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

Matt Schofield's Reports

Edition of 9/9/2003

From: Matt Schofield
Subject: TR: Shit weather? What shit weather? Long, warm and dry.
Date: 2000/07/05
NNTP-Posting-Date: 5 Jul 2000 16:56:06 GMT
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing

So having listened to you lot whine about the crap weather last weekend I'll take a few minutes to tell you about mine and Nick's exploits last week in Wales - a week of climbing in more or less uninterupted sunshine and no rain for the entire duration.

For those that can't be arsed reading all the way it incorporates action (or not) on routes including Grooved Arete, Nea, Main Wall, Diagonal, Creag Dhu Wall and Meshach. Oh and it gloats about the weather. And there's poetry or rather a 'rhyme'.

Sat 24th
We set off down to N. Wales early afternoon and arrived in Ogwen about 1630. We set up the tent at the more easterly campsite and donned sacks for the walk up to the Heather Terrace to tackle Grooved Arete HVD. We were uncertain about what time we'd finish but we set off anyway and after seeing no one else all afternoon, topped out around 2100. Overall impressions are that it's steady but is spoiled by the scrambly bits. The Knights Slab is nowt even for a HVD leader being covered in holds and gear. Still a nice start to the week, capped by a late barbecue back at the campsite (Asda lamb kebabs and a bottle of beer - oh yeah!).

Sun 25th
It started a bit cool and overcast and being Sunday we attempted to avoid the more popular stuff (Idwal et. al) so we pissed around on the rocks behind the campsite, before wondering around to the pass for an afternoon attempt on Cyrn Las' Main Wall. The dark skies over Snowdon put me off so we went down to Llanberis to look at shops and settled on a trip up to the quarries to look at Comes the Dervish. Unfortunately someone was just lowering off so we missed out on the action.

About 1600 the grey skies lifted and we decided to have go at at Nea 260ft S+ on the N. side of the pass before the Sunday lethargy took too great a hold. This is a great route with the exception of the third pitch that crosses the collapsed (100 Classics Ashton book) yellow section near he top. This is a pretty bold pitch in complete contrast to the rest of the route (Nick led it). Nearly as bold is the descent route which'd be well scary in the wet.

That evening we camped in a nigh on empty Vaynol Arms campsite, with a quick trip for a nasty pint near closing time.

Mon 26th
Big plans today. The weather was off to a fine start so time for a crack at "The most sought after of severes in Wales - maybe N. Wales) - Main Wall on Cyrn Las high up on the south side of the pass. During the 1 hour walk in you have plenty of time to contemplate seven supposedly severe (HS really - 4b in a couple of places) pitches up a very intimidating 470ft cliff. The route follows a series of ramps and other weaknesses up the cliff with the 5th and 6th pitches being the finest if not only for their stark contrast. We made steady progress alternating leads. The first tricky bit is the third pitch that follows a steep ramp (a bit damp) into a big corner and the back again on another ramp to supposed piton belays. These now seem long gone but there's some good placements in the floor. Beyond this another steady pitch takes you to up to pitch 5 with a good pull up a corner onto an exposed flake, another ramp and then a really exposed step around a corner. The following traverse is made more tricky by the massive rope drag until like all the belays on this route a nice, big, safe, protected and comfortable stance is reached. Pitch 6 is slab heaven up a raised slab on the side of a gully with enough gear to make it safe but not too easy. There's no doubt this is a corking route, a total mountain experience made so by its combination of good pro, nifty ropework required, nice stances, big exposure, no easy scrambly bits or grassy terraces, and from the ground a totally improbable line up a near sheer bit of rock. Do it.

After this we headed back down to the campsite where we cooked under blue skies in pure camping luxury - deckchairs, dual burner stoves, cold beer, CD's (quiet), good scran. Perfect. Later on we met up with the only other person still at the campsite - a bloke called Dave from Kingston who'd been up at the weekend with his mates and stayed on. We motored down to Llanberis trying to avoid (honest) the masses of *It's Gripped* 3 peaks/24 hours challengers crossing the road by the railway station. We went for a swifty at that popular climbers bar and saw Paul Pritchard. He looked in pretty good nick all things considered but who am I to say.

Tue 27th
After a few days of convincing him otherwise Nick managed to pester me up on to Dinas Mot to have a crack amongst other things at Diagonal. I deferred in favour of The Cracks, a 4 pitch S+. Nothing much to say other than a varied, interesting a protected route up one of Snowdonias finest pieces of rock. Well worth doing as a steady warm up to.....

Yes. After much gentle persuasion followed by backing off followed by gentle... Nick managed to coax me into having a go at Diagonal, but by this time I'd convinced myself of its difficulties so I passed all leads to him. It's graded at HVS 4b, 5a, 5a, 4c or summat like that but should be more like 4c, 5a, 5a, 5b. That last pitch is 5b. Just when you think it's all over - a nice protected corner crack turns into a grit-esque corner jamming off balance nightmare. Still well protected - I'd imagine some resort to aiding it but fuckin 'ard! As for the second and third pitches, they're a fine test of friction and mind control especially when what protection exists in the scoop in pitch 3 is planted firmly back at the belay :-o. Delicate moves up thin slabs. Me - I had it easy on a second but I have no regrets. I might've led the first pitch but the rest can wait for another day. There's no doubt it's a fine fine route and we finished the day sat by the river watching two parties on Diagonal, another finishing Direct and a third on the bold arete out on the right of the crag. Does anyone know what this is. It starts about 10 ft left of the stile and follows an arete to just below the 'parapet' formed by the western gully. It certainly looks hard.

Needless to say Nick was floating by this time, having cracked his hardest route to date considering it's continued difficulty. (he's led Suicide, Moyers, Valkyrie (F) in the Peak)

A few words on gear placements in Snowdonia - Come on you small hexes!

Back to the campsite for more gourmet nosh and a quick trip to the Vaynol Arms complete with Real Ale sign. Now they - are certainly having a laugh.

Wed 28th
Off to Pembroke (N and S) for the rest of the week, to indulge in a bit of sane and safe single pitch climbing. We roared off through mid-Wales eyes peeled for the Red Kites that frequent the area. No joy there but we pulled into St. Davids about 1430, set up camp at Caerfai and took off to Porth Clais to enjoy the slab. The tide was in but we rattled off a couple of routes in the glorious sunshine including the delightful Red Wall (S). The tide was in so access to the main slab was limited. That evening we enjoyed some beer at the Farmers Arms and wandered round to Craig Caerfai so Nick could contemplate the spectacular line of Armorican (HVS). He decided against it so we planned to spend the rest of the week (Thu/Fri) down in S. Pembroke seeing as neither of us had been before.

Thu 29th
Off to Bosherston to have a crack at Saddle Head and Flimston Bay routes.

Ode to Pembroke.
Climbing in Pembroke drives you barmy
Not here, not now because of the army
I've heard about the Limestone friction
Maybe so, but there's a bird restriction
I think we've been taken for a ride
I don't want to abseil and here comes the tide
It's driving me nuts, lets call the doc
That'll be Trema-doc!!

OK, OK so we fucked up of our own accord. We had the phone numbers, the access restrictions (BMC www) and the tide times - Thanks AJ. But after a few years in the Peak and a few days in Snowdonia we're pretty much used to not having to hunt for our thrills. Look in the guide, turn up, do, smile, go home. We didn't get it our own way in Pembroke because Saddle and Flimston were out (night shooting too). Deidre Sud was off limits because of tweety pie. Regardless we did a route and suffice to say it was shite. The route in question was a mucky and chossy one star route called Chieftain on St Govans Head. It was at that point we decided to cut our losses and head back oooop noooorth to Tremadoc, that we'd contemplated a few days previous. For all you Pembroke freaks I'm not writing it off. I'll give it another go soon (I've got to after spending 20 quid on the book).

We arrived at Tremadoc at around 1700, set up camp and immediately went to tackle Creag Dhu Wall above the school. This is a delightful route and judging by the foliage not too often tackled. Still don't let this put you off. FYI It would seem that the 'start' tree mentioned in the Ashton guide has fallen down. I led the second pitch that follows a bucket of a hand traverse with a big exposed pull up onto a small pinnacle before ascending protected slabs to yet another fine stance. I'm sat here trying to recall the top pitch, but by now it's just dissolved into the blur of the week. Still I remember it being a top route. Finished the day with a trip to the offy before crashing out in the evening sun back at the empty campsite.

Fri 30th
Last day! We had a ticklist a mile long for today but needless to say it was never going to be fulfilled. It does help that the weather's was perfect and the whole crag empty with just the occasional passing lardarse out for his fill at Eric's caff. Nick had been quite recently and done the Fang so on the back of his success on Diagonal he was up for it. I on the other hand was fighting the demons I get *everytime* I go climbing so we started up on Poor Man's Peuterey S+ - 3 pitches.

This is an ace route with a few tricky moves, in particular the step round, corner ascent and hand traverse of the second pitch. The third pitch is a romp up a slab following some well protected cracks and the 'sandy chimney' at the top isn't as sandy and chimney like as you might imagine. Another worthy Tremadog route and certainly right for the grade (aren't they all???).

The guide lists the descent down the old steps through the woods as rustic and there's no doubt it is. Whoever went to the trouble of putting them in did a good job. After all the horrid descents of the previous week (off Nea, off the Mot, down to St Govans) it was a complete delight.

This took us through to lunchtime, for a gut busting sausage, beans and chips. Shortly after lunch a merkin approached us looking for routes around VS/HVS. He too was equipped with the Ashton guide, so I quickly pointed him at Once Step in the Clouds due to its crag classic status.

Nick entertained the prospect of Shadrach for all of two seconds. So off we went. Whilst we were roping up we watched the merkin shoot up the first pitch of One Step in the Clouds. Talking to him afterwards it turns out he's the US manager/rep bloke at Wild Country, and just recently had been climbing with Martin Atkinson in Yosemite on such mentalist routes as Astroman. Hmmmm. I think I'll recommend Strawberries next time he asks ;-)

Anyway - back to Shadrach. Nick managed to worry himself good and proper going up the outside of the chimney/crack on the first pitch. It was the most upset he'd been all week and took a while to relax once he'd setup the first belay. I led through the easy second pitch up to the big block and Nick finished off another good route.

Not content with that we wandered back down to the caff to get a drink and chat to the merkin, before the week's coup de grace - Meshach (HVS 4c/5a). This one's two long pitches but for me (steady) and Nick (sick in the head) it was an ideal route. I started up the meandering first pitch whose main section involves linking three cracks together in an upturned Z fashion. It's a well protected pitch where nifty ropework helps. I then settled on the belay ledge to bring Nick up. There was a bloke down in the field below watching us through binoculars but apart from him there was no one around. Nick set off up the tricky second pitch that amongst other delights has a bold mantle and a desperate traverse below the peg. Nick sussed both moves out nicely whilst on a second I need to use the pocket below the peg denied to him because of a friend placement. The rest of the pitch is also delicate but not quite as intimidating. At the top we must have sat for 45 minutes in the Sun looking out over Porthmadog and down past the Arenigs to Harlech. At one point we saw a gull repeatedly diving on a gorging buzzard.

We headed down the descent path whereupon I called time on the weeks events and we drove down to the offy and chippy in Porthmadog. That night it rained for the first time since driving through Bethesda the previous Saturday. Which was nice.

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