It is once again rock climbing season. Sadly I’ve all but given up on any hope of getting any more winter routes in, so what with all the lovely sunshine we’ve been having, I’ve once again embarked on the somewhat painful process of re-adjusting to rock. Sadly it isn’t going as well as it perhaps could for a number of reasons I won’t go into on here, but, that said, I clearly haven’t completely lost the ability to climb, I’m just having some trouble getting my head in gear.
Anyway, enough excuses. This is what I’ve been up to:
Thursday: A lovely day climbing at Tremadog with Ritchie. We decided to take it easy and just repeat a couple of nice ‘straight forward’ routes we had climbed previously. Fairly predictably, the ‘easy’ VS routes felt much, much harder than they should – not good.
Yogi – VS 4b. This route is a bit of a guidebook oddity in that the top pitch appears to be the same for three routes, but with two different technical grades…If anyone can shed any light on the bizarreness in the current Tremadog guide between the second pitches of ‘Yogi’ and ‘Smarter than the Average Bear’ (and indeed, ‘Mr Ranger’), or can provide me with some kind of explanation as to how the crystal filled layback crack can a) be described in two different ways, and b) have two different technical grades (4b or 4c), then please let me know! (There is always the possibility that I’m just being blonde and stupid, but this is unlikely as I’m not the only one confused!) Anyway, this was the third time I’ve climbed this route – it’s a nice ‘easy’ VS with a lovely layback crack on the top [guidebook oddity] pitch, and I highly recommend it! Make sure you bring some small wires for the first pitch though.
Grim Wall – VS 4c. Great route. Not much more to say really! This was the second time I’ve done Grim Wall, and this time I led the easier first pitch seeing as I took the lovely steep crux pitch last time. Sadly I have to admit to behaving like a total wuss when I got to the big hand traversey flake on the first pitch…I really, really, really hate traversing – even if it’s easy (and in this case it really is).
Friday: I really wasn’t feeling too good, so a very lazy start landed Patrick and I in the Moelwyns sometime after lunch. We climbed one route (and yes, I know, only climbing one route is pretty pathetic, especially as it was just a Severe).
For anyone who has never been to and experienced the wonders of Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Moelwynian crags provide (in my opinion) some of the best easy to moderate routes in Wales. Strangely, despite their sunny south facing aspect, fantastic unpolished rock, interesting routes and easy access, these crags see relatively few visitors – on Friday we were the only ones on the whole crag! Not that I’m complaining – everyone should just keep on heading to the honeypots of Tremadog, the Pass and the Idwal Slabs…
Block – Severe 4a. (Clogwyn yr Oen) I love the routes here, I really do. Easy enough to simply be able to enjoy the incredible gas pocketed rock with all its fabulous threads and cracks and super rough texture, but still interesting enough to make for a great climbing experience. This route can only be found in the Meirionnydd guide as it wasn’t deemed good enough to go in the selected North Wales Rock book, but, like its unsung neighbouring routes it is actually very good.
I must note though, that the guidebook description is not exactly brilliant – the ‘37m’ first pitch is actually 50m to the belay at the base of the corner – I know this because I reached the end of my 50m ropes on the damp grass slope about 2m before the corner (where the magical frictional qualities of smooth rock shoe rubber on wet grass once again came abruptly into focus). You could actually split this pitch half way at a convenient ledge and crack system, and in fact I highly recommend you do this. I am also going to recommend that you run the last two pitches described in the guidebook into one as there is absolutely no sane reason not to.