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.”
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.
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!
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: www.thebmc.co.uk/idwal
For the full story check out the BMC website; www.thebmc.co.uk/winter-climbing-and-conservation-in-wales–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: www.thebmc.co.uk/north-wales-white-guide
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.
Creigiau’r Heulog, the recently developed sport venue on the West Shore side of Great Orme in Llandudno, has been closed for climbing.
These crags are on land designated as SSSI and also as a European Special Area of Conservation. There are some nationally rare and endangered species of plants found here that could easily be damaged by climbing activities.
As a consequence both the land manager (Conwy Council) and Natural Resources Wales have stated that climbing should not be permitted here.
Amongst the plants found at Creigiau’r Heulog are the nationally scarce and protected species such as Epipactis atrorubens (Dark red helleborine), Hieracium cambricum (Welsh Hawkweed), Sorbus rupicola (Rock whitebeam) and Helianthemum oelandicum (Hoary rockrose).
When Ledges Die E2 5b (MXS), Foam Party XS (E3 5b) – more adventurous additions to The Range at Gogarth
New routes on The Range at Gogarth continue to trickle through; here’s another two. Firstly, Martin Crook and Andy Newton climbed a good line at the recently developed Treasure Island area.
When Ledges Die E2 5b (MXS) takes a line up left of the large scooped chimney at the right side of the cliff. Gain and follow the slim black groove, which has a quartz ribbon in its back. A worrying exit is then made onto the arête which leads past massive cantilevers to the top.
On a separate visit to The Rickety Cliff Martin was joined by George Smith. Martin took the lead on Foam Party XS (E3 5b) which tackles the huge chimney line some 15m left (east) of The Complete Works. This gave a really good pitch with some surprisingly un-strenuous climbing through peculiar terrain.
Start below the chimney and move up and rightwards into a niche to its right, before moving up and left to a niche in the chimney at about 10m. Make a difficult move into the continuation chimney and then climb mostly using fins and slabby ledges on its right side, with spaced protection and a loose finish.
Some late news from October: Mark Hounslea, Colin Struthers and Kevin Stephens found an exciting new trad route on the left side of the White Beach crag at Fedw Fawr. This little visited limestone area on the north coast of Anglesey already has some neat routes but the potential for further development is obvious.
Bat Faced Girl E2 5b is a two pitch route with an excellent overhanging main pitch in a very exposed position. The climbing is said to be similar in style to that found on Range West in Pembroke; Mark recommended carrying extra cams in the 2-3.5 range.
An exciting climb which crosses the steep horizontal bands at the left hand end of the crag (i.e. left of the F6b: 42 Moves). Access the start of the route by walking above the main crag and descending easily to the quarry slabs. Descend a short corner just right of a large block and traverse rightwards for 20m to gain the first belay ledge just above the tideline (this section is about about Severe in standard) or, if the tide is fully in make a short abseil from the metal ring to gain the approach traverse.
P1 5b 28m Pick a line up and across the horizontal bands to gain an easing in angle. Continue to a stance in the corner.
P2 4c 10m Climb the corner to the top.
The other lines here are sport routes. The crag was originally developed in 1990/91 and was re-equipped in 2007. In 2008 another sport climbing venue was developed 500m to the west. Bothe areas feature in the Gogarth North guide.
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.