Tim Neill and friends continue to explore the potential for new ground at Craig y Castell. While making a recent ascent of the rather excellent Castell High Girdle (E2 5c), Tim couldn’t help but notice the obvious weakness in the roof left of the upper section of Tensor. He returned a few days later with Mark Walker and rather fittingly, Tremadog guidebook editor, Steve Long. The lads managed to complete an absorbing new route, slightly eliminate in nature but finding some bold slabs and a safe but ‘goey’ roof section.
Spinor E4 6b starts just right of Sisyphus with a 5c variation pitch on The Wasp start: from a grey niche pull over the overlap on the left gaining an arête leading to the spike below The Wasp’s chimney crack. Follow the old Wasp variation with its stimulating mantel.
The second harder (6b) pitch breaks out from the right end of the ledge, stepping out above Pellagra’s first pitch to follow the cracked slab and gain the left facing groove of Tensor. Follow the groove for a couple of metres to a jug then take a short steep flake on the left to a fine procrastination perch under the roof. Perfect gear in the roof protects a long move to big sharp crystals on the lip. These lead with a ‘well timed slap’ to jugs. Finish directly up the fine rough wall to the top.
Tim Neill and John Orr have added a couple of entertaining new routes to the Tensor area of Craig y Castell.
Tales of Suspense E4 6a starts from a good nut belay level with right end of the Tenser roof. Step out onto the slab as for Tensor and move up to good cam slot near the right side of the big overlap. Take the obvious stepped groove past an old peg to reach a fine hanging slab. Climb its right edge to gain the pegs on Titanium Man. Back these up and pull out left wards and up by some great laybacking and undercutting on big flat sidepulls to a shallow scoop (poor RPs). One last scary pull out the top of this gains the juggy traverse of Tantulus. Finish up the fine slab and pillar just left of Titanium Man.
Multi-Dimensional Array E3 6a also steps out onto the slab as for Tensor. Near the left end of the large overlap and approximately 1m right of the next groove of Tensor (good wires in the lip and small cams to the right) test your ape index and yawn over for the biggest jug at Tremadog. Match both knees on the lip and grovel onto the fine slab. Climb the left arête of the crystalled slab to gain the peg under the crux of roof of Tensor. Step right to under a vague groove in the next roof and reach some good flatties well over the lip. Span right for an obvious spiky jug and make a well heeled move over. Finish up the juggy pillar right of Tensor’s grassy groove. Both overlaps are very reachy.
Tim was understandably pleased to grab a pair of quality lines on such a well known piece of rock and at such a (relatively) accessible standard:
“The possibility has been mentioned in the previous two or three Tremadog guides…so we were surprised that they gave up so easily. The big roof above the Tensor traverse was very good on both lines and offered perfect gear…the big move on MDA is a good challenge for people who don’t use their knees…double knee match obligatory.”
The BMC Cymru Annual General Meeting is taking place at the Indy Wall in Llanfair PG this coming Saturday (23rd Nov). The meeting kicks off at 6pm and there will be free food (veg and meat chilli) and free Purple Moose beer. Everybody is welcome, BMC members and non-members.
There will also be a fun bouldering competition with lots of prizes and raffles in the afternoon (Fun comp is £6 to enter with £1 going to the North Wales Bolt Fund).
Then at 8pm there is a talk (with video clips) from Calum Muskett. From Ogwen to the Eiger will tell the story of Calum’s rise from apprentice days in the Ogwen Valley to his current wild exploits. Special attention will be given to the F8a, Paciencia on the Eiger which he climbed with Dave Macleod, his recent trip to Patagonia for the first ascent of The Wall of Paine and his ascent of the The Indian Face.
Colin Struthers and Harold Walmsley continue their explorations of the Dinorwig slate quarries. This week they completed three new sport routes on the Below the Salt Pans level in Australia (see page 54 in the Llanberis Slate guide).
Best of the bunch is Zut Alors F6c/+ which tackles the striking arete situated directly below The Australian. To gain it traverse the Below the Salt Pans level to its left end and step down a short wall. The arete is followed on its right side with occasional excursions onto the slab to the right. It culminates with a fine finish on the very edge of the protruding upper section
Over on the right is Stretched to the Limit F6c+, the blunt arete between Y Rhaffwr and Narcolepsy. The route starts up the left side arête and moves round to the right by the first bolt. A long reach for a finger hold and a tricky sequence to stand on it precedes the easy upper section. The grade is very reach dependent. As given it is for just getting the finger hold at an extreme stretch (requires 6ft or a bit more depending on ape index). It would be much harder if too short to reach and probably easier for the few tall enough to get both hands to the hold.
The third route, The Rack F6b+, starts just right of Stretched to the Limit and climbs the groove, ramp, mantel and wall between Stretched to the Limit and Narcolepsy. Move left on to the upper arete of Stretched to the Limit at the last bolt and finish via this to the same lower off. Another reachy route but less so than Stretched to the Limit.
James McHaffie continues his run of stellar ascents in North Wales – this time he has climbed the abandoned crack project on the Promontory which splits Left Hand Red Wall from Red Wall proper at Gogarth.
Satan’s Scream E8 6c tackles the obvious crack line right of The Featherstone and 3m left of the seaward arête of the wall. It was originally attempted by Adam Wainwright back in the 90s. The lower crack already had two pegs in it when he came to try it (NB. these may have been placed by Paul Pritchard some years earlier). Adam came close to completing the line, but was thwarted when a key hold broke: “I kept it for years with half a mind to gluing it back on.” Prior to the hold breakage Adam thought it would rate around E7 or F7c+; in it’s current state Caff reckons it is around F8a.
Although Caff has made a few visits to check the line out yesterday was the first time that he actually got to inspect it properly. He abseiled down it, chalking what he thought were useful holds, then tried out the moves on his Gri Gri. Satisfied that it was feasible he went for the lead.
The lower crack gave sustained and powerful laybacking with poor footholds and a crucial but hard to place micro wire. Caff nearly fell off low down on a high step move off smears and then again at the last hard move below the overlap.
After the overlap the crack flares out a bit and the gear improves. Caff climbed the flared crack and continued up with some careful moves onto the ledge on the arête, and from there the upper arête went at about E4 5c.
“I was a bit tired after a big session at the Beacon wall the day before, but it is very intense. It’s 6c for pretty much every move to the first overlap, and despite the inspection I climbed it differently on the lead. The gear is okay, but strenuous to place. Mind you if that RP2 ripped you might be in trouble.”
Explained Caff, before adding:
“It’s very gymnastic and a bit slatey in style, in fact similar to Wish You Were Here. (Jon Ratcliffe’s excellent F7c/+ in Australia Quarry] It’s definitely a three star pitch.”
Chris Doyle spearheaded the bolting work, re-equipping an old Andy Pollitt line (The Senile Penile Extension F7b+) and an old finish to The Bloods which traversed off right to exit up the slab above the finish of Mayfair – this in effect has become the Mayfair Extension, with no change in the F7a+ grade. Tony Shelmerdine then bolted a diagonal link into this from the Contusion lower-off to give a big and very entertaining F6c+ pitch.
Chris also bolted a old project line (abandoned by Phil Smith) on the left above The Bloods belay. This gave him quite a struggle at first, but then it went quite steadily on the final redpoint. Chris is unsure of the difficulty of Cold Blood, thus the split F7c+/8a grade. He is offering £15 to any potential suitor who can go and repeat it and offer a correct grade in time for the new North Wales Limestone guide.
“It felt bloody brilliant, The Bloods is a great route to start up, then you can chill before the powerful crux moves. It is really nice climbing involving a fantastic thin pinch and a small undercut. After the crux you rock up the groove before easy climbing takes you to the top of the wall. It felt great to do a long new route even though it’s not really a pumpy route.”
New guide author, Pete Harrison also got involved, bolting up the line between Cold Blood and The Senile Penile Extension. Unfortunately back problems prevented him from getting on the route. Ally Smith then climbed this line by mistake, thinking he was repeating Cold Blood. Bad Blood seemed like a suitable name for this F7c/+.
The Julio Juvenito Extension F7a+ also got the re-equipping treatment from Chris – this route can now be linked into the Mayfair Extension at F7a+.
All of the extensions are around 28m long so require a 60m rope to lower off safely.
To read more about the development of the Mayfair headwall check out Chris Doyle’s blog.
A rockfall has occurred in the Bobby’s Groove area of Vivian Quarry in Llanberis (see page 246 in the Llanberis Slate guide). The recent rainy weather appears to have been the catalyst for a significant rock slump which has affected a few routes.
The Golden Shower E3 6a, which had previously been blighted by a minor rockfall, is now completely gone. The top of the adjacent Weetabix Connection F6c+, including its lower-off, has disappeared.
The top of Bobby’s Groove F8a has been ‘shaved’, although the bolts appear to be untouched and the belay bolt is still intact, as is the one to the left above Two Bolts or Not to Be F7b+.
A large area of unstable debris now sits below the wall; consequently access round to the Psychopherapy area is compromised.
Gwynedd Council, who issued a warning notice on their website yesterday, have constructed a fence blocking access to the area. The right side of the fence has been placed directly below the start of the popular HVS, Mental Lentils – the route is still possible but care would be needed to avoid landing on the fence top in the case of a fall on the lower half of the climb.
A new section of cliff has been developed at the northern end of The Range (Gogarth) by Martin Crook, George Smith, John Redhead (JR) and Dave Aucott. Treasure Island, as it has been dubbed, has so far yielded three fine routes and much entertainment for this group of veteran new routers.
“It’s got typical Mousetrap type rock on the left, but more compact ‘Easter Island’ scenes on the right. Consequently we thought the old XS grade more appropriate to the style and nature of some of the routes.” Explained Martin
An initial foray from Martin and JR was blighted by rain but they still managed to top out on Bottom Feeders (aka: The Golden Fan) MXS 5b. This tackles the central groove chimney and gives a fine outing, mostly on sound rock, although some care is required with the exit.
Martin returned the following week with George and Dave. This time the weather was better and Martin lead the boys up The Crooked Mile XS 5a/b (probably E2 5b?). This route starts left of Bottom Feeders where an obvious arête, with a slab on its left, runs into steeper rock. After the initial section swing left to gain a steep crack and then go up this before moving left again into a chimney. A belay here will solve the mounting rope drag issues. A short 5a/b exit pitch up the chimney will take the careful to the top.
Hardest of the bunch is The Whistling Chimney E3/4 5c, which climbs the deepest looking chimney line 5m left of The Crooked Mile. George lead this one and described it thus: “It’s a more or less perfect pitch. Solider than its neighbours to the right. Climb directly to the base of the chimney which is only entered after curiously difficult climbing on huge holds.”
Approach details: park in the small layby opposite the South Stack T junction. A few meteres up the road towards South Stack go down a marked path, through a kissing gate and follow some concrete and wooden steps down to a boulder beach. Head left (looking out to sea) at low tide to reach platforms below the crag.
Martin and JR also returned to The Range and climbed a good delicate slab route in the obvious rift close to the headland 600m south west of Porth Rufydd. Total Brewing MXS 5a/b takes the slightly bold central line on the slab, starting from a tidal platform. There are two perlon threads in situ, but a good selection of micro wires and small wires will also be found useful.
Yesterday James McHaffie joined forces with Mark Reeves and Alex Mason to climb one of the great unclimbed lines in the Dinorwig slate quarries. Tick’s Groove E6 6b is the striking feature just left of Prometheus Unbound in Mordor.
The route has been a well known project line since the ‘80s when Paul – ‘the tick’ – Williams first inspected it. Paul raved about it to all and sundry but no-one took the bait. Nonetheless the name stuck and it gained quite a reputation as an epic line. In 1998 Martin Crook and Ray Kay decided to have a go. Martin lead the first pitch successfully but Ray’s attempt on the main groove pitch soon came to an end. A rematch was discussed but in the end didn’t materialise.
It was subsequently highlighted in the Llanberis Slate guide as an outstanding challenge with the proviso that would-be suitors did not bolt it and that a ground up ethic was respected.
Despite the flag waving there were still no takers, except of course, our man Caff. Here he explains how he first went for a look with Neil Dickson:
“I’d eyed this up a few years ago and on Neil the youth’s 21st birthday told him I had the next Cenotaph Corner project waiting to go. It pissed it down and we hung out in the Mordor tunnel with youth unimpressed.”
Returning yesterday Caff looked up to see that the main groove pitch was not entirely dry. Disregarding this ‘minor issue’ the team was mobilised, with Alex and Mark going up first and Caff leading through on the main pitch:
“Alex led the first grim pitch which is steeper than it looks. I was pretty tentative on the first half of the main pitch as it has some dubious blocks you have to bypass, some of which your gear is in. I nearly gave up just beyond halfway as I didn’t have micro cams and it got quite techy. I managed to fiddle two wires into a small parallel crack and could see better gear higher up. It’s quite nice to have the tree to aim for but the moves to gain it are a bit spicy, as is the 5c mantel a few metres above.”
“There are a few options to finish but the continuation corner provides a really good short E4 6a-ish pitch. The grade is Alex and Mark’s guesstimate, but the crack is always likely to feel a bit slimey. It’s a high quality slate adventure route but lots of care should be taken on the first half of the main pitch and it’s worth having a ton of cams from micros to size 4 for it.”
P1 E3 5b 20m Follow loose blocks carefully up leftwards to a ledge near the base of the corner.
P2 E6 6b 35m Climb the corner via some dubious blocks with lots of care, at ¾ height it becomes quite technical and sustained with excellent moves to gain a tree, the bracken groove above the tree leads via a ‘5c mantel’ to easier ground and a good grass ledge and belay.
P3 E4 6a 10m Step back right into the main corner where sustained technical climbing leads to some great finishing moves.
Yesterday Gav Foster and Si Panton climbed a very entertaining micro route up in Cwm Glas Bach in the Llanberis Pass. Isabella Fortuna E4/5 6b takes a direct line up the attractive wall of rock situated just right of centre on the Thumb Boy escarpment (i.e. the obvious rock bluff 100m left of and down from the Gravestones).
The route starts in a fairly reasonable fashion but soon builds in difficulty as you gain the second break. Build a cluster of gear on the left and move up past the runners onto the headwall, trending back up right with difficulty until crux moves gain the top.
A fall from the exit moves would be quite ‘exciting’; a pad hung over the head high niche just left of the route might help reduce the crunch potential.
Earlier, during the summer, Gav climbed the left arête of the striking highball pillar situated 50m up behind the Thumb Boy wall. The Golden Pillar of Tumbi, Tumbi rates a rather exhilarating 6C! Expect sustained monkey-up-a-stick moves and a considerable adrenaline surge as you approach the top!