New Tremadog Guidebook

Front Cover

I popped into Costsworlds in Betws before work yesterday to pick-up some maps. While looking for the desired map (North East Lakes 1:25000) I glanced over to the climbing guidebook shelf. The new Tremadog guide caught my eye. I picked it up, it was about the same thickness but slightly larger than the old guide. I turned it over to look at the photo on the rear cover, noticing immediately that it looked familiar...I then realised it was a photo I had taken! Quickly I flicked to the front, reassuringly I had been credited for my efforts.

My photo on the rear! 

The photo is of the guidebook author Steve Long soloing a route called Princess at Craig y Gesail last summer. I had sent the photo in after chatting to Steve at the crag and helping with some route descriptions.

£22 and 24hrs later I have now had a chance to pretty much read the new guide cover-to-cover. It is definitely an improvement on the previous edition. Stars to indicate route quality, route numbering and the name and date of the first ascent visible under every route description are all welcome and much needed additions. The inclusion of an extensive history section and local climbers highlighting their favourite climbs are a nice touch. It is important that the history of the area is not lost. With Eric selling his cafe and moving on, the atmosphere of Tremadog climbing is set to change.

The new guide includes all the modern niceties we as climbers have come to expect of modern guidebooks: colour photo topos of all crags, large double page spread photos etc. This is the first modern Climbers Club guide I have owned; I am glad they have not mirrored Rockfax, there are no little garish symbols to describe a route's attributes. While Rockfax guides are great and all made to a very high standard, I personally find these little categorising symbols take some of the adventure and discovery out of climbing a route. Also in my experience I have often found them to be wrong; in the past I have found myself pumped at the top of a route with a technical or fluttery symbol...maybe that just says more about my climbing!  

For me this guide book is much more than just a new guidebook to an area. This is an area which is special to me. It is the area in which I live and grew up, the area where I climbed my first proper trad route (Canyon Rib, Aberglaslyn Gorge) and took my first lead fall (Lockwoods Chimney in the rain). I struggle to find a crag in the guide which I've not visited. The thing which I like the most about the guide is how it brings to life all the little obscure crags such as Craig Nant Y Fedw and Carreg Bengam Bach which are a 10min walk from the back of my house. It has given me added enthusiasm to explore the area, it is often too easy to take the easy option of jumping in the van and driving for 10min down to Eric's.

One thing which I feel could have been done better is the choice of action photos, obviously the photo on the rear cover is fantastic! It is a shame I do not feel the same about the front cover. It is a shot of the Fang HVS. While the Fang is a great climb (one of my favourite and the scene of an early epic!) in my opinion the shot is not  nearly as inspiring as the cover on the previous guide.

There seems to be a trend to put more action shots of 'obtainable' climbs (sub or low E grade)  on the cover of and in climbing guides in general. I can understand the thinking behind this, as climbers who climb these grades make up the majority of the target market for the guidebook. In my opinion it is not the grade of a route which should decide its eligibility to be on the front cover but more the photogenic merit and ability of the photo to portray the ethos of the area. I feel the chosen cover photo fails to achieve this in the same way as the cover shot on the previous guide did.

Understandably the cover choice is always going to be difficult and will not please everyone. Inside guidebooks I often get inspired by the photos. Flicking through the new guide it has occurred to me there are not as many super inspiring action shots such as Keith Robinson solo on Fingerlicker, George Smith on Swift Undercut, Cardiac Arete or Pete Robins on Neb Direct which were prevalent in the old guide. The number of action shots seems to have been reduced to make space for more photo topos which are more useful when climbing! That being said there are a few excellent double page photos in the new guide such as the one of Canyon Rib, Clogwyn y Fulfran and Clogwyn Coch and the Arddu.

Sunrise on Clogwyn Y Fulfram 

Yr Arddu

Reading through the new guide has got me super psyched to make the most of the remaining dry days before winter hits hard! Here is a tick list of routes which have caught my eye:

  • Harvey Proctor's Spanking Slap and Mangolesti, Pant Ifan
  • Zukator, Bwlch y Moch 
  • Wild Orchid, Carreg Bengam Bach
  • Cunnyson, Craig Y Llyn 
  • Gallop Step, Clogwyn y Bustach 
  • Clogwyn y Bustach Boulders 
  • Canyon Rib (try and get the right line this time!) 
  • What Friends R4 and Easter Wall, Clogwyn Dyniewyd name a just few!

Surfing and Porth Ysgo

On Wednesday Barni Josh and I went to Hells Mouth on the Lleyn to try out Joshe's new board. None of us had ever tried to surf before. We had marginal success, Barni managed to catch a wave and stand up for a few seconds! The waves were pretty big, getting out was a mission! Even though it was summer and we were wearing wetsuits we soon got pretty cold. I was glad of having the van to sit in and make a mug of fresh hot coffee to warm up. Luxury!

Hells Mouth Beach 

Barni battling his way out

Afterwards we headed to Porth Ysgo for some classic bouldering. 

Barni on Ysgo Crack

Me on the top of Ysgo Crack

Barni pulling hard on Fast Cars 

The 'Ysgo Rash' 

After bouldering we checked out the little gritstone style crag on the hill, visible just before the road drops down to Porth Ysgo. From the road the crag looks like it could have potential. On closer inspection it was clear why the crag receives little attention. The rock is good, but a bit green. The crag lacks any obvious line and is a bit small. Nonetheless we still climbed a few easy lines, possibly 1st ascents but nothing worth recording. A few lines on the crag could make a nice top-rope for a beginner. 

Barni on the onsight solo 1st ascent of some green slab

Path To Rome

Last Sunday Barni and I decided to explore the Lleyn by climbing the classic Path to Rome on Cilan Head...It was awesome!

Barni setting off on the 50m traverse on Path to Rome 

The route is one of the more travelled routes on the Lleyn and relativity easy to find. The route is unique. It consists of a short (<30m) abb, a 50m 5c traverse following gritstone style brakes then a short 5c groove to the top. The rock is generally solid (apart from the last few meters). The crux on the main traverse pitch can be protected well with cams, take two sets of medium/large cams, the last few meters are a bit run out bit the climbing eases. 

Barni on Path to Rome 

Barni about half way across the 1st pitch! 

Rhoscolyn DWS

Wow what a day! Just got back from a days climbing at Rhoscolyn with Barni and Andy Psyche. The weather was fantastic; It was so nice to be out by the sea.


We started the day be climbing The Sun E2 5c. This classic route lived up to its expectations. Great exposed climbing, decent holds and good gear. The route is given E3 in two out of the three different guidebooks we had with us. I though the route was E2, perhaps a little tricky for 5c.

Chilling out / Recovering after The Sun

The main event was a deep water solo of Electric Blue E4 5c by Barni and myself. Barni had soloed the route a couple of days previously but wanted to repeat it for photos! The route was awesome, if a little scary! A fall from the upper section (30m+) is defiantly unadvisable; luckily the 5c crux is quite low down, just after traversing right. There is also one 5b move low down which is not quite over the water which you would not want to fall off. After half high the climbing gets easier, about hvs to the top.

Barni and Myself on Electric Blue

Barni on Electric Blue

Barni still on Electric Blue

Some say the route is more like E2 to solo. True, the route is defiantly less pumpy with only a chalk bag round your waist and not hanging around to place gear, but the route is more serious done solo. I think I will take the E4 tick for scariness!