/ Does UK winter climbing exist outwith Scotland *warning, troll*
In view of those long threads about Welsh and Cumbrian conditions that ran for weeks and received thousands of views and many hundreds or low thousand answers, it seems there is some truth in those myths.
My axe wielding experience is limited to Scotland, the Alps and Norway. Have I missed something? Are you all ranting about weird fictional stuff?
I am man enough to take a UKC flaming ;)
I think your missing a lot of classics off your tick list with not coming south
First, we would need to define "classic" though.
A climb of outstanding character, which offers a strong line, continuous and interesting climbing for its grade, and is reliably in-conditions.
I, for one, do not trust the starring system for routes that never had repeats...how can it be a classic if that's not a consensus? I have to rely on the first ascentionist word? Often biased (not even talking about grades here!). Likewise, if it comes into conditions once every 10 years, can it be a classic?
There are plenty of targets I have that I don't think are clasics. They are sought-after but not classics IMO. An example is the shield direct on carn dearg on Ben Nevis. It sounds amazing but can we consider it a classic with only a few repeats?
My second observation would be about grades. What kind of classics are we talking about? A classic grade II snow plod is unlikely to get me in my car and drive south from Inverness. Simply because I am time-starved and that makes me a grade snob.
Thirdly, feeling of remoteness is something I try to achieve in winter climbing. I don't see it as cragging (which I enjoy too). I hate queuing, which is why I tend to avoid the Northern Coires up here, whenever I can.
I sampled the great rock climbing of the lakes, but always thought it was overcrowded.
So i'd like poeple to tell me:
What "classics" are to be sought at grade VI and above?
What areas are reliable?
What areas will provide me with a remote feeling?
It sounds like I am already convinced that you can't provide that. May be I am a bit, but I am a fairly open-minded person and could conceive of driving down for a couple of very special routes. It'd need to be accepted classics with all the above criteria.
Wales isn't it? How long is it?
Devils Kitchen can be a really good waterice venue but is about as reliable as Beinn Udlaidh and is mostly 1-2 pitches.
Done bits and bobs in the lakes which can be pretty descent when conditions are good, bit like Scotland but on the whole shorter routes.
"Devils Appendix if it wasn't for the inevitable queue!"
I've been to the devils kitchen several times and have yet to see much of a queue on devils Appendix, I think the Welsh winter grades tend to be a bit stiffer and Devils Appendix isn't an easy VI for wales (so I hear) so I think the difficulty prevents many people trying it. Looks proper good though well worth a drive down for.
OK, I think we can concede that you win this one. We're better than you at rugby though :-)
I can't answer your questions about what makes a "classic" in the Lakes, what areas are reliable and what areas will give you a sense of remoteness. In the latter case probably nowhere can give you the remoteness of a remote Scottish climb.
The interest in Welsh and Cumbrian winter conditions probably comes from the fact that there are many of us not so fortunate to live in Scotland so have to go with what is easier to get to.
Equally we are time-starved too and getting to Scotland is a long expensive journey especially if you are from the south of the country.
Please too we are not "ranting about weird fictional stuff". These climbs really can exist and I have done a few myself but only at the lower grades as I'm not such a great climber.
Most of us are just exchanging ideas and info in those long threads and discovering whats been done or not recently.
For me winter climbing is about having an enjoyable fun day out in the mountains and if the Lakes and Wales offer it I will go in addition to Scotland.
I think you may be concentrating on the term 'classic' what does it matter? It's all about quality not quantity.
Since when does a climb have to br reliably in-condition to be a 'classic'. Surely some of the rarer forming routes have an even more classic status because the prize is even higher and harder to obtain.
Brilliant point. E.g. Innaccessible gully, Dove Crag Gully and Great gully RH branch on Wasdale screes to name a few.
Any winter route on Pillar rock feels properly remote. West Waterfall gully being a great example.
The Lakes tends to have some excellent short and sharp routes, most of which are graded IV.
I've found the Lakeland classics tend to have much more technical climbing on delicate featured water ice. Way more interesting than steep snow ice.
It is interesting to see the contrast in number of views for the Lakes and Wales conditions posts. There are a lot of routes in the Lakes and Wales that I would like to do. But it is about the same distance to get there and if it is good in the Lakes/Wales it will probably be good in Scotland and quieter because lots of folk will be taking advantage of getting out closer to home so I suspect I am unlikely to sample any either.
Rock climbing is different as it can often be pants in Scotland when it is good in the Lakes, possibly less midgey and the mountain routes aren't that busy
When the snow is too deep and powdery over much of scotland it can be really good in the lakes / snowdonia as it's milder a bit lower and gets different weather.
Conditions are often pants in Scotland when they're good in other parts of Scotland.
If your criteria includes reliability - the answer is 'none'.
And those ranty threads did my nut in. Usually babbling on about routes that aren't that good.
I do suggest you pop down to the lakes though, coz the beer is miles better than that Scottish shite. And many of the routes are good, when they are in!
I hear you but disagree. I had plenty goes at amazing climbs which are not classic in my books because they do not get done regularly enough.
For me a classic climb is mostly always a good climb whereas a good climb is not necessarily a classic climb.
I gave an example of a route I would go to great length to do. I would make me happy. I don't think it is a classic, yet it is an aspiration. The shield direct on Ben Nevis.
We may have to agree to disagree.
True about the beer. I use to love being based in Glasgow as we would raid England at weekends. Nothing better than a pint and pub grub in malham after a day trad-ing there!
As a Lancastrian, I have to say Yorkshire beer edges it. Beats Buckfast hands down. Only my Grasmere born Grandma, and the lads I worked with as a youth worker in Glasgow, seemed to enjoy buckfast.
There's loads of classic hard mixed and ice routes in Wales but they are less often in condition. To name a few off the top of my head:
The Devil's Appendix
Central Icefall Direct
Loads of classic mixed lines on Clogwyn Du
Black Ladders is surely of the best UK winter venues when in condition
No you're right, nothing worth bothering with in Cumbria, stay away, nothing to see here!
so you can keep for yourself? Selfish!!
That two grooves looks good. How long is it? Grade?
Give more details about Black Ladders. Something like this:
IMO Bein Eighe is the best winter venue, a very subjective thing. Going for it: high, offers what I like (steep mixed and ice), stunning scenery, and generally not busy.
Routes that you do not forget. I've had more spanking then success there but continue going!
Buckfast is the most ironic of blasphemes: to think that monks dare do that to wine...I am convinced that they're all roasting in hell, that's all theyr deserve anyway!
There's a lot better route's to do in the Lakes than 2 grooves.
I reckon if the Ladders were in Scotland they would be one of the top ten venues - better than Meagaidh for instance. A big cliff, a mile wide, with lots of big obvious lines. The geology and aspect lend themselves perfectly to winter climbing with an abundance of vegetated groove lines. The cliff sits between the second and third highest mountains in the UK outside Scotland, so comes into condition more often than most. The Carneddau are nothing like as popular as Snowdon and the Glyderau for walkers, so the cwm retains a wild, remote feel. But that's quite enough information.
I wouldn't know hence my semi-troll post. Enlighten me.
Excellent. Exactly what I need to know cheers Adam.
Your name has been noted.
In the Lakes Great Gully Right Hand (V) and Raven Crag Gully (III/IV) are as good as anything I've done in scotland at their respective grades. As NMM said above, much of the climbing in the Lakes is on featured and sometimes thin ice and technical mixed. This makes the routes often feel hard for the grade and very interesting to climb.
Chock Gully is another good one and has some very interesting icy mixed climbing on it, although it took me 3 visits to get it in condition, so it doesn't fit your reliable criteria.
The Black Ladders is a superb venue and as Adam says above would easily make it into a top ten cliffs list were it in Scotland. Idwal is ok, but the Ladders are truly immense.
Judging conditions is part of the satisfaction really - none of these climbs are reliable but all have been in good condition for several periods over the last 4 years.
There are also some overrated areas in Wales and the Lakes, which get a lot of coverage on here. I think Helvellyn Red Tarn and Brown Cove faces are well overrated and not worth the trip from Scotland. Similarly I think Great End is not worth the trip from Scotland.
The other routes I've mentioned certainly are worth the trip, and the beer is loads better in the Lakes too.
Also, it's hard to get beta on conditions at places like Black Ladders so there is still the sense of adventure as to what to expect. As with NW Scotland, where there are also less conditions reports vs. places further South. Probably not for you if you want SAIS photos, professional guide blogs, etc telling you exactly what is climbable ;-)
Not a problem, I climb mostly in the NW.
A definite reason to vote YES. Another english initiative to subjugate the scots.
Two Grooves is short, IV 6 and good for what it is - in a sort of Northern Corries / Cha no way.
Re wildness - you're right, you are not going to be 'that' remote in the Lakes, certainly not in comparison to areas of Scotland. Having said that, this is a good thing for me personally. I live in the Lakes with a young family, so, when conditions are right, can grab great classics and be back for an early lunch if necessary, or go for a longer adventure if time allows. The advantage of not having much wildness, (which I do also appreciate,) is accessibility.
In relation to route quality Scafell and Bowfell buttresses offer routes as good as big and as 'remote' as something like SCNL, Gable I feel is more akin to Coire an Lochain in style. Many routes do lack the scale of the bigger Scottish or Black Ladders routes, (most of the longest are no more than 4 pitches,) but Pisgah Buttress Direct on Scafell will give you a six pitch route which is pretty sustained at VI 6ish, and Great Gully on Wasdale Screes gave us nine pitches of great climbing up to V 4/5, (and 15 minutes from the road - see my earlier point.) It's also worth noting that we did it on Good Friday, so pretty much every climber in Britain was on holiday, and had it to ourselves in excellent condition on a blue sky day.
The often sighted Lakes classics are as good as classic routes of their genre North of the border, and very few routes, (although admittedly a couple I've put up!) will not give a good day out. I also think their usually more fickle nature gives them a bit more of an aura and sense of satisfaction when completed; I did Chock Gully, (not particularly hard or big, but a clasic) last season, that is about 30 minutes drive from home and which I've tried to be in the right place at the right time for for 20(?) years. Great company, great route, great weather and back home for child care duties by 11am after a late breakfast in Ambleside.
So the Lakes - for the most part not big, reliable or remote, but has some superb routes and different advantages to Scotland.
The best Scottish winter climbing is actually in France. Would've thought you'd have known this!
Personally i dont think you can beat the ogwen valley for concentration of quality when conditions are good (ie last spring). you can walk to about 4 different crags from the camp site/bunkhouse/hostel and drive to many more in only about 15 mins, many of the walk ins are under an hour and the longest is only about an hour and a half. every kind of climbing from mountain ridge scrambles (e.g tryfan) to monster snowed up rock test pieces (eg clogwyn du) with plenty of your standard mixed gully/butress routes (e.g trinity face). not to mention the best water ice venue in britian (Devils kitchen) and at grade VI it doesnt come much better than the Devils Appendix! you have every aspect and a range of altitudes to choose from to accomodate conditions, and although not remote (which has its benefits as already stated) you can find solitude by carefull route selection.
and nobody has mentioned south wales yet? some remarkably good water ice up to grade V which in a good winter (e'g last year) can come into condition very quickly given the low altitude and latitude!)
Definitely worth getting the guidebook! ;-)
is there one? A recent or ancient print?
I disagree...weather is far too settled to be as challenging? Guarenteed conditions because based on calendar dates regardless on how wintry it looks. Take the argument away, lose half the fun?
Hi Erick, yes there is a recent guide book if you are interested.
Lake District Winter Climbs by Brian Davison, Cicerone press.
Released in 2013. Ignore what someone said about Ogwen being the best icefall climbing in Britain, Liathach, Ben Nevis, Honister in the Lakes and probably lots of places I've not been are all better
Beinn Bhan, Coire Scamadal!
I don't think we're talking about the same routes. I'm thinking about the pre-alpes which are becoming popular in 'wintry' conditions and have loads of potential and quite a bit of vegetation. Also I don't think anyone really cares about calendar dates these days. Haven't heard anyone claim a 'winter ascent' for a long time, at least of an ice/mixed route. Scotland's definitely better if you like scraping white stuff off rock though!
Teh I don't know. I've lived in the UK these past 12 years, none of my pals home are into what I do in climbing...al sports red-pointers of 7b upwards!
Could you email me details? It is outside the thread remit. Cheers
As always, an interesting post from yourself.
Are you on school holidays from Mon 7th for 2 weeks, I'm off then?
The best weeks winter climbing I've had in the UK was in N Wales four years ago, and solely in the Devil's Kitchen area. During the week, so totally quiet, very close to the car so you never feel the urge to speed up that you get in Scotland.
I've also been lucky enough to climb Grey Mare's Tail three years ago which is exceptional.
To key to it is having the ability to go for it at short notice when the conditions are right, as they're obviously less frequent than in Scotland.
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