For the last couple of seasons I have been using a range of Edelrid Ice Gear. This week I have been putting it through it's paces in North Wales
Central Icefall Direct
On Monday Matt and I walked up to Craig Y Rhaeadr to have a look at Central Icefall Direct VI, 6***. This massive Icefall links 2 impressive pillers up the centre of the 100m wall which had not been climbed yet this season. I led off up the first steep grade 5.5 pitch, which offered sustained climbing for 30m. Matt then dispatched the second pitch swiftly. This 35m grade 6 pitch offered some outstanding steep climbing up the central piller in an outstanding position. The crux of the route today was the final piller/icicle. This gave some extremely steep climbing, which was overhanging to start and very pumpy. Although there were good placements to be had, The way it had formed made it very hard for the feet. Thankfully, this only lasted for around 4m. A truely amazing route.
Tuesday took Matt and I into the Black Ladders with a few ideas in mind as usual. We were both a bit tired after yesterday's running about, so we opted for the easier option of Western Gully*** V/VI, 6 (there is still a little debate). This climbs the 300m+ gully up the middle of the crag. We soloed up the first 150m of easy ground to reach the first of the hard pitches. Grade 3 in the old guide (for snow and ice), but a good IV, 5 in the new which is about right. We then climbed the direct out of the cave which gave a fantastic pitch of technical 6 climbing, with some strenuous chimneying. The crux slab on the 3rd pitch was pretty straight forward tech 6 balancy climbing with a tuff exit to easy ground. One more grade 4 pitch took us to a long slog up easy ground to finish. A stunning veiw at the top and we meet up with friends for the walk out.
For these contrasting routes I have been using the Edelrid Samba Crampons and Excaliber Pro Axes. Both are highly technical and cope extremely well with steep ice or technical mixed climbing. I have also been using the Edelrid Merlin ropes. Despite the wet cold conditions, they did not lose any performance or freeze when everything else was.