/ Advice for long mountain routes (Grooved Arete)
I'm not looking for beta for a specific route but more general advice for routes of that sort of length and grade. What footwear would you take? Approach shoes and rock boot combo, or just big hiking boots all the way? Would you carry a pack each, or just one to be carried by the second? If two, would the leader carry his or maybe use a haul rope? I've never climbed with a pack before and I don't relish the thought of trying to squeeze up some of the chimneys you get at VDiff with one.
Any other advice anyone can give?
Hi - can be a bit soggy approach to GA so (light) big boots best or a waterproof approach shoe. Or just an approach shoe if you don't mind damp feet. Definitely climb in rock shoes unless you want a v traditional experience. There are no real chimneys per se on GA as far as I recall so not so awkard as you might think. I'd both carry sacs on the route but have them as light as possible so take everything out you don't need before you start the walk in - and use the compression straps to reduce volume and tuck the lids inside etc. You certainly wouldn't use a haul rope on somethings easy and rambling like GA.
Approach shoes are OK if you are used to wearing them on rocky terrain and don't mind getting wet feet.
Personally I prefer to walk in with 1 pack between 2 and carry the ropes separately, but carrying an empty or nearly empty bag isn't a disaster.
GA has quite a lot of polish, being a famous classic and all so probably isn't the best route if it's wet. If it isn't wet then get up early and walk in fast as there will be a queue.
I'd take approach shoes and climb in rock shoes myself and be picky about the amount of clothing I took in the light of the weather forecast. You'd be ok climbing with a pack each or take not much stuff and let the second carry the pack, but it's important you dont have tooo much stuff if you're going for one bag approach as it can spoil enjoyment for the second. Have fun!
I'd plan on climbing in rock boots and carry one pack between the two of you. If you struggle getting all the gear in the pack for the walk in, one of you can just carry ropes over their shoulders.
Its a very good and therefore very popular route. Getting caught behind a few parties could lead to a long day out so my prefference is to try and get there early rather than risk missing last orders.
Personally I would make wjcdean carry the bag, after seeing him struggle without a bag to get through a tight chimney at Tremadog I think you will find that it is highly amusing, hide a couple of rocks in there too, he could do with the 'training' :-)
> Personally I would make wjcdean carry the bag, after seeing him struggle without a bag to get through a tight chimney at Tremadog I think you will find that it is highly amusing, hide a couple of rocks in there too, he could do with the 'training' :-)
Well he's a bit fat. To be fair I found that chimney a squeeze. I'd rather not pull any jokes on him that results in us getting stuck or benighted!
We will probably get a couple of shorter / scrambly practise routes in at the weekend and leave GA for a weekday to avoid queuing. Or Gashed Crag is a possibility
With respect, I personally think the start to GA is a little far to walk geared up with harness etc. I also struggle to see how you'd get there with one sac for what is in essence likely to be a full day's outing - full trad gear, a bit of spare clothing, food and drink etc. Personally, as in the alps, I think the leader just needs to get used to climbing with a compressed sac. It's not that hard on a V Diff and I've done alpine equivalent HVS with sacs.
Gashed Crag is real traditional chimney thrutching in places and imho is significantly harder than Grooved Arete. First Pinnacle Rib is probably a better alternative if you're starting out.
Its an ace route. Approach shoes for the approach, climbing shoes for the...
My preference is a small bag each. Can split ropes if their twins. Then the second carries both bags (one inside the other) when climbing.
Take time to expore the summit if uve not been before. Its an ace place for a spot of food.
That's a good idea. Although we tend to carry our own sacs, we do put the heavy stuff (eg. drink and approach shoes) in the second's sac.
The other thing I use a lot nowadays is a leading specific sac such as this grivel one (not the specific sac I use - I have an older version, slightly smaller). Hardly notice this type of sac when climbing even when leading.
did it in the rain in April 2009 but it was a great day out and cleared up as we topped out. Think we had a mix of approach/rock shoes and each with a small pack. Hauling would be impractical because of the relaxed angle, bushes, ledges etc. You only need shoes, jacket and lunch anyway.
Start by doing a climb on Milestone Buttress and then traverse round to Heather Terrace, a much better day out.
Get up early as the east face gets the morning sun and the queues on that route can be a major pain. If you can't get up early take some lightweight headtorches and carry at least one on the route.
If you get stuck in a queue, at the Knights move pitch, traverse left under Terrace Wall (the steep upper section) and climb one of the VD's there or access the descent (North Gully into Little Gully).
Don't climb with packs thats for masochists and helps build the queues. Leave the rucksacks at the base of the route and go light and fast: if its really warm and busy take some snacks (and maybe a good book), clip a water bottle round your back along with your approach shoes (hence accept the damp feet on the approach... not that bad anyhow) and a lightweight pertex wind/showerproof in a bag (this will be no bigger than an orange).
Identify the Little Gully descent (easy scrambling) in your own mind and ideally identify it from the terrace before you start, the new Ogwen guide is especially good for this as it can be confusing for 1st timers. You start down North Gully but soon branch out right (looking down) as the bottom of North Gully is tricky.
Not intending to start an argument here but I would have thought that a first timer on a long route is more likely to spend too long on it than usual (regardless as to whether they get there first) and/or struggle to find the fast descent (as you suggest is possible) and so I really don't see the wisdom of leaving sacs behind. That seems like a recipe for being stuck out late trying to recover the sacs when really they will just be wanting to get off the hill.
Out of interest, what do you do on a long alpine route (and I'm not talking about a pure bolted rap'able rock route)? Or a winter route here. Presumably you climb with sacs then?
As the OP can see, everyone has their own favourite approach to these things!
running pitches together is good if you can manage your ropes well and the rope is long enough. i used to always belay exactly as the guide says.. but this wastes so much extra time which is needed when you are doing a big route.
you should be ok if you get on it during the week.
Grooved Arete? Chalk bag?
Or is it just me?
Chuck out the chalk bag and take a suit of armour for the knights slab.
I second the posters idea of trying something on Milestone Buttress. Mine and my partners first big mountain route was Grooved Arete, we didn't get there until about lunchtime, didnt realise what an undertaking it was, got stuck behind about 5 parties, and topped out about 8pm, leaving us to get to the car for about 10pm starving hungry as we'd ate the last of our welsh cakes at about 4.
After that, we decided we needed to be a little more mountain route aware, and played on Milestone Buttress a few times, got our multi-pitch climbing sorted, and we're now happy to have a good day out, with a long walk in climbing long routes without too much of a bother.
I did GA this weekend. 1 rucksack, ropes carried separately.
Probably due to poor weather forecast we had route nearly to ourselves (weather was good and it remained dry all day).
I wore rockshoes leading all of the route, partner wore approach shoes all the way and carried the rucksack up.
Great day out, would definitely recommend (route finding can be a bit tricky though even though it's mainly following the polish)
I never used sacks when I started based on the same good (IMHO) advice. This isn't an alpine route and the most convenient descent comes back past the start and if things went well you're set for another. I would carry one sack between two if going up and on say to a route on Bristly ridge. Carrying weight on your harness on such routes is better balanced for making climing moves and is quicker and less tiring. My solid UK lead grade is VS and I lead long multi-pitch mountain HVS equivalent in the US and Spain this way. If this is the OP's first multi-pitch he should choose something shorter and closer to the road but he didn't give that impression. If there is already a big queue such that a sack is handy he should pick another route.
I suppose there's 3 bits of advice we can give you then.
1. Get there very early.
2. Get there very early.
And 3. Get there .......
I disagree with a lot of the above posters. In my opinion it’s much better to use a haul bag for this sort of route rather than carry sacs. You’ll find that if it gets stuck there’s always another party behind who are happy to help by freeing it for you.
> Any other advice anyone can give?
You list on your profile that you climb VD... why would you contemplate climbing GA with big boots???
What's your background - done much hill walking/scrambling?
I came into climbing from walking and scrambling, and all my early routes (including I think Grooved Arete) were done in big boots and carrying a rucksack. When I eventually discovered that it's much easier with climbing shoes, I carried my big boots up in my sack.
These days I wear fell shoes for the approach and climb in rock shoes. Unless it's good weather and we know we're returning to the foot of the route, we always take a rucksack each. Chimneys can be overcome by hauling the sacks up after the leader has got to the top.
Main advice I'd give is to be flexible in your choice of route. GA seems to be the most popular of the classic ridges, possibly because it's the first you get to. If you arrive and find a queue, then keep going and hope that Overlapping Rib, Pinnacle Rib, Gashed Crag or North Buttress is free (NB almost always is IME).
But you do come over as almost the definitive lower grade climbing masochist and modern style refusnik. One day you might understand how much more you can do and with much more comfort. I'm almost surprised you haven't tried haul bags, as suggested above ;-)
If you're covering a lot of ground you want to be comfortable and moving relatively quickly.
For me that means trainers for walking in (boots in snow), rock shoes for climbing. Carry trainers for descending, rock shoes are awful and potentially dangerous on grass/mud. Enough clothing in layers that you can be cool while climbing, warm while belaying/waiting even if the weather craps out. Sharing a belay jacket is fine while everything is going smoothly but you'll want to adjust that plan for more serious situations.
Take enough food and water for what you're doing, personally I don't take or need much, other people like to have plenty.
Carrying a pack while climbing is ok if it's small-ish and strapped on well but it can hinder gear selection, prevent a helmeted head from moving freely and it can snag the rock. Worth getting used to but at a comfortable grade and not when you need to be moving quickly and confidently. Probably best the 2nd carries the pack, whatever you do don't haul it, you'll lose or wreck the pack.
Figure out where you're going (take the book not just the page, it may help later) and have at least the bare bones of an escape plan sorted in your head so you can take the right skills, kit and be looking for belays, descent lines, hazards etc as you climb. Learning to abseil with a stream flowing over you is shit.
Don't be tempted to go too light with the rack, you'll move much faster if you're not rationing gear and worrying about the run-outs. Grooved Arete gets silly busy, unless you're the first team on it you're at the mercy of those ahead and it attracts a lot of relative newcomers (to be polite) which is fine if you have time on your side and patience to spare.
>, rock shoes are awful and potentially dangerous on grass/mud.
If you encounter any grass or mud while descending from the top of Grooved Arete, you're doing it wrong.
The best advice so far by a mile has been to take a book for the queues. This could easily be extended, actually - if you're going to take a sac there should be room for a small Ipad or similar, maybe even a gramophone.
I read once on supertopo an account of a fellow whose name escapes me soloing Lost Arrow Chimney (I think - some hideous 800 foot 5.10 offwidth in Yosemite, anyway). He took a copy of Sartre tucked into his white tube sock to deal with the queues. Very 70s Yosemite on several levels.
Its an unneccesary encumberance for most who ascend this route and then do nothing else. If you like lugging weight why not stick a few rocks in it as well; whatever, its a free country, I'm just pointing out another more pleasant way?
It was intended as general advice but my personal experience of GA involved bailing off sideways due to a cluster **** of fools encamped on the upper section. There was plenty of steep wet grass.
Good story. Having been up there the idea of soloing it is making me a little queasy.
from my experience.
Water. I didn't take enough and it was a hot day, foolish move by me.
Small bag each - each with personal belonging + the rope or rack.
Early start if its a nice day as you can end up in a queue if you're too late.
One of my favourite climbs. Hope you enjoy it too.
I think its an unnecessary encumbrance assuming there was nothing in your sack you needed. Which really should be the question you're asking your self when packing the rucksack in the first place.
Personally for routes of this length which are anywhere near my limit (and fairly sustained) I prefer to carry a sack, it has my food, water, spare clothes / waterproofs, phone, head torch, map, compass etc in it. Seeing as the OP has not lead harder than VD I suspect that the route will take many hours to complete and they would be better off with their kit with them on the route.
To the OP:
Can I advise against taking a single pack, I nearly always find wearing a well packed minimalist ruck sack when leading is fine, I don't really notice it, however having two peoples kit in one sack nearly always takes away some of the enjoyment of the route for the second, I often find the second complains if all you give them is literally a couple of kilos more stuff (say a pair of walking boots and some bits and bobs)
If you're at your limit a sack is even more daft. I've never needed anything on a rock route that I was ddescending back down to that I couldn't clip to my harness or put in my pockets. You like your way, I like mine!
> If you're at your limit a sack is even more daft. I've never needed anything on a rock route that I was ddescending back down to that I couldn't clip to my harness or put in my pockets. You like your way, I like mine!
well if your doing long routes being near you limit can mean you'd be on the route most the day (and possibly longer!), to my mind that means I'll need more stuff and a ruck sack.
> Approach shoes.
> Climbing shoes.
> Single rope.
> Small bag each - each with personal belonging + the rope or rack.
Personally I think the basics in a rucksack carried on route for doing longish routes in the mountains should include:
water / food
spare clothes / waterproofs (you can be very minimal here but its best to keep in mind how cold it can get at night in case of emergency or how miserable you'd be if it rains or both!)
first aid (often I just pack some finger tape a bandage and a few plasters)
Gashed Crag is a fine route, but a bit awkward with a sack. As others have suggested the various Pinnacle Ribs are a good alternative and if you have only just started multi-pitch climbing are easier than GA, if you avoid the Yellow Slab.
My children's first multi pitch route was First Pinnacle Rib. They walked up in boots, I walked up in trainers. Just to make life interesting, I had forgotten to bring my rock boots and almost all the gear apart from the rope and a few slings and crabs. Luckily they had their rock boots and we had all three harnesses. Despite my spectacular incompetence we had a great day.
All are fine and dandy without a sack though ;-)
In reply to Curly Steveo
Which bit of personnal preference don't you get (or am I a very naughty boy as they might enjoy it more my way)? As I said earlier, I regard myself a solid VS leader and have done quite a few all day routes in this style in the US and Spain at an equivalent of HVS and even the odd E1. No way would I have done those even seconding with a sack: that's partly what climbing at our limit means to us and I'm happy with it ;-). I do climb with a sack (at least whoever is seconding does) on easier stuff when heading somewhere else at the top.
In anything other than good settled conditions, you surely want waterproofs and the like? And if not returning to the foot of the route (which I normally only do if I'm going to do another route afterwards, unlikely for a beginner) then you need your boots?
Surely the normal way of doing these routes is to climb them and then walk off by any of the normal paths rather than the Heather Terrace?
To an extent I can see Offwidths point of view - I'd be happy with trainers clipped to my harness, a pertex layer in its own pocket on my back and a couple of snack bars in my pocket. I'd only do this a) if I'm well inside my grade and b) intended on coming directly back to the foot of the route. Other times one sac (as small as possible - idally 15l or so) between two is my preference
We clearly have different normals. I almost always come off the Heather Terrace if only climbing on that face and did so the first time I climbed there.
I use a pertex, I'd never use full waterproofs unless its cold enough that a light goretex is suitable to wear on the route. I hate climbing in the rain so given modern forecasta and radar I'd be somewhere else lower down if rain was very likley. I've been hit by proper storms in Spain and the US and the pertex I've got works well with my ultrafleece, and thermal combo; gloves make a difference and I also take a thin powerstretch balaclava on longer routes where cold conditions/benightment is possible (it all packs in the pertex pouch).
Climbing without big sacks is for pussies!!!!
I think my normal is the normal normal :-)
Certainly last time we did Gashed Crag, we'd climbed elsewhere first and were on Heather Terrace around 4. There were a couple of rucksacks at the bottom of routes, but several teams on all the classic ridges. The ones who were close enough to see for sure were all climbing with sacks.
Other than making you tire quicker I can't see it making much difference to the difficulty (excluding tight chimneys - slightly wider ones can be easier with a rucksack!).
Presumably you climb with a sack in the winter?
Fed up of hearing about your climbing in different countries, give it a break, we are on about Snowdonia. Don't go out in the rain? you obviously ain't done much climbing in the country at all.
"Which bit of personnal preference don't you get?"
Pot calling the kettle black? Seems to me of the two of us, you have a bigger problem with people having alternative views to your own.
"I hate climbing in the rain so given modern forecasta and radar I'd be somewhere else lower down if rain was very likley."
You wouldn't get much done living in Scotland with that attitude, I've lost count the number of days summer and winter I've gone out on poor to average forecasts and got a great day on the hill (all be it with a slightly increased risk of getting rained on which does occasionally occur!)
Ohhh no I dont (for sure, many climbers love their weight training ;-)
I've climbed GA both in rock shoes with trainers in my sack, and in big boots. The latter is certainly a lot less hassle as there is nowhere technical that requires the precision of rock shoes. Climbing with a sack is no big deal so long as it isn't enormous, which it shouldn't be anyway, but it is useful to have water and food, and the option of waterproof/warmer clothing with you if the weather looks dodgey.
As others have said treat it like a Scottish winter route where you would normally carry a sack anyway.
Other good East face routes at that grade include Horned Crag, and First and Second Pinnacle Ribs. The Yellow Slab pitch is fun, and perfectly climbable in big boots although easier in rock shoes!
I climbed quite a few routes in the 3 weeks of my worst ever weather holiday in Scotland when it rained every day and most days all day. Some big routes with a goretex on all the way like A'Chir and up to VS on steep cliffs facing away from the rain direction with my faithful pertex in tow. A lot of the lower level rock up in the north west dries super fast (Reiff and the many Gneiss crags) and the tea shops nearly always have good craic (and cake).
I also climb in socks unlike most lower grade leaders I see. The midges don't get my ankles, my feet dont freeze and my shoes dont stink. That's a preference too.
> I climbed quite a few routes in the 3 weeks of my worst ever weather holiday in Scotland when it rained every day and most days all day. Some big routes with a goretex on all the way like A'Chir and up to VS on steep cliffs facing away from the rain direction with my faithful pertex in tow. A lot of the lower level rock up in the north west dries super fast (Reiff and the many Gneiss crags) and the tea shops nearly always have good craic (and cake).
> I also climb in socks unlike most lower grade leaders I see. The midges don't get my ankles, my feet dont freeze and my shoes dont stink. That's a preference too.
Well I can understand where you get your hatred for climbing in the rain from now. 3 weeks of climbing every day in the rain in Scotland is certainly more character building than I'm in need of! I guess living in Scotland meant I pretty much never had to head out on days I knew it would rain!
My point regarding going out on days where the forecast is not definite for rain or no rain is - I've had some great days out on forecasts like this and also I've had the odd epic weather wise. For these sort of days either you carry water proofs or accept you may (and will if you keep playing the odds) get wet, but for me anyway the odds of rain are outweighed by the benefits of getting more quality dry days and great mountain routes done. Certainly I wouldn't want to be wearing the waterproofs all day just in case it rained!
As someone above said (Toreador I think), I came into climbing from a fell walking background and so I used to walk everywhere in big boots and so I'd need to haul those up a long mountain route in my sac. I almost always wear approach shoes now - the only issue here being that GA can be quite wet on the walk in if you go the usual way up to Heather Terrace. But I'd still go with approach shoes personally.
As for hauling sacs, agree with JKarran (I think it was), don't haul sacs if at all possible. Only times I've done this on that sort of ground they get trashed v fast and/or stuck.
Unless one of you does do the walk in virtually geared up and you pare all your gear to the bone, I don't see how you will get away with just one normal sized sac (and it is a fair old walk in). You could decide to go light and fast and leave sacs at the base of the route, which would certainly make for easier climbing, but you may well live to regret that later on as it is very usual to just walk off Tryfan and not go back to the bottom. If you are a relative beginner to this sort of outing and/or if you get stuck in a queue, you won't be doing a 2nd route and you won't want to descend to the base of the route again. If you pick a quieter route than GA, then maybe not such a bad plan but you could be on it for much of the day behind other teams and just want to walk off when you summit. Which length of time on a route also means you do want your spare layers/food/drink with you really given how changeable the weather normally is.
I've done all the easy routes there at least once, several times for GA in good weather and bad. For easy climbing (and this isn't a mountain VS/HVS), learning to climb with a sac is no bad thing. As I said above, just compress it and lighten the leader's as much as is sensible.
Just my two penneth worth.
When we did GA sometime in the late 90s, it started raining just below Knights Slab and stopped just as we got to the summit. Certainly glad we'd carried up full waterproofs!
re hauling - only time I've needed to do this on Tryfan was on Gashed Crag for the chimney pitch. First time I did it, I wore a sack. Last time it was too tight - I think the chimney must have shrunk ;-)
GA was my first Welsh route. It was my first ever climb. Its not hard although you don't say what grade you regularly climb. If you can't get all your kit in 1 sack you have way too much. 2 harness's (why bother though you will bounce down slabs then hit a ledge not hang free for hours. ) 1 rope, a medium rack avoiding anything small or even wired. Water snacks, fleece or tie that round the waist. Helmets I suppose because of crap from above. Take boots, or those fancy trainers/ shoes with smooth sticky soles. Climbing with a sack is no different from without really, most of its contents will be attached to you anyway. Haul! its not El Cap:)
I seriously doubt you have big hiking boots nowadays. Best time will be at daylight of after tea.
Its only an hour, not that hard in a harness, presumably when you did those Alpine routes you walked in wearing a harness. Don't know how much stuff you take with you but that's how we climbed The Gashed Crag on Tryfan 3 weeks ago and how I did Pinnacle Rib the time before. Works for me but each to his own.
> GA was my first Welsh route. It was my first ever climb. Its not hard although you don't say what grade you regularly climb. If you can't get all your kit in 1 sack you have way too much. 2 harness's (why bother though you will bounce down slabs then hit a ledge not hang free for hours. ) 1 rope, a medium rack avoiding anything small or even wired. Water snacks, fleece or tie that round the waist. Helmets I suppose because of crap from above. Take boots, or those fancy trainers/ shoes with smooth sticky soles. Climbing with a sack is no different from without really, most of its contents will be attached to you anyway. Haul! its not El Cap:)
> I seriously doubt you have big hiking boots nowadays. Best time will be at daylight of after tea.
You sound like you come from the time when men were men!
Am I a grumpy old bumbly (I can hear the deafening chorus of yes!!! now) but are we suffering from an increase in the number of climbing wall 'trained' incompetent numpties on the crags and in the mountains? If the weather's good and there hasn't been an accident or a mishap why should groups be 'slow' on a lower grade route? I've had plenty of epics on routes and I'm nowhere near being able to call myself an elitist but I would be highly embarrassed to find myself holding up parties on a lower grade route. Call me a grumpy old bumbly....
Done GA can't remember much about other than it being a bit broken and not brill (my 2p) but I've done a lot of big mountain routes, some easy some hard, some simple some complex and I'm normally quite fast.
Just carry a sac, more often that not you don't return to the base of the route or have to miss the next part of the day returning to the base of the route. plus you are carrying some kit because you need or may need it, first time on a big route you want a head lamp and some food and some water. What else goes in the sac is the real topic.
Walk in in something that isn't rock shoes, in Scotland this is normally light boots. I don't know the norm for Wales. Climb in rock shoes, one pair each. Don't think you are being smart and saving time with one pair between two because it doesn't work.
The real "new to big routes" time savings are in rope management and gear trasfer at belays. That's a different topic.
Other advice, it's meant to be fun. Just chill a little and enjoy the view.
Just a quick addition to a throw away comment. You need more than just food water and a lamp. Nav and how not to die of exposure shoud be there. I just didn't want to change the topic away from method.
Grumpy old bumbly.
There's a lot of "stuck behind" and "held-up by" in this thread. Glad I never climb where you lot do! What happened to "followed a couple of climbers" or "met a couple of climbers"? I'd be happy for much faster climbers to pass me at the next belay if they felt the need. I would not feel the need to move faster if I was being followed though.
To the OP - don't worry about "holding people up". Enjoy your day, take a small pack each but keep it light. Don't take loads of gear and have fun. Climbing in a pack isn't that bad.
I don't think so. Some people just have the capacity to faff irrespective of their climbing background.
>The real "new to big routes" time savings are in rope management and gear trasfer at belays
And ruthless overtaking techniques, of course.
That's the spirit. F*ck the rest of them.
I suspect the real savings in most trad climbers multipitch climbing can be made in fast leads and the second climbing nice and fast like they are on top rope. For more novice climbers setting up the belay can also regularly take a long time.
I suspect rope management and gear transfer faff for most climbers could only speed up each pitch by an average of around 5 minutes! I'm not saying that's not worth doing though.
I suspect that not being anal about being tied on *all the time* when standing on a 2m wide belay ledge would help - especially when the climbers have safely negotiated far more dodgy ground on the scramble to the base of the crag. If the second is standing somewheresafe, and with their consent, why not take them off belay if the ropes need sorting out ?
Common sense over dogma can save a lot of time.
Then again we are talking about speeding up the belay switch over by a relatively small amount. If the leader takes 45 mins to lead every pitch of a 9 pitch route when climbing more confidently could equate to 20 min leads thats a huge saving over the day.
Climbers have fallen from ledges. How long does it take to clip in to something with a long sling, or sit down?
I have to admit I agree with Offwidth here. It's easy to forget where you are if you are untied for any length of time and mentally revert back to thinking you are "safe" and do something stupid. I have experience of this.
That is the issue, really. If you mentally switch off then you are in trouble no matter what. If I am momentarily taken off belay whilst my leader sorts out a cluster f*ck, I make damn sure I don't forget where I am or the consequences of falling off the ledge.
My goodness, that is over a minute per metre (assuming 45m pitches - which is highly unlikely in this country!)
I try to budget 30 minutes per pitch for the party.
I agree - moving efficiently saves the most time, but most of the annoying avoidable delays I see are belay faff. How many times does the leader get to the top of the first pitch and set up a belay and only then does the second think to pack their sandwiches in a bag and get their rock shoes out ?
Yet my experience on GA and on similar routes is all too often clusterf*ck belays by people following the same kitchen sink nonsense that involves carrying 10kg on their back (just in case): going for mulitiple bomber pieces tied in a complex system and often getting muddled. Good enough, is good enough. Two bomber independant pieces equalised to a central point that everyone can clip into if you have a leader 'and party', or the standard cloved hitched two pieces if the second is going to lead through. On a big ledge a single bomber piece can even be Ok.
I support Jon's view that haul bags are worth a try and maybe garlic and a stake as I heard rumour of a vampire on the east face and it will a useful back up a belay ledge on a classic that happens to have no belays, just in case too of course.
It only takes one slow party to slow up everyone else. Often made worse by inept attempts to overtake without asking, resulting in overcrowded belay ledges etc.
> My goodness, that is over a minute per metre (assuming 45m pitches - which is highly unlikely in this country!)
> I try to budget 30 minutes per pitch for the party.
Personally I think 30 minutes for the leader to set of on one pitch (say 35 metres average) and then the leader to be ready to set off on the next is very slick (or the pitch very easy), I doubt you'll find the average party on grooved arete climbing this fast. Generally my rule of thumb is 45 minutes is doing fine if the pitches aren't super easy or at my limit. Anything over an hour is disappointing and a sign we need to move faster.
I think Offwidth was being ironic too, though he lost me with his opening paragraph - as in I have no idea why he want off on that particular tangent other than to have a sideswipe at my earlier comments supporting climbing with sacs.
Are people this argumentative in pubs in real life?
> My goodness, that is over a minute per metre (assuming 45m pitches - which is highly unlikely in this country!)
> I try to budget 30 minutes per pitch for the party.
Personally I think 30 minutes for the leader to set of on one pitch (say 35 metres average) and then the leader to be ready to set off on the next is very slick (or the pitch easy), I doubt you'll find the average party on grooved arete climbing this fast. Generally my rule of thumb is 45 minutes is doing fine if the pitches aren't easy or at my limit. Anything over an hour is disappointing and a sign we need to move faster.
> You sound like you come from the time when men were men!
I agree with mattsccm. Climbed a few years ago late one afternoon after pitching the tent at the campsite below Tryfan Bach. Climbed in big boots without too many problems (although I climb in boots or approach shoes most of the time). 5Hrs Tent to Tent. Treat it as a mountaineering route, climb with sacs and move fast.
Nothing against you Toreador, Curly or others I know well enough from here that are almost certainly reasonably paced and sensible. The sideswipe is at some of the wider bumbly public who get strange OTT safety ideas and hence lots of bad practice is in evidience as a result on routes like GA (partly why my first advice was to get up early).
I thought you paid for a 20 minute argument?
I didn't expect this thread to kick off quite like this...
This may all be for nothing if the weather forecast is correct :(
Thats one of the wonders of these forums: some threads get a life of their own. Enjoy the route whenever or however you climb it, even with the polish it's still special. Makes for a good solo as well if you get there first.
After flopping like a seal into the chimney on Milestone Buttress Direct on a wet day, I've decided that polish and damp don't go well together.
Grow's chest hairs though ;-) That's an even better solo the chimeny then being moreso the crux!
> Grow's chest hairs though ;-) That's an even better solo the chimeny then being moreso the crux!
Look at my log- no soloing thank you very much. And I like my chest smooth and defined
Metaphorical hairs of course. You might change one day on the solo point: you do that with most stairs afterall, so its just a question of degree. I love big familiar VD solos as a solid VS onsight leader.
I agree that late in the day gives the best chance of a swift ascent as everyone else is in a tailback on the A55 by then.
But for beginners, it also gives the best chance of a benightment and mountain rescue callout ;-)
So an early start as suggested by Offwidth may be more advisable. If all goes smoothly, that'll leave time for another route afterwards.
Maybe almost infamous ...despite the name giving a clue at least 2 parties I know have done the direct in error (VS?). The ledge below is big enough for a party though.
I never understood why the Knight's move got such praise - for my money, the pitch below and above were better / more interesting, in a variety of conditions
I started up the direct and had to downclimb it in the rain. Which was nice.
I agree with pneame, the adjacent pitches were better.
Good point. And likely a bit greasy with stuff growing in the cracks. Not that greasy was as big a worry in nailed boots!
70 metre skinny single rope, belayer belays until he runs out of rope then starts climbing, move together until the leader runs out of gear then belay and bring up the second. Chances are you could do it in 3-4 pitches and be out for 4-5 hours car to car. Gear in one sack, other guy carries the rope. Second carries the sack on the climb. Take a small sack that the second can climb in comfortably and you can clip / tie stuff on the outside of it for the walk in / walk out. Lightweight waterproofs, 1 water bottle and approach shoes in the bag while you're climbing. Dry shoes and socks in the car with the flask of tea and your lunch.
Don't start early, start really really really early.
A couple of summers ago a mate and I used this approach on the Idwal slabs. We started up Faith bang on 6 AM. By 10.30 we'd done Charity, Original route, Lazerus and The Arete. By then there were 2 parties on Hope and another geared up ready to start. We had a bite to eat waiting for the party at the bottom to get to the first belay. We waited and waited for the first stance to clear but by 12 we were bored and asked if they were alright with as climbing together past them. They were so we headed off, ok'd climbing through with the other parties as we went and were back down before the second on the first stance had started climbing. Back at the car at Ogwen cottage by 1.30.
Happened to me to, started up 4ish on a showery summers afternoon to find at least 4 teams encamped where it steepens. I believe some were later benighted. We bailed left, got pizza and were back in Chester for last orders. Mid-week would be my choice next time.
That's not really sensible advice to give a novice on their first big multi pitch route now is it!
It took me 27 mins solo, I doubt any team could do it 'up and down' in an hour unless they moved together on the whole thing, not something VDiff climbers normally do on VDiffs!
You were a VDiff climber once upon a time as well
To answer your questions directly:
Rock shoes and approach shoes for the walk in. If you are comfy climbing in approach shoes, then that's the ideal tactic.
Just one pack. Second wears the pack. As small as possible. Take the bare minimum of food and clothing (one light weight waterproof max per person).
Probably already been said but just in case...
First check the weather report, climbing in the rain can be "fun" but if you are not used to it it can be, well, "interesting". Ignore all that only takes an hour b*ll*cks half an hour per pitch would be quite quick. Footwear: good approach shoes and/or comfortable rock shoes. You can put your harness on for the walk in to reduce the size of the pack but I would take a light flexible sack (alternatively we sometimes use a rope bag) that gives you good movement. Leader carries lightest sack or no sack (I have climbed with a sack and it is not that much of a hindrance). Take double ropes unless you like rope drag. take water, food, light waterproofs/fleece, camera and some tat to abseil off in the unlikely event that you need to retreat.
I was going to suggest just that, but thought that I might be accused of being churlish. But then sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do....
Except if you are rude some people will not let you pass and unlike the alps they will stop you if you try. If anyone wants any tips a clove hitch to one of their runners works a treat. If they are good enough to overtake they are good enough to downclimb and sort it out.
My approach to long mountain routes is to walk in wearing harnesses (but without gear on) one person carries a bag containing the gear, food, water, clothing and the other carries the ropes on his back. Sure, one person gets a bum deal but you can swap on the walk out.
I wear lightweight approach shoes for the walk in and then attach these to the back of my harness for the climb. The second carries the bag, now containing just food water and spare clothing. I much prefer to lead without a bag on, even a nearly empty one as it still puts a bit more strain on your arms and interferes with wearing slings over your shoulder.
> 'Except if you are rude some people will not let you pass and unlike the alps they will stop you if you try.'
No one likes being overtaken. But if you are the cause of a jam you should be respectful of other climbers. If you don't know where the route goes: ask. If you are not competent then you shouldn't be on it. And you shouldn't take groups of beginners on popular multi-pitch routes. Incidentally, I am reminded of an incident involving someone I knew who started to solo Cemetery Gates with a party on the ledge, assuming that they'd be long gone by the time he got there. But when he did get there they were still there. And they wouldn't let him on. The stuff of nightmares...
Thanks for all the advice.
We're going to go along with one sack, approach shoes and rock boots and harnesses on for the walk in.
If we get a weather window we're going to go for it. I'll post back on our progress
It's intresting the huge range of styles.
There is no way I would approach dragon, gob, talisman, cyclops, the needle or minus one direct in my harness and I would question doing some of the approaches in light shoes.
I also don't think many routes are sensible if the team doesn't carry a sacs on the route. Otherwise you are walking back to the base of the crag to collect gear to walk out. That would never happen on minus one and would be stupid on eagles ridge.
Also the gear is for the day not the route or the walk in and the sac should be packed accordingly. It's quiet easy.
I think maybe the emphasis here is on simple routes in Wales on nice summer days with no real approach but there is a weird number of people giving advice on mountain routes who "always"or "never"do a lot of things on this thread. Horses for courses
I agree with that up to a point. However sometimes fast climbers following those of reasonable pace should really have chosen something else and so they need to be polite or inventive (eg climb a pitch off to the side) if they want to get past.
Climbing is great isn’t it? 20 different approaches to the same problem. None especially wrong, just different, but based on different levels of learning and experience. Early on I would have taken some “just in case gear”, and now I would like to think I would take just enough, but again this will always be a matter of opinion. The important things are:
Be fast and light.
Be warm comfortable and with some morsels of food and some water.
Be able to navigate if conditions turn.
Be prepared, study the approach and decent before you set off.
If you chose, and it is your choice, to take a rucksack, make sure it doesn’t restrict movement, be sure you can look up wearing a helmet. Have an idea how to rack up best whilst wearing it, ie try it all out before you get to crag. Did I mention being comfortable?
IMHO with the given levels of experience, approach shoes for walk in, comfy all day rock shoes to climb, light rucksacks each with well thought out contents. (you bring it, you carry it). As you gain experience with this type of climbing and route length you will most likely adapt your kit based on newly acquired preferences. Maybe this will be soloing the route in 30 mins wearing a pertex jump suit, maybe a different way. Its your climb, your day, try and move fast and be considerate, but never be rushed or harassed by others.
Its a great route. Enjoy it. Lliwedd next?
Was it snowing when we topped out on GA last time?
Except don't underestimate your food requirements. It's amazing how a boost in calories can change poor decisions made by fatigue and such like. Even a couple of extra snickers bars can make a big difference for not a lot of added weight.
Very easy to do GA etc in a good pair of approach shoes (guide tenny etc) + very light packs.
Here we go again. Maybe for you and I it's easy to climb the route in good approach shoes but it's not for a typical VD leader. Wearing anything other than climbing shoes will inevitably slow the ascent and likely add to the polish. Wayne's post is spot on: there are many tactics but some pointers will help.
Gosh, when I started climbing in 1966 it was almost a rule that you climbed long mountain routes below VS in hillwalking boots.
Yes....not done much climbing really only started a few years ago but most has been with a "traditional" climber....so it would be boots and a sack for me....efficiency apparently ive been told is the key for long mountain routes...
Times change Gordon. Much of the polish on easier routes is from poor footwork in combination with dirty footwear. If you want to retain the rock quality on classics climbing shoes are the best way to do this and also enable the climbers to go faster (which cuts the queues).I saw some old photos recently of the obvious scarring due to nails in just a few decades on grit: glad that stopped! Since I started climbing in the 80s virtually nothing has changed on grit the polish front and nearly everyone uses climbing shoes now...conincidence?. The next big problem is cam damage from people dogging.
Don't forget a fleece and waterproofs. I did GA years ago. It may look sunny and the weather forecast can be okay but you can end up freezing on stances in the wind and shade. I prefer two ropes on these mountain routes (also get longer abseils if need to retreat). A helmet is a must. Food, water and a head torch each (just in case - even if you get off the climb in the light it's a fair way down the mountain).
Below are a few of the mountain rescue reports so you get the idea of the things that can go wrong!
14th 1500hrs 1 hour Grooved Arête, East Face Tryfan
1 male, 1 Female Cragfast, no injuries
The party of two had climbed Grooved Arête to the Knight’s Move and decided to retreat. After abseiling one pitch they could not pull their ropes free and not being happy to continue the descent without ropes dialled 999. A small team were about to leave base when they phoned to say they were being helped by other climbers.
13 Team members involved.
8th 1405 hrs 55 minutes Grooved Arête, Tryfan
2 males 20, 21No injuries, stuck climbers
They set off after a period of heavy rain. The upper part of the route was very wet so they tried to traverse off somewhere near the Haven, but became stuck on steep ground. 22 already in the area kindly snatched them and dropped them at Oggie Base (minus all their kit). They could not explain why they could not abseil to safe ground considering they had full climbing kit.
13 Team members involved.
27th 1800hrs 2 hoursHeather Terrace, Tryfan
Fractured L ankle Male 14 yrs
The casualty and his father were climbing Grooved Arête when he fell about 10m. They down climbed to the Heather Terrace. Team were called and passers by assisted on site. Given the onset of darkness and the age of the casualty 22 Sqn were requested. They winched both son and father
from the site to Base where he was examined by a Team member (a surgeon) who diagnosed a fractured ankle.
20 Team members involved.
30th 1920 hrs 6 hours East Face Tryfan
No injuries, cragfast 2 Females 31, 47. 2 Males 34, 47.
The party were climbing Grooved Arete with only one leader. They said they were held up by a party in front of them and then struggled below the Haven only reaching it in the evening. The Leader took 45 min to climb the Knights Move but then returned to his companions. One of them phoned for help and the Team had to listen to them arguing as the leader said he did not need rescuing, the others rebelled and said they wanted help.(The party above them phoned the North Wales Police on hearing the arguments going on below them!) 22Sqn flew a party of 8 up to the top
of the climb and went to another incident returning in time to lift the party and the Team down to Oggie Base.
19 Team members involved.
2nd 2045 hrs 1.5 hours Top pitch Grooved Arete, Tryfan Ankle
1 Male 32 yrs
The pair had been climbing for about a year and were climbing Grooved Arete. First one tried to lead the final pitch but failed, the other then tried and took a leader fall pulling the other off their feet and injuring his ankle. They sorted themselves out and lowered and abseiled down to Heather Terrace where he found it too painful to ‘bum shuffle’ down and the Team was called. With night drawing in 22 Sqn airlifted him to hospital.
13 Team members involved.
27th 2215 hrs 8 hours Grooved Arete, East Face Tryfan
2 males, 1 female all 27 yrs. No injuries.
They left the road at 0830 hrs but did not reach the start of the climb until 1200 hrs. With one rope and three climbers they were slow and did not reach the crux until just before dark at 1900 hrs. They tried the Knights move and failed so decided to abseil off. 2 short abseils later they were stuck, not helped by only having two torches between them. Only one phone worked and that ran out of credit. They were raised 50 m to safe ground and walked off.
16 Team members involved.
23rd 1820 hrs 1.40 hours Tryfan, Grooved Arête, (by the haven) 2 Males
They had little experience of outdoor multi pitch routes and became stuck in the haven unable to do the Knights move or abseil into North Gully. They were winched by 22 Sqn and returned to Oggie Base.
13 Team members involved.
15th 1237hrs 2 hours Grooved Arête, Tryfan Male 33 yrs
Fractured Jaw, wrist, ankle, cuts & abrasions. Lead fall while climbing.
Was leading the Knights move on Grooved Arête when he fell and his protection failed, he landed at the belay stance, Evacuated by 22 Sqn. His helmet undoubtly reduced his injuries.
17 Team members and 22 Sqn involved.
15th 1520hrs 3 hours Grooved Arête, Tryfan Male 61 yrs
Fractured ankle Climbing in the same place as the previous accident, slipped and his ankle was caught in the groove. Again 22 Sqn evacuated.
18 Team members and 22 Sqn involved.
9th Grooved Arete, Tryfan 2male, 1 female, Cragfast, Climbing. No injuries.
Wow. I suppose it's lovely that people who are so massively incompetent are getting out and about.
Not forgetting from a few years back two parties of two who were all HVS grit leaders chosing GA for their first multipitch. They got benighted ( or should that be beknighted) at the Knights move and had to be rescued by Oggie valley abbing in to them. Oggie left their ab ropes in situ because of the lateness of the hour only to find that some bar stewards had nicked them before that could return to collect.
I remember in 1968 being a bit disappointed by this, one of my first ""multipitch"" (:-))) climbs (sorry, that emoticon is all about the fact that in those days a climb was almost by definition multipitch, if it was not training for a real climb.) Biggest disappointment was finding that the Knight's Move did not refer to a rock climbing move but merely to the line of the route on that pitch, where you just amble across a system of cracks in slab at about 2a in technical difficulty.
>where you just amble across a system of cracks in slab at about 2a in technical difficulty.
....falling off and breaking your ankle or not according to taste.
I remember there being a fatality on GA, around 20 years ago when the rope wore through on the arete following the Knights Move. I think it was the second who fell, so as always, think about protecting your second where a traverse is involved.
> I remember in 1968 being a bit disappointed by this, one of my first ""multipitch"" (:-))) climbs (sorry, that emoticon is all about the fact that in those days a climb was almost by definition multipitch, if it was not training for a real climb.) Biggest disappointment was finding that the Knight's Move did not refer to a rock climbing move but merely to the line of the route on that pitch, where you just amble across a system of cracks in slab at about 2a in technical difficulty.
This doesn't count as a proper ascent unless you wearing tricounis, carrying a heavy sac and the Knights Move was like a waterfall :-) (high wind preferable)
> This doesn't count as a proper ascent unless you wearing tricounis, carrying a heavy sac and the Knights Move was like a waterfall :-) (high wind preferable)
True. Arthur Birtwistle told me in person that he didn't think he'd done a route properly until he'd done it in nails. He felt 'rubbers' amounted to cheating. He showed me his Laddow guidebook, in which every route was ticked, and most of them twice. Two ticks meant he'd done it in both r and n.
I won't add to the advice about sacks and footwear - too much already. What Joanne Barnes highlights is the seriousness of the mountain environment and this is a good post.
It is easy to get confused and make wrong decisions here. The east face of Tryfan is well known for clag rolling in when you are half-way up a route that you started in fine weather. The terrain can look totally different and render route finding awkward and this applies to most routes there.
I'll briefly recount an ascent some years ago by myself and a mate (both experienced climbers) - our second ascent of the route too. The clag had indeed rolled in after a sunny start when we were on the first main ledge where you walk left to continue the route. At a shallow corner which we both thought was the continuation, I led up. After some metres I realized I had climbed into some considerably more serious terrain, unprotected and pretty irreversible. I had to continue straight up, eventually topping out above and to the right of the Knight's Slab, having bypassed this and the previous pitch. Scary climbing it was and a bit of a shock.
So be well prepared and confident and consider backing of if weather turns unpleasant. The polished rock can feel much harder when it gets cold and damp. These multi-pitch mountain routes can be very different in character from low single pitch crags - the Peaks for example. I'm sure you know this though.
Hope you have a good day.
Maybe it is that easy. But surely it (and the pitch below) are impressive at the grade. Sobering to read the sample of epics above.
> Maybe it is that easy. But surely it (and the pitch below) are impressive at the grade. Sobering to read the sample of epics above.
Sobering? You must be kidding.
Horrifying maybe; but sobering, not at all.
Taking a haul bag to lower off the body parts seems much more self-reliant and in the spirit of things than what appears to be happening and includes, let's not forget, calling the police when one overhears the neighbours having a row.
Memory is that the pitches above the Knight's Move (i.e the Grooved Arete itself) are better and harder and more exposed. Certainly I don't remember much of interest below the KM.
Woops, was it the pitch above? All a bit of a blur really. Like life itself.
Probably was. I'm sure the next pitch above the KM is the best on the route. I've just looked back at my Aug 4th, 1968, logbook entry, which confirms this.
... which read (after dismissing the first 300 feet as 'crap') ... 'Neither or us noticed the famous Knight's move. The next pitch is really enjoyable either in the groove (G) or, better, the "sensational" arete (J), and leads to a very nice stance. The climb finishes up the back of Terrace Wall on wonderful rock (J).'
That sounds like it. I was soloing, so obviously didn't want the sensational arête to get too sensational.
As you say, it's a bit of a blur really. Because about a decade later (late 70s) I went back and did things like Belle Vue Bastion and Munich Climb, but it's almost all blurred together. Thank goodness I kept a logbook, because I wouldn't be able to remember one hundredth of the facts.
Thanks for that. Amazing how a "2a" route causes so much trouble eh? My experience is also that struggling parties are all too common and advice from people who would be cruising on VD terrain is often unhelpful.
Too few folk know the terrain well enough given the number of abseils after giving up on the Knights Move Slab. You can scramble easily off left here under Terrace Wall to the descent gully.
take a cheese sandwich and a can of cola
However, my biggest mistake was forgetting that the route finished on top of a big mountain.
We descended in the dark after my mighty petzl headtorch refused to work on a flat battery.
Only a single light shining from Ogwen Cottage and the fact that we knew the area quite well guided us down.
My mate had phoned the mountain rescue who told him to phone back in a few hours as we were 'experienced' climbers and would probably be O.K.
We made it to the road, albeit very slowly where I proceeded to fall down some steps in the car park - for some reason my girlfriend thought it was funny!
Such adventures are the 'experience' that now keeps us out of trouble but others are often not so lucky - fast and light is great until it all goes pear shaped - or maybe the mobile phone is all you need to get out of trouble these days?
Good story and I agree with the point(s) you are making.
This is the nub of it - surviving the learning curve. (And, sadly, some people don't.)
A somewhat depressing thought and, I'd argue, going about things the wrong way. It's "the 'experience' that now keeps us out of trouble" which proves the value of, "serving your apprenticeship," as Ken Wilson used to term it. Otherwise... risking your life on the vagaries of getting a mobile phone signal? That, for me, would be a really bad bet.
Sorry if that's happened to you but I'm sure *everyone* involved in any of those rescues would prefer they happened as they did rather than being left to get out of hand to the point where body bags are required.
Alternatively, a concerned bystander calls police to inform MR (standard practice in the uk, no?) of a developing situation from another perspective. Exasperated team member files a concise report presenting the facts in a slightly critical tone.
Well thanks everyone for all the mostly encouraging advice.
We didn't go for it in the end. We did link together Sub Cneifion Rib and Cneifion Arete for one mountain day, and had another afternoon on Flying Buttress which was wonderfully exposed but not all that difficult. I think we'd want to get a couple of multi pitch severes in before we attempt a route of that length so we know we can handle everything it might throw our way.
Well done -sounds like you had a good time. Before tackling GA get to know the layout of Tryfan and do one of the easier Pinnacle Rib routes. Thompsons chimney (severe) is a final pitch for these routes which can be avoided left or right by careful scrambling. Also get to know the North ridge as a descent route. Take every opportunity to practice fast slick rope work in the meantime. Regard yourself as an apprentice learning your craft and you will have great days on Tryfan.
Sub-Cneifion Rib is 6 guidebook pitches, and if you pitched it all then Cneifion Arete is probably 4. Grooved Arete is 8.
Cneifion Arete is basically an easy scramble after pitch 1 shouldn't take long to do.
I know, I was just suggesting that if they can do 10 pitches plus some walking, then doing 8 pitches shouldn't be much different.
Also, I found the climbing on Sub Cneifion Rib to be harder than anything on Grooved Arete.
I guess though it does give them an easy chance to bail after doing Sub Cneifion Rib if they don't have enough time.
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