Wales

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Ian and I at the top of The Cracks after a great day in the Pass

The first proper rain of my trip greeted me as I set off from Bristol, accompanied on my cycle to North Wales by Margaret and Sara. Our first day was characterised by being very wet and muddy (on a canal towpath), with our evening interrupted by a very stubborn horse insisting on standing in the middle of our campsite. We managed to dodge the thunderstorms for the next few days though, climbing expected hills like Gospel pass and unexpected but significant hills such as those around Llyn Clywedog. Great to have company on the bike for a few days and there were many cafe stops and strange rural Welsh pubs visited.

We met Ian in Dinnas Mawddwy and what had started as a grey drizzly morning turned into a hot and humid afternoon on Will-o-the-wisp on Craig Cywarch. Half a litre of water between two definitely proving insufficient after a steep uphill approach.

I waved goodbye to to Margaret and Sara the next morning and thankfully Ian took my bags in his car as the climb out of town was long and steep enough without the extra weight. We met again at Eric’s cafe in Tremadog on a glorious sunny afternoon (something that was too become a theme for the next week) and had a very pleasant climb on Creagh Dhu Wall before rewarding ourselves with fish and chips.

And early start the next morning for the long, but thankfully gently graded climb to Pen-y-pass for another hot walk in, this time to the base of the cliffs of Lliwedd (we took plenty of water ). At nearly 300m Avalanche/Red Wall/Longland’s continuation was by far the longest route so far. Save for a few bits of loose rock the climbing was straightforward and we had our lunch on the summit a few hours later. We made it down in time to fit in the climb of Nea at Clogwyn Y Grochan on the way down to the campsite at Nant Peris.

Another early start on Tuesday to squeeze in 5 climbs across 3 crags in Llanberis pass, hopefully finishing early enough for Ian to drive back to Newcastle at a reasonable hour. Flying Buttress at Dinnas Cromlech was a delight followed closely after by Spiral Stairs. A hike across the hillside took us to Carreg Wastad with both Wrinkle and Crackstone Rib being highly enjoyable and finished in time for a lunch break. A bit of a hike across to the South side of the pass to the base of The Cracks on Dinnas Mot followed. A party a couple of pitches up climbed at the same speed as us and we had an enjoyable hour chatting with them on the way up and sharing amusement as the final polished mantel to gain the top. A swift escape was hampered by jammed abseil ropes in the descent gully requiring a re-ascent of said gully. We still managed to get back to the car for half 5 though after a tiring 18pitches of climbing, so I felt justified in treating myself to lasagna and chips at Pete’s Eats.

Tom rolled into the campsite after midnight after a long drive from Scotland, but the following morning was unfortunately faced with van troubles that required it to be booked for a visit to the local garage the next day, scuppering our plans for two days climbing together. We made the most of our day however, climbing Main Wall on Diffwys Ddu, which turned out to be great value at hard severe, covering some very dramatic steep ground. I then cycled round to the Ogwen valley via a very hot and airless climb of Llanberis pass for a splendid evening climb of Direct Route on Milestone Buttress.

A fortunate coincidence meant that Polly was in Llanberis and up for a days climbing so we met in the Ogwen cottage cafe carpark the following morning, having a good catch-up chat on the walk in to the Idwal slabs. A great time was had breezing up Hope, Lazerus and then the Arete before wanding over to climb the slightly precarious Grey Slab before stopping for lunch on top of Glyder Fawr. Our destination for the afternoon was the main cliff on Glyder Fach, however despite having a description of the route I had neglected to bring anything which told us where the crag was on the mountain and it turns out Glyder Fach is quite a large and predominantly rocky mountain! Never the less we had a fun few hours boulder hopping across the summit eventually dropping down the north side and spotting the sun glinting off the helmet of a climber showing us the way. Direct Route was great,even the final crack and chimney to which Polly brought a bit of Chamonix glamour, ascending in visor and sunnies. Our long hot sunny day in the mountains had a fitting conclusion with a refreshing swim in Llyn Bochlwyd.

Next day I met up with Spencer a friend of friends who had willingly taken the Friday off work to join me for a long day of climbing on Tryfan. Grooved Arete, Gashed Crag and First pinnacle rib (Overlapping Ridge Route) all proved worthy classic climbs and we were both thoroughly knackered sitting atop the summit blocks Adam and Eve after 20pitches. That evening I accepted the hospitality of Spencer’s Oread Climbing club in the Glan Dena hut for the weekend.

On Saturday Spencer’s friend Chris joined us for Great Gully on Craig Yr Ysfa. This was certainly the most ‘traditional’ climb so far, with plenty of grass pulling, green slime and awkward chimneys, capped by a dramatic exit over a giant chockstone on the final pitch.

So after 8 days of solid climbing, 20 climbs and 86 pitches I have finished the classic climbs of Wales. A rest for a day and then onto the Peak, hopefully this fine weather will continue!

Stats so far;

Climbs: 27

Vertical metres: 2838m

Climbing partners: 9

Pitches: 107

Distance cycled: 1192km (740miles)

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