Done some winter hill walks in snowdonia and now want to progress into the winter months to get into the snow and do some gulley routes, climbs or walks?..Then I have listed a winter packing list for my snowdonia winter climbing kit. North Wales like any other mountain area can throw some harsh weather at you when at altitude so its important to understand the basics of packing and kit requirements. There are many good guides in Anglesey and in Snowdonia who will be more than helpful at giving you some winter hiking lessons to get used to the styles, practices and techniques. After I did my SPA and ML training it was the first thing I did was get some time on the hills with some good guides, luckily I have a lot of friends who guide so I just buddied up for many days to learn..In the article below I haven’t gone into the whole navigation chat, but it goes without saying that winter climbing is a pretty bonkers sport and your nav and skills need to be top notch. So get your nav skills well up before venturing out and partner up with someone who is equal or better than you on the hill. Always get some tuition before just going for it- I had maybe 60+ hours in before I went and did my first winter climbing leads.
Winter climbing in north Wales as mentioned in the previous article is a little different from summer climbing or basic trad climbing. There are a lot more eventualities to account for, in that conditions can worsen and you may have to assail off in a hurry. Protection is a lot harder to find, so this needs to be a consideration also. Goals for the days climb and preparation in terms of forecasts and route knowledge can prevent varying either too much or too little. Too much can be a heavy burden in terms of pack weight, and too little can mean a disaster if you run out of protection or gear. Ive put together below a lit of what I take out on the hills in winter months, this list is for winter climbing- not just a hike. For a winter hike most of the protection would be removed and the twin ropes would also, instead a 25m thin rope I would take if I’m leading a new person up or if we are going to make it a scramble..
So first you need to decide on a route, is it a gentle walk, scramble, steep hike or climb.. this will decide on the pack list. As I’ve said above you can omit some of the kit if you are just going for an easy stroll obviously don’t take a load of ice screws.. Second if we are winter climbing we need to see what route we want to do. If it s mixed route as in with rock and ice (I’m assuming its not for beginners!) but if s your style of ice axe is gong to be very different in terms of its pick. T rated picks are recommended instead of B rated pics as they can withstand Torquing in rock. That said I have my Black Diamond vipers here with B rate pick on from a Italian trip last year. I do use these in Snowdonia, but only when the ice is thick enough. Third length and number of pitches will also give an idea to volume of pro you may need and size of ropes.. Id recommend twins through and through, I use 8.4mm sterlings at 50m- maybe I should recommend 60m ones instead- dry treated ropes are also much much better as they don’t absorb the water from melted snow and ice and end up weighing tons..
Rack wise, I like to opt for a set off DMM offsets, a set of Wind country traditional walnuts, a set of 7+ ice screws, I use two different types, Grive easy screws and Back Diamond turbo screws, An assort meant of 240cm slings coiled up (4) 180cm slings (2) and some small ones for quick draws 40cm (2), Winter quick draws I like to use Camp thick beasties 8 of them, A set of DMM chocks 1-4, bulldogs small x 3, big DMM crabs x 3 normal dmm crabs x 4, BD viper ice axes, spinner leashes, Abalankov threader, tat x 2 pieces, belay device x 2 incase of a fumble and drop, 1 x cowtail for clip in at bleats, Twin sterling 8.4mm 50m ropes, petals Corax harness, Grivel Crampons (either G12 or G14 depending on ice and route) Scarpa Jorasses boot, Low alpine park attack 34-45 ruck sack. I also pack dry bags with various clothing items, extra layers, goggles, extra gloves and food / drink but more of that below.. I use Leki Kumbu poles with quick snap cleats as it make it easy to undo in the cold temeratures.
Note this it list varies from climb to climb and is only a rough guide to what I use personally and what my mentors have taught me to take with me. Personailse your own kit list to suit your needs, comfort and day out on the hills.
So in terms of clothing outer layers, as we have covered under garments and mid layer in the previous post, So with outer laters last season I have been using The north face summit series, I find that in snow that are excellent, in driving rain..not so much! Anyhow I have since changed to Paramo but I still use TNF in just snow and its very efficient for that..I have the Summit series mountain guide jacket and trousers and I have the summit series radish mid layer, all are hooded and give great protection. I particularly like the mid laters with hood that goes over my helmet and thumb loops for warm wrists..nice touches. Scarpa morasses gtx boots are used with driver G14 crampons, Low Alpine peak attack 35-45 ruck sack is a fantastic piece of it with a super cool ice axe locker at the back, very clever system. Two pairs of gloves are used one mountain equipment gauntlet and a pair of Rab one for back up. I also a take a pair of wind proof ones for a fall back if the other two as so wet through that I can’t feel my hands. I have a Rei (American store) buff and thin pile balaclava, medium kit, karimor dry bags, Leki poles, oh and winter hat and helmet- not in the pic- helmet is very important (note to self).
So you can gauge from the amount of kit, there is a lot right? After a day carrying this lot around your legs and feet really know about it, which is why winter fitness should be good to very good. I’ll lit some of the kit and links below so you can see close ups of what I use..Hope this is helpful and look at the previous posts for links to local, mountain guides in north Wales and weather website links..Enjoy.
Heres a closer look at what I take in the winter packing list, there are links in the descriptions.