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.

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Rhoscolyn, Day Two.

Day two climbing with Ann! We decided that we’d take a trip to one of my favorite little crags, Rhoscolyn. Being the host, I was keen to show Ann around some of the nicest lower grade routes the crag has to offer, principally: Symphony Crack, probably the best Diff in the world and Truant, a nice VS 4c!

We arrived at Rhoscolyn at around 9:15am and took a leisurely stroll across the headland; It was obvious that Ann was keen to do Symphony Crack, it had been on her wishlist for some time. We made swift progress and soon we were racking up and scrambling down to the first belay. I set up an anchor and waited for Ann to join me, she readied herself and began leading the first pitch; I decided I’d follow her in my approach shoes, she’d get a much better experience by leading the route!

Photo 1.1 – Ann, about to step on the slab on Symphony Crack. 

ImageShe made quick progress up the route, announcing that she was safe and that I could start climbing. I stepped across the lovely delicate traverse and romped up the remaining immaculate slab and crack above. Ann was delighted at the route and agreed that the only disappointing thing about the route is that it isn’t longer! Beautiful climbing in a wonderful setting; who said Diffs aren’t worthwhile?!

We coiled the ropes and put our kit away and headed the short distance down the cliff, to the top of a route I’d lead a few days previously called Truant-VS 4c. We set up the abseil rope, racked our harnesses and headed down into the zawn. Ann said she’d rather I lead both pitches, which was absolutely fine. I set off on the rightwards traverse, deciding I’d take Ann up the slab and belay below the crux, again, to avoid the wet crack-line below. Soon I was belaying Ann up to me, she made short work of the easier slab and soon she was passing over the gear ready for me to lead again on the second pitch. I started leading and noticed a sling and grab hanging from a thread on the wall to the right, I retrieved it, always enjoying finding crag-swag!! I continued and placed gear ready to pull through the crux, which I did easily due to prior knowledge, I then romped on larger holds to the top!

Photo 1.2- Looking down the route, ready to bring Ann up!

ImageAnn required quite a tight rope on the crux, saying: “That was a hard move”, she seemed to enjoy it though and she climbed the easier section above in fine style before topping out with me. We sorted the ropes and kit and went back to the bags for a spot of lunch and some guidebook scouting!

After having a bite to eat, we saw this lovely arete just to the left of Truant, we decided it must have been S Hawk ally, Diff. It obviously didn’t get climbed much so I set off not expecting much; however, the climbing was lovely. First off was a leftwards trending crack on jugs, followed by a long blocky arete set in a fantastic position- another easy route, but absolutely stunning, such a hidden gem.

We sorted gear, ropes and packed away all the kit, commenting on a very good couple of days! With big smiles on our faces, we headed down for a pint at the White Eagle. What a great two days…THANKS ANN.

Rhoscolyn- a quick hit.

Tonight Dad and I found ourselves with a few hours spare before the weekend began. We decided we’d go to Rhoscolyn- a local sea cliff-to do a route we’d been meaning to do for a while, called Truant (VS 4c). The route was a short two pitches so seemed perfect for a quick hit.

We arrived at the parking area at around 8pm before making the short walk to the crag, the walk is across headlands on flat grassy paths and tracks enabling us to soon be at the top of the crag.

Photo 1.1 – Me heading for the cliffs!

ImageWe found the top of our route and proceeded to set up the abseil station next to it; once we’d racked our harness, put on our shoes and kitted up we descended into the Zawn below, eager to see the route ahead! We landed on a large ledge just above the high tide mark and began flaking the ropes out ready for me to lead away; strictly, the first pitch of the route should have followed the corner but it was wet and seeping badly. Hence, I decided to climb the slab variant to the first belay. According to the guidebook, the first pitch was much easier than the crux and that’s what it proved to be, quite an easy lead to the first belay.

Photo 1.2 – Me leading the easy lower section. 

ImageI set up a belay at the halfway ledge and shouted to Dad that I was safe, soon he began following me up the easier lower slab to reach me at the belay. We commented that the climbing was nice and that the crux was the bulge above the belay. We sorted kit out and soon I was ready to lead away again! I made short moves to gain a small ledge below the crux, the crux seemed to be two big pulls over a bulge in the slab. The gear around the crux wasn’t fantastic, one number 1 wire placement, not a fantastic one either. I climbed through the crux easily, it didn’t feel 4c to me, hard 4b would be my estimate.

Photo 1.3 – Me having just lead the crux. 

ImageAfter the crux, the climbing was easier. A slabby wall following the corner before stepping left slightly and climbing direct to the top. The climbing here, again, felt around 4a! The climbing was nice, though- interesting moves and a nice setting!

Photo 1.4 – Leading the head wall to the top! (sorry about the flash!)

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Soon I found myself at the top, a little disappointed that the route had been considerably easier than I thought it would be- HS 4b in my opinion. I set up a belay and shouted down to Dad that he could begin climbing; he took some time on the crux, finding the strenuous moves awkward. He climbed through in fine style however and made short work of the head wall above. We topped out a little before 9.45pm, swiftly sorted out the ropes and kit, eager to get home for a brew and a slab of cake! We romped the short few miles back to the car, the sun was setting over the fields and we felt in good spirits having made use of the evening. Rhoscolyn really is a lovely setting, I imagine we’ll be back soon to sample some of the other routes at the crag!

Photo 1.5 – Back at the car, ready for tea and cake!

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