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Climbing in North Wales - Useful Information

 

Villanueva de Cauch - descending from route

 

Perfect limestone in Spain

 

 

 

Useful Information

 

North Wales Climbing Shops + Walls

North Wales and Llanberis in particular are lucky to have some very good climbing shops - Joe Brown's and V12 in Llanberis are both excellent with loads of good kit and informed staff. There is also a second branch of Joe Brown's on the outskirts of Capel Curig close to the Plas Y Brenin.

There are several shops in Betws y Coed with Ultimate Outdoors and Cotswold Rock Bottom being the best and both offer a good range of outdoor kit and good advice

The DMM factory is also based in Llanberis and will offer tours to small groups that want to see how climbing equipment is made - just call before hand and they will normally try to sort something out.

The best wall in North Wales is the Beacon climbing wall which is situated just outside of Llanberis. The Beacon has bouldering, top-roping and leading walls and offers instruction. There is also a wall that can be used by the public at the Plas Y Brenin in Capel Curig.

Further afield in South Wales Up and Under offer the rare combination of good advice, good kit and good service.

Climbing and Scrambling Guides

There are many guides available to climbers in North Wales, both selected and comprehensive

The best select guide is Ground Up North Wales Rock, although I am slightly biased having written chunks of it.

The Llanberis Pass finally has a guide worthy of its status with the recent arrival of the new CC guide - a fitting successor to Paul Williams era defining publication.

The CC are threatening to give the same treatment to the Ogwen Valley, but in the meantime the existing guide is not bad at all.

On the coast the best crag in Britain also recently received a guide worthy of its name - Gogarth North. Adventure climbing at its very best and totally addictive.

 

Tides.

Seal at GogarthThe state of the tides seriously affects the climbs that can be attempted on cliffs such as Gogarth and Pembroke.

The following tide tables may be able to help you plan your trip more effectively :

Easytide tide timetable for Gogarth

Easytide tide timetable for Pembroke

Daylight Saving Warning: EasyTide predictions are based on the standard time of the country concerned. For the UK this is GMT and the daylight saving offset should be set to 1 hour to allow for British Summer time (from 01:00 am on Sunday 29th March 2009 until 02:00am on Sunday 25th October 2009).

The veritable old guard of the Climbers Club also publish a longer term tide table that can let you plan a few months (years!) ahead.

 

 

Weather in North Wales.

Los PinosThe weather and weather forecasts are an integral part of climbers lives; it is one of the most important factors in deciding where we go and what we do. The ability to access good forecasts is key to getting the most out of our climbing time.

The following sites offer good forecasts:

1. The MetOffice Snowdonia Report

2. The MetCheck Mountain Forecast for Betws Y Coed

3. The MetCheck Mountain Forecast for Snowdon

The Mountain Weather Information Service also offers a good service, but it only runs daily reports on the weekend.

Climate in North Wales.

Wales is a mainly mountainous country with much of the land being over 150 metres. It has an essentially maritime climate, characterised by weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy but mild. However, the shape of the coastline and the central spine of high ground from Snowdonia southwards to the Brecon Beacons introduce a lot of localised differences. Whilst some upland areas can experience harsh weather, the coasts enjoy more favourable conditions and areas in east Wales are more sheltered and hence similar to neighbouring English counties.

Temperature

The mean annual temperature decreases by approximately 0.5 °C for each 100 metres increase in height so that, for example, a location at 400 metres would have a mean annual temperature of about 7.5 °C. On this basis, Snowdon (at 1085 metres) would have an annual mean of about 5 °C.

Temperature shows both a seasonal and a diurnal variation. In winter, temperatures are influenced to a very large extent by those of the surface of the surrounding sea, which reach their lowest values in late February or early March. Around the coasts February is therefore normally the coldest month, but inland there is little to choose between January and February. The January mean daily minimum temperatures vary from just below 0 °C in the higher parts of north and mid-Wales to about 3 °C around the coast. The highest values occur in Pembrokeshire, due to the proximity of air from the relatively warm Atlantic.

Temperature Chart for Anglesey

Minimum temperatures usually occur around sunrise with the coldest nights being those when there is little wind, skies are clear, and there is a covering of snow; the lowest temperatures occur away from the moderating influence of the sea, on the floors of inland valleys into which cold air can drain.

In contrast, some of the highest winter temperatures in the UK have been recorded on the North Wales coast. These high winter temperatures (up to 18 °C on occasion) occur when a moist south to south-westerly airflow warms up downwind of Snowdonia after crossing the high ground, an effect known as a Föhn after its more dramatic manifestations in the Alps.

July is normally the warmest month, with mean daily maximum temperatures varying from about 17 °C in the higher inland locations, to 18 °C along the west coast.  Daily maximum temperatures usually occur 2 or 3 hours after midday, and extreme maximum temperatures are usually in July or August.  The highest temperatures usually occur furthest away from the cooling influence of the Atlantic, the record in Wales being 35.2 °C at Hawarden Bridge (Flintshire) on 2 August 1990.

However, when a hot airstream arrives from the east, maxima along the coasts can equal those inland, an example being the 31.8 °C achieved at Aberporth (Ceredigion) on 2 August 1995.

The variation of mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures month by month, together with the highest and lowest temperatures recorded, is shown for Valley. Coastal locations such as Valley have the smallest range of mean temperature over the year, being relatively warm in winter but relatively cool in summer owing to the moderating influence of the sea. Places close to the English border have colder winters and warmer summers.

Sunshine

The hilly nature of the terrain in Wales and its proximity to the Atlantic tends to encourage cloud cover. The dullest parts of Wales are the mountainous areas, with average annual totals of less than 1200 hours. These figures compare with values of less than 1100 hours a year in the Shetland Islands to over 1900 hours in the Channel Islands.

Mean monthly sunshine totals reach a maximum in May or June, and are at their lowest in December. The key factor is, of course, the variation in the length of the day through the year, but cloud cover plays a part too.
The graphs show the average monthly sunshine totals for Valley  together with the highest and lowest totals recorded in the stated periods.

Rainfall

Rainfall is caused by the condensation of the water in air that is being lifted and cooled to its dew point. Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic Lows are more vigorous in autumn and winter and bring most of the rain that falls in these seasons. In summer, convection caused by solar surface heating sometimes forms shower clouds and a large proportion of rainfall is from showers and thunderstorms then. A further factor that greatly affects the rainfall distribution is altitude. Moist air that is forced to ascend hills may be cooled to the dew point, to produce cloud and rain. A map of average annual rainfall therefore looks similar to a topographic map.

Rainfall in Wales varies widely, with the highest average annual totals being recorded in the central upland spine from Snowdonia to the Brecon Beacons. Snowdonia is the wettest area with average annual totals exceeding 3000 mm, comparable to those in the English Lake District or the western Highlands of Scotland. In contrast, places along the coast and, particularly, close to the border with England, are drier, receiving less than 1000 mm a year.

Throughout Wales, the months from October to January are significantly wetter than those between February and September, unlike places in eastern England where July and August are often the wettest months of the year. This seasonal pattern is a reflection of the high frequency of winter Atlantic depressions and the relatively low frequency of summer thunderstorms.

Over much of Wales, the number of days with a rainfall total of 1 mm or more ('wet days') tends to follow a pattern similar to the monthly rainfall totals. In the higher parts, over 50 days is the norm in winter (December-February) and over 35 days in summer (June-August). In the driest areas of the east and south, about 40 days in winter and about 25 days in summer are typical.

The combination of close proximity to active weather systems arriving from the Atlantic and the extensive areas of upland can lead to notable daily and monthly falls. Daily totals exceeding 50 mm occur every other year, on average, in most parts of Wales.

Wind

Wales is one of the windier parts of the UK, with the windiest areas being over the highest ground and along the coasts, particularly those facing directions between north-west and south.

The strongest winds are associated with the passage of deep areas of low pressure close to or across the UK. The frequency and strength of these depressions is greatest in the winter half of the year, especially from November to February, and this is when mean speeds and gusts (short duration peak values) are strongest.

The variation in monthly mean speeds (average of a continuous record) and highest gusts ('instantaneous' speed averaged over about 3 seconds) at Valley is shown below.

Another measure of wind exposure is the number of days when gale force is reached. If the wind reaches a mean speed of 34 knots or more over any 10 consecutive minutes, then that day is classed as having a gale. Coastal areas average 15 days or more of gale each year with the number of days decreasing inland to 5 days or fewer. Wind speed is sensitive to local topographic effects and land use - places sheltered by hills or in urban areas will have lower wind speeds and fewer days of gale.

Wind direction is defined as the direction from which the wind is blowing. As Atlantic depressions pass the UK the wind typically starts to blow from the south or south west, but later comes from the west or north-west as the depression moves away. The range of directions between south and north-west accounts for the majority of occasions and the strongest winds nearly always blow from these directions.

Wind Rose showing prevelant wind direction at Anglesey

The annual wind rose for Valley on Anglesey is typical of coastal locations in Wales, with a prevailing south-westerly wind direction through the year. However, there is a high frequency of north to north-east winds in spring.

Snowfall

The occurrence of snow is linked closely with temperature, with falls rarely occurring if the temperature is higher than 4 °C. The numbers of days with snow falling and snow lying increase with latitude and altitude, so values reflect topography. Snow is comparatively rare near sea level in Wales, but much more frequent over the hills. The average number of days each year when sleet or snow falls varies from 10 or less in south-western coastal areas to over 40 in Snowdonia.

The average number of days with snow lying in Wales varies from 5 or less around the coasts to over 30 in Snowdonia. These averages can be compared with parts of the Scottish Highlands, which have about 60 days with snow lying on average and with the coasts of SW England, with less than 3 days per year.

 

 

Climbing - UK Organisations.

The British Mountaineering Council - representative body for UK climbers and walkers. The web site is a useful resource for technical information and their insurance policies are designed for climber, walkers and mountaineers

Association of Mountaineering Instructors - The AMI is the representative body for professionally qualified Mountaineering Instructors in the British Isles. The new web site offers a lot more information about the organisation and looks set to become a good information resource.

Mountain Leader Training Board - Mountain Leader Training England (MLTE), formerly the Mountain Leader Training Board, was set up in 1964 to develop training and assessment courses in mountaineering. 

The UIAA - The UIAA is the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation and represents climbers across the world on a variety of fronts. It is also an important and crucial driving force for the improvement of safety standards with an amazing depth of knowledge within its core members, although some feel that there are too many political games played by self interested parties that hold back standards.

The Technical Safety Reports are well worth looking at for an insight into safety issues and the correct use of equipment.

NICAS - A great scheme. The National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme (NICAS) is a UK wide scheme designed to promote climbing development and accredit individual achievement on artificial climbing structures. It can be used as a starting point for people wishing to take up climbing and mountaineering. It is open to all candidates aged 7 and upwards.

Highland Guides - The world of climbing instructors is a small one and when we are busy we try to recommend potential clients to other instructors that we know and trust. Highland Guides are great and if you are looking for a course in the Lakes or Europe then they are well worth contacting.

 

 

 

General Climbing + Outdoor Information:

UKClimbing - the best online UK resource for climbing info - some of the advice from general members is a bit suspect, but overall it is a very useful site.

Climbing.com - web version of the best american climbing magazine

Grog's Climbing Knots - the best site for learning how to tie knots

ABC of Rock Climbing - All in one Rock Climbing portal with climbing information, news, gear shop, holidays and travel destinations. There is a lot of good info here for those just starting out.

Indoor Climbing.com - A useful resource on how to build your own training wall.

Mountaindays.net - A useful resource for general climbing information

Javu - A good climbing site with varied + useful information, especially on climbing in the South West

Colmcille Climbers - An active climbing club based in Derry, Northern Ireland. There is lots of local information if you are heading across that way.

Traditional Mountaineering - A useful resourse on trad climbing that is especially good on the United States. It also covers alpine mountaineering.

Attractions of Snowdonia - A useful one-stop resource for finding useful things to do in Snowdonia

Mountain Gazette - Good site with comprehensive coverage of mountain sports.

Travel Directory - A good travel directory that is worth visiting

Independance Pass Climbing - The low down on climbing in Colorados Independance Pass.

Santiam Alpine Club - An actve club based in Oregon with useful info on safety, knots and techniques.

Information Britain - A comprehensive list of things to do in the UK

Outdoor Sports Leisure - A useful site for anyone looking to take up an outdoor sport,as well being a great resource for the enthusiast.

The Outdoor Directory - A useful site for anyone looking to take up an outdoor sport

Go4Hiking - Online resource for hiking worldwide.

Adventure Exchange.com - Adventure holidays and climbing partners

Guidepost - Guidepost is an on line bookshop specialising in maps, digital mapping, outdoor books and accessories.

Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links

Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links


Useful information for travel and vacations.

Travel and Tourism catalog

 

 

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