/ Gogarth grip

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Pierre Maxted - on 16 Sep 2012
Enjoyed my first visit to Gogarth yesterday, seconded a couple of excellent climbs (Dde, Wen). I was climbing with someone who was climbing these slabs before I was born (no exaggeration), I've abseiled into sea cliffs loads of times before, the sea was quite calm yesterday, but I was _gripped_ standing on the belay ledges. While I was climbing I was fine, and I'm normally never happier than when I am tied-in to some solid anchors half way up a cliff enjoying the view. At least one of the guys in the party next to us also seemed to be taking deep breaths and trying to calm himself down, same as me, and he was no beginner either.
What is it about Wen Zawn that was making me so nervous? Do all the cliffs at Gogarth have this effect on people? Any other cliffs with a mysterious grip factor?
-Pierre
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted:

Funny one, the Gogarth grip.

I've climbed at Gogarth a fair bit, and have done quite a lot of the classics round about E2, but had never been into Wen Zawn until a couple of weeks ago. Me and a mate abbed in, noting that it was a bit breezy, to do Quartz Icicle. After a slightly botched ab, attempting to avoid dropping a rope onto a party on Dream, my mate (who was a little unnerved now) spent a while scratching around for a belay he trusted. I eventually came down to find that the wind was howling across the slab. The Zawn looked incredible but menacing, and the sea was crashing beneath us. The climbers on Dream were yelling at each other through the gale and the atmosphere was somewhat tense. What followed, as I led the nearly 50m (due to a rather funny belay position) of delicate slab climbing with tiny fiddly wires was an incredibly drawn-out and terrifying experience. I could hardly take one hand off the rock for a second before grabbing back onto the same hold as the wind knocked me off balance. When I finally managed to get wires in, I didn't trust them at all, and moves felt far too hard be executed without a bomber safety net close by - but a small wire somewhere down and over to my right would have to do. With no ability to concentrate on the task in hand as the wind blasted into my ears, I inched upwards over the course of at least an hour and a half, eventually getting to the hanging belay in a state of abject terror. My mate managed to second it quickly enough and we agreed the easiest way out was all we could do. He led out on Concrete Chimney as the wind turned my neatly stacked ropes into a colossal clusterf*ck, slowing things down further. Thankfully the pitch went fine as I watched the sun set while everything became damp from the sea spray and freezing cold. The climbing on Concrete Chimney was superb and spectacular, but in no way was it enjoyable. Our near-epic ended without incident, but the experience has taught me to respect Wen Zawn every bit as much as the South Stack crags more well-known for their loose rock and serious nature.

Jonny2vests - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted:
> Any other cliffs with a mysterious grip factor?

Carn Gowla. Wen Zawn on acid.
Jonny2vests - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to jonny2vests:

Llyn Peninsula. Carn Gowla on bath salts.
abseil on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted:
> ...Any other cliffs with a mysterious grip factor?

Cloggy, well-known fact.

I really enjoyed climbing in Wen zawn but I felt wary there (more than on the main cliff) and was a bit more cautious than usual.
The Ivanator - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart: Well told, still looking forward to my Gogarth initiation. Have had a few "interesting" sea cliff experiences, backing off Stennis Arete in February as even on the high traverse approach option massive waves were breaking up onto the route. Got royally soaked by a freak wave when doing Right Angle at Gurnard's Head (really felt the weight of the water slam me into the wall, but grimly held on) - it's a cliff with an intimidation factor out of all proportion to its modest size.
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Pierre Maxted)
> [...]
>
> Carn Gowla. Wen Zawn on acid.

Another year has gone by without me doing Mercury Direct. No one I climb with wants to go down there, for some reason...
In reply to Jon Stewart: Ah, the escape option up Concrete Chimney - I remember it well. A lot of people probably end up doing that...?
pasbury on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

This sounds very similar to my DOWH experience. I did it in a tremendous gale which blew spray in great sheets upwards into the zawn and out the top.
The scramble down to the higher start was gripping enough. I then needed a wee which was cast in a vortex all over me. The traverse across the slab was a numb, soaked gripfest with communication impossible. By comparison the pith after concrete chimney was something of a respite from the wind & upward spray.
Totally memorable and I really need to go back again to do Wen, Britomartis & Concrete chimney.

Of course Moustrap Zawn & Yellow Walls are far more scary!
robw007 - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Excellent description - it always feels harder than it should be that pitch!

I remember abbing in to do TRex with a mate. Luckily he would lead the hard pitches and I was only along for the ride - but what a ride! We went round to the promontory to view the route - both a sensible and stupid thing to do - sensible to ensure no one is on the route, route conditions etc, stupid as it makes wen slab look super steep from front view and begins to freak you out before youve even got on it.

The weather was poor - very windy, light drizzle but my mate decided to go for it anyway. Abbing in I seriously thought I was abbing to my doom! The first pitch was awful - not my thing at all. The spray being whipped up by the sea mixed with the drizzle so everything was constantly covered in a soapy wet sheen. I managed to convince him to belay in the corner so I got a lead on the 4b pitch across the wall on jugs to the stance on the hanging slab. This went ok - very easy climbing in an amazing position. I got clipped in to an old rusty peg and backed it up with a couple of small wires.

As Jools led through and was battling with the awkward top pitch the wind was buffeting me about so badly that I had to weight the peg (something I had tried not to do due to its manky appearance) - low and behold as the krab twiested in the peg it promptly snapped off and dropped down to hang pathetically from my harness!

I obviously wanted to yell up to Jools what had happened but quickly thought better of it and so suffered in my own provate sphere of terror until Jools had topped out!

I have had loads of fantatstic days out on Gogarth since of course - it is one of our favouritye crags and although the weather can be worse there - especially the wind in Wen Zawn - it can also be much better than the Pass etc. We have climbed on Main Cliff in February half - term when its been 4 degrees back in the Peak.
stonemaster - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> As Jools led through and was battling with the awkward top pitch the wind was buffeting me about so badly that I had to weight the peg (something I had tried not to do due to its manky appearance) - low and behold as the krab twiested in the peg it promptly snapped off and dropped down to hang pathetically from my harness!
>
> I obviously wanted to yell up to Jools what had happened but quickly thought better of it and so suffered in my own provate sphere of terror until Jools had topped out!
>

Oops, just felt the pants turning brown reading that...brrr
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to pasbury:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> Of course Moustrap Zawn & Yellow Walls are far more scary!

I guess it depends a lot on conditions and expectations.

I haven't been down Mousetrap Zawn, but the day before Quartz Icicle, I'd been on Red Wall and found the fear-levels quite manageable. Not something I'm dying to repeat, but OK. Yellow Walls has always treated me quite well. I did the E1/2 thing on the left first, which was fine, the Moon (fine - becoming a personal cliche), and this year, Creeping Lemma which did manage to freak me out quite substantially. Mainly because the guidebook description is pretty misleading...easier than The Moon? How can this be, when you have to do the crux of The Moon in reverse, sandwiched between two sections of far harder and scarier climbing?! The crux of Moon is the respite on Lemma, a little bit of sensible climbing after the real crux (the 5b pitch!) and before the second crux and hideous finishing groove of choss and mud. Still an amazing route, which I'd give E3 5b (compared to the Moon's E1/2 5b).

Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)

> ...low and behold as the krab twiested in the peg it promptly snapped off and dropped down to hang pathetically from my harness!

Is it sick to laugh at this?! Cracking stuff. Sounds better than the peg protecting the crux of Flytrap (which is hard IMO) though... That was a gripper (the route, not the peg) like no other I have experienced. And there's nothing mysterious about the grip-factor there. It's piss-wet, it's 5c not 5b, it involves cutting loose with nothing but 100ft of space and cold water below, it's dark, the tide's cut off of the escape, and there's no ****ing gear anymore! Yeah maybe I'm being over-dramatic, but the last person I spoke to about Flytrap said that their mates ended up spending the night in there...
mrchewy - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart: If that was two weeks ago - I think we saw you both attached to a hanging belay just above Dream, with your ropes trailing down. We shouted across to you from the platform opposite as you seemed to be looking for a way out. Glad you made it out safe. I'd been on South stack all day, my first time at Gogarth... amazing!
Postmanpat on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to robw007)
> [...]
>
>
> Yeah maybe I'm being over-dramatic, but the last person I spoke to about Flytrap said that their mates ended up spending the night in there...

Maybe the clue is in the name :-)

Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to mrchewy:

Cheers, that could have been us, it was a couple of weeks ago - we certainly didn't hear anything through the wind. I don't think we were above Dream though, the Quartz Icicle belay seemed to be on the Dream traverse, just below the first of two chimneys. Anyway, next time I head down there it will be on a lovely warm, calm morning.
pasbury on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Hmmm, I always fancied Creeping Lemma - from your description it sounds like quite a handful.

I only ever did the Moon here and was in a state of high grip all the way - but then I'm far more at home on slabs so I should have known better. Obviously the big middle pitch is the main event but I found the last pitch to be no pushover.
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to pasbury: It's very similar to The Moon, but it's just got more hard bits, and it's much looser. When I did The Moon, I was expecting a horrorshow, but it was all quite sensible, following a line of nicely chalked solid holds. Not so on Lemma (also, someone had chalked up some really bad sequences, as if to take the piss).
climbingpixie - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted:

I've so far been quite lucky with weather and conditions at Gogarth and as yet haven't experienced true 'Gogarth grip' (touch wood) in Wen Zawn, Red Walls, Yellow Walls and Mousetrap Zawn. The closest I've gotten is, embarrassingly, at Castell Helen on my first ever trip to Gogarth when I managed to ab in without one of the half ropes and then throw one of my partner's cams into the sea!
robw007 - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Agree - The Moon would be a lower grade if it started off a field in the Peak - you just wouldnt want to fall off it.

CL is arguably better - more varied - have you tried it with the Sind P1?
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> CL is arguably better - more varied - have you tried it with the Sind P1?

Only with Sind P1. And I still thought it was loose and scary!
robw007 - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

You want to try Sind Ptwo!
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007: I bloody don't. Some guy was on it while I belayed my mate on CL p2, and he was having kittens. "Dusty shoulder udging"? You can keep it.
robw007 - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Yep - its grim - could be another whole story in itself but I dont want to remind myself of the terror!
robw007 - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted:

Just to get back on message we once picked up a couple of guys staggering back to the car park well after dark. We had been hanging around chatting and having a few cans when they suddenly stumbled out of the dark with that 'north wall' look on their faces.

'What happened to you guys' was the query. It transpired that it was the first time that they had been climbing on Gogarth - they had totally underestimated the experience! They led about E1 on 'normal' crags and had set off on a HVS on Main Cliff and got benighted. They had ended up climbing out using the beam from the light house! Spotting the moves on one rotation of the light - then moving up on the next rotation - etc etc!

Not sure if they ever went back!
Dave Ferguson - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to robw007:
> They had ended up climbing out using the beam from the light house! Spotting the moves on one rotation of the light - then moving up on the next rotation - etc etc!
>

All Gogarth aficionados will have been through that experience at least once!
AJM - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Another year has gone by without me doing Mercury Direct. No one I climb with wants to go down there, for some reason...

Tricky to find people for that sort of stuff isn't it...

If you remain stuck for people when it gets round to Mercury season next year (I suspect this year is out now) then drop me a line, I'll probably be having the same issue :)
Pagan - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Another year has gone by without me doing Mercury Direct. No one I climb with wants to go down there, for some reason...

Well if you will insist on climbing with drips like Oswald...

I don't know where you find your partners but if you still can't get anyone to do it with next year then I'm very keen to go back to Carn Gowla.
Jon Stewart - on 17 Sep 2012
In reply to Pagan & AJM: Great - thanks guys, might well take you up on that (next year).
aostaman - on 18 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted: I was there too (were you part of that party of three) and it was my first visit to Gogarth and we did Dde after you. Indeed someone took a photo of me, if they could send it to alandovey@yahoo.co.uk that would be great.

If you're looking for 'Grip Factor 4's', for my money you can't beat Carn Gowla (Dropping down into Supernatural to find the stance gone was a highlight), although the apparent biscuit factory feel of Wen gave a few added nerves as does the wind.

Abbing into Chair Ladder when big seas are running always seems to bring a heart flutter as well to my visitors.

ps Thanks for letting us use the ab rope.

alasdair19 on 18 Sep 2012
In reply to Pierre Maxted: I sympathise. I've climbed a lot there but still a yellow and red wall virgin.

Still not done the top pitch of quartz icicle.

Highlight of the year was doing mousetrap just like Dream it's a route that more then lives up to the hype. not convinced I've ever placed 4 runners and still not been convinced I can lower off safely if it all becomes too much....

took my old man along dream with a mate, he was fine with the climbing but despite our best efforts he was never convinced by the semi haning stances so got pumped holding on...

Mercury us amazing but I only went there with a carefuly selected rope gun. and a size 6 camalot for pitch one.
mike lawrence? - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to pasbury: I feel the need to defend Creeping Lemma! It was always a route i wanted to do, did it in a high degree of nervousness and found it hard but fair at E2, also i thought it was solid and well protected so defintely if you fancy give it a go, i went off route on Red Wall and that was truly scary! I found it easier than the moon but if you can do one then you'll be able to do the other. I took a photo on Creeping Lemma which i think is fab if you want some inspiration.

give it a go (but know how to prussic!)

mike
Al Evans on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to mikelawrence aka jonnienomates: I think it was the first ascenionist of Creeping Lemma, Alec Sharp, who wrote an only slightly tongue in cheek article about the first ascent of Creeping lemma called 'The hardest move in the world'. I can't remember where this article appeared and I don't have a copy, but it had a photo of Alec on the move as I remember. It made me approach it with much trepidation when I repeated it.
MHutch - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Ah, the escape option up Concrete Chimney - I remember it well. A lot of people probably end up doing that...?

I remember escaping up the actual 'concrete chimney' rather than the top pitch of the route. An unusual experience, probably best not repeated.
Iain Peters - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:

CC Journal Al, sometime in the 70s. It may have been archived on the CC website. If I remember correctly he also mentioned pulling off what he considered to be the crucial hold.
Chris Shorter - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> Alec Sharp, who wrote an only slightly tongue in cheek article about the first ascent of Creeping lemma called 'The hardest move in the world'

I think that was a reference to something on the first pitch of the Ordinary Route.

I remember Big Ron referred to Creeping Lemma as just "strolling along ledges" in a Crags article!

Iain Peters - on 23 Sep 2012
In reply to Chris Shorter:

Definitely Creeping Lemma. He also included an account of climbing Sind in the same piece. I think the FA of Ordinary Route got its own article.

As Al pointed out it the CL article was indeed tongue in cheek.
Brannock - on 24 Sep 2012
In reply to mikelawrence aka jonnienomates: Creeping Lemma is great, if slightly weird. My main memory is swinging down on the hollow sounding jug thinking I really should have placed some more gear. Anyway its a brilliant route.

Pregyl is good at a similar grade (maybe bit harder) to Creeping Lemma, the Moon on Yellow Walls.

Brannock

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