/ Fail on Main Wall, Cryn Las
Now I know 'real men' climb wet rock in the Pass... So should I just be trying harder?
I can't comment on the wet, but the grade felt about right when I did it in the dry. I'd say it's one of the best HS's I've done.
Pop back when it's dry and give it a go in good conditions, it's worth it!
I'm very unlikely to gain a reputation as a 'real man' and such I avoid climbing wet rock because it's no fun and it makes you fall off.
Have another go in a good dry spell.
I first climbed Main Wall in about 1965. It had been raining and the second pitch was still wet as well as being occupied by a second who moved up a bit, went down a bit, moved up a bit... I took off my Masters (ancient rock boots) and led the groove to the left in woolly socks. The rest of the climb was drier but I stuck with the socks but over the Masters. Naturally we were using hemp waistlines, cabled rope, and slings with the odd bored out machine nut on them. At the top we screamed and shouted and I buried my ruined socks under the turf before we raced each other down to the pub!
I do not think that you should be 'trying harder'. Much better to retreat if you are not comfortable. Main Wall is not going anywhere. I have done it twice since, once in winter conditions, but it is satisfying however you do it. IMHO climbers should gain experience to be able to master wet conditions but it is more important that you have fun!
Return and enjoy!
It happens. Lots of good climbers have been spanked by wet Hard Severes over the years. At least you were out there giving it a go, in genuinely wet conditions I tend to head for the pub!
But do get back on it when the weather is dry, because it's a great route and the top pitch is one of the best HS pitches in Wales.
It was a threat I couldn't ignore so we got the gear together and trooped off up the pass which was deserted. Al chose Trilon and fearlessly led the big rib pitch in the monsoon weather. I don't know what it is graded now, but then it was VS 5a and I remember thinking as I followed it, soaked to the skin, that it was not a great choice as a waterfall to climb.
Al was an unknown young lad then, but on that day I realised he was going to be one of the greats of UK mountaineering!
Sorry to hear you fell, and glad you're OK. "Trying harder"? No, I don't think so.
Definitely go back, it's a great route. Sometimes you just have bad days. The first time I did Direct on the Mot, I found the second pitch really hard (think it's 4b currently). However, did the rest of it easily. On subsequent ascents I have always found the second pitch straightforward and can't work out why I found it so hard the first time!
Add water to a route and the grade changes unpredictably. A wet jug is still mostly a jug, a slab might be impossible. I remember doing Great Slab Route (Diff) on chair ladder in a force 8. Desperate.
... So should I just be trying harder?
Main Wall is nails in the rain. The traverse right on the second pitch particularly so. The crux pitch, with the step off the pinnacle, felt much easier than pitch 2 when I did it one horrible, rainy day.
When I did it, it was dry and I still found it hard and terrifying. Tophet Wall a few weeks later felt much easier.
Best multi-pitch HS I've done.
I'm finding this thread curious; from what I remember the first two pitches of MW are ambling up easy rock before the main action begins. Perhaps you meant the first and second pitches of the main action.
> I'm finding this thread curious; from what I remember the first two pitches of MW are ambling up easy rock before the main action begins. Perhaps you meant the first and second pitches of the main action.
Exactly what I remember: it was just like a steep, serious rather dirty scramble for c.200/300 ft - but then I remember the ramp pitch as being very soon after that (it was a long time ago though!)
I've now looked in the guidebook we used in 1969, and see that after the scramble there are two short pitches of 30ft, then there's an 80ft pitch going up to the right. That's the pitch I remember where the meat of the route really starts.
Did it ever dawn on you that routes feel different to those climbing closer to their limit? The first two pitches are easier but not easy, especially if wet.
The question was: What are now referred to as the first two pitches? It is not clear.
Really? They are listed pretty clearly in the books.
> Did it ever dawn on you that routes feel different to those climbing closer to their limit? The first two pitches are easier but not easy, especially if wet.
Sure - fail on whatever you like, see if I care.
My point though was that most contributors to this thread seemed to be assuming the OP was referring to pitches which according to my recollection were pitches four to six, or thereabouts, when the OP referred to the first two pitches.
It actually isn't that obvious where the scrambling has finished and the route description starts
Not my recall. After the scramble there were two old pitches linked into one in all the modern guides then the oft damp ramp pitch is which is now pitch 2.
I see that the Paul Willams guidebook runs the first two pitches of early guidebook I had together, so that what is now (well presumably still remains) pitch 2 is what I referred to above as the ramp pitch, which I remember clearly as being the first difficult pitch.
Maybe its just me that got confused where the start was. I realised as I got higher that I'd roped up too low down.
I'd have to look in the guide then. I recalled the ramp as being a lot further along than pitch two, but maybe nowadays what used to be pitch one is a scramble and pitches two and three are done together, or something. Or maybe I'm just getting old and misremembering. The ramp is definitely the hardest pitch and if that was the pitch in question I'm not surprised the OP had trouble in the wet.
As you were.
Again you were a good climber when you did this. In wet conditions, a HS leader might have problems on pitch 1 (the modern version) and, like Graham, quite a few might decide to rope up for the scramble approach.
"I'd have to look in the guide then" ... usually a good idea. I like what you did though on the implication of my lead ability (I still fail on lead on the odd Severe... Monolith Crack and that brutal hanging chimney at Bowden most recently ;-)
> I'd have to look in the guide then. I recalled the ramp as being a lot further along than pitch two, but maybe nowadays what used to be pitch one is a scramble and pitches two and three are done together, or something.
Me too. I don't remember any scrambling but that the 'ramp' was probably the trickiest bit (although not for the pair in front of us who went too far left from the next belay, while we waited for ages before deciding the route went up almost above us).
I climbed it a while ago when VS was my limit. Started in dry weather and yes, pitches 1 and 2 were an easy warm up. It started spitting on pitch 3. By 4 (crux I think, anyway, whichever pitch has that weird reach around to the left) it was raining. Pitches 5 and 6 were climbed in torrential rain and a thunderstorm. Great climbing, great memories.
Thats the wonder of modern guides like the Ground Up or Rockfax Selective or the definitive CC Llanberis... they have colour pictures that work better than black and white memories based on changed information. The scramble in from the left to the base of the route is clearly described in all and the start of the route is obvious in the nice new pictures too. I'd add that all this info was even clear in my old Steve Ashton, Paul Williams and Llanberis guides that I used in the early 90's. Steve did split pitch 1 to better protect the exposed moves just below the normal pitch 1 pulpit belay (better climbers wont notice the exposure but on a wet day an HS leader will).
Unless I'm missing something (possible, I'd been drinking when I read the guide last night) the Paul Williams guide doesn't mention anything about scrambling in the route description, giving the first pitch 4a and the 2nd 4b. That is to say, it may mention it on the approach description though. I'm particularly crap at finding routes, and then finding the correct way up following guides, and I don't recall any particular issues with Main Wall.
Either way, threads like this always seem to turn into a willy waving exercise, and detract from the fact that regardless of the grade you climb at the route is both a classic and is really rather good. The OP should get back on it when it's not saturated and enjoy a quality day out.
To be clear I meant its also very clear where you start in my old Paul Williams guide even if it doesn't describe this or many other minor scarmbles to get to the base of a route (ie the scambling bit below gets you to the point where your are "on a ledge below the L-hand side of the buttress, down and to the L of a triangular oiverhang with a grass ledge above").
I totally agree about the outstanding quality of this route, a 4-star if there was vere one, but I wanted the advice to be clear, rather than relying on old memories of better climbers using previous generation guidebooks. I apologise if that came over as willy waving, as its just the editor and lower grade sympathist coming out in me.
For clarity it was the 'rightward gangway' where I became unhinged. And we definitely encountered a 'scramble' on the way up to the wall.
Ah! This rings a bell - I thought the 'scrambling' bit was just the normal approach to the start of a climb. I'll have to have a look at a guide.
> For clarity it was the 'rightward gangway' where I became unhinged. And we definitely encountered a 'scramble' on the way up to the wall.
Interesting that what you are (now) saying ties up exactly with my memories - from 44 years ago - and not with what many ohers have been saying on this thread.
> The question was: What are now referred to as the first two pitches? It is not clear.
I've now looked at a guidebook(s). Both the 1955 guide and North Wales Rock mention the scramble, but both have the 1st pitch starting after this in the same place. The tricky section that the OP encountered is the 2nd pitch (as we thought) - or the 3rd in the 1955 guide.
Interestingly, one of the guides mentions starting up the arÍte on the next pitch, the other up a corner. I think I know which is correct.
Judging by the state of my 1993 Paul Williams Llanberis guide on the Main Wall page, you and I did this using that guide. I wouldn't put it past us to have carried a whole library of alternatives though.
> Judging by the state of my 1993 Paul Williams Llanberis guide on the Main Wall page, you and I did this using that guide. I wouldn't put it past us to have carried a whole library of alternatives though.
The 'Book of Doom'? It's likely we had that, plus others that I didn't mention above.
You went up the wrong ramp.
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