It’s a funny thing getting back into climbing after doing very little. Following my return from the Alps I’ve been so keen to go climbing but fairly hopeless at completing various projects. If anything I think this has helped my motivation and I feel like I’m on the verge of actually getting up some routes!
I’ve spent a bit of time in the slate quarries recently which has been really fun. I climbed on the slate so often when I started climbing that I climbed many of the routes I wanted to do so subsequently haven’t been a regular visitor, but with the bad weather we’ve had, it’s been one of the few places to climb due to its remarkably fast drying qualities. There are lots of potential new routes to climb in the quarries and I’ve been particularly keen to try some projects in Twll Mawr recently. Twll Mawr is a big, eerie place to climb with the hardest multi pitch climbs in Wales and the longest sport route in Britain. The line that I spotted recently was a route climbing directly above the famous Quarryman groove. I rapped the line, gave it a quick clean and tried the moves and was amazed at how straight forward the route was considering that entry level to this section of wall is normally about F7c. I was so keen to climb the route that I persuaded evergreen Rob Greenwood to join me after finishing work.
We rapped in to the belay ledge and I tried the route quickly on top rope, somewhat concerned about the run-out nature of climbing but I felt solid on it and lead the route without too much trouble- Rob had even untied himself from the belay at one point ready to jump off the stance to prevent me from hitting ledges if I fell, a brave thing to do considering the position (see Stone Monkey!). It climbs a nice groove feature in the headwall and it was great to climb it all on traditional gear. The route next to this one carries the extremely odd name of Phil’s Harmonica, so we continued with the theme and christened this one Mike’s Trombone! The following day I succeeded on another new line at the bottom of the same wall, a technical pitch with a flamboyant finishing lunge for the last hold. Probably a more difficult lead than Mike’s Trombone, but perhaps not quite as good.
Last week Ian Lloyd-Jones made the first ascent of Rock Bottom Line, a spectacular 5 pitch sport route on the right hand side of the Quarryman wall. I returned with him and his climbing partner Sion McGuinness the following day to repeat the route. The fourth pitch in particular is fantastic, climbing a technical and slippery groove, the rest of the pitches are also good fun- it’s a route sure to become a modern classic.
The Quarryman wall is an amazing place to climb with atmospheric, ‘airy’ and powerful climbing. Nine out of the thirteen routes on the wall remain unrepeated; several have remained unrepeated for 25 years! Having tried a couple of the harder unrepeated routes I can certainly vouch for their quality and I look forward to having an opportunity to repeat them once the weather relents.
I’ve also spent a bit of time climbing over on the Little Orme recently at the brilliant Diamond. The approach involves a long and exciting hand-line which leads you to the best limestone crag in North Wales- unfortunately prone to greasy conditions. In some ways this crag seems to have brought about a real ‘vibe’ to the local climbing scene and loads of quality new routes are being climbed both here and elsewhere on the local limestone with grades ranging from F5+ to F8c+.