Saturday, 26 April 2008

Idwal Slabs

Sheila and Mike were out in Wales on Saturday, here is her report with a few comments by Mike:

Faith, Vdiff route on Idwal Slabs (Sat, 26th April)

We arrived around 11.30 Saturday morning at Ogwen Cottage, with the intention of climbing 1 of the classic Vdiff lines on Idwal Slabs. We geared up and started walking in up the tourist path. I wasn't convinced it was a good idea given the howling wind, but as Mike was excited about climbing, we persevered and on reaching the slabs found them more sheltered and conditions to be satisfactory. We consulted the guide book and after some debate and consideration decided on Faith, which neither of us had climbed previously.

Mike started on the first pitch... interesting climbing if a little tenuous in places... a few "Jesus wept" were elicited (Mike- not sure I went the correct way, but looked horribly slippery further right...). However, after some deliberation, Mike made the moves that led him leftwards on the slab and appeared happy at the first belay. I followed suit and enjoyed the route and found the footwork interesting and fun.

The 2nd pitch was mine.... pleasant climbing up to a traverse section. The climb suddenly got interesting... my last piece of gear was some distance below me and my second long out of sight. A decision was required... go for a seemingly good handhold but smears for feet... or what? A tenuous position indeed, and with Mike out of sight, no retreat or backup. A handy cam placement calmed me down and I made the move without trouble. Time to set up a belay and get Mike up.

Mike took the 3rd pitch. The damp conditions made the traverse he faced entertaining, and elicited several "oh dears" (Mike – better than my usual comments) whilst making the moves.... some consideration of foot and handholds were required. He turned the corner and to my relief reported the next section to be pleasant shallow angled slabby climbing.

The final pitch was mine. Pleasant slabby climbing that gave me chance to appreciate the lovely quality of the quartz bands that line Idwal slabs. I struggled with protecting the traverse sufficiently for my second and indeed found my ropes on this occasion jammed on the traverse. A lesson indeed for the future. On this occasion, 2 other climbers who appeared on a parallel route (Hope – aptly named in this case), were kind enough to help out and free our ropes.

Mike seconded up the route into the now sunny conditions and we were all treated to a fantastic view of the valley over Llyn Idwal and Devil's Kitchen. We packed our gear and followed our new found friends to the descent route off the slabs. No simple task, the descent required some scrambling further up, till we came across the descent gully. A small wooden cross near the gully indicated some other poor unfortunate had not been so lucky in their descent. We thanked the other climbers for their generous help, and then made our way down the hillside, back to the car and a well earned rest and beer.