Winter - wow!

© Chris Craggs

Over the years Chris Craggs has amassed a huge collection of photographs many of which have appeared in Rockfax guidebooks. In this short photo article Chris delves into his collection to choose some great photos of glorious winters past. You can see more of Chris's fine shots on his pbase site.

The recent dire weather warnings of doom and disaster and the subsequent lack of any decent snow got me mulling so I pulled out a few old slides to see if my memory was really going! No, the evidence is incontrovertible - we used to have regular 'proper' winters.

The Snowdon Horseshoe in prime condition at Easter back in 1973 is one memory, then in the late 1970s and through into the 1980s we had some great Februarys, year after year. I remember Idwal plastered, the lake frozen well enough to walk straight over - and the whole Cwm really busy, we ticked a couple of classics under deep powder snow. The following day we did Black Cleft on Dinas Mot. The main pitch required quiet a bit of aid, up through a never-ending stream of spindrift. On reaching the belay I looked down to see Dave Spencer up to his armpits in snow. "Very impressive" he shouted "now come down" - we finished it in good style though!

Sadly I don't have any shots of an epic day on Western Gully, when we had to pull out all the stops to get up it. The following day, a Sunday, we were suitably knackered, but called in at Aber Falls, just for 'a look'. Of course it was frozen (supposedly a once in a fifty year event) so we did the two main lines left and right of the still running stream before heading for home - and we had the place to ourselves all day.

The there were moonlight ascents of Mam Tor and solos of Back Tor Gully, ascents of Priestcliffe Icicle and a hanging icefall in Waterfall Swallet, and skiing from Fox Hose to Hunter's Bar - winters - hmmmm - where did they go?

Fox House road in the late 1970s


Fox House road near Sheffield. We skied from Fox House, across Houndkirk Moor, down to Ringinglow, through the parks and back to the front door on Endcliffe Rise Road!

Snowdon Horseshoe in Easter 1975


The Snowdon Horseshoe in fine condition at Easter 1975. We followed it with a day on Tremadog.

Cwm Idwal plastered in snow in 1975


Cwm Idwal plastered in snow in 1979

Dave Spence on the Devil's Kitchen at Cwm Idwal - February 1979


Dave Spence on the Devil's Kitchen at Cwm Idwal in February 1979. A busy day - Devil's Kitchen and Hanging Garden Gully, and the next day, Black Cleft (Dinas Mot).

Idwal Icefall in 1979


Cwm Idwal icefall in 1979. That might be Mel Griffiths up there.

Steve Warwick above Cwm Idwal in 1985


Steve Warwick above Cwm Idwal 1985. A lump of snow extracted from my rucksack and placed on the (internal) bedroom windowsill of the CC hut was still there a week later when we left.

Chris Craggs on the gully left of the Cromlech in 1985.


Chris Craggs on the gully left of the Cromlech in Llanberis Pass - winter 1985. There wasn't much snow on the hill, but the gullies were in prime condition.

More information Chris Craggs Photography

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4 Dec, 2008
Good to remember what Winters used to be like - the Fox house Shot brought back memories of helping rescuing sheep up there (you had to dig to find em!) Si
4 Dec, 2008
We did Mam Tor Gully under a full moon and really deep snow (a college minibus full). A rapid sitting glissade, zooming back down the gully was the highlight though. Chris
4 Dec, 2008
I have somewhere a black and white print of us parked below raven 's Tor, snow all around, aiding up what is Revelations in about 1980. Those were the years when idwal was frozen, then you know everything was in nick.
4 Dec, 2008
But question is, will we ever see it like that again?
4 Dec, 2008
No reason why not though probably not as frequently as it used to happen for a while at least.
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