Yesterday Amy and I had a great day out exploring the Rhinogau. It's a fascinating place full of intriguing fine gritstone crags and rocky buttresses. In terms of climbing it's a bit of a backwater; its lack of popularity is probably down to many things: lack of easy access, proximity to Llanberis and density of foliage.

We approached from Cwm Bychan and first visited the crag Y Grisau (Meirionydd guidebook P.313). The crag is easily visible from the popular Roman Steps path. I climbed Wilderness Gritstone E3 6a, a very nice route. Hard bouldery few moves at the start followed by slightly bold climbing up to a finger crack which can be laced with gear ready for some awesome finishing moves.

From Y Grisiau an interesting looking crag with a prominent lighting-bolt crack can be seen below and few 100m away to the NE, by the stream flowing from Llyn y Morwynion This crag isn't in the Meironydd Guidebook. I've called it Dan y Grisiau (meaning under the steps). A short battle through dense foliage saw us at the base. On closer inspection the lighting-bolt crack turned out to be at a disappointingly easy angle but still gave a fun scramble. To the right of the lighting-bolt crack there is a much thinner and steeper finger crack. This crack turned out to give a nice E2 6a, I've called it Banana Snap Crack.

Dan Y Grisiau (under the steps) OS grid 653 307
Banana Snap Crack E2 6a 10m * - Strenuous and rewarding climbing on pristine rock. Climb the splitter crack in the center of the buttress with the help of some holds out right. Swing right over 'the table' to finish.
FA: Glyn Hudson 27/7/11

Looking up Banana Snap Crack
Celebratory Snack

Warming up on Banana Pinnacle
Before the midges hit hard we manged one more new route on a little crag 30m down stream from Dan y Grisuau.

Hungry Monkey VS 5a 5m * - Short but enjoyable on fine rock. On small outcrop 30m downstream of Dan y Grisiau. Takes the obvious layback flake on the left hand side of the buttress. Belay well back taking care not to fall into the rock crevasse as the first ascensionist did.
FA: Glyn Hudson & Amy Underwood Thompson 27/7/11

A Hungry Monkey 

Another crag 30m down stream of Dan Y Grisiau.
Hungry Monkey takes the layback crack on the left hand side of the crag

Map showing location of Y Grisiau and Dan y Grisiau crags in relation to Cwm Bychan
and the Roman Steps 

King Wad or Bad Boy?

Seems that this July is one of the driest and sunniest we've had in North Wales for a good few years. Long may the good weather continue! The result is that I've been climbing quite a bit recently.

A couple of weeks ago I succeeded on redpointing I'v Been a Bad Boy 7c/7c+ at LPT. This was the first route that I've spent more than a day working on. I kind of enjoyed the redpointing experience but I was defiantly glad to finally get it done!  The route probably took me about 7 redpoints spread over 4 days. On most of my attempts I got withing a move to the top; being quite short I found a move slapping round an arete to a small sidepull desperate. The route is given 7c but is common knowledge that that top move is harder for the short, not that it matters but I'm going to take 7c+.

The route is very good, a hard boulder problem start followed by a pumpy traverse, technical groove then a dynamic on-off finishing sequence climaxing with a big move to a massive jug. Fantastic.

On I've Been a Bad Bad Boy 7c+
On Saturday I climbed on Scimitar Ridge with Calum Muskett. We warmed up on Troy E1 5b, then I had had a go at King Wad E5 6b.  King Wad was a route I had heard much about, seen plenty of photos but had never contemplated doing. It had always seemed several levels above my climbing ability. I guess the fact it used to be given E6 on UKC had something to do with it! 

Calum assured me that it was never E6, more like a safe E5. With this in mind I set off. The bottom section of the route takes a cracked line of weakness up the steep wall. The climbing is fantastic and the gear is good. At the bottom of the arete a hard move matching a small crimp leads to a peg and a hands off rest. From here the hanging arete can truly be appreciated, it looked hard and breathtakingly exposed. From the rest its possible to move out to the arete, place a small cam, clip a peg and place a couple of small wires then (with difficulty) reverse the sequence back to the rest. Once adequately de-pumped I launched back out to the arete and committed to the dynamic moves above. Initially I tried to climb it direct, this didn't work I nearly came off. I was now fighting the pump, sport climbing mode was well and truly engaged, pinching the arete with my left hand I threw up for a hold up and right with my right hand. A cross through and a couple of pulls saw me standing at the top. A very unlikely King Wad! 

Unfortunately no one was around to take photos. Below is a photo Calum took later that day of Karin Magog on Killerkranky, another route on Scimitar Ridge. 

Karin Magog on Killerkranky E5 6b

Supermassive Blackhole

Yesterday Calum and I made the second ascent of a new multipitch slate sport route called Supermassive Black Hole in Twll Mawr put up by local slate activist Ian Lloyd-Jones. See news article.

Twll Mawr is quite an intimidating place with lots of hard and serious routes. I'm sure this route will become very popular as it allows the Twll Mawr experience atmosphere to be enjoyed in the safety of 35 bolts!

More importantly it is also an excellent route, with four pitches of absorbing but never desperate climbing. Calum and I climbed the route in two long pitches. The pitch grades given were 7a, 6b+, 7a/6c+/6b. Calum and I though they were more like 6c,6b+,6c,6b although each pitch looks many times harder than it actually is. Big jugs seem to appear from nowhere!

The best way to access the route is probably by walking through the tunnel from the Golgotha Slab (level below Monkey Bar area) into the bottom of Twll Mawr. The route can be seen going up the wall just to the left of the left hand tunnel. To access the base of the route take the right hand tunnel then scramble round and down the scree. The base of the route can also be reached by abseil.

Calum just about to do the crux on P1
Me on the awesome P3

Twll Mawr Atmosphere

Tunnel into Twll Mawr

Pembroke sun sea and sending

Last week I spent a few days in Pembroke, I just can't get enough of the place! The weather was much better than last time; wall to wall sunshine every day. It was almost too hot one day, not that I'm complaining! I love the sun.

Unfortunately since it was midweek Range East was closed during the day for firing practice, so we climbed mainly on Mother Carey's and Carreg-Y-Barcud. A couple of the days we nipped into Range East after the firing had finished at 4:30pm and climbed till dark.

I was lucky enough to climb with some good friends and strong climbers. Being on a trip with good mates is always a laugh.

I had already been down in Pembroke for a day or so with Amy when Luke, Barni, Konrad and Ewan joined me.

Van life
After dropping  Amy of to get her train home then playing a game of van vs. train when we missed it I popped over to St Govens for a few routes in the evening sun.

Barni on the Poisoned Arrow E4 6a

Barni on the Poisoned Arrow E4 6a

Luke giving it some gun onsighting John Wayne E5 6a
I had never been to Carreg Y Barcud in North Pembroke before, the climbing is very different to that on range East. The rock is gorgeous hard sandstone, generally at a slabby angle and well featured with small solid holds. Very similar to slate, bit with friction! We climbed a total of seven routes on the crag, including the classics Sinicure E1 5b and Kitten Claws E3 5c.


The "Gurning Boyz/Sausage Fest" team!  

Although it looks blank on first appearance Kitten Claws actually has holds and pretty good gear. The gear is mainly small nuts, dmm HB brass offsets go in very well, the crux at half high on Kitten Claws is quite well protected with a dmm size 11 offset in sideways

Barni fiddling in small wires on Kitten Claws E3 5c
After climbing Kitten Claws we cooled off with a quick dip in the sea. After getting out we watched as Ewan started lowering his harness and shoes down the abb rope and shouted that he was going to jump. I didn't really believe him; being as he was right on top of the crag which is over 20m high, at slabby angle and with a ledge at the bottom! Luke started his camera recording and we watched as Ewan launched himself off the top of the crag after taking a (much needed) run up! After almost 3s of airtime Ewan executed a text book (for mentalists!) entry into the sea. Very impressive. Check out the video below:

When shade hit the crag Barni went for an onsight attempt of Mean Feat E5 6a. He put in an awesome effort onsighting some thin and hard moves upto the break. Above, the rock looked blank, Barni not totally sure of the correct route reluctantly traversed left into the top of Kitten Claws.

Barni going for the onsight of Mean Feat E5 6a
Next Luke had a go and managed to flash the route working out a sequence through a hard section above, then a runout on steep and hidden holds.

The next day we had planned to go DWS'ing but since the weather was not quite as hot we went back to Carreg-Y-Barcud. With Luke's beta Barni made short work of Mean Feate. Next it was my go, combining much beta from all angles I manged to flash the route, my first E5. Its a fantastic route, thin and slabby to start then steeper wall climbing above. The route is actually quite safe, protected with a double set of tiny cams, small wires and some bigger stuff in the breaks. Many placements are fiddly and some blind to place.

Adjusting into the crux fingerlock on Mean Feat E5 6a
Eyeballing the top mid-crux on Mean Feat
Later the same day after an ice cream and coffee hit in St Davids we headed over to Travellen in Rage East.  Barni lead Enter the Goat E2 5b and I lead Sunlover E3 5c. A very nice route with a bit of a bold lower section then jugs a hoy. 

We finished off by climbing The Fascist and Me E4 6a  which has a ridiculously steep and photogenic top pitch. Unfortunately the light and temperature were dropping by this point. Seconding Bani up the top pitch (which is nearly horizontally steep in places!) with two fleeces, a down jacket and a guidebook stuffed down my top was quite an experience;  I now know what its like to climb with respectably large breasts..difficult! 

Multipitching at Pembroke? Cold belay ledge on the Fascist and Me  E4 6a
On the last day despite feeling pretty beaten we climbed at Mother Carey's. I warmed up on the simply fantastic Rock Idol E1 5a then after admiring the resident crabs in-suite in the rock pools below the crag Barni knocked off a strenuous lead of Zeppelin E3 5c.

Barni fighting the pump on Zepellin E3 5c

Last but defiantly not least Luke pulled off the onsight of the trip climbing Beat Surrender E5 6b at Lydstep Point, next crag along towards the carpark from Mother Carey's. Luke put in an amazing performance on this strenuous, technical and sustained route. Sitting on the abb rope I had a front row seat. Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery. You will have to take my word for it, it was impressive! 

Luke starting off on Beats Surrender E5 6b
I managed to second the route by the skin of my teeth in far less style! The climbing was awesome, plenty of tensioned bridging and finger locks.

North Wales DWS

Yet again I'v been pretty poor at updating the blog over the past month. So many good days out, its hard to know where to start.

One of highlights was defiantly deep water soloing a few weeks ago at Rhoscolyn. Dan Macmaus was keen to try a line up through the cave of Electric Blue. Unfortunately on this attempt we tried to traverse into the cave on the left wall and found it desperate and slimy. Dan returned to following week armed with the knowledge that the route starts from the right hand side of the cave and managed to onsight the new route! An amazing effort. See V12 outdoor news article and photos here.

Trying to traverse into the cave on the 'wrong' side. Slime central 

Dan and Sophie 

On the right hand side of the cave there is an aptly named route called Around the Horn E6 6a. It can also be deep water soloed, just! The 'horn' is a big fin of rock, the moves getting up into and and then behind it are amazing and totally wild, being a good height above the water at this point! After the horn there is a chimney which requires some rather scary back-and-footing for a few moves to reach a good hand jam and then a half way ledge. I jumped out halfway up this chimney, I wasn't too confident with my chimneying technique!

Dan getting 'behind the horn' on Around the Horn

Electric Blue
I finished the day by climbing Electric Blue E4 5c again. It was just as good and not as scary as the first time. Still, falling off from the top section is not an option. Luckily the holds get better and the angle eases towards the top.