Dinas Mot, Llanberis Pass, North Walesby Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Oct/2013
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Dinas Mot sits in shade, high in the Llanberis Pass, watching its neighbours Dinas Cromlech and Carreg Wastad bathe in the pale-warm British sunshine.
It doesn't yearn for that golden glow, safe in the knowledge that despite its lack of sun-tan potential, its rock alone is more than enough to draw teams of climbers on to its slabs, cracks and grooves.
"A sublime Welsh mountain-cragging experience"
With routes as good as any mountain crag in Britain, at a spread of grades and styles, 'The Mot' will always be a justifiably popular climbing destination.
All in all, Dinas Mot offers a sublime Welsh mountain-cragging experience; just far enough from the road, but not too far, with routes just long enough to make them adventurous, but not too long. The view is magnificent, history oozes from the very pores of the crag (much like the omnipresent black moss!) and the delicate slab climbs and wonderful friction moves are just bold and exciting enough to make them memorable, but not too memorable!
A Brief History:
The history of climbing on Dinas Mot reads like miniature history of Welsh climbing itself. Back in the '30's, Kirkus and Edwards were at work forcing such lines as The Direct Route (VS) and Western Slabs (VS). The '30's were a great decade of exploration on the slabs of the Mot, and the classics produced in that era were not to be bettered until around the 1960's, the intervening years of war and post war depression producing little in the way of quality new lines (there are a few exceptions, such as the 1941 ascent of Lorraine (VS) by J Barford and N Morin). The '60's came in full swing and the likely lads were out on the cliffs, with offerings from Boysen, Ingle, Crew and the like. The best of these includes the now must-do Plexus (E1).
New routes trickled in over the next few years, with Superdirect (E1) being perhaps 'the' route of the '70's, courtesy of Lancashire raiders R Evans and Hank Pasquill. The 80's saw an addition from the ever active Gary Gibson with a surprisingly amenable and sometimes overlooked classic New Austerlitz (E3), but it wasn't until the late '90's that the crag really came of age with a much publicised ascent of Trauma (E8) from boy-wonder Leo Houlding, though the same year Cristian Klemmow also added a very hard route (possibly harder than Trauma, especially now due to the demise of a hold on the crux - sorry everyone!) on the less frequented far western buttress of Ettws Isaf. The Dark Side (E8) is still unrepeated and just to its left lies an unclimbed steep wall. Any takers?
"At least it leans the right way!" I overheard a party exclaim as they passed me on their way up to the nose of Dinas Mot. They cast a glance across to me, grasped firmly to an overhanging boulder on the scree field below their chosen objective.
They were right, of course. Dinas Mot is on the whole a slabby crag. The nose buttress is standard Welsh mountain rock; superb-quality rough rhyolite which takes gear, but not too much (bring those small wires!) and lends itself to traditional climbing in the HS to E2 bracket nicely.
The western buttresses, especially the Plexus buttress, are made up of fantastic rough rock, much like well-weathered gritstone, very different from the usual mountain volcanic, and are again in the main quite slabby. Friction climbing is the norm here, but make sure the rock is dry (it won't be clean!).
The routes are multi-pitch, usually between 2 and 4 pitches, and sometimes involve abseil descents. Dropping down Western Gully from the top of the nose is as much a part of the adventure as the route itself and can be quite hairy when wet.
When do I go?
Spring summer and autumn are all possibilities on Dinas Mot, however, as with all UK mountain crags, it can be cold. Dinas Mot faces north, so gets little sun (just early morning and late evening). The western buttresses suffer from bad seepage, staying wet in all but the best weather.
The good news is that 'The Nose', which is one of the best and cleanest buttresses on the cliff, is the fastest drying lump of rock this side of Texas. It is set slightly away from the main hillside and consequently takes very little drainage. A day or two of dry weather will see this area perfect for climbing.
How do I get there?
Dinas Mot sits half way up the famous Llanberis Pass, opposite Dinas Cromlech. 'The Pass' is usually approached from the main A55 North Wales coastal road, via Llanberis. Parking for the crag can prove problematic at busy, sunny weekends, with the lay-bys of the Cromlech boulders being a popular but not extensive parking spot. It is possible to park in the nearby village of Nant Peris and take the 'Park and Ride' bus up The Pass, but this has proven unreliable in the past. Climbers' Club (CC) members can park at their leisure at the superbly situated hut right in the middle of the Llanberis Pass. Hitching from Nant Peris is usually quite easy too.
Where do I stay?
Ynys Ettws climbing hut for CC members. There are two campsites in nearby Nant Peris, both opposite the Vaynol pub and easy to find. Wild camping is tolerated by the Cromlech boulders, but I don't know if it is actually 'allowed'. There are various bunkhouses and B&B's in Llanberis. The Pen y Gwryd hotel is a fabulous trip back in time to the good old days of mountaineering (unfortunately it's not cheap!).
What gear do I need?|
A full rack (cams, wires, slings, extenders), twin ropes, helmet, guidebook, warm clothes, all the usual mountain cragging equipment. Luckily the walk-in is short (20 min), so you shouldn't have to take bivy gear! There are no bolts, virtually no fixed gear of any kind and some of the descents require abseils. The routes can take fairly bold slabs, but all that info will be mentioned in the relevant guide book.
Where can I buy gear and food?
Llanberis is your place. Joe Brown (Llanberis) and V12 OUTDOOR have all the climbing gear you could ever need. Pete's Eats is a greasy spoon cafe with big mugs of tea and terrible fried breakfasts. For better food you could visit the Caban Cafe. (Check the UKC Relocate article for more info).
What else is there apart from the climbing?
Hillwalking options are aplenty, with Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales being virtually right above the crag. Mountain biking is an alternative, as is river kayaking. Beach walks on nearby Anglesey are a spectacular treat and can often be sunny when the mountains are not. The real draw of the area is really the climbing though. You won't come here for the nightlife!
The only nearby pub worth a visit is the Vaynol in Nant Peris, and that's not great, just the best of a bad bunch!
You can get a detailed mountain forecast for Snowdonia on the Mountain Weather Information Service