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

John Marsland's Reports

Edition of 28/6/2007 (sorry about the six-year delay!)


----- Original Message -----
From: John Marsland
Sent: Mon, 6 Aug 2001 22:07:06 +0100
Subject: John's Excellent Adventure

Hi all,

I thought I'd share with you all what I did on the last Monday in July.

I set the alarm for 4a.m. but it didn't go off - later I discovered I'd set it for 4 p.m. I had been waking up every hour or so anyway and got up at 4.30 - 20 minutes later after a quick breakfast I was on the road. It was cloudy when I arrived at the car park off the A5 next to Milestone Buttress at 6.10 a.m. I was a bit nervous about leaving the car all alone as I walked up to the crag - a metaphor for my own situation perhaps. At the base of the crag I put on my old comfy rockboots, put the guidebook into the back pocket of my cycling top and set off up Rowan Route (Dif. **). I got a little lost on the top pitch, basically because I hadn't fully read the guidebook and descended down a loose gully to my rucksack. By ten to seven I was setting off up Direct Route (V.Dif. ***) this time with rucksack on. The route took some figuring out - on the first pitch a step left into a groove is described in the text but not shown on the diagram and the hand traverse on the third pitch was not obvious until I was right next to it. Next pitch 4 - the Corner Chimney - wearing the rucksack I couldn't get inside and everything was polished to a mirror finish. After about ten minutes I'd managed the bottom half only and after a careful balancing of discretion and valour I retreated and took a much simpler exit on the right 7.25 a.m. and time for another crag - at least the car had company now.

45 minutes later I arrived at the foot of the East Face of Tryfan and set off up Grooved Arete (V.Dif. ***). The first pitch brought back memories of a previous ascent 6 or 7 years ago - on that occasion two friends were alternating leads and I decided to solo with a full pack of rope and gear - a decision quickly reversed after the weight of the rucksack nearly pulled me out of the top of that first corner. Now with no rucksack, no hangover and much fitter the first pitch presented no difficulties at all and the remaining 500 feet also passed without any problems in about 40 minutes. The Knight's Move slab was a real pleasure and the first real taste of big exposure. Once at the summit I performed the ritual leap from Adam to Eve and just to make sure I had jumped from Adam to Eve I also jumped from Eve to Adam although in which order I am uncertain. Descent via South Gully (Mod.) was interesting - give me polished buttresses over chossy gullies anyday - and it was 9.30 before I was starting on the next route - Gashed Crag (V.Dif. ***). Very pleasant climbing and a few awkward chimneys and another 550 feet in 45 minutes. Descent via South Gully was much quicker on a second visit and by 10.30 I was setting off up Pinnacle Rib Route (Dif. **) this time with rucksack on. The route on pitch 4 took some finding - it's certainly not the 'blunt arete' immediately right of the Yellow Slab on Overlapping Rib Route which is more like VS - I took a less blunt 'blunt arete' further right. By 11.15 I was at the summit again and had my first conversion of the day - up until then I hadn't seen another climber and had only seen walkers at a distance. And the clouds had all now gone - time for another crag.

From Bwlch Tryfan I traversed across underneath Glyder Fach and sat in the shade reading the description for Chasm Route - which was O.K. until the last pitch - the Vertical Vice - 'squirm through the chimney' - no thanks, not after the Corner Chimney on Milestone. And as I wasn't sure if it was escapable I decided against doing the first 6 pitches as well. On round the corner to Route II (Dif. **) which wasn't easy to find - half way up West Gully and then across a broad grassy shelf occupied by a disgruntled sheep that was sunning itself until I arrived. Route II is a superb route, no polished holds and no chalk! The first two pitches are wonderfully exposed on hidden monster jugs and the top pitch is a real delight - a narrow chimney with an exit between 'huge jammed chockstones' as it says in the guidebook - but which chockstones? there are several to choose from - some huge, some only very big. For the top pitch I put the rucksack in front of me and once I had worked out which chockstones to pass between the rest was simple. I was rather surprised to hear voices at this point given my relative solitude so far - it turned out to be two blokes doing Dolmen Buttress from Steve Ashton's Scrambles books - and a very good scramble it was - similar in feel to the Papillons ridge on the Aig. du Peigne. It was half past one when I reached the summit plateau and time to head for the next crag.

I stopped for lunch in some shade near the top of the Gribin ridge overlooking Clogwyn Du. Memories of ice bouncing off helmet and hot pains were at odds with the ambient conditions and rather belatedly I applied some factor 15. A gull circled three times and landed on one leg close by. The other leg was held up - clearly after some sympathy and food. I put my sandwiches away and carried on down. Walking downhill was now becoming tiresome and I didn't reach Idwal Slabs until 3. Remarkable there were very few parties around and I set off up Hope (V.Dif. ***) which was completely unoccupied. 20 minutes for the climb but another 20 minutes to scramble upto and down from the Easy Way off. Next Faith (V.Dif. **) - the 'small holds at the very edge of the rib' on pitch 4 were probably the boldest climbing I had done all day and an internal voice started - 'you don't have to do this'.

At the top I decided to try the other way off - the West Traverse - which involved damp ledges and a semi blind fairly committing mantleshelf with wet boots - the internal voice started up again. Descent via the gully between Red Slab and Goat Slab led back to the bottom of the slab for 4.30, the last of the drink and the last climb; Charity (V.Dif. **). The start of Charity is polished to a high sheen and felt quite tricky in socks and comfy boots. Thereafter it was business as usual and the hardest part was walking down afterwards - the following two days my quads were very sore. Back at the bottom of the slabs by 5.20, at the car by 5.50 and home by 7.50.

9 routes
22 stars
3635 feet of climbing at Dif. or V.Dif. (more than Snowdon from sea level).
6250 feet of ascent (and descent).

Postscript.
On the way home I got the impression that people were looking at me - at the Spar shop in Bethesda, at the petrol station. Was it the sunburn? Was it the look of absolute exhaustion? Was it an appearance of inner contentment?

However when I got home I discovered in a rucksack pocket one lens of my mirrored sunglasses!

All the best
John

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