of January sounded particularly epic - see text box:

The Lakes have seen a large amount of snow and as such will have some avalanche danger. Steve has recently climbed Launchy Gill (Info and photos on his blog) and has commented on his blog:

"I would be very wary of the Helvellyn head wall, there is some windslab about."

Steve works at the Epicentre Outdoor shop in Ambleside and is happy for people to phone the shop for current climbing and walking conditions: Tel: 01539528528

The first winter ascent of Hangover on Dove Crag, 137 kb
The first winter ascent of Hangover on Dove Crag
© Steve Ashworth
The first winter ascent of FWA D Route on Gimmer., 94 kb
The first winter ascent of FWA D Route on Gimmer.
© Steve Ashworth

Steve's Winter Climbing Lessons:

Lesson 1.

If you can drive to within an hours walk of a crag do. Don't decide that the cumulative driving and walking time would be the same as walking from home and embark on a 2 and a half hour snow bash to get to your route.

Lesson 2.

Don't drop your leashless tool down a bottomless crack half way up a route with darkness clipping at you heels in part due to lesson 1.

Lesson 3.

If you have yet to take heed of lesson 2 make sure your headtorch works before you attempt to finish your route with one axe. Climbing in the dark with one tool and no torch presents a challenge.

Lesson 4.

If you have yet to take heed of lessons 1,2 and 3 make sure you are climbing with Brian Davison who it turns out is quite good at climbing in the Dark with no torch and only one axe, He also still uses leashes so there is no risk of him dropping his. If you have fallen short on lessons 2 and 3 steal his torch and ice axe and make a B line for the top of the crag leaving him to deal with the aftermath.

Lesson 5.

If you failed at lesson 1 it is a long walk down without a torch.

Martin Campbell has been out filming in the current conditions in the Lakes and also taking stunning panoramic photographs. You can check out more of his videos and images on his website:

VIDEO: Lakes Mountainscapes This Week

Extra thanks go to Martin Campbell of for his work with this video late on a Friday afternoon.

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