Steve Pardoe's uk.rec.climbing Trip Report Archive Pages

Ant Williams's Reports

Edition of 16/4/2007

Ant W, Idwal Slabs, April 2007
Ant W, Lavaredo Wall, August 2005
Ant W, Stanage, June 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "Anthony Williams"
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 1:35 PM
Subject: Snowdonia Slabfest [TR]

Both Duncan and John M managed to clear their desks for a day out on the crags and the weather couldn't have been kinder. As we raced towards the mountains, plans firmed for a day on the slabs of Cwm Idwal. Some high, thin cloud filtered the sun most of the day which left the cwm bathed in a soft light. The air was warm and still and I have never seen the cwm so dry at this time of the year. The rock could not have been in better condition and an air of excitement grew as we fought to keep up with Duncan's lengthening strides. It made me convinced that I was not what you might call 'mountain fit'. There were a couple of groups on the main Idwal slabs but nowhere near as crowded as you can find it.

We heaved our gear onto the ground and looked at the two thin ropes we had brought with us. Those of a safety conscious nature and any Health & Safety officers please look away now. Two half ropes, one with a severely frayed end, (shame on you Doctor Marsland) and ..... is that it then?......... So we decided on an alpine approach to speed up the onslaught and give us a chance to get more routes in. The alpine approach in this case means one leading on two ropes and the other two climbing simultaneously on one each, a feat of coordination for the leader and a new olympic sport for the others. Mmmmm!

Duncan was keen to have a crack at Tennis Shoe with the direct start and after confident first moves paused and pondered for a while at the crux move onto the main slab line. This is a very thin section requiring a great deal of faith in friction and some decent fingernails. Finally biting the bullet he moved smoothly on and zipped up the rest of the pitch. Taking it in turns we soon reached the final and rather polished pitch which again caused some hesitation before the final capping boulder proved to be as easy as ever. Sack hauling had mostly been rejected (you didn't get away with that one did you Williams) in favour of climbing with them and I for one was well and truly k...ckered by the time I reached the top and a brief stop for lunch or in Dunc's case a massive intake of concentrated carbohydrates.

Considering the time available and distances to crags we decided to by-pass the continuation walls and head out across the broken ground and gullies up towards the Grey Slab area high up on the flanks of Glyder Fawr. This is never straightforward as paths start and then vanish, corners are rounded only to reveal deepening gullies, zigzagging on and up only to find you've got to come down again. We finally found the broad quartz band that lies beneath the 'grey walls' and stared up some of the finest, cleanest, roughest rock I have seen in many a long year, and there was a party on it. The Grey Slab is called 'The Grey Slab' because its..... grey. Mmmmm. Some call it the Lost Boot route which reaches new heights of literary imagination. Enough.

After a bit of a conference we decided to do the easier Grey Slab as a threesome and then Dunc and John would descend to tackle the Grey Arete leaving me to power nap and guard the sacks, and phone for the helicopter and field the calls of concerned relatives, and E3 if ever I saw one.

Both routes are basically VS but the Arete has a tough 5a section at the top and I was very tired at this point and suspected that I might require a winch at some point. The climbing was superb, slab climbing at its best, thin but sound, with superb friction all the way and just enough protection to avoid nightmares. The rock was just warm enough for pleasurable climbing and not so warm as to lower friction and make hands sweat. The first section of the Grey slab is bounded by a corner with a good long crack running up its entire length and perfect for rocks and friends and some handy laying away. This pitch was smoothly led by Dunc who seems to have suffered not at all from a lengthy lay off from serious climbing. The pitch finishes with a slightly delicate section up across a pocketed slab to a stance that has barely enough room for two. With some complicated rope management all three of us settled nicely with John in a good position to lead on through. After this, shallow ribs and bulges and a final overlap lead you up alongside an often wet patch to the top. The wet patch was mostly dry and could be avoided and the way up was helped by little incuts and a lot of optimism. The protection is not overwhelming anywhere on this route but isn't that what makes a great slab climb? (answers in a sealed brown envelope please).

Tired but happy and with no time left to tackle the Grey Arete we set off for the long and knee-punishing slog back to Ogwen Cottage by way of the Devil's Kitchen. Added interest came from Duncan's lecturettes on some of the geological, glaciological and geomorphological features of this fascinating cwm every stone with a story to tell ..... and we spotted some peregrines..... and the beer in the Bryn Turc was excellent ...... and then we went home ..... and then we had our tea....... and today I am mostly polishing my Zimmer frame.

Laveredo Wall, Carreg Alltrem, Ant Williams, August 2005

From: "Anthony Williams"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 10:08 PM
Subject: Re: Lavaredo Wall

I think John is quoting here from a very faded Portuguese topo discovered in an old sea captain's trunk washed up a few years ago on the shores of the Manchester Ship Canal. For the rest of us we'll have to make do with Lavaredo, or possibly Lavaredo Wall as some people will have it. Let me say right now that it is worth every one of its glittering three stars. We had read that it was VS. 4c which seems about right. However, if you're having a bad day, speaking personally here, it's well up to HVS somethingorother.

Lavaredo was first climbed in 1961 by that pioneer of the early sixties, Ron James, having already seized 'Lightning Visit' two years earlier. This was a very competitive time in North Wales with a lot of stars looking for the next great route. Consider the likes of Vector at Tremadog. But Ron found this lost crag in the middle of nowhere and gave us a couple of routes of real quality.

The middle of nowhere just about describes it. This is a forgotten corner of Snowdonia tucked away down in the south east near the village of Dolwyddelan, on the A470. Crossing over the railway and heading south out of the village, a lane soon becomes a track and a gate marks the beginning of a large tract of Forestry Commission land. You can park just inside the gate if you want to appreciate the wild country feel of the area and walk the rest of the way. If you know where you are going you'll come across of new signpost ten minutes down the track pointing to a brand new wooden bridge that crosses the Afon Cwm Penamnen and takes you onto forest tracks that lead easily to the crag. We didn't. We turned off too soon, bushwacked our way through badly cleared ground, paddled across the stream with some difficulty and then hauled our heavy packs through through tangled brushwood and half cleared forest until we chanced upon a decent track. We could see the Carreg Alltrem standing proud and clear above the trees to the east but none of the tracks wanted to take us there. We finally zigged north east on one track and zagged back south on another to the foot of the crag. So that used up half our available reserves of precious energy.

[Editor's note : there's an access map on the Conwy Valley railway site]

The crag itself faces west and presents a surprisingly big face split by big crack lines into a series of corners and buttresses. The rock is wonderfully clean and the holds sharp and positive. Its your typical Snowdonian volcanics which has got to be one of the best rock types to climb.

Lavaredo is sort of right of centre and rises to about 45 metres. We stood below its towering corner and began the politics of deciding who should take what pitch. With eyes bigger than my stomach I said I'd rather like to try the top pitch, and John, ever the gentleman, settled for the first. That was my first mistake.

The first pitch climbs a corner to a spike and then up to a big ledge. The moves are precise, intricate and thought provoking, but the pitch yields to good bridging. The protection is so good it took me a few tiring minutes to free one of our runners. John climbed it in good style and sat down comfortably to bring me up. It was no push-over and I was feeling a large amount of respect for this climb when I finally joined him on the ledge.

Now I could see what the second pitch had to offer. A seriously bulging wall rises up on the left and its difficult to see what lies above. We changed over gear and I set off up a short corner and managed to pop a sling over a prominent flake above a blank wall. After several tries at pulling up on the flake and trying to gain an outward sloping ledge I succeeded, but by now I was feeling just a little nervous. This part of the route is quite exposed and gives you a powerful feeling that it wants to tip you back out into space. I managed to get a second sling over another good flake and began a series of attempts to move up over the bulge to a good ledge. There were supposed to be good in-cut holds following a long reach to help you on your way. I scurried up the wall, felt about a bit, found nothing much, retreated, tried again, found nothing much, retreated again..... and so on. Perhaps I need glasses. The holds are there. They are excellent. I didn't find them. By now my earlier nervousness had grown to something nearer panic as strength ebbed from my arms. A badly regulated imagination began proposing all kinds of potential for disaster and that was it. I retreated ..... actually harder than going on, but..... you know.

The excellent Mr. Haslam took over the lead and shot up the pitch like a rat up a drainpipe (no disrespect intended, John) and I followed rather sheepishly and still managed a little slip near the top. By the time we'd mastered a long and steep descent to our packs my brain was not much better than jelly. Still, that's climbing for you. Go there. You'll be all on your own with only the buzzards for company. You'll love it.

Ant Williams

Stanage, Ant Williams, June 2003

From: Anthony Williams (
Subject: Stanage Thurs (TR)
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Date: 2003-06-27 10:14:09 PST

A lucky phone call to the Gibbon to enquire about his state of health landed me with a beautiful sunny day's climbing at Stanage Edge. We did a load of stuff that I won't bore you with but climb - of - the - day maybe worth a mention to the desk-bound. Now listen up. You cannot do this route on a weekend. You need a quiet day midweek. So now its time to take a 'sickey' because they owe you it, don't pay you enough, you hate your boss, they haven't paid you for all the extra time you've put in - whatever excuse you use to get it together. Head for Rusty Wall at the popular end. Normally there will be half a dozen ropes on the go and a few soloists making you want to hurl rocks, but not today, right.

We gave up long ago taking the guidebook with us and just try to spot interesting things to do on the crags and as we sat slurping our tea we gazed across Rusty wall and Rugosity Wall to the blank wall on the left of Green Crack and the appalling arete of Topaz (which we've never managed to climb). "Let's traverse the lot", says the Gibbon. "What, the whole edge?" says I, my head stuck inside my sack looking for a spoon. A chalk bag clubbed the side of my head and made me look a few years older.

It looked fun, so out with the ropes, a few minutes working out the gear necessary, a close look at the blank wall to the left of Green Crack with its capping roof and we're off. Ginger up the first two metres of Via Dexter to place yourself at about a third the height of Rusty Wall. A traverse line suggests itself here and out you go on fingery holds and small stuff for the feet. A good hand jam helps around a corner on Via Media. Then things get thinner for a bit as you cross Rusty Crack and Rusty Wall. The rugosity thingies on Rugosity Wall help you approach Green Crack. You're at about half height now and you've arrived at the real scary bit. Somehow you have to move out left across the blank wall until you can reach around the arete of Topaz running up the right edge of the Trinity wall. This is hell for the short. There is a small foothold on the overhanging wall and with this and a gritty, rounded hold by some heather, and a bit of thoughtful bridging with your right foot, you slide your hand around the Topaz arete. Feel around until you can take a bit of a downward pull on the arete. Now pull like ..... as you commit yourself to flinging your body around the arete. Try gripping with the knees, a bit of breast stroke, some "udging up", and if you don't fall back into oblivion you'll stand on the only good bit of the arete. Now head up and right across the trinity wall without making life too difficult until you reach the top. The whole route is about HVS with the crux move at 5b or more if you're a short ....

Remember though, the second has as bad a time as the leader, so the pro needs to be thoughtfully placed..... but you knew that anyway. We called it "Hairy Steps". Have fun.
Ant Williams

More of Ant's writings are here

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