Archive for the ‘Classic Climbs’ Category

Stone Masonry E7 6C – Porth Dafarch receives an adventurous test piece.

Gogarth is well known for its adventurous routes, a place worth seeking out if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty!

Loaded with climbs that combine many different climbing styles, Gogarth can be a real fight. James Mchaffie is no stranger to this, and has added a ‘modern classic’ to the right of The Blue Horse E4/5 tackling the central weakness through the steep cave.

Oli eyeing up Stone Masonry - Photo: James Mchaffie

Oli eyeing up what would become Stone Masonry – Photo: James Mchaffie

Alex Mason had also taken a look but didn’t get round to doing it, and so it fell to the hands of James and Oli Grounsell.

James had this to say:

‘It went first go. It was goppy and as I sat on gear at the crux the rock started disintegrating with the weight of my rope. Sinkers disappeared leaving fins and I thought we were in for a pointless shitfest. Luckily you can knee bar through all that bit. It is a total classic about 20 meters long. Good protection and non tidal.’

Description: Stone Masonry E7 6C (24m)

The central weakness in the very steep face. Climb onto a very sharp flake and layback up on good fins until it steepens a lot. Knee bar up to the horizontal crack and keep a knee in until better handholds and a good wire appears. A big backhand move right to two quartz jugs leads to a brilliant heel, move upwards to gain good holds and pinches but still a few metres of pumpy climbing to where the wall slabs off, and a step left can be made to easy ground and the top.

James added that the route was named after Alex Mason and the many different moves you come across.

I wonder how many fresh line this cave will churn out?

For more information on the location of this impressive cave and surrounding routes, turn to page 243 of the new Gogarth South guide. Copies are available at

James is sponsored by DMM, Rab, Sterling Rope and Boreal.

Oli is sponsored by DMM, Evolv, Lapis, Climb On and V12.

Oli exiting the steepness - Photo: James Mchaffie

Oli exiting the steepness – Photo: James Mchaffie


Oli enjoying the steepness – Photo: James Mchaffie

Central Gully IV 5 (4), The Black Ladders

Si Panton heading up to the cave pitch Photo: Streaky Desroy

With the release of the brand new sparkly North Wales Winter Climbing guide it seems fitting to celebrate one of the big classic winter lines on crag of the moment, The Black Ladders. A day out on this cliff will stick in your memory for years. The scale of the place alone gives it incredible atmosphere.

Central Gully is a fine route with a series of technical obstacles interspersed with some good old fashioned snow stomping. There’s something here to suit all tastes from steep ice to turfy mixed climbing.

There is one note of caution relating to the parking issues in the Gerlan area – before you make a visit please read the article on the BMC website compiled by BMC Cymru Access and Conservation officer, Elfyn Jones.

Central Gully route card.

Cripple Creek E3 5b, Craig Dorys

Streaky Desroy setting off up the main groove on Cripple Creek E3 5b Photo: Si Panton

With snow on the hills and a distinct chill in the air the smart move for the rock hungry climber is to head out to the coast. The difference in weather conditions can be startling, particularly down on the Lleyn Peninsular. Bouldering in T shirts at Porth Ysgo is the norm at this time of year, and Craig Dorys provides a similar sun trap, albeit with an entirely different climbing experience on offer.

There has been a lot of big number routes done here in recent times; check here and here for more info.

This month’s featured route is not your average run of the mill, but what would you expect from a cliff with the reputation that Dorys carries? Regardless of its serious start Cripple Creek is a fine climb, in fact one of the best in North Wales.

Cripple Creek route card pdf.

One Step in the Clouds VS 4c, Craig Bwlch y Moch

Cheymoon O’Reilly stepping into the V groove on the first pitch of One Step in the Clouds, VS 4c Photo: Si Panton

The quote from the North Wales Rock guide says it all: “An exposed classic, which tiptoes up the slabby left shoulder of the mighty Vector buttress.” The rock is immaculate, the positions amazing, the line intriguing – what’s not to like?

Another plus point is that the Tremadog crags are a reliable option in changeable weather. If it’s raining in the mountains, it is definitely worth a punt. Even a shower in the morning won’t ruin the day as the dolerite rock dries very quickly.

And to top it all, the Climbers’ club have just published a new definitive Tremadog guide – what better excuse do you need to return?

One Step in the Clouds route card pdf.

Zarquon/Resurrection/Erection E2 5c, Llechog

Si Panton clutching a finger jam on the final crux section Photo: Tim Badcock

As the summer rainy season comes to an end the dry September period heralds a return to the mountain crags. Llechog is off most people’s radar, but the featured route is a must for any E2 climber and well worth the long walk in.

Llechog means ‘slabby’ and after a day spent smearing and balancing on its gorgeously hewn rock you’ll be in no doubt about the aptness of the moniker. That said, this is a visually deceptive cliff, where nothing is quite how it appears from below. Intriguing stuff for sure.

Llechog route card pdf.

Rap VS 4c, Castell Helen

Gav Foster out there on the spectacular first pitch of Rap VS 4c, Castell Helen Photo: Si Panton

The kids’ summer holidays arrive and right on cue the Welsh hills are beset by rain – this weather pattern has become so entrenched in recent years that it feels like you could set your watch by it.

Luckily the Gogarth sea cliffs, situated on the western tip of Anglesey provide a relatively rain free alternative. Gogarth also happens to be one of the best crags in Europe. Adventurous trad climbing is the name of the game and there is a life time of routes to be had for those who get hooked, and hooked you will be…oh yes, that much is certain!

Rap route card pdf.

Plexus E1 5b, Dinas Mot

Edwin Williams and Malcolm ‘Mills’ Davies on the immaculate second pitch of Plexus E1 5b, Dinas Mot Photo: Si Panton

Early summer is the time to head over to the shady side of the Llanberis Pass. The dry spring weather has left the normally damp crags seepage free. Although the central Nose on Dinas Mot attracts the most traffic, the best rock (lovely, lovely dolerite!) and some of the best routes can be found on the wings and on the Plexus Buttress.

Plexus is a brilliant route – technically absorbing, exciting and blessed with some fantastically airy positions. An evening ascent in the glorious vivid light will live on in your memory for years to come.

Plexus route card pdf.

Pinnacle Rib Route V Diff, East Face of Tryfan

Colin Crabtree and Jay Goodwin on the 4b Yellow Slab pitch – the ultimate ‘high gloss’ challenge! Photo: Si Panton

The Climbers’ Club have just released a new Ogwen guide 100 years after J M Archer Thomson released his original Climbing in the Ogwen Valley guide. With the sun shining and the high crags in good condition after a delightfully dry spring it seems the perfect time to go high and sample a classic mountain route on the magnificent East Face of Tryfan.

Pinnacle Rib Route is one of the finest low grade multi pitch mountain routes in Snowdonia. Take it as a long and pleasant V Diff expedition, or bite off the technical diversions of the infamous Yellow Slab and Thomson’s Chimney to spice things up a bit – the choice is yours.

Pinnacle Rib route card pdf.

Spectre HVS 5a, Clogwyn y Grochan

Alex Williams bridging up pitch two of Spectre HVS 5a Photo: Si Panton

Llanberis Pass remains ‘the’ magnet venue in North Wales; and it’s easy to understand why when you take a glance around. Wherever you look there is rock; crags and boulders of all shapes and sizes. The run of crags on the north side of the valley are particularly popular. Easy access, lots of sunshine and stacks of classic routes to go at – what’s not to like?

Clogwyn y Grochan is an intense sort of crag and it can feel a bit rude on an early season visit, but at least the gear tends to be good. And during the spring months when the rock is warmed by the sun there really is no finer place to be.

Spectre is a fantastic route with a lot of character. Like most HVSs on the Grochan it doesn’t give in easily, but it is not a nasty route, rather it rewards those who get stuck in. Get up there and give it a go – it’s a true classic!

Spectre route card pdf.

Looning the Tube HVS 5b, Australia Quarry

Jon Ratcliffe in the upper crack of Looning the Tube HVS 5b Photo: Si Panton

As much as it pains me to admit it, the North Wales winter season might be over. The temperatures are rising and the snow fields are shrinking back.

It’s definitely time to hit the rock and there is no better place for an early season blast than the Dinorwig slate quarries.

Recent years have seen a huge number of low and mid grade sport routes added. All those shiny bolts are a welcome sight to the nervous leader, especially if you’ve spent the winter on the climbing wall.

The only thing to adjust to is the exceptionally technical climbing. You won’t be getting pumped on these slate slabs, but all that precise footwork and tiny holds malarky is quite a shock after months of standing on big blobby bolt ons or even kicking into ice and frozen turf!

Worry not though as it soon comes back; before you know it you’ll be styling your way up like a time served slatehead.

This month’s classic climb has a couple of bolts, but it is most certainly not a sport route. It is easy to forget, in the rush to gorge on the many new wave clip ups, that actually, many of the best routes in the quarries are the original 1980s ‘designer danger’ affairs.

Looning the Tube is not particularly dangerous, but it does have element of old school ‘feel’ to it. Catch it in the sun on a spring day and you will know a great climb.

(NB. Llanberis Slate – the much anticipated Ground Up guidebook to the quarries is due to be published in May/June 2010.)

Looning the Tube route card pdf.

[Stop Press: there are moves afoot by Jim Kelly to establish a direct start to the route, starting from the bottom of the slab on the lower tier – sounds great, and it gives us all another excuse to do the route again!]

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