For those of you relatively new to ice, I'd recomend a quick trip to the Chew Valley to have a look at Wilderness gullies. Theres 2 to go at at around gr2 however both are escapable throughout and have only short steps and difficulties. Despite being a bit chopped up the ice ice very thick in places with a few short grade 3 pillars and icicles for some sport, but again these can all be bypassed. If you've not placed ice screws before this is the perfect place to practice in relative safety.

The road up to the sailing club is clear of ice and the walk in is only around 40 mins. The area is reknown for being avalance prone however this already happened a couple of weeks back and there's only a smattering of settled snow left now. I'd say there's little or no avalance risk at the moment so its the perfect time to get there.

Some recent pics:

For those of you wanting a taste of hard mixed climbing the dovestones quarries are having a resurgence at the minute. Several members were of the Chew Valley cragsmen were out putting up several Gr 5/6 2 pitch routes, which looked very impresive, but fairly well protected on brick hard turf and thin ice. I ended up having a wander over there and soloing a few 40 meter lines at around gr3. Felt very necky in places but just what i needed to get my climbing head well and truly back on!

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Historical info Graham West and M.Roberts who were leading local climbers in the early60's were killed in an avalanche down wilderness gully JAN1963. I was also involved in a fatal rescue from Dovestones in 1980 when a less experienced climber felll down a short snow climb . so take care with snow conditions. Both these accidents were on wet snow newish snow. Dave Dickson



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