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Tora Bora VIII 8, Black Ladders

Chris Parkin on the first ascent of Tora Bora VIII 8 photo: Graham Desroy

Chris Parkin has produced yet another hard new route on his favourite crag, the Black Ladders. On Wednesday he set out with Pete Harrison to repeat Pagan Daughter, a V 6 first climbed in 1996 by Nick Biven and a young Stu MacAleese.

Unable to locate the line he then found some retreat gear left by another team a few weeks back (you can see this retreat in this film:  Imminent Conflict).

Chris forged a direct line above the abandoned gear and soon found himself embroiled in another hard new route.

Tora Bora VIII 8, 6, 4, 5 takes a line between Broken Ceasefire and Imminent Conflict. The main pitch involves a turfy groove, a hanging crack, then a flake crack finishing with a desperate move right to turfy ledges.

Pete thought it to be harder than Blenderhead VII 8 on Clogwyn Du, and Chris thought it was nearly as technical as the crux pitch of Cannon Ball VI 8, albeit with much less gear, thus the grade of VIII.

The crag was loaded with unstable snow on the day and Chris experienced a real moment of drama high on the route. Miles out from his last runner he nearly came a cropper when a large section of snow slipped free underneath him, leaving him hanging from his axes wondering if he was about to take the big one! Luckily Chris’ axes held and he maintained contact.

A full description of the route will appear on the wiki soon: Welsh Winter Climbs.

Winter 2010!

Adam Wainwright topping out on Western Gully VI 7, Ysgolion Duon/Black Ladders - a perfect day! photo: Si Panton

Cwm Raider IV 4, Beddgelert Forest

Martin Crook on the first ascent of Cwm Raider IV 4 photo: Nick Walton

The current winter season in North Wales has been nothing short of spectacular, with the crags buzzing with teams of keen locals and visitors alike. Many of the much sort after winter classics have been ticked, including Cold Climbs classics such as Cascade V 5, Central Ice Fall Direct VI 6, The Devil’s Appendix VI 6, Western Gully VI 7 and perhaps most remarkable, the rarely formed Maria V 5 on Gallt yr Ogof.

There have also been many exciting first ascents, including the previously unreported Cwm Raider IV 4, an intriguing line on an undocumented crag beneath the summit of Moel yr Ogof, which sits above the Beddgelert Forest. This particular gem fell to the old school slate partnership of Martin Crook and Nick Walton, and provided several pitches of good quality ice up the obvious diagonal gully line on the right side of the crag.

Martin’s comment that he had, “only waited twenty years for conditions” speaks volumes about the unique nature of this amazing season and the long game sometimes required to grab those elusive winter first ascents!

View Cwm Raider Topo IV 4

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