North Wales trip

by Calum McClune

North Wales Trip Report
A few of us headed up early to get an afternoon of climbing in. Not a fresher in sight! I led with Phil seconding we went for Direct Route, a very beautiful but polished VD. We very quickly learnt that polished rock and wet do not go together all that well making the climb far harder than it should have been.
Jack with a van and Mike had a scramble up “Ivy Chimney”. At least that’s what they are claiming, I can’t find a trace of this so called Ivy Chimney on UKC but hey, we’ll take their word on it.
Stuart climbed Super Direct (HVS) with Henry, and Stuart then went on a wander to find his cam that Henry had dropped on the final pitch and ended up soloing half the route again.
Tim and Ciaran went to look at some wet pebbles, couldn’t find anything good so promptly gave up.
Abbey sat at the bottom looking cold.
Then it got dark. So we did the sensible thing and got off the hill. Phil, Tim and myself went to get food for the club meal on Saturday. Turns out buying food for one meal multiplied by 45 is actually quite challenging and took the better part of an hour.
Friday night was fairly chill with only a little too much alcohol consumed. All the cars arrived roughly when they said they would. Except Jack Smith who arrived a respectable hour late. We had a good laugh playing bunkhouse classics such as the cereal box game where Ella proved herself to be very good at licking a piece of cardboard off the floor. It’s an important life skill! Zip lines definitely did not take place and they were definitely not fun. A couple of tables were pulled out and Table Bouldering began with earnest. Almost everyone had a go at width ways which was very entertaining and contributed to a fair number of scrapes and bruises, I would name and shame those that didn’t take part but I was too drunk to remember. Length ways weeded out a few more before we put two table side by side and tried double width. This would have been alright but we eliminated the legs and ends of the table significantly increasing the difficulty, no one succeeded and everyone was thoroughly beaten up by the time we gave up. More drinking then an early bedtime for an early start the next day.

Bright and early start at 7am. No one was feeling too sorry for themselves and everyone pulled themselves out of bed without too much prompting. After two hours of insanity we got out of the bunkhouse with minimal tears but a lot of shouting. A lot of shouting. Seeing as all our standard North Wales haunts were underwater we broke off into two teams, the pebblers went off to do their thing with a mountain of pads whilst the rest of us headed for Holyhead Mountain in Anglesey, which was miraculously dry. Henry, Rupert, Matt Jaffa and Muthappa broke off to try and find some cliff climbing feeling a bit homesick from the Gower, they failed to find anything and rejoined the main group.
35 barely trained monkeys descended on the crag and climbed just about anything that looked doable. Mike, Tom Cosford and Emma Broad went up Candlestick(HS) and Pigeon Hole Crack (S) before realising the grading is a good deal stiffer in North Wales than the Gower. Phil practiced leading with Ella on the other end of the rope, to at least pretend he was safe and gear was solid, and went up The Wandering Primrose (S) before there little group was gatecrashed by Matt Brunskill. Ella went on to lead something before handing control back to Phil who climbed Pigeon Hole Crack (S). I was climbing with the Jameses’s and we had a pleasant climb up Pigeon Hole Crack before moving on to Birthday Passage (VS) and then Cursing (VS) after James Hayday had called it a day. Jack Sewell climbed Teaser (VS) with Abbey in tow before moving on to Breaking the Barrier (E1 5c) and sent it! His first lead E1!! Henry did Henry things, trying a different E1 trying to break his own barrier but failing miserably. Matt and Rupert did bits and pieces finishing with Pleasant Surprise (HS). Stuart and Gemma climbed Wally’s Folly (I think? VD) before moving out of my sight range and climbing other things. Tom Barber, Luke and Duncan climbed as a trio but I’ve not a clue what (sorry guys).
With all this going on Jack Sewell’s very generous Father was teaching a selection of freshers how to lead. Having rigged an abseil in between two routes he was there if anyone ran into difficulties which made our novices feel much more comfortable. Thanks Jack’s Dad!
Then it got dark. So we did the sensible thing and got off the hill. We then realised Jack Smith had left his car lights on and now his car wouldn’t start. Between the 4 cars and a van no one had jumper cables with them. Luckily there was a very nice person in a VW camper who was well practiced at the art of jump starting a car. Finally heading back to the bunkhouse
Tim, Rowan and a couple of others spent about an hour in the kitchen cooking up a wonderful feast of stir fry, and managing to cater to all the dietary requirements. Thanks guys!! You did a great job! Tonight was the big party night so after everyone had finished eating we packed away a few of the tables and the drinking began in earnest. The Old Rosie challenge had been accepted by about 10 people. It was very obvious who these were the next morning. To kick off the games I ran a quick demo of why rope on rope is not a very good idea, basically I just like breaking things and finally had a vaguely good reason. Table bouldering restarted for a short while before the same problem as the previous night defeated us all again so the tables went away.
At this point Phil suggested sock wrestling. For those that don’t know what this is, it’s rather simple. Wear a sock and try to get the other person’s sock. A few ground matches took place before Matt Jaffa suggested suspending the game from the rafters. A couple of well fought games before Ella and Gemma had a flat out vicious duel with a victorious Ella. To up the ante a little myself and Tim had a quick bout, but to make it a little more fun we turned out the lights and went by headtorches alone. This match ended up too close to call so we restarted with lights on. This time I won easily. Really easily. Poor effort Tim… We all know who the better president is now :P.
After more sock wrestling silliness and more alcohol Henry, Mike, Bertrand, Muthappa and Jack S quietly slipped out for a sandwich. On their return the party kicked up a notch. Or in Mike’s case it was time to stare into space for 20 minutes then go to bed. Bertrand started feeling a little sorry for himself and ran outside for air and a, um, relief of the stomach via the esophagus. Everyone was in bed by a respectable 2:30am.

Again the day looked very wet but the real climbers said sod it and headed out anyway. The groups ended up getting a bit broken up after realising the number of other climbers on Idwal Slabs. Jack Sewell led a charge to Little Tryfan to get some easy trad practice after his very stressful E1 the day before. Another group headed to Milestone Buttress which we don’t have a write up for I’m afraid. Those left continued with the original plan, now with a much smaller group. Myself, Phil, Mike, Emma, Odin, Chloe and Tom Cosford all continued with the original plan of Idwal Slabs while another group split of yet again to go elsewhere. Little Tryfan and that write up is attached below. Mike and Emma decided they couldn’t be bothered to climb a waterfall and got themselves ready for a couple of hours waiting. Phil and I had a lovely time up Hope (VD) which was somewhat harder due to the river that was flowing down it. Still a lot of fun though! The scramble off was viscous in the wet and we barely got down before dark.
Now for the fun one. I’m sure many of you have heard tales of the epic Odin, Chloe and Tom were about to embark upon. Our tale begins on the 13th of November, a damp and cloudy day with promise of rain as the day progressed. With the high valley walls, last light was going to be no later than 4:30. Being aware of this our intrepid adventurers set off with a headtorch (borrowed from Mike) and two phone lights. Odin had selected The Ordinary Route (D) as the climb of choice. It was looking a bit wet but no waterfall was pouring forth so they set off. Odin made short work of the first pitch before struggling a bit finding an anchor. The other two promptly joined him at the hanging belay. Realising his rope management skills had something left to be desired, Odin found himself off anchor in an attempt to correct. It was a big ledge, it’s fine! Ok so it was tiny but that’s not the point.  The second pitch took a little longer, again struggling to find a solid belay after running very low on rope. Tom and Chloe promptly joined Odin at this stance. At roughly this point Stuart and Tim ran past them in a desperate hunt for keys. Half an hour passes and seemingly no progress is made. The light is beginning to fade with 2 if not 3 pitches left. At 4:15 (there abouts, basically 10 mins before dark) they made it to the top only to be confronted by the scramble descent which consisted of scrambling up another 120m before an abseil to a path below (this path is still not all that pleasant, especially when wet).
Myself and Phil were not able to get in contact with them and assumed they had bailed so we got ourselves down before dark (we were already at the abseil). We got to the bottom to discover that they had not bailed and it was now dark. As mentioned earlier they didn’t really have suitable light, especially, as we later discovered one phone had ran out of charge. Mike and Emma were sent down the mountain to find signal with instructions to phone ahead to the groups already at Pete’s Eats (the meet time was 4) and with strict instructions to phone mountain rescue if they had not heard from us by 7. It was 5:10 at this point. At this point the rain that was promised earlier struck, making a dodgy decent flat out treacherous. Having exhausted myself leading our climb I stayed at the base camp with a cool head (for now). Phil and Tim ran up the path to assist and check no one had injured themselves. They met the other group at the abseil at 5:35. They had brought extra headtorches for the walk/scramble down. Unfortunately, the abseil was done off a dodgy hex rather than the convenient boulder. The plan had been to flick the hex from its placement once the abseil was complete. Obviously once the hex had been weighted it wasn’t moving. Fortunately, there was a very easy Diff next to the abseil to retrieve the hex. The climb was very wet at this point but Phil managed without slipping. I managed to get signal at the bottom and phoned Phil to check everything was alright. Bear in mind I had been alone at the base with no information for 30 mins and my cool head was beginning to fall apart. I was either waiting for Mountain Rescue or their return. It sucked. I convinced myself I’d killed my freshers already a number of time. They finally got down from the descent at 6:00. We were back to the cars by 6:20 and to Pete’s Eats for 7. A full 3 hours after planned.

“ After a later start, with people recovering from the previous night’s festivities, we made our way to Ogwen cottage where 30+ Coventry uni students had already beaten us to the damp climbs at Cwm Idwal. Not to be discouraged we walked on up regardless with myself, Tim, Brodie and Gemma heading over to Gribon Facet to take a look at the ‘interesting’ sounding Monolith Crack (HS?! ‘practically ungradable’) and Flake Crack (VS) only to have been beaten there by Coventry who were well and truly up the crack. On Tim asking the Coventry students how it looked with a, “On a scale of 1-10 where one is perfectly dry conditions and ten is river, how wet is the climb?!” The answer was a resounding 10, so unfortunately the climb was saved for another day. Gemma and I had a go at Zig-Zag(HS) which was equally as slippery and slimy, only to have to bail off and down climb when realising that this really wasn’t the best conditions to be attempting an off-width, half way up pitch one, with no gear to be seen inside!
Wanting to have a look at what the others were up to over at Idwal slabs, the group walked on over, finding Calum and Phil halfway up the rather waterfall-esc looking Hope (VDiff) and Odin, Tom and Chloe at the top of pitch one of Ordinary Route (Diff). With Gemma and Brodie mega keen for a swim in the ‘fresh’ feeling lake me and Tim decided to go fetch the car keys to go grab the wetsuits from Phil’s van. The only problem being that the keys were halfway up Idwal slabs, in Phil’s bag. Not shying away from more great/stupid opportunities, we made a sprint up Ordinary Route past the previous group to meet Calum and Phil at the top of the climb to fetch the keys, alpining up (more like soloing really with only 10 pieces of gear put in on the entire 140m route to give the illusion of safety!) in a respectable 20-25 minutes. The descent however took more than double that time though, worrying about sliding off the side of the mountain side! Finally making it to the bottom of the climb again with keys in hand, Stuart, Brodie and Gemma headed back down to the cars just before it was getting dark to have an evening swim in Llyn Ogwen, watching the lights of people still at the top of Tryfan in the pitch black, while trying not to become icicles in the chilly waters. “
Stuart McDowell

“ On the Sunday a group of 15 of us went to little Tryfan to do some nice slab multi pitch and single pitch climbing. Despite the weather the rock was surprisingly dry with only the big cracks being wet. The weather stayed good all day with impressive clouds in the evening. James did his first lead climb. Matt lead his first multi pitch. We finished just as the sun was disappearing behind the hills and went to Petes eats to meet the others….. “
Jack Sewell

“ The North Wales Bouldering Group started the Saturday by playing a game of Tetris with 4 people, Ed, Ciaran, Tim, and Brodie and 5 pads in a Vauxhall Astra; turns out we’re pros at Tetris. We headed to Parisella’s Cave, where we warmed up on the easiest route there, a long 6a+ traverse. Feeling a bit sorry for an injured Brodie, we completely ignored him and moved on to a lovely 7a, with a split start. At least for tall people anyways. Completing that, Tim got a bit excited having completed his first ever outdoor 7a! We moved over the left of the cave feeling a bit tired and sorry for ourselves. All of a sudden a swarm of good climbers casually chatting about the quality of their sponsored products. Ok we get it you’re a very good climber just shut up while I work on this 6b+ that will. Not. GO.
Back to the cabin we went before realising no one knew the code for the key. As we were breaking our way in we were greeted by Will who sensibly knew the code. Betrend walks through the door shouts “bouldering?” and off to Sheep Pen we go. Only having s little light left we head to the pinch where we attempt a 7a+ sitter. Walking back in the dark using our phone torches we only managed to nearly die once or twice.
Second day I persuaded people to go to Cromlech as there was a 7c on jerry’s boulder that felt do able. Ok so not very doable at all but a man can dream. Arrival was less than promising due to the lack of dryness on the rock, truly a saddening moment. Everything was not lost, and we headed inside to Beacon climbing centre to find some incredible bouldering including a long roof with good climbs and many other gems, could have easily stayed there all day. Then we all headed to Pete’s Eats for the 4 O’clock meet. “
Ed James
Calum smells