The wet summer had hampered most of my aspirations for multipitch climbing this year, although I’ve had a lot of good days out in the Peak.
Yet another trip to the Peak was the original plan for this weekend, but with a sudden change of fortune in this weekend’s forecast, the opportunity to climb in North Wales was too good to resist.
So Kev, Dave P, Mark and I hatched a last-minute plan to head over to Llanberis on Saturday morning. For those based east of the Pennines this meant a very early pre-dawn departure, with Mark getting up at 4 am to rendezvous with the others! I was able to set off at the more civilised hour of 8 am – but still tired from a hard week at work and a poor night’s sleep.
After cruising a very quiet A55, we all met up at the Vaynol Arms in Nant Peris at 9.30 am. It was a perfect clear sunny morning. After a brief discussion about where to go, we decided that the sunny side of the Pass was the best bet, so without further ado headed up to Carreg Wastad.
My main objective of the trip was to climb Crackstone Rib, the classic Severe on the crag, which had proved elusive on every previous visit to Llanberis over the last couple of years; either due to the usual wet Welsh weather, or lack of a suitably motivated climbing partner. Kev and Dave were also keen to do the route, so Mark and I let them go first; partly as they would probably be a bit faster, but also I thought I could observe the line they took up the supposedly ‘devious’ first pitch, which was to be my lead. As it was, in his enthusiasm Kev almost immediately went off-route onto something ridiculously overhanging, and I had to direct him back onto the correct line, which I was able to recognise from my bedtime reading of ‘Classic Rock’.
It turned out to be a very fine route indeed, which we all enjoyed. The splendidly exposed and delicate rib on the first pitch was particularly good; even better than I imagined it would be, and a very absorbing lead.
We’d all come a bit overdressed expecting it to be a crisp, chilly day with some shivering on belays. It was quite the opposite: the temperature must have been in the mid-twenties by noon, and with our extra layers of fleece and merino it was baking hot on the crag. Were it not for the bleating sheep, you could easily imagine you were climbing in El Chorro rather than North Wales. Remarkably, we had the crag virtually to ourselves too; I only saw two other pairs all day.
Dave and Kev next tackled Overhanging Chimney (VS 4c), with Dave putting in a fine lead of the bold first pitch, while Kev grappled with the chockstone on pitch 2. Meanwhile, Mark and I did Skylon (HS 4b). By the time we’d finished the second round of routes it was 3 pm, and time for a late lunch.
With the high summer heat, we almost forgot that it would be dark by 6.30 pm. What with the heat and sleep deprivation, lassitude had begun to set in. I was tempted to spend the rest of the afternoon dozing in the sun rather than exert myself up a three-pitch route with the clock ticking away.
The solution to this was to go for something a bit easier that we could get up quickly. Dave also fancied something less taxing for a last route, so we opted for Wrinkle (V Diff), another Classic Rock route which I’ve always rated one of the best of its grade in North Wales. Donning headtorches before we set up it seemed like a sensible precaution, but there was no need as we knocked off the three pitches in no time. Kev and Mark on the other hand went for a grand finale with Yellow Crack (HVS 5b), which the guidebook describes as ‘satisfying and brutal’.
Two hours later we regrouped; Dave and I suitably relaxed, and Kev and Mark appropriately brutalised. Kev described himself having been the most scared he’d been on a route for a long time on the crux, where he was further above his gear than the gear was above a nasty jagged deck-out. Long run-outs do seem to be a feature of some of the routes on the crag…
The light was now fading and the temperature dropping. Earlier in the day I’d looked across the Pass with some envy at parties on Main Wall on Cyrn Las; wondering if we should have had a go at that instead. Now I could see a slow-moving party dimly visible halfway up the fifth pitch and wasn’t quite as envious. Definitely one to save for a long summer’s day.
We headed back down to Nant Peris and pitched out tents at the almost empty campsite, then off to the Vaynol for dinner of rabbit stew and mash washed down with pints of Golden Dragon ale. A great end to a fine day’s climbing.
Normal Llanberis weather was resumed overnight, with periodic gusts of wind rumbling up the Pass and battering our tents, interspersed with showers of rain; making for another fitful night’s sleep. But our tents survived and it was dry again in the morning.
Having knocked off seven pitches and over 200 m of climbing the previous day, I was sated for the weekend, and headed home via Joe Brown’s. The others took a chance with an initially drizzly Pass and had a mostly dry afternoon in which they did Phantom Rib (VS 4c) on Clogwyn y Grochan.
We all agreed it was well worth the effort of the early start on Saturday to grab the chance of a fine day’s climbing in the Pass. It's definitely something I’d do again.
A Crookrise rainy day come good
The Meet That Never Was......
Hanging Around in The Peak
A Tale of Two Winter Belays
Winter Skills in the Cairngorms
LMCer's in the Pass
Dave & Holly's trip to Yosemite
Paul's trip to Ailefroid (Alps)
C2C - A taste of things to come??
The Greenwoods Go Climbing
Lots of photos in videos with music
Wasdale Head Meet
Buttermere - Dalegarth Campsite
Tour of the Lake District