Posts Tagged ‘Llanberis Slate’

Joe Brown removes bolts from retro-bolted line in Dinorwig Quarries

Veteran rock star Joe Brown (now in his 80s) has removed a number of bolts from one of his routes in the Dinorwig slate quarries. It turns out that the route had been retro-bolted, not once, but twice!

On the face of it this sounds like a classic case of an old school traditionalist taking a symbolic stand against the spread of bolts. The truth is less controversial but still interesting nonetheless as it does illustrate the ethical parameters within which we all climb.

To understand how it all happened it is best to go back to 2002, a time when the slate quarries were considerably quieter than they have been since the 2006/7 re-equipping campaign and the arrival last autumn of the new Llanberis Slate guide. Back then anybody wandering into the quarries was unlikely to meet any other climbers, especially if they strayed away from Vivian, Bus Stop or the Rainbow Slab area.

Joe had started picking off a few lines on the Skyline buttress in Australia Upper with his good friend Jim Lyon. After establishing a VS and HVS in early February, Joe and Jim returned at the end of the month and climbed Antiquity VS 4c

This was written up on the Pete’s Eats website with the following description:

Start up Act Naturally to a grass ledge at 7 metres. Traverse left onto the crest of the buttress. Climb direct passing 2 protection pegs. Finish up the bay on the left.

Somehow (perhaps because of the grading anomaly; a VS route seemed unlikely through such bold and open territory) this then changed in the production of the first Llanberis Slate script in 2006 to:

Antiquity VS 4c [26.2.02]

From the ledge half way up Act Naturally, make a traverse out left, rising slightly past two pegs to finish up Menhir.

During the re-equipping campaign the pegs were replaced with bolts and a new bolt was added to protect the upper groove – it was felt to be about E1 5a with the bolts.

Unaware of the confusion over the line Chris Davies innocently added some sportingly placed bolts and climbed The Skyline Club, an E2 5b/c which dissects what, at the time, was thought to be the line of Antiquity.

“Last year, after the Llanberis Slate guide was produced Joe called me and expressed his dismay at how his route had been changed and to explain how the description in the guide was incorrect. Joe made it clear that he wasn’t against the new wave of sport routes; in fact he had enjoyed many of the new clip ups and felt very positive about the rejuvenation of the quarries. He was upset though that one of the last first ascents he had done had been retroed.”

“Joe said he would go with his friend Davey Howard-Jones and remove the bolts and restore the route to its original form – this week that is exactly what has happened.”

Said Si Panton, guide editor.

“Yesterday the unnecessary bolts were removed and the route is now exactly as originally climbed. The so called direct finish is in fact part of the original route.

“There are two pegs in the route, one of which is the original and one a replacement. The latter is stainless steel. Apart from this protection there are a number of runners including a large flake near the first peg.

“The reason for starting up ‘Act Naturally’ was to access a runner to protect the initial section.”

“As requested I will be leaving the bolt hangers at the Joe Brown shop for collection by Chris Davies.”

Explained Joe today.

The Skyline Club remains unclimbed in its current condition – the grade is unknown.


Access threat to Glyn Rhonwy quarry routes – consultation event this weekend

The Liquid Armbar and Mancer Direct wall in Mancer Quarry Photo: Si Panton

As mentioned in the recent BMC Cymru meeting, plans are being developed for a hydro electric pumped storage facility in the Glyn Rhonwy quarries above Llanberis.

If the £100 million project goes ahead it is likely that both the Cefn Du quarry and the Mancer Quarry will be flooded and that all existing routes will be inaccessible. The climbs that will be lost include a series of crack lines, such as Liquid Armbar E4 6a, The Mancer Direct E3 5b and The Good Crack E3 6a. We will also lose Clipopotamus F6b and The New Salesman E4 6b.

The main quarry hereabouts, Gideon, is not likely to be affected in the long run, however access may be difficult during the build which could take 3-4 years.

The company behind the project is Quarry Battery. They are hosting an exhibition at the Legacy Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis both today, Friday 29th June (10am –  4.30pm) and tomorrow, Saturday 30th June Day (10am – 7.30pm)

You will be able see plans for the development and talk to Quarry Battery Company staff about any comments or questions you have concerning the project. Any feedback is important and will be used to inform the proposals so please go along if you can make it.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition do bear in mind that the public consultation process will end on the 13th July. Feedback received before then may influence the planning submission. Feedback received after then will be passed on to the planning authority.

For more information visit www.quarrybattery.com and check out the Caernarfon and Denbigh front page story from a few weeks ago.


6 quality routes re-equipped in Dinorwig slate quarries

The Never Never Land slab; Sheherazade E4 6b (F7a/+) and The Machine in the Ghost E5 6b take lines left of the central groove line of Never Never Land, a classic E5 6a itself. Photo: Si Panton

The Dinorwig Slate quarries have been busy since the new Llanberis Slate guide was published last autumn. All this activity has drawn attention to the list of older routes which were missed during the great re-equipping campaign in 2006/7.

This week Tim Neill got psyched and marched into the quarries, keen to do his bit for the common good. In a few strenuous drilling sessions he managed to re-equip a number of important routes with resin-fixed bolts placed ‘like-for-like’.

On the impressive Colossus Wall Shazalzabon E5 6b, Light and Darkness E5 6b and Great Balls of Fire E4 6a have all been given the treatment and are ready to go.

Up on the Never Never Land slab Sheherazade E4 6b [F7a/+] and The Machine in the Ghost E5 6b also now sport shiny new bolts.

Lastly, Tim made an evening trip into Vivian Quarry to sort out Paul Pritchard’s 1988 route, Artichokes, Artichokes F7b+ on the backside of Bathtime wall.

“This last one needs a good clean too though. It’s got a massive runout to the ledges after the fourth bolt, but you can place some wires etc (albeit not as early as you’d like!), and I replaced the well rusty knifeblade at the top.”

Said Tim, before adding:

“The Steve Mayers route to the left [Le Voleur F7c] looks brilliant, but I had no bolts left or daylight. They’re both a bit high maintenance (for slate I mean), but maybe adventure sport is the new whatever!”

Well done that man! And if anybody sees Tim down the pub, be sure to buy him a pint.

NB. Tim did mention a few suspect bolts that he had encountered on his recent travels in the quarries. The third bolt on Gin Palace is loose, as is one of the abseil bolts on The Sidings level in Australia.


Cavity Wall F7a+ (F7c?)

Looking across from the Never Never Land slab to Cavity Wall F7a+. Photo: Si Panton

This afternoon prolific slatehead, Ian Lloyd-Jones, added another sport route to the Dinorwig slate quarries.

Cavity Wall F7a+ takes the obvious bolted line on the wall on the opposite side of the track to Never Never Land.

“I thought it was going to be much harder, thinking it might be F7b+/F7c but it went really easily on the first redpoint today so it probably only  deserves F7a+ (though being familiar with the moves makes a big difference), it may well feel harder than F7a+ for the onsight…”

Explained Ian, before adding:

“It’s very reachy between the pockets but being short certainly helps for the two rock overs, particularly the hunched up second one. The climbing’s very sustained but never totally desperate, it’s also reasonably powerful at times for a slate slab. The spaced pockets on it are really cool, on any other rock type it would be straightforward climbing, but the lack of footholds and friction make the pocket pulling moves far more difficult.”

A few weeks later Ian returned and added a minor line to the right. Easy for Caterpillars F7a climbs the concave slab on the far right of the wall. Easy to start with a good short technical crux in the middle, followed by some dynamic/long reaches. 4 bolts to a lower-off.

By Ian’s own admission this is not a great route, but the crux is very absorbing.

Stop Press: a few people, including young hotshot Calum Muskett, have tried Cavity Wall and the lack of success has prompted the suggestion that Ian’s initial feeling about the route may be more accurate, i.e. it is probably F7c!


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