Ten years ago this guidebook came out. It was passed on to me by Alan Kimber who edited three editions of it. Before that it was edited by Ed Grindley, Hamish MacInnes and written initially by Ian Clough in 1969. This is quite a list of people to be associated with and it is a great privilege to have this opportunity. I am very grateful indeed to Alan Kimber for passing it on to me and I hope to do as good a job as previous authors.
The intention with the next edition is to help people decide what climb to go for given the weather and climbing conditions at the time. I remember starting out winter climbing and looking at the book with no idea about the differences in mixed climbs and ice climbs, what weather patterns were required to form any particular type of climb, and what style of climbing each route involved. It was all a bit hit and miss, with lots of misses!
I hear of people still having to go through the same process despite the huge amount of information available to everyone now. When they tell me about their climbing and the days that it did not go well, I often think that the main problem was that their choice of climb was not the best one for that day. If climbers know when rime will form and when the crags will be white and frozen for mixed climbing; and if climbers know when and why Green Gully will be formed but not Mega Route X yet, they will be able to make better decisions about what route to try and have more successful climbing trips.
What this means is building on what I started in the last book with a long section describing all the different types of climb and what each one takes to form, the influence of the weather and how that forms or strips away the conditions we are after. I am trying to let people know what type of climb each one is; that Diana is a thin face ice climb which you would not expect to see formed up until later in the winter; that Mega Route X requires snow above the climb to be present to provide water in the thaws to then freeze on the climb in the cold spells; that Blue Riband just needs a sustained cold spell to form ice and no snow is required at all. All this means that I am slowly working through every climb in the book, spending a lot of time in front of a screen, dreaming about all these wonderful climbs!
It's a nice autumn project, something to get stuck into while we wait for the winter to get going. A wet autumn can be very good for the formation of ice later on. We need water to drip out of the cracks and springs to form the ice when it gets cold. We also need the ground to cool down properly after our long hot summer, and before the snow arrives. We will need to wait and see if we get the perfect mix of weather to generate great winter climbing.
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Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.