Friday, 19 August 2011

Squeeze Chimneys, Rain And Rather Too Much Limestone Part 2

The next part of my fiendish holiday plan started with meeting Oli and a couple of his friends, Ruth and Tom, in the campsite opposite the Vaynol in Nant Peris. Saturday morning announced its arrival with some rain, so we moseyed down to Llanberis to get some internet reception and see what was going down. After an age sitting in the car as the rain hammered down we found a promising forecast for Tremadog, so we headed South. As we arrived the crag was drying out, so we stopped for a quick cuppa in Eric's and Tom and I started up the alternate start to Merlin. The first few moves were damp, but once above the trees everything was dry and good (except for the large puddle hiding in a jug that got us both). The route was good, and the weather carried on improving, so we nipped up a couple of routes near Yogi after lunch, before a quick romp up Christmas Curry.

We finished the day by climbing Axeover, a VS newly promoted to 2 stars in the latest guide, which many people walk past on the descent, but probably never gets climbed. The description promised a precarious crux near the top, so I was slightly put out at the slap-in-the-face 5a layback near the bottom, and the juggy but foothold free (and also possibly 5a) flake above. When I finally reached the overhang at the crux I was presented with a tree-jug of questionable stability, but reasoning that as my last 3 bits of gear were slings on various branches and roots of the same tree I was pretty well committed to its long term survival, I yarded on it and reached the top rather harassed and ready for a nice lie down.

The tree-jug on Axeover

The next day the forecast guided us back to Eric's, and I managed to talk Oli into the dark delights of Shadrach. Under advisement I abandoned my helmet and squirmed into the inviting cleft. It was a little tighter than I'd been expecting, but whilst this made upwards progress difficult, it also made it impossible to slide back down. After much amusement the chimney above closed up and I began to wonder how I was ever going to get out. After a bit more thrashing around the answer presented itself in the form of a horizontal letterbox in the sidewall. I tried to manouvre myself into a position to crawl out of this, but couldn't turn round, and ended up sliding out of the crag lying on my back. All very amusing.

Oli emerging from Shadrach

The top pitch was a whole lot more conventional, but still very good in an entirely different way. After lunch we decided to do Christmas Curry via the Treemudrock Finish (which I'd looked at the day before and looked a bit vegetated, but it gets 2 stars in the guide, so it had to be done...), but it was rather covered in people, so we ended up at the bottom of The Fang instead. I led the first pitch, which was steep but not too bad, before Oli and I got a little tangled up at the belay. I couldn't get far enough out of the corner to let him past, so things got a little bit friendly for a while, before he managed to escape. I imagine the 5a moves straight afterwards came as blessed relief! After I gave him some slightly duff beta about the line to take, we worked it out, and everything was good.

We had to drop Tom and Ruth off at the station in Bangor at 7 so they could get back to civilisation, but we had time after that to run up to Dinas Cromlech (which is further away than it looks) and nip up Spiral Stairs. Easy enough, but quite pleasant and nice to get a Classic Rock tick.

Yet again we headed to Tremadog the next day, but decided to visit a different crag, and rocked up at the bottom of Creag Dhu Wall Direct with a howling wind blowing. The crux on the first pitch had me bamboozled for a while before I remembered that I'm much better at jamming than footwork and tried a more 'get stuck in' approach to the undercut handholds. The top pitch was fairly easy, which was good as it had started raining by that stage. We hid in Eric's for a bit until the rain died down and then made another attempt on the Treemudrock Finish. Oli led up to it, but declined the option of running the pitches together, so it fell to me to battle with the vegetation. With no small amount of effort I managed to get past this, only to discover that that wasn't the hard bit. Above lay an unhelpful crack too wide for fingers and too thin for hands, with no footholds to be seen. In the end I went for an unconventional combination of laybacking and chimneying, and reached the sanctuary of the top just as it began to rain again. Oli sounded like he really enjoyed seconding the pitch in the rain. Fnar fnar.

After all this rain it was getting on a bit, so we parted company and I drove back over to Sheffield to meet Simon. Our plan was to spend the next 6 days in the Lake District, but the weather had other ideas and so less than 12 hours after leaving, I was back in North Wales. We headed to Carreg Alltrem, which I'd been wanting to visit for ages, but never seemed to get round to. The crag looked steep and a bit green when we arrived, but the first route we did, Lightnin Visit, was excellent. The second pitch was a great carnival of wonderful jugs and bountiful gear placements. The descent was a bit of a tedious scramble down a tottering gully, but we still had the classic of the crag to do. Duly, Simon led up the tricky first pitch of Lavaredo and I followed him and sat at the belay slightly concerned about what was to come. North Wales Rock makes great play of the top pitch being steep and strenuous, but actually there was only one steep move, and loads of jugs and rests (woohoo). It was a totally brilliant route, made even better by the fact that we found an abseil station at the top to avoid having to negotiate the gully of fear again.

Apparently Alltrem means steep. They weren't joking...

We didn't fancy the steep looking HVSs, or incredible, but very very green E1, so we ran away to Clogwyn Cyrau above Betws, and had a pleasant wee evening climb. The forecast for the next day was pretty grim, but offered promise in the South, so we drove over to Eric's yet again and pitched camp in the field at the back.

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