Ice Climbing in Snowdonia
Having noticed that several of the ice-climbing instructors at the Ellis Brigham Covent Garden Store had a day off work together last week, we decided to make a trip up north to do some winter mountaineering. With Scotland being too far, we settled on the Welsh mountains of Snowdonia National Park.
At 4am we met in a London suburb, piled into the car and began our journey through mid-Wales and into the very snowy north. With stunning scenery abound and conditions to rival the European Alps we were pretty excited. We made it to Pete's Eats in Llanberis for breakfast, over which we took tips from local mountain guides who pointed us in the direction of the back of Mount Snowdon and Crib Goch.
Late morning we headed up the back slopes and vertiginous ridges of Crib Goch and Cwn Glas surrounds to find frozen waterfalls and ice flows everywhere. Conditions were so good and one of the very few climbers we came across said he had been waiting decades for such ice. Three of us ascended some steep snow gullies with some mixed climbing/dry tooling involved where we had to use dual ice axes, technical C2/C3 crampons and donning helmets and harnesses. Following this ascent we climbed a series of ice flows, frozen gullies and a waterfall, which took us quite high on one surrounding ridge of Snowdon. The alpine conditions were exceptional and it was a trip not to be forgotten, plus we bumped into legendary UK mountain athlete Tim Emmett who had recently visited us in London.
We used Petzl-Charlet Quark and DMM Fly ice axes - both performing well in snow and ice and being useful for self arresting. On our feet we wore Scarpa B3 boots and The North Face Verto S4K GTX boots with corresponding Black Diamond C3 and Grivel G12 crampons. These performed well on snow ascents and descents and held perfectly on the ice. On our heads we wore Petzl Elios and Grivel Salamander helmets which luckily protected us from a lot of serious falling ice. To shield us us from the cold, we wore the new Rab Spark technical shell and The North Face and Arc'teryx insulated jackets.