Following a taste of multi pitch climbing in the Lake District over the June Bank holiday weekend, Vanessa and I were super eager to get back to the UK. We had mustered up enough skills between the two of us to get ourselves up safely to the top of a small select number of VD and S multi pitch climbs. Rope work and route finding were our biggest cruxes. Fortunately, a smile and a few charming words to whoever was unfortunate enough to be in close proximity of us on the rock got us out of a few minor wrong doings.
With an excellent weather forecast expected, Vanessa and I joined Ian Christie’s meet in North Wales, with his troops Eric Corkery, Paul Nolan and James Aitken . We enjoyed three days of stunning sunshine and climbing. With an abundance of VD and S grade multi-pitch climbs there to chose from, and with a detailed ‘to do’ list from Gerry in the event of all weather conditions, we went straight to the Idwal Slab Crag from the Ferry. Ascenic 40 min walk in from the road where free parking was available took us by a lake to the base of our first climbTennis Shoe (S, 6 pitch climb). Initially we found Tennis shoe a particularly easy climb and for a second contemplated increasing our grade to HS. Fortunately, James pointed out how we went wrong on the last 2 pitches and avoided the crux so we agreed polished S climbs were a more than sufficient challenge for us. However, to make up for this error, we had scrambled across to climb Lazarus (S, 2 pitch) with a quality top out view. Descending was most adventurous and included a lot of scrambling and some wrong turns, but we carefully descended and joined Ian, Eric, Paul and James for a few glasses of vino in Capel Curig.
The Glan Dena Mountaineering Hut is ideally situated just 40minutes drive from Holyhead. Itneighbours a beautiful lake and is walking distance to numerous climbing opportunities such as the Idwal Slab Crag, Tryfan, etc. Apart from being very comfortable and clean, it provides a well equipped kitchen/dining area, sitting room and lounge space for under £10 night.It is an ideal hut to visit if you don’t have a car and there are plenty of walks nearby for rainy days.
On Thursday we all headed to Llanberis pass as a group. Vanessa and I headed for Carreg Wasted Crag and climbed The Wrinkle (VD, 3 pitch), and then onto Crackstone Rib (S, 3 pitch). No wrong turns made that day but we did make use of the friendly locals for some advice. Carreg Wasted is a lovely crag with a short but steep walk in, free road side parking but get there early as parking is limited. The valley itself offers a very scenic drive through and lots of opportunities for bouldering if that is what you prefer. Ian, Eric, Paul and James climbed The Cracks (4 pitch HS) and Flying Buttress (V Diff) .
On beautiful evenings like that, no better way to end a day than a dip in Ogwen Lake so pack your swim gear.
Friday was a quality day out. We all decided to climbGrooved Arête(HVD, 8 pitch) on the East face of Tryfan. Rushing off to make it there before the guys, Vanessa and I went off route and ended up taking the more strenuous and adventurous route to the base of the climb taking us up through thick heathers and a scramble up a tricky gully that we considered roping up for at times. Arriving later than planned, the boys were roped up and ready to climb. James joined us climbing Grooved Arête that day. Having already climbed it on numerous occasions, he generously allowed Vanessa and I to lead all pitches. He did lead the final and 8th pitch which he had never climbed before. We found this a really exciting climb, with an exciting taste of slab, vertical and mild overhanging climbing with exciting moments of exposure, just enough to get the heart pumping. A scenic scramble following the top out lead to the summit of Tryfan. There you are greeted by ‘Adam & Eve’, twin monoliths that test your nerves and balance when jumping from one to the other.
To take full advantage of the location and beautiful weather, Vanessa and I descended via Bristly Ridge which offered quality exploring and high quality scrambling, exposure and more spectacular views across the Nant Ffrancon and Cwm Idwal glaciated landscapes. The descending route is well marked that leads you back to the base of Grooved Arête to collect your bags. You can chose from a handful of other scenic routes if you wish, but this is the most exciting.
Before we arrived, Ian and his troops had got up to all sorts including a memorable ascent of Chasm Route on Glyder Fach in summer hailstones.
To end our time in N Wales, we all met in The Stables Bar in Betws-y-Coed for food and drinks, a good catch up and a few games of pool. No need to mention who won. The Stables Bar serves food till late compared to other places. We all parted early on Saturday with Vanessa and I making a detour to Holyhead to pick up Sean Cryan on route to the Lake District.
As a trio, we climbed Troutdale Pinnacle (S, 6 pitch) on Black Crag Buttress in Borrowdale. Troutdale Pinnacle, a classic route, offered a variety of climbing on well protected and exposed settings. Sitting on the pinnacle gives the top out of Prelude Nightmare in Glendalough a run for its money. This climb has been added to our ‘favourite climbs of all time’ list, and after Sean went home we returned to do it again as a duo. Free off-road parking is available and a steep 20 minute walk in allows for a nice warm up.
At Langdale, We also climbed Middlefell Buttress (a 75m Diff), Evening Wall(47m S+), Centipede (90m S) andThe Original Route(61m S-).
On our last day climbing there, Vanessa upped her game and finished the day with a HS lead called ‘Revelation’. A really superb climb that demanded mental boldness and a little brute force.
Shepards Crag is another lovely crag we visited near Borrowdale. Here we climbed Little Chamonix, (3-pitch V.Diff). A climb a local described as a ‘canny good climb’. Parking in a farm house coffee shop is allowed once you buy something. Free off road parking not far from here is another option. A short walk in takes you to the foot of the climb.As advised by Gerry,this crag is ideal for wet days as it is quick drying. On route home, a nice dip in Derwent Water Lake is an option for those who enjoy their swims.
A few things to know when you the Lake District….most importantly are Cornish Pasties in Pasty Presto in Bowness, dinner and wine in the Brown Horse. Get the lamb complimented with the fruity Merlot, it’s delicious! A car playlist composed by Sean, inclusive of Surfin USA, I Get Around, Mr Big Stuff, Good Vibrations and RESPECT…… gets you psyched, especially before a late dip in the lakeJ. If you are not restrained by time when travelling to and/or from the Lake District, the sail and rail ticket from Windermere to Dublin Port is £41 so might help you save a few pennys. We are blessed in Ireland with unpolished climbing routes. The UK is polish haven but it makes for much more delicate climbing.