Wednesday, 27 August 2008

August Bank Holiday Camping Trip

On Wednesday 20th August, Richard and AndyG went to Capel Curig in North Wales for a few days camping at the Bryn Tyrch Farm. Having left Warrington late to avoid the evening rush hour traffic it was nearly quarter to eleven before they had pitched the tents and it was time for beer. Oh calamity, the Bryn Tyrch Inn was already closed! Fortunately, after a brisk walk down the road, Cobden's Hotel proved to be more hospitable to the late night travellers.

Thursday got off to a bad start with heavy cloud and even heavier rain. However, after a trip to Portmadog, a stand up lunch from a bakery in the high street and the obligatory mug of tea in Eric's Cafe, conditions at Tremadog were sufficiently improved to permit a little climbing. Thinking to ease into things gently, they started with Oberon 170ft Severe. Despite an entertaining slabby first pitch, the rest of the climb proved uninteresting and was swiftly despatched in the hope of finding better things.

It was decided to try Merlin 160ft VS, so AndyG led the first pitch which involved some pretty tenuous technical climbing up a steep groove leading to an overhang which is avoided by swinging out left on a block.

Then it was Richard's turn and, after starting up the strenuous cracks on the second pitch, he opted to do the Direct Finish 80ft HVS. This was an impressive personal achievement for Richard, his first HVS lead coming almost exactly a year after his first trip to Tremadog as a novice climber. Merlin Direct is a proper HVS with strenuous cracks, small holds and steep face climbing in a spectacular position high on the front of the buttress. It is so good it was on the back cover of the 1978 Climbers' Club guide to Tremadog and the Moelwyns.

AndyC arrived on Thursday night so the next morning an intrepid three-some set out on the short trip down the A5 to Ogwen. AndyG started things by leading the HVS Direct Start to Tennis Shoe on the Idwal Slabs. Next followed alternate leads along the edge of the main slab until AndyC got the final pitch up to the perched boulder.

Then it was Richard's turn for a bit of entertainment. "Original Route. This is the route of the wall. A fine old climb that has fascinated generations of climbers." Sounds good, doesn't it? However, it turns out to have a sting in the tail in the form of a gruesome off-width crack. At first Richard was disappointed to have climbed the pitch by escaping out onto the wall on the left, however careful scrutiny of the guide book reveals that this was also the method favoured by the first ascensionists in 1918.

AndyC finished the days climbing by leading Groove Above, after which Seniors Ridge was followed to the summit of Glyder Fawr, before descending the footpath past the Devil's Kitchen back to Llyn Idwal.

On Friday evening they were joined in the Tyn y Coed by Graham whilst they were enjoying a well earned pint or three.

Saturday morning started bright and early. The campsite was briefly visited by Tall Ian of windmill abseiling fame, however he had plans to go walking to improve his fitness for a late season trip to the Alps. Everyone else got away early to make sure they were parked up in the layby opposite the Cromlech Boulders in time to meet Mark and Ste for a days climbing on Dinas Mot.

AndyC and Graham did The Cracks closely followed by Richard and AndyG on Lorraine. Meanwhile Mark and Ste were supposed to be doing Western Slabs (VS 4c) , however Ste went off onto The Chain (E1 5b) and took his first (and second, third and fourth!) outdoor lead fall.

After lunch, AndyC and Graham wandered over the road to do Crackstone Rib on Carreg Wastad while AndyG and Richard just managed to finish Western Slabs before the rain got too bad. However, that left Ste having to try and second the final pitch of Superdirect E1 5b in the rain. Nice.

Sunday saw a return to Tremadog for Richard where he led Scratch and Scratch Arete with AndyC whilst Graham and Dave did Valerie's Rib and Poor Man's Peuterey.

Monday was wet and overcast all day so a visit was made to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. Despite the Welsh propaganda of the recorded commentary on the deep mine tour, this is well worth a visit and the size and number of the caverns is quite remarkable.

On Tuesday morning it was still raining, so Richard and the two Andys departed leaving Graham and Dave to travel onwards to Holyhead in search of better weather, of which we shall expect to hear more in due course.