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Llanberis Pass

Evening light in the Llanberis Pass last night. Photo: Si Panton

Main Wall E1 5a/b, Gogarth

Tim Neill soaking up the rays on the juggy romp that is Main Wall E1 5a/b. A wild but surprisingly amenable trip across some rather spectacular territory on the central section of Gogarth Main Cliff. Photo: Calum Muskett

New Gogarth routes – a HVS and two E1s on Main Cliff, the Range and Porth Dafarch

Graham Sutton braving the void on One Step Beyond E1 5a. Photos: Mark Hellewell

A bit of sunshine and soon enough the new routes start to flow out on the Gogarth sea cliffs. Graham Sutton and Mark Hellewell have been sniffing around the various zawns on The Range of late. On their last visit they came away with a new route in South Stack View Zawn.

One Step Beyond E1 5a is an exciting line with a bold feel and some disposable holds. To reach it abseil down the seaward facing ramp to easy ledges and traverse left (facing out) along easy ledges to a stance directly above the big block in the zawn.

“From the belay, climb up rightwards following an obvious slanting ramp-line until just before the quartzy overhang. Avoid this by moving rightwards and taking ONE STEP BEYOND (At this point a sane leader will be thinking this is Madness) to a very exposed sensational finish up the headwall to the right.” Explained Graham.

South Stack View Zawn is situated on the north coast of the Range, facing South Stack and just west of a lifebuoy and fishing spot. From the car park, take the path west and almost immediately branch right, continuing down to the coast. Turn left for 50m and descend grass to the top of the zawn. There are a range of easier routes here climbed by Lou Costello and Lindsay Griffin a few years ago.

Graham out there on the second pitch of Yellow Brick Road HVS 5a at Porth Dafarch

Over at Porth Dafarch Graham and Mark climbed another good route. Yellow Brick Road HVS 5a is a two pitch affair in a zawn to the east of the Fisherman’s Friend zawn. The initial 5a pitch starts from ledges on the left of the zawn just above the sea at low tide. Climb a black overhanging corner on good holds tending right to gain a ledge at 10m. Continue up and right via a short wall to another ledge and stance.

The second pitch, which is 4b, follows a superb exposed line out right across the yellow headwall of the cave.

Over on Main Cliff Tim Neill and Calum Muskett found a very entertaining and surprisingly amenable link line crossing the central part of the cliff. Main Wall E1 5a/b is an enjoyable, juggy romp through some pretty spectacular territory.

Tim Neill on the jugtastic Main Wall E1 5a/b Photo: Calum Muskett

Follow the Big Groove start to join Sebastapol then head over to the Citadel/Hunger belay. From here head up Mammoth and across Wall of Fossils (with feet in the obvious diagonal break) to romp up the last jugs of Dinosaur.

“It’s significantly easier than Gogarth itself and has pretty much a runner and bucket hold for every move. It’s in the same mould as Trunk Line and Ordinary Route…ie it links up easier bits of other routes with only the odd linking move.” Enthused Tim after the ascent.

Oli Grounsell repeats Night Stalker (E8?) on Craig Dorys

Oli fully engaged with the roof section of Night Stalker Photo: Benno Wagner

Young climbing star, Oli Grounsell has made the second ascent of Stevie Haston’s outrageous route, Night Stalker at Craig Dorys on the Lleyn Peninsula. This impressive line, which does battle with the large roof left of Tonight at Noon, was first climbed by Stevie in the autumn of 2009. At the time Stevie was loathe to suggest a conventional E number, although it seemed obvious from his description that it was a hard, serious challenge and possibly E9.

Oli, who is studying at Bangor University, made a trip to the crag with Rob Greenwood and the German dynamo, Benno Wagner. Although initially sceptical, he soon found himself drawn in by Benno’s enthusiasm:

“Rob pointed out the line to me and I basically thought there’s no way it could have been climbed. It just looked so unlikely, even if the rock was good. I did not envisage I’d be on it anytime soon. Benno however is not as easily put off and was keen to get stuck in. He said it was feasible; I was doubtful but decided to have a look.”

“It quickly transpired that the mad German was in fact correct on this occasion, and the climb was feasible. On another perfect ‘tops off’ Dorys day I soon found myself tying in for the lead. On the easier lower section however it bit back and I was spat off, luckily with no consequence. I was unsure if this was Dorys telling me to piss off or not, and considered leaving it.”

Despite this initial setback Oli’s psyche was still strong so he went back up for another go:

“I soon found myself past the bouldery and dynamic crux sequence with some rusty pegs and a classic Dorys top out to go. It was quite surreal as it all seemed to happen so fast.”

When Stevie lead the route, in addition to two pegs in the roof, he pre-placed two large cams at the start of the roof and one more mid size cam in the middle of the crux section, and then made a ‘pink point’ style ascent, clipping the gear as he went. Oli managed to place the gear on lead but was still unsure of the precise standard of the route:

“Grade wise it’s a tricky one. A fall from the crux would be horrible. The rock here feels quite solid, but it’s hard to tell. It’s probably E8 if you do it, but really I have no idea. Either way, it’s an amazing experience.”

To read more of Oli’s thoughts on the ascent check out his blog.

Oli isn’t the only one who’s taken on the challenge of one of Stevie’s Dorys routes – earlier this month Benno made the third ascent of Melody after a very brief top rope practice session. Current thinking is that this is E8 6b (although it should be noted that the route is a bit different to when it was first done). Nick Bullock made the second ascent in 2011 – read about it here.

Stop Press: a few days after Oli’s ascent Benno returned and made the third ascent of Night Stalker.

Triton F8b – stunning roof line on Upper Craig y Don

Pete fully engaged with the powerful roof section of Triton F8b Photo: Paula Roberts

Pete Robins continues to hoover up top quality project lines wherever he goes. His most recent success is an impressive roof line on the eternally sunny Upper Craig y Don in Llandudno. Triton F8b starts along the Donner und Blitzen F7b+ traverse then breaks through the widest part of the roof.

“The roof has amazing holds and wild moves in the Font 7C+ region. It then joins Doenitz round the lip. It’s a class route and useful for tidal days.”

Said Pete after the ascent.

Also worth a mention is another interesting link-line at the left side of the same roof which Pete climbed last month. Numb Nutz rates E6 6b with F7b+ climbing. It starts up Neil Dyer’s Nimitz Direct (a little known F7b+ direct start to Nimitz that was first climbed in 2008) then re-climbs Dough’Nutz, an old Dave Towse E5 which lost its peg many moons ago – instead strenuously arrange cluster of small kit followed by a few bold moves.

Heart of Napalm E2 5b and Hobo Chauffeur E1 5b – two new routes on Craig Bwlch y Moch

Photo topo: Iwan Arfon Jones

Everybody loves a bit of Tremadog climbing action – well, now you have another excuse to go back to Craig Bwlch y Moch. Iwan Jones, Kate Wilkinson and Charlie Allington have climbed two new routes which provide a means of avoiding the bottleneck of Christmas Curry and its variants (and also get you to Grotto Direct, Vindaloo etc).

The routes tackle the slabby walls left of the Micah Start to Christmas Curry. There is good rough rock and surprisingly technical climbing on both of the pitches. Watch out for the big hanging tree branch, above and between both routes, it’s nearly ready to fall.

Heart of Napalm E2 5b 30m

Start just left of the Micah Start. Climb the slab to reach good little ledges leading up to the left-hand side of the upper slabby wall. Where it gets steeper, a precarious high step up leads to a blank looking area. Lay-away and pull up to reach slopers on the left edge of the wall then to head right towards the tree for the finishing holds. This may become easier as it cleans up.

Hobo Chauffeur E1 5b 30m

Start as for the Micah Start. Climb the slab to reach easy enough ground leading up to a perched block/flake. Climb this on its left-hand side to reach a slab below the upper wall. The arete provides the key and the crux, climb it on its left side with progressively fewer holds. Teetery slaps and crimps and foot swaps lead to the ledge.

Trio of F6a slate clip ups on Clegir from Martin Crook

Zoe Wood on Witchcraft F6a Photos: Martin Crook

Martin Crook and Al Hughes have added three new sport routes to a previously untouched quarry close to Shot Gun Quarry at Glyn Rhonwy on the outskirts of Llanberis.

Reaching Twilight Zone F6a and Witchcraft F6a is a mini hobbit-style adventure in itself. There’s no treasure map, but here are your instructions: walk up the Clegir road from the top of Goodman Street in Llanberis until you reach a derelict building on the left (Bishop Goodman’s house); continue along the road, passing a small quarry on the left then after a further 100m turn left off the road and follow a public footpath guarded by a kissing gate. The path wanders up through trees until (after 1 minute) you can see a hidden cutaway on the right.

The cutaway runs into a tunnel with an ivy tree hanging over the entrance. Walk through the tunnel, which is quite wet at the moment (wellies and headtorch essential). Keep following the tunnel for 3-4 minutes, ignoring the first blocked exit, and then taking the second exit to emerge at the bottom of a black buttress.

Twilight Zone F6a takes the right hand line of bolts on the buttress, while Witchcraft F6a follows the left hand line. The routes are about 18m long and have 7-8 bolts each and a shared lower-off.

The third route, Stella Vein Pulsing F5c/6a, is situated in the Wakan Corridor further up. The best approach is via the top of Shothole Quarry. Walk up the left hand rim of the quarry until you end up on top of a peninsular. A fixed rope allows a scramble down into the corridor. The obvious greenstone pillar/groove on the left wall of the corridor has four bolts and a tree belay.

The Runner Bean F8a+, Sweetcorn Man F7b+ – new limestone sport routes herald arrival of spring

Benno Wagner attempting The Runner Bean F8a+ Photo: Pete Robins

At last, spring has sprung! The skies have cleared and the rain has eased off. The forecast even looks good for the next week. Another indicator of the changing of the seasons is the emergence of some fine new sport routes.

Last week, just before the nesting restriction came into place, Pete Robins managed to breach the impressive roofs on the left side of the Allotment on Little Orme (Llandudno) with The Runner Bean F8a+.

“The Runner Bean is a real quality route and quite quirky, with amazing climbing, especially through the top roof. It’s on the west walls of the Allotment, which comprise two large roofs interspersed with mini tufas and interesting limestone features. This is the first route to tackle the main section of the crag, right through the centre of the two roofs via an obvious central line of weakness. It’s about 15m long and has two cruxes, through each roof, the bottom roof being slightly harder I thought, but that depends how you fit the upper roof and groove above.”

West Wall of the Allotment Photo: Pete Robins

Said Pete, before adding:

“At one point, arms spanning the roof, you have to cut loose, spin 180 degrees so all you can see is the Llandudno promenade and ocean, then throw your foot high on the lip by your head and udge upwards into an immaculate groove. It’s up there with the best F8a+s in North Wales.”

The crag is accessed by a short 10m abseil – so remember to bring your jumars to get back out! The ground below the crag is treacherous in places, especially after rain, with a big drop off to the lower cliffs so be careful walking around.

(NB. It is thought that the line of  The Runner Bean was partially equipped, but abandoned, by legendary Ormesman, Andy Pollitt back in the late 80s.)

Chris Doyle was also quick to open his new route account for 2014. At the Dyserth Waterfall Crag he climbed Sweetcorn Man F7b+, which tackles the arete between Rhubarb Wall and Strawberries Man.

“The crux round the base of the arete climbed really well and the top arete was easy but nice. It looks a bit squeezed in but climbs independently as Rhubarb Wall stays to the left of the bolts and you’re locked in on the arete anyway.”

Explained Chris after the ascent.

Check out his film of the ascent here: Sweetcorn Man F7b+

To read more about Chris’ exploits, and coastal limestone activity in general, check out Doylo’s Blog.

Winter Climbing information project launched – temperature gauge in Cwm Idwal

It’s not been the greatest of winter seasons (understatement of the year!), nonetheless we live in hope of an end to the warm, wet fronts that have assaulted the Welsh mountains over the last couple of months (the forecast is actually pretty decent over the next week). We also applaud the arrival of a new temperature gauge scheme which will be a valuable tool for winter climbers operating in Snowdonia.

To help climbers decide whether conditions are good enough to climb, as well as to protect the vegetation, the BMC have teamed up with Natural Resources Wales, the National Trust and Snowdonia National Park to pilot a groundbreaking live winter conditions information service for Cwm Idwal.

The Cwm Idwal Winter Climbing Information Project is a joint project funded by the BMC’s Access & Conservation Trust and the national conservation body for Wales, Natural Resources Wales to provide climbers with live detailed temperature and conditions information directly from the foot of the Devils’ Appendix at the back of Cwm Idwal!

Climbers on The Ramp III 3 and The Screen IV 4 during last year's deep freeze. Photo: Si Panton

Late in December 2013, a remote temperature sensing station was discreetly installed on a rock bluff below the cliffs of the Devils’ Kitchen in Cwm Idwal. This will generate live data and record not only the air temperature but also the temperature of the turf at 5cm and the ground at 15 and 30 cm.

This information is then sent by radio signal to an internet feed at Ogwen Cottage and then to the BMC website. The intention is that climbers will be able to use this information to gauge if conditions are really suitable for winter climbing in the Cwm, so avoiding the situation where people may make the long drive or effort to get to Cwm Idwal and possibly then be tempted to attempt routes which are not in condition and thus potentially causing damage to the vegetation.

You can view the temperature data page here:

For the full story check out the BMC website;–new-information-service

More guidance on winter climbing best practice and the potential impact on rare plants can be found in the North Wales White guide – you can download a free copy of it here:

Winter climbing action – a couple of new routes, but avalanches and cornice collapse!

Snowdon and Crib Goch heavily loaded with snow. Photo: Si Panton

After months of warm, wet weather, winter climbing conditions have started to occur at high levels throughout Snowdonia. There are, however, considerable safety issues: high winds have lead to the build up of some very unstable snow, particularly on east facing slopes.

Snow conditions are certainly dangerous, with significant avalanche and cornice collapse risk. There have been a few incidents on Snowdon, one being an avalanche which swept walkers from the very top of the PyG track just below the finger stone. Another person fell through a cornice near the top of Parsley Fern Gully.

Elsewhere though there are reports of a few new routes and even of good snow. Yesterday Dai Lampard and Phil Rafs found exceptional neve on Crib y Ddysgl where he climbed a three pitch V 6ish variant on Lectern Grooves, just to the right of Three Cave Gully.

“A good sustained line, adequately protected and with a spectacular and improbable exit. Well worth the walk up.”

Said Dai, before adding a warning:

“Over the ridge conditions proved dangerous with a huge build up of slab above Fantail Gully and some very wet snow slopes on the North of Crib Goch.”

Up at the right hand side of Clogwyn Du Joe Williams and Kelvin Williams climbed Shirley III 4 a 30m pitch just right of The Bulldozer (see page 107 in the North Wales Winter Climbing guide). This starts with a few metres of ice before heading directly onto the ridge – an enjoyable piece of climbing but with protection that is a little hard to find.

Snowdonia Weather