Friday, 10 December 2010

Welsh Winter Wonderland... but not for long

If you were to wander into Joe Browns at the moment, you must forgive the occasional sneer from the staff. As the temperatures drop below 0 for the first time in the year, and throngs of customers come in buying axes, crampons and screws and regaling us with tales of their exploits, there is a mild amount of envy in our humble shop.

However, we do occasionally get days off, and when that happens you can be sure that we'll be heading out, wrapped up in layers for a bit of Winter fun. Which is exactly what we've been doing! Even as resident boulderer here at Joe's, last Monday i managed to get out and get a nice relaxed ascent of The Ramp III,3 up in Idwal, with stunning ice conditions. Despite being in a team of 5, this was a truly fun ascent, with the beauty of Petzl Quark axes to aid me on the way up.

And of course I've not been the only one. Many of our other staff have been out and about, enjoying early season ice, including Kelly climbing in the Pass. Here she describes her epic ascent:

"So on Monday, I headed out for my first winter route this season with my newly married mates, Simon & Michele. It was a bit of a last minute plan on my behalf so I grabbed my gear together, only remembering when I couldn't find them, that I had sold my axes earlier on this year.....bugger. So I sweet talked my hubby into lending me his Black Diamond Vipers, which he wasn't too chuffed about...."Don't forget the leashes!" was yelled at me as I hopped into Simons van...

It was a
beautiful clear, cold, blue day & we stopped off in Llanberis Pass & made our way up to Sargent's Gully. Michele & I passed the time on the walking chatting about weddings & honeymoons while Si raced on ahead eager to get on the ice.
The ice was in good condition, & I forgot all about my husband's warning & went leashless! The freedom! It made climbing so much easier. I only had one moment where I thought Michele mi
ght have had an axe in her helmet, when I was trying to get the world's longest ice screw out....

We contemplated carrying up to do Parsely Fern Gully but I had a slight incident where I sank through the snow, up to the top of my leg & my foot got wedged in something cold & wet....whilst Si & Michele were laughing at me & trying to take photos, the bog that I'd sunk into started to fill my boot. Finally Simon realised I was really suck & hauled my leg out...but by then my foot was completely soaked & cold so the only way to go was down....

So now I'm praying for more cold & I'm sure we all are :-)"

However, just as we start to get into the swing of things, and I prepare for an after work session on the most road-side ice we can find, the temperatures rise and the dripping begins, forcing us to down tools and wait. "It'll get cold again next week," is the common consolatory comment, but after a good few weeks of selling ice gear, you can hopefully understand that sneer a little better! Forgive us, we're climbers at heart.

For current ice conditions, please feel free to get in touch, or pop into store.

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