Tim Neill and Lou Wilkinson have climbed an intriguing new line just left of the F7c/+ sport test piece, Chitra in the Rainbow Walls Lower area of the Dinorwig Slate quarries.
The 3 10 to Yma E4 6a starts at the foot of Chitra…bounce off the rail tracks onto the juggy rib on your left and gain the arete which leads to a chunky auburn thread. Step right and stretch for the dogleg crack which leads (awkwardly) up rightwards to the convenient Chitra lower-off.
For more details of this area see pages 214/5 in the Llanberis Slate guide.
Prolific new-router, Ian Lloyd Jones may have taken a break from Twll Mawr and the Dinorwig slate quarries, but he has been busy elsewhere developing a new batch of easy routes on the Last But One Level in Penmaenbach Quarry.
“Good easy sport climbing is almost as rare as multi pitch sport, so I’ve tried to do my bit and have developed some easier routes for beginners including a 25 metre F2 with 10 bolts! There’s also some F3s and F4s, plus some trad lines which would be good for top roping or first leads for beginners.”
Explained Ian, before adding:
“There are also a couple of worthwhile F6a+’s with ‘Jack the Jeffer’ by Tim Muller just left of ‘A55 Hole Arête’ and ‘Silly A55 Arête’ – a cool square cut arête with good climbing and a great position.”
The Last But One Level now has 24 routes from F2 to F7a – see page 100 in the excellent new North Wales Limestone guide for more details.
1. Smart A55 F3c 18m
Start as for but continue straight up the corner groove to a lower off. Will hopefully clean up with traffic. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 2014]
2. Jack A55 Slab F4b 18m
Start a couple of metres right of Agent Orange. Climb up the centre of the slab following an obvious fault line up to the prominent roof, 6 bolts lead to the lower off directly below the roof. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (Solo) Sep/2014]
3. Shakin’ that A55 F4c 18m
Climbs the well featured slab to the right of Jack A55 slab. A tricky start (much easier if you find the hidden foothold) leads to a well featured slab and a system of cracks leading up to the lower off, 6 bolts protect. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 07.09.14]
4. Silly A55 Arête F6a+ 20m
Start as for Kick my A55 at the base of the easy angled slab next to a prominent boulder. Climb a series of ramp lines to gain the base of the clean cut arête, a high stepping rockover and pull gains the delightful and well positioned upper arête. [Ian & Celt Lloyd-Jones 12.10.14]
5. Kick my A55 VS 4c 16m
Start at the bottom of the easy angled slabby groove by a prominent boulder to the right of (and around the corner from) Shakin’ my A55. Pad up the slabby groove directly below the steeper wall until a steepening and the start of the corner crack which takes fingers and wires, follow the crack to the roof and the shared bolt lower off. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 07.10.14]
6. Crossbow Crack S 4a 16m
Start just right of Kick my A55 pad up the middle of the easy angled slab to join Kick my A55 at the finger crack, head diagonally rightwards along the much wider crack to join The Little One at its 4th bolt and on to the lower off. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 2014]
7. The Little One F3 10m
Climbs the arête to the right of Kick My A55. 4 bolts lead the way to a shared lower off. [Celt & Ian Lloyd-Jones 12.10.14]
8. Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy F2 25m
Climbs the long slabby ramp line between Agent Orange and Orange County. Climb the easy peezy angled slab past 10 bolts to a lower off, hopefully great fun for beginners. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 09.14]
9. Call the ‘Trad’ Police F4c 9m
Climb the corner tucked away to the right of Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy, 3 bolts to a lower off. [Ian Lloyd-Jones (solo) 2014]
10. Jack the Jeffer F6a+ 15m
Climbs the slab left of A55 Hole Arete. Follow the line of 7 bolts to a lower-off. A good thin, technical and ‘fall offable’ crux at 3/4 provides the entertainment. [Tim Muller and Ian Lloyd-Jones 15.09.14]
An exciting film event is due to take place at the Galeri in Caernarfon next week. On Thursday 9th October the Reel Rock 9 tour will arrive in town to show the UK premiere of the much anticipated film, Valley Uprising: Yosemite Rock Climbing Revolution.
Vividly brought to life through digitally animated-archival photography, spectacular movie footage from today and the past as well as interviews with climbing legends, the story of Yosemite as recorded in the history books, captured on film and spoken by the campfire can be divided into three discrete but interlocking generations – The Golden Age, The Stone Masters and The Stone Monkeys.
The Golden Age
It was in the early days, during the 50s and 60s, that (now) legendary climbers dreamt up the incomprehensible notion of ascending Yosemite’s massive, cloud-scraping vertical walls. Rag-tag beatniks and freethinkers, this generation of climbers escaped the conformism of post-war America for the freedom of Yosemite, where they forged a revolution in climbing, and a way of life, pushing the vertical realm to incomprehensible new limits and generated many incredible classic climbs.
The Stone Masters
Inspired by their predecessors but determined to usurp their legacy, the 70’s climbers were audacious in personality and vision. They applied their talent to “free-climbing”, ascending the mega routes without the use of artificial aids, and only with their hands and feet which made for some of the most impressive and athletic feats in human record. During this time a raucous new era emerged, marked by partying and battles with park authorities. And then there was the time a drug-smuggling plane crashed in the valley, creating a contraband gold rush for the usually impoverished local climbers…
The Stone Monkeys
With the dawn of the new century came the emergence of the “Stone Monkeys”, a young and modern band of brothers bringing their feats of adventure to a level once thought impossible. Exactly 50 years after the first ascent of Half Dome that took several days, Alex Honnold, a shy, goofy twenty-something living out of his van, made the ascent alone, with no rope, in under three hours, arguably completing the greatest rock climbing ascent in the history of the sport. The Yosemite climbing scene has now become a truly astonishing thing to behold: walking high lines across cliff-tops, and BASE jumping off the massive formations.
Venue: Galeri Caernarfon
Address: Doc Victoria, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1SQ
Date: Thursday 9th October
Show time: 19:30
Regular Tickets: £12 (booking fee £0.82)
Concession Tickets: £10 (booking fee £0.82)
Tickets can be purchased online at www.reelrock.co.uk
Development of The Desolation of Smaug area on the North Wall of Twll Mawr in the Dinorwig slate quarries continues apace. At the start of September Calum Muskett and Mark Dicken climbed The Antiquarian E4/5 6a. Five days later Calum returned (with Jez Leong) to straighten out and improve The Antiquarian. The resulting Antiquarian Direct rates E5 6a.
It was then Mark’s turn for a rematch – on Monday he went back with Ben Ryle to try and establish a similarly direct line to the right. This line had been attempted by Joe Brown many moons ago. The old bolts left by Joe gave something to aim for but their holding power after all these years was open to question.
There were some real moments of drama on the lead (check out Mark’s blog for more on this) but in the end Mark managed to stay steady on the lead and the old bolts, plus the sketchy gear placements above, remained untested. Twll Love at E5 6a is Mark’s first onsight at the grade – not bad for a dad with young kids who has just turned 40!
P1 5b 35m Start as for The Antiquarian at the crack – ascend this until it runs out then follow the slabby side of the corner above until a bolt is reached. Belay here with whatever else you can find.
P2 6a 25m Continue up the corner until it is possible to gain the slopey ledge on the left. Arrange meagre gear, and force a rising traverse back right, dynamically across the corner (doubtful rock) to snatch a clean ledge on the steep side. Wriggle, throw and flop onto the ledge above. Belay of well equalized small wires.
P3 5c/6a 30mish Follow the left hand arête of the corner behind the belay easily at first with poor gear, until a committing step up to a sloping ledge (cam size 1 hidden on left). Either take a large stride left and grapple into undercuts, or pull boldly upwards to a some poor gear and then scamper leftwards to a good foothold and undercuts (wire in a corner). Undercut wildly leftwards to the penultimate bolt of The Desolation of Smaug and mantel up to the bolt belay.
Mark has also been busy with some crag caretaker activity – the Joe Brown classic, Hamadryad E3 5c has been given a much needed spring clean and is now in good condition.
As the glorious September heatwave rolls on the new routes keep flowing at Gogarth. Usual suspects, Twid Turner and Dai Lampard have picked off an obvious line in Smurf Zawn. Sun, Sea and Smurf E2 5c tackles the white streak and brown wall right of the corner chimney of Green Light.
“It’s a solid, independent line. Some great rock and generally well protected.”
Said Twid after the ascent.
Abseil directly in from good spikes to a non tidal ledge above the sea just right of the Green Light chimney.
P1 5c 35m Pull off the ledge, with good gear, to climb a balancy steep slab following the white streak. Gain the first ledge and good spike. Pull through the undercut bulge to gain good jugs and a better second ledge. Good belay.
P2 5b 15m Climb slightly left and up on nice red rock to reach a thin move and a pull up steep rock to finish.
Emboldened by his recent success on Red Wall Promontory, Alex Mason returned to the Anglesey sea cliffs to pick off another impressive new route. Gimble in the Wabe E7 6b strikes a bold line up above The Tum Tum Tree traverse on the Dreams and Screams wall in Fallen Block Zawn at Rhoscolyn.
“After doing Smear Campaign with Caff it gave me impetus to have a look at some of the unclimbed lines I’d noticed before. This one really stood out in my memory as something that surely should go. I went down on Wednesday with Tom Livingstone and cleaned off a lot of sea beards and loose holds uncovering just enough holds to get over the slab and a lot of surprising jugs through the steepness. I then had a play on a rope and found the climbing to be reasonable (until the last move) but the feet were very crumbly and unnerving. Tom then had a couple of goes at Dreams and Screams and we ran out of time and had to leave. I was in work the next couple of days gripped that Tom might go back and bag it, but thankfully he had a trip to Lundy on Friday giving me a perfect opportunity to get back to it.”
Explained Alex, before adding:
“Yesterday I headed back with Jemma Powell, Oli Grounsell, Mikey Goldthorp and his mate Chris. After a team warm-up on Electric Blue I got straight on it. It went really well, until I nearly dropped the top cam at the end of the run-out. After a few hair-raising moments I was pulling onto the top slab. Oli then made an impressive flash straight after, independently confirming the grade and quality of the route. I think the route will become quite popular as it’s relatively safe and now the rock is fairly stable it should make a great onsight/ground-up proposition with difficulties around 7b/R.”
Big, bold moves up the centre of the golden wall. Start from the hanging belay at the bottom of Dreams and Screams. Follow Magellan’s Wall, past the ledge to gain a diagonal pod. Pull up and left to gain the long break. Arrange protection, draw your vorpal sword and slay your way up the steepness above to a spike pocket. Blind, bold moves lead rightwards to an undercut flake (crucial medium cam). Pumped and concerned, make fingery crux moves onto the slab above and exit rightwards with much relief.
Yesterday Calum Muskett and Mark Dicken (co-author of the Llanberis Slate guide) completed a four pitch trad line next to the recently added multi-pitch sport route, The Desolation of Smaug on the North Wall of Twll Mawr in the Dinorwig Slate quarries.
In times past this area of rock had been subject to ground up forays by both Joe Brown and Ray Kay, yet neither had managed to find a way through the tricky and serious terrain. The Antiquarian E4/5 6a was an attempt to explore this area again, but this time to take advantage of the adjacent belays.
“It didn’t go quite where we were intending but is certainly quite fun and adventurous. Quite a lot of chossy slate but surprisingly well protected.”
The lads took a pragmatic approach to the nearby bolts, as Mark put it:
“This wasn’t an anti-bolt mission; we made use of them when it suited us, but were keen for a trad adventure…”
To read more about the ascent and see more photos of the first ascent check out Mark’s blog.
Bimble up the chain to rack up as for Razor’s Edge.
P1 5b 30m Climb the pillar left of the v-groove, cross the next rib on the left and quest up to the crack for some more reassuring gear. Rise until level with the TDOS belay and traverse over to it.
P2 6a 40m Clip the first bolt of TDOS then enter the groove; follow this until pushed onto the rib and then follow this until the first of Joe Brown’s bolts is spotted over by the corner on the right. Gain this and go up to the bolt at his high point (the bolt is difficult to clip as it is bunged up with old tat). Continue in the corner until a slightly unnerving slopey traverse gains the big slopey ledge, shuffle left on this to the TDOS belay.
P3 6a 50m Climb the corner system directly above the belay, to a decaying pink sling on a flake (remnant of a Ray Kay jaunt). A rising traverse left meets the junction with the Taith Mawr Traverse (cam slot) follow this back right to where Taith Mawr belays but quest directly up the corner system above the belay (plug the gear in the easy bits because its about to run out). The corner starts to shut out into the right arête; surmount the arête to join P5 of TDOS just before the crux, follow this to the belay.
P4 5b/F6b 20m Finish as for TDOS.
Yesterday Alex Mason climbed a tough new line on the Red Wall Promontory at Gogarth. Smear Campaign E8 6b breaks out right from The Featherstone to follow a hard diagonal line leading rightwards up past the overlap. A committing section on the blank wall above leads to a bulge, before the line trends off right to reach the easier but still serious upper arête of Satan’s Scream (an E8 6c climbed last year by James McHaffie).
The outcome of the day was quite a surprise, as Alex explains:
“I only really went to belay Caff [James McHaffie] but he was feeling under the weather, so I tried it on a rope while he had a nap. I came down and Caff said he had no intention of leading it that day and I could go for it if I wanted. I surprised myself by feeling up to it. Abbing in it looked nails and I didn’t think I’d even second it.”
“I put the bomber runners in the E5 and returned to the deck for a rest and a psyche up. Then I went for it, got through the first hard sequence to the first independent gear and ripped a blocky side pull off, taking a ground-swooping pendulum.”
“After that I got back on top rope to practice placing the gear from another, more strenuous position. Next go up I got quite pumped and gripped placing a small offset wire and a micro cam here. Then you burl right and place a reasonable but blind Red DMM Dragon off a powerful undercut and smears. At this point you can feel the juice draining and you just have to go for the upper wall, technical at first, then via some tenuous reaches to gain better holds and some okay gear with much relief. This is quite a long sequence of 6b/6c moves, maybe about 25 moves. After a bit of a shake there’s a few more 5c/6a moves and a final heart-in-mouth palmy press into a scoop and a decent wire.“
As for the physical difficulty and overall grade assessment, Alex offered the following thoughts:
“Overall it’s around French 7c. I think it would feel much harder to onsight given the blind, smeary nature of the climbing. For me it was comparable in difficulty to ‘The 39 Slaps’ [an old E7 6b on Esgair Maen Gwyn/Scimitar Ridge in the Llanberis Pass which has lost a few holds and pegs and is now considered to be E8 6c] but a little less secure and you have to place some unobvious gear. It’d be good for someone else to try it as I haven’t much experience with this sort of thing.”
Caff agreed with Alex’s assessment that the route would warrant E8 for an onsight lead:
“I think it’s E8 and probably 6b. It’s a big lead above 1 crucial cam and you can’t dick about for long on any of the hard bits . Would be awful ground up.”
There are no photos of Alex on the route as Caff compounded his already off colour day by knocking his trainer into the briny and then drenched his phone while fishing it out!
45m Brilliant powerful climbing without many footholds. Start up The Featherstone for 8m until it’s possible to break out right on side pulls to the first overlap. Arrange gear in the overlap quickly then pull over onto the blind wall above. Committing moves lead tenuously to better holds in the second overlap/bulge. Move up, and then head diagonally right, past a thread, to the arête, finishing more easily, but carefully, up this.
The route just makes it into the forthcoming Ground Up guide, Gogarth South, which is in the final stages of production.
Seasoned campaigners, Twid Turner and Dai Lampard, completed a surprisingly independent five pitch E4 6a (with pitches of 6a, 6a, 4c, 6a and 6a) on the right side of Main Cliff. The Bass Hunter strikes a direct line up through the big diagonal second pitch of The Rat Race, continuing up with sustained interest on either side of the upper pitches of the same route.
“It provides plenty of sport and moments of fine climbing. Well protected and on good rock quality. Now the lichen has been removed its pretty damn clean.” Said Twid after the ascent.
Another pair of seasoned campaigners, George Smith and Tony Loxton, have added an excellent new route to The Range. The Blue Buoy E3/4 5c offers a good, well protected battle, through the steep rock below the recently climbed Drip Trip. The line follows the obvious overhanging flake over a ‘furious bulge’ to finish up a defined groove. It is only recommended in dry conditions and with a low tide when the route may be accessed from the slabs opposite.
Over on Llawder at Rhoscolyn Pete Johnson and Steve Long have been busy again. Their new route, Conquistadores E2 5b, strikes a direct line through El Dorado. Climb over the overlap as for El Dorado, step left and up to a short corner. Climb this (microcams useful) to reach a ramp. Follow this to a junction with El Dorado just below its hand traverse. Move up and right to a ledge and finish up the hairy crack line.
Chris Doyle has had quite a week; first he climbed his ‘hardest ever’ boulder problem, the first ascent of a hard 8A+ link on Pill Box Wall, then he topped it by climbing the first ascent of Raiders of the Dark Ark F8b+ in Llanddulas Cave. This is his ‘hardest ever’ route and yet more proof of the outstanding form that Chris has hit this summer.
Raiders can be found on the shady roof section of the main cave, a place where Chris has been very active in previous years. Most notably he made the first ascents of Temple of Gloom F8b in 2010 and The Last Crusade F8a+ in 2011.
The new route follows Temple of Gloom to the third bolt then does a hard toe hook move right to a kneebar. The line then busts straight through the roof with more fancy footwork to finish on a ledge at the same height as The Last Crusade lower-off.
Despite the high level of difficulty, it has taken Chris a relatively small amount of time to complete the route. Once he had actually sussed out the tricky, technical sequence it came together quite swiftly. On his fourth proper redpoint session Chris made it to the last hard move, although he pulled his left leg hamstring on the final heel hook move.
Conscious of avoiding a more serious injury to his leg he took a break from the route for a week. Chris was obviously was climbing well and he knew he had to strike on other projects while he could. A windy couple of sessions on Pill Box Wall above the Marine Drive gave him the first ascent of a long standing project. One for the Road 8A+ is a lengthy stamina problem which rates about F8c (albeit without the need to tie in and clip bolts).
Returning to Llanddulas again, Chris knew he had a good chance on the big roof project:
“First redders I powered out on the last hard move. Then I dropped the start and the middle and on the fourth redpoint I found myself hanging off my heel rocking up to the sidepull. I got it and grabbed the big undercut and reached the jugs. As I was rocking over the finishing hold a big jug I’d been using started wobbling giving a heart in mouth moment. Luckily there was another one and I clipped the lower-off ever so slightly chuffed.”
Explained Chris, before adding:
“I’m pretty sure it’s F8b+ but you never know, it’s certainly a grade harder than Temple and didn’t take long enough to warrant F8c.”
To view film footage of the first ascent and read more of Chris’s thoughts on Raiders check out his excellent blog.
A couple of weeks back Chris also bolted up and climbed Catch the Pigeon F7b, an obvious alternative start to Zoidberg traversing into the end of Temple of Gloom. This proved to be a fun addition with a crux slap to the black boss at the end of Temple before climbing to the ledge and finishing up Zoidberg F6c.