South Wales Winter Climbs

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Waun Lefrith

Herein lies a list of all the known winter climbing venues that may be included in the new forthcoming winter guide. Please send all new route information and photos to this email address.


The main form of communication for climbers is now the rapidly growing Winter Climbs in South Wales Facebook Page to share info, routes, photos and even post real-time photos of the current conditions whilst climbing via smartphones!


Contents

The Black Mountains

1. Cwmyoy (aka The Darren) III to V+ *** OS 161 296245

Best Crag in S.Wales with about 20 routes.


2. Herbert's Quarry III/IV OS grid ref SN 733187 (car park)

Located just south of the village of Bethlehem in the Black Mountains there are 2 or 3 steep pitches graded III/IV. It is an abandoned limestone quarry workings just off the Brynaman to Llangadog road which are interpreted to the public. The site affords panoramic views over the western end of the Geopark. Abandoned quarry workings, pits and limekilns abound.

The Brecon Beacons

It's worth checking out this webcam (if it's working) before heading up.

1. Torpantau Falls III ** OS 161 051192

Torpantau Falls as it has become known lies on the east facing escarpment one and a half miles north of the Forestry Commission car park (G R 056175). The main fall provides a popular route that is often in condition, unfortunately this alone makes for rather a short day unless a walk across the tops or if conditions allow climbs on the Nant Bwrefwl are made. The climbs on the Nant Bwrefwl stream have been described first.

The road from the south is easily cut off be snowfall. It is advisable in suspect conditions to approach from the north through Talybont.

From the entrance to the car park follow the Nant Bwrefwl stream up to reach the first fall, take this directly in three steps. Continue upstream for 200 m to reach a second fall which is also climbed directly, both of these falls are grade 3 in standard.

The main ice fall can be found by contouring around Craig Y Fan Ddu to where the left hand branch of the Caerfarell stream breaches the escarpment at (G R 051192). The fall provides two excellent 25 m pitches of grade 3 standard.

2. Pen-Y-Fan III to V ** OS 160 013216

Pen Y Fan offers some of the highest and longest routes in South Wales. The climbs tend to be of a mixed nature with an air of seriousness not usually found in the area. The cliff can be reached easily in 1 hour from the car park 500m south of Storey Arms (G R 987199) on the A470. From the summit of Pen Y Fan descend the north ridge marked Cefn Cwm Llwch for 200 m until it is possible to traverse easily right (facing out) onto the N.E Face. The whole face is split laterally by numerous sloping shelves of vegetation separated by short rock walls. Above this is a steep headwall. The gullies below the headwall are easy to begin with but gradually increase in difficulty. Escape from the gullies is normally possible by traversing left or right along the horizontal bands of vegetation. The headwall routes are described separately but can, of course, be used to provide a variety of interesting finishes to the climbs in the Central Gully area.


3. Craig Cerrig-gleisiad * OS 160 964218

A winter climbing venue near the A470. This crag is series of broken buttress with about eight routes. As it is a National Nature Reserve (NNR), permission to climb is essential prior to rocking up with axes and crampons.


3.5 Craig Cwm-du * OS 160 9463 2130

Numerous ice features can form over the escarpment after a good freeze, with the main stream providing a good multi-pitch grade III+ 4** ice route. To the left of the main stream are a number of low grade ice gullies. To the right of the main stream are a number of steeper ice routes on the main cliff, with future mixed potential as well? The crag can be accessed by walking over the hill from RAC corner or from the road on the east side.


4. Pant-Y-Meas Sennybridge * IV OS 160 913266

Grade IV climbing.


5. Craig y Fro (RAC Corner) OS SN 971207

This area has two routes. The main obvious stream up the hillside has a steep beginning and end (possibly pushing towards GdIV depending on conditions and route taken) with little technical difficulty in between.

There is also the obvious 'Culvert to Tree' option that can be good for a quick play on the way home. It is located at the back right above the layby area and easily seen from the burger van!

The frozen stream by RAC corner on the A470 Brecon

South Wales Valleys

1. Darren Du (Nr Blina) * OS 161 198060

Grade IV

2. Cwm OS 171 184048

Three routes

3. Cwm Clydach OS 171 210124 << for parking

Two routes. Route grade III/IV = OS 171 207124. Route grade IV = OS 171 197122

4. Llanbradach Quarry * OS 171 146895

Five routes. Grades II to IV. Ice routes may now be bolted?

5. Craig-Y-Llyn ** OS 170 913035

Park on top of escarpment. 9 routes. Large number of falls that freeze quite frequently. Easy access from the top and down the gully approx half way along escarpment. Grades II to IV mainly gully lines. A number of face routes have been climbed since the guide was published.

6. Blaenrhondda ** OS 170 918006

Ten routes. Grades II to V. Park near mine in bottom of valley. Falls can be viewed from Trehebert / Hirwaun road opposite.

7. Bleancwm also known as Cwm Lluest ** OS 170 922990

Three Routes. Grades II to V. Contains the classic Virgin Falls IV, 100m long. First pitch rarely freezes.

8. Bleancwm (Nant-Y-Gwair) ** OS 170 910986

Five routes. Routes in valley, some of the first routes to freeze. Big fall on left is very good (V if taken direct).

9. Ogmore Valley * OS 170 927947

One route at Grade IV

10. Neath Valley ** OS 170 825017

One route at grade IV that never freezes!!!

Pont Afon Pyriddin

  1. Afon Pyriddin OS 160 898092 - Four routes. Grade I to III/IV. Falls near Sgwd Gwladys.
  2. Afon Nedd OS 160 898092 - One route at grade III/IV. From Iron bridge follow north bank of the Nedd for 400m fall on Opposite bank.

The Camarthen Van

Joe's Waterfall in good condition.

1. Joe's Waterfall grade III/IV **

Gives interesting access to the ridge. GR SN 84269 18072

2. Leaning Tower OS 834197 Grade II/III.

3. East Face OS 827217 Grade II

Park for Bannau Sir Gaer OS 797239. Routes follow well defined streams in escarpment.

4. Others at Grades I to III OS 819221 grade I

OS 817218 grade I

OS 805215 grade I

OS 801215 grade I

OS 797216 grade III

Dave's Fault, North Face, Waun Lefrith

5. Dave's Fault grade II (GR SN 803215)

On the North face of Waun Lefrith... three pitches. A very good line, but you need good conditions for it to be good climbing too. Protection is poor.

  1. 50 Metres. Start where the crack deepens and steepens and continue up the crack and over an 'ice-step' to belay above on a dodgy peg in a short wall.
  2. 55 Metres. Ascend just right of the belay stance and continue upward to ice-axe belay!
  3. 35 Metres. Continue to the top and large block belay.

Dave Griffiths, Mike Danford & Tim Hoddy,29-02-2004

Mountain/Crag - Fan Brycheiniog (Part of Carmarthen Van)

  1. North Gully (I/II) - Near the top the gully forks with the right hand exit giving the more interesting finish. OS ref - 823222
  2. Easy Gully (-) - Around 30 metres left (SE) of North Gully. OS Ref - 824221
  3. Goat Track Gully (I) - Very close to the main track to the summit from the lake. Again take right hand fork at top for better finish. OS Ref - 828215

Ogmore Cliff

Roy Thomas climbs from Bridgend Area cliffs. Apparently these freeze every 20 or so years!

1. Pregnant Pause 3/4 Ogmore cliff, east of the rock climbing and just west of the bouldering adjacent to Southerndown is a cliff length tufa cum vegetable cum waterfall. (named because missus was up duff when she held rope)

2. Charlies Risks 2/3 where the cliff bends to start witches point(Liassic Lark nearby) on southerdown beach. Only the first bit was steep and a landslip has overwhelmed the initial dribble so it may now only be a 40m snow slope. Soloed by myself and Charlie Heard.

On the other side of witches walking along the beach to cwm nash are

3. One up the spout 3 short 8m where stream flows over cliff, solo me and charlie

4. Rung a dung ding 2, up side of ladders from wick beach,soloed

5. Fire away and Six pints of bass landlord 3/4 Mick Learoyd,R.Thomas,G.Royle the ice where cwm nash stream meets the beach. Lit a big bonfire on the pebbles then went to the pub then as it was sunny went soloing at ogmore in the afternoon.

The grades might be right or maybe easier as we/I used wooden axes bendy strap on crampons and 2 warthogs and some bits of sharpened poker from the failed metal work projects box.

Drytooling Venues

Swansea Beach The obvious bridge on Swansea beach. You can climb under the arch and land on the sand when it all goes wrong. The bridge is located on Swansea's beach down the hill from Uplands. If you look at the S.Wales bouldering guide there is a topo for the more conventional bouldering, but a few locals use the bridge in winter to train for winter climbing. You will find drilled pockets/holes etc ... in the arches to climb around on. It's good fun but it's best not use crampons as it scratches the rock a lot. Also avoid the area when it's wet as the Sandstone breaks very easy when wet!

White Goods is a crag being developed (near the SWMC hut) in Clwyd, N.Wales that is very similar to the one developed in Scotland called Newtyle Quarry

Liz Collyer on 'Rock Around the Block' - M7, Swansea Bridge. Photo by Simon Rawlinson

External winter climbing links

Welsh Winter Climbs Wiki

UKC Welsh Winter Climbs