Lighthouse Arete!

This post may be a little more boring than usual, no colorful images due to being unable to take a camera down to the be ledge due to the rough seas! Hopefully you’ll enjoy the post anyway…

As you’ve guessed, I got out to Gogarth to do Lighthouse Arete today, a lovely VS 4c. I met up with Ann at around 10:30am and headed over to South Stack. The weather had finally broken, the dark skies and cloud soon changed to blue skies and sunshine, the blustery winds remained, however. We arrived at South Stack and decided to rack up, sort the ropes and have a cup of tea at the cafe before heading for the route. The winds were still high and it was still chilly despite the sunshine, so we drank quickly and sorted the kit we’d require on the route before leavening the rest in the car and walking the short distance to the top of the route and the abseil station.

We promptly set up the abseil using the insitu pegs backed up with good wires, another two climbs joined us at the top and were planning to climb for longer than us, so we headed down on their abseil rope. Ann went first, abbing a full 60m pitch and expertly finding the large belay ledge; I followed and soon we were flaking the ropes out on the large ledge, ready for Ann to lead the first 4a pitch. Ann lead away, I was secretly hoping she would lead the pitch quickly as the waves were crashing over the ledge,wetting me each time! Ann climbed well and soon she was setting up an anchor on the top of the first pitch, she announced that she was safe and I quickly followed her along the leftwards rising traverse to meet her at the belay ledge. A really lovely pitch!

I decided that I’d lead the second and third pitches in one go, we sorted the gear and the ropes and soon I was on my way. Climbing easily up the blocky arete that made up the bulk of the second pitch- 4b. After this, I arrived at the base of a large hanging crack/corner, pulling through the overhang into this crack was the crux. I placed a good wire beneath the overhang and pulled through into the crack more easily than expected, I thought this move was only 4b. I promptly climbed the blocky corner crack to a large belay ledge, where I set up an anchor and let Ann know that I was safe. I told her she was free to climb and she began, making short work of the easier second pitch before reaching the crux on what should have been pitch 3.  She climbed it in fine style and agreed that 4b was a fair assessment. 

We sorted out the gear and re-flaked the ropes, ready for Ann to lead the easier final pitch. The last pitch was a little more broken and less pleasant than the climbing  that proceeded it; Ann lead it easily and set up an anchor at the top. Soon I was following her and joining her at the top ledge. We sorted all the kit, derigged the abseil rope and packed away the stuff before heading to the cafe. 

We ate some lunch whilst we packed away our kit, ropes and clothes and put them back in the car. The plan was to head over to Rhoscolyn to do another route, however after abbing in we realized that the weather was coming in, so we soloed a diff arete to escape and headed for the pub.

A really pleasant day! Thanks Ann.

Ogwen Link-up!

Today, Dad and I decided to make use of the good weather and head to the Ogwen valley to do one of the classic Idwal link-ups! I’d lead the harder sections and Dad would lead the rest; the link up would consist of: Tennis Shoe HS 4b, Lazarus S 4a and The Groove Above S 4b.

We left at around 10am and arrived at Ogwen Cottage a little after 10:30am, we grabbed the bags and headed for the start of the walk-in. It was overcast but still very warm so we headed up in just a shirt, we made quick progress passing tourists heading for devil’s kitchen on the wide motorway-like path that skirts beneath Idwal Slabs and our first route. We arrived at the bottom of the route to find that we would have to wait for two climbers to climb before us, before we could set off, so we leisurely racked up our harnesses, flaked the ropes and drank some tea whilst we waited. We decided to take one small bag with approach shoes and some water in, whoever was seconding would carry it, leaving the leader unhindered. After around 20 minutes, we were able to begin Tennis Shoe.

I lead the first pitch, judging by the guidebook and UKC, this pitch was in the 4a/4b region and very polished. I set off up the slab, arranging a wire after a few meters and made progress up the small polished holds that lead to a blank step right into a deep pocket to meet the place where the slab met the side wall.

Photo 1.1 – Climbing the initial polished slab on the first pitch of Tennis Shoe, HS 4b.

ImageSeveral smeary bridging moves lay ahead before a large ledge; from the ledge, a short slab is climbed before a bulge that separates the lower slab, from the upper. Good jams and smeared feet alloy one to pull through the bulge with ease, a pleasant crack leads to a large belay ledge where I set up an anchor and belayed Dad up. Dad climbed nicely, making good progress up the polished pitch and soon he arrived at the belay with me; we sorted gear and ropes ready for him to lead through. The middle two pitches were considerably easier, Dad lead them in fine style, each pitch was around VD standard- Tennis Shoe gets HS 4b for the first and last pitches really. We raced through the middle two pitches, Dad lead them both and soon we were at the belay below the last obstacle. I lead the last pitch, it started with a series of delicate moves up a polished rib to reach the crux. The crux involved a move to get from the rib onto a slabby ramp, I found that move easy for the grade and overall thought the first pitch was harder, probably due to the polish. The slabby ledge lead leftwards to a crack and bulge onto the upper slap, a short pull through this leaves a few meters of padding on the upper slab to reach they belay, and the top.

Photo 1.2 – Me leading the top pitch of Tennis Shoe HS 4b.

ImageI set up a belay, well, clipped into the rope sling that’d been left around a large block and brought Dad up to me. He climbed well; however, he felt the crux was tricky. We coiled the ropes, sorted the gear and scrambled up and across a huge ledge to reach the bottom of our second route, Lazarus S 4a. Overall, I thought the first pitch of Tennis Shoe was harder than the top, but the crux was more difficult on the top pitch- overall HS 4b is a fair assessment.

I lead both pitches of Lazarus, due to it getting 4a. Two very contrasting pitches, the first pitche was a thrutchy ledgy corner-that was pretty wet!-to reach a belay. After bringing Dad to here, I set off on the second pitch, a gently rising leftwards traverse to reach the base of a steep groove. Lovely, though polished, climbing lead across the rising traverse until the short steep grove lay above, positive holds lead up this with nice moves before an easier run out landed me on the large grassy ledge above. Dad followed me in good style, remarking however, that it was very slippy on the polished holds- I agreed. I thought that it was perhaps a little stiff for the grade, more like easy HS and easy 4b would better describe the climbing.

Photo 1.3 – Me trending leftwards on Lazarus, S 4a

ImageThe Groove Above lay in wait above us, we moved our belay to the base of the large groove, racked up our harnesses and I started leading away. The first move was the crux, a horrendously shiny lay back move to get established in the groove proper. The groove proper, however, was absolutely lovely smeary climbing, uninspiring gear but straightforward climbing. The crux was around 4b, but the rest no more than 4a. I topped out with a smile on my face, I wasn’t expecting much from this pitch but the climbing was much better than I expected. Dad followed in fine style, equally impressed with the climbing. What an excellent way to finish a link-up!

We set about sorting the gear, coiling the ropes and putting on our approach shoes before taking a moment to appreciate the scenery. However, the bright blue skies had been replaced by dark clouds on the brink of spewing their heavy load of rain over the Welsh mountains. We quickly set off down the grassy blocky hillside towards the descent path and romped to the base of the crag to collect the second bag and remaining gear.

We had a quick sandwich and a drink, packed away all the kit properly and yomped back to the car in an effort to avoid the rain. We did so and soon we were heading home for a cup of a tea and a good meal. We were really pleased with the day, climbing some nice routes in a nice setting!

Can’t wait for the next day at the crag!

A Double Cragging.

This week, on Wednesday and Today, I headed cragging at Holyhead Mountain. Now, I was going to post about Wednesday earlier in the week; however, we never managed to get any photos- we did today, so I thought I’d combine a post of the two. It can be all colorful now! We did some really great routes during the two days, Wednesday with Hannah, Today with Matt. So where do I start? The classic of the crag, of course. Tension VS 4b, what a stunning route.

Tension was a route I’d wanted to do for ages; dominating the quartz buttress lies two striking lines. A VS that traverses a the huge roof before finishing over a bulge and the better, 3 star, Tension that moves left under the roof, and swings left around the arete to a steep crack system…fabulous climbing. So good in fact, that I lead this on Wednesday with Hannah and today with Matt! Leading it the first time was a real joy, finally getting on the route and starting the initial corner before trending left and climbing the first corner to the overhang….then swinging out on the jugs around the arete (crux).

Photo 1.1 – Me, leading Tension-just below the crux swing.

ImageOnce the crux swing is over, one move remains-don’t fall off this, the last gear isn’t close- and you’re standing on a large hold with both feet. Here it is possible to swap arms and shake out, more importantly, it’s a good time to slot in a bomber wire! The steep crack is easier than the crux; however, a series of many 4b moves remain, strung together. The gear, though, is also excellent and the holds positive-it is steep though. A fabulous, fabulous route!

Photo 1.2 – Me placing gear after the crux of Tension (don’t ask why I left the green rope out).

ImageSo, Tension was definitely a highlight. However, there were some other routes that stood out:

Today, the first route we did was A Pleasant Surprise HS 4c, I lead it and thought the climbing was excellent; however, definitely not 4c imo…more 4b. Also today, I lead a bold and delicate slab climb called Duffel, wonderful delicate moves lead across a thin slab to an arete and then back across the slab diagonally on small holds- wonderful thin climbing, the gear wasn’t inspiring though. You’d probably deck from the crux!

We managed to get lots of other routes done, including: The Sump Direct HS 4b, I lead this on Wednesday and seconded it today. Comfortably Numb VS 4c, I lead this today. Rock and Ice HS 4a, lead on Wednesday. New Boots and Panties S 4a, seconded today.  Lost Hope HS 4a, seconded today….and a few others.

All in all and excellent couple of days! I’ll post tomorrow after climbing in Ogwen!

Outdoors for Hannah!

Last week, I saw a post on UKC from Hannah stating that she was keen to graduate from indoor climbing to outdoor climbing. To cut a long story short, I made contact with her and after making some arrangements I offered to take her outside to door some climbing..

We met up at around 8:45am and introduced ourselves and soon we were on our way to South Stack ready to do some climbing at Holyhead Mountain. We parked up and chatted as we headed towards the crag, we decided to start easily on a VD called “hat”, it would be a good way to asses how Hannah was climbing and what she was comfortable with. I lead “hat” a delicate slabby groove line on the extreme right of the crag, Hannah seconded the route with ease and I could see that she’d done plenty of climbing inside. We continued in much the same vein, deciding to do a two pitched VD called Black Owen, I lead both pitches and again Hannah seconded them in fine style…due to this, I decided to take her on something a little harder.

On the decent from Black Owen, we passed a little VS 4c called Comfortably Numb, a very nice route. I decided I’d lead this and see how Hannah got on. The easy first slab climbs to a ledge before the wall rears up into your face, small cams protect the very thin moves on the head-wall from a ground fall; however, not from the ledge below: always an enjoyable lead. Hannah climbed well, despite falling from the crux she got it on her third go and her foot work was excellent!! Based on her climbing, we decided to head to another VS 4c called curains; however, it’s more like HS 4b.

I lead both pitches in one go, it’s relatively straight and short so there’s really no need to do it in two. The delicate rib continues through the crux and up a steeper crack at the end. Hannah climbed in good style again and soon we were heading down and planning her first lead…

We selected a Diff for her first lead, I gave her some tips and she set off. Not perfect, but most of her gear was great, I must say, in hindsight it wasn’t the best route for a first lead, the woman on it previously said it was. It was more like HD/VD and Hannah did very well. I lead the top pitch before we headed down for one final route.

As the last route, I took Hannah on one of my favorite Severe routes at the crag: Pigeon Hole Crack, I lead it quickly in really windy conditions, keen to get to the top and get down out of the wind. Hannah, given her slight and light frame, was being blown and buffeted and was relieved to top out without being blown from the crag. We headed down, racked away kits and ropes and headed from the car and back home.

A really nice day with excellent company, next post- Sunday!