Sunday, 31 May 2009

Cwm Silyn

The Great Slab, Craig yr Ogof

GrahamC and AndyG were out in Wales on Saturday enjoying the sunshine and the exceptional dry conditions. After a long drive and an approach down some uniquely Welsh rural roads, they arrived at the base of the crag at around ten thirty to find that one party had arrived before them.

Since their main objective for the day was already occupied, they opted to try Outside Edge Route 136m VDiff. 3*. This climbs the slab to Sunset Ledge and then finishes directly above the nose of the crag in a fine and quite exposed position. An excellent climb first ascended by John Menlove Edwards in July 1931.

Whilst on the route they saw more and more people walking up to the bottom of the crag, some not arriving until well after mid-day. They couldn't help wondering whether these people really managed to get enough climbing done to justify carrying all their gear to the crag in the hot sunshine and perhaps they might have had a more enjoyable time just going for a pleasant stroll around the lakes or along the Nantlle Ridge.

Returning to the foot of the cliff Graham and Andy were surprised to find that, despite the crowds of people now milling around, their other objective for the day was now free. After a brief pause for refreshment, they set off up Kirkus's Route 97m VS 4c 3*. This proved to be quite thought provoking. The rock was generally compact so protection was sparse and when available, it did not inspire confidence due to the blocks and flakes appearing loose and detached.

However, the climbing is superb. The route, first climbed by Colin Kirkus on 31st of May 1931, takes a nearly direct line up the un-remitting and surprisingly steep slab. The holds are often hidden and reward a bold approach by appearing magically in some of the blanker looking sections of rock.

The crag itself is superbly positioned in Cwm Silyn and provides wonderful views of Anglesey and the Welsh coast from Caernarfon westwards towards the Lleyn Peninsula.

On a clear day, it is well worth finishing with a stroll over the summit to admire the view, especially eastwards where Snowdon and much of the Glyders can be seen very clearly. Afterwards, a gentle descent of the ridge above Clogwyn y Cysgod leads easily back to the car.