Idwal Ice

14th Jan 2010

Before the Thaw

Some of the pics are John Haslam's as indicated by [JH].

Got an earlier start today, to try and get to the Idwal playground before (a) the rush, and (b) it all fell dowm. Forecast was for hill fog, overcast and rising temperatures, so we weren't sure what to expect, particularly after the last few warmer days.

Well, the forecast was wrong. Ogwen at 8am was claggy and grey...


... but as soon as we started gaining height we were out into the sunshine. More like "valley fog" than "hill fog".

Plan for today was some Grade 3 ice, with The Ramp (III 3 **) being first on my to-do list. Despite the 4:30am start, we were still beaten to The Ramp and had to wait. But not too long before John headed off up the first pitch (which he hadn't done before).

The icefall to the right is The Screen (IV 4 ***) and has evolved in John's mind over the last couple of trips from "Too much for me" to "We'll have to give it a stab next time".

The belay at the top of the first pitch is in an ice cave, which made for an interesting start for me on the second pitch.


The ice was good enough for 19 and 22cm screws, but I couldn't help feeling that the nice no.6 Wallnut in the rock wall just above was far more encouraging.

Unfortunately I was (a) enjoying myself far too much, and (b) ignored John's excellent advice, and ran the top two pitches together, requiring some amount of simu-climbing and rope stretch before reaching a half decent belay consisting of one nut, an axe hooked over a rock and an axe in some turf. I suppose it counts as three pieces. Just.

The usual path down gave us a good view of people on The Curtain which I've never seen in condition before.

Having warmed up on The Ramp, we headed for John's choice, Central Route (III 3/4) - middle of the picture above the two people in black.

Again, we had to queue, but at least it gave us time for lunch. John got the first pitch again where the ice proved less than perfect - quite sugary in places.

I got the longer second pitch above John's poor spike belay, but failed to quite run it into the third pitch which John finished off. The only protection was ice screws, but although the ice was fat enough to swallow my 22cm screw, I wouldn't have want to test any of them with a fall.



Another lap of the descent path and a quick look at a team on the Appendix was deemed enough. We headed off - with a gratuitous panorama - down to the cafe and pints of tea.