/ Best guidebook for Gogarth South Stack

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Big Lee - on 30 Jul 2013
Hoping to make my first visit to Gogarth in the coming weeks. Have the Ground Up Gogarth North guide but Gogarth South looks a better introduction. Which is the best guidebook for the South? I'm reluctant to buy the Ground Up North Wales guide as have many of the definitive CC goods for North Wales, which makes the book poor value. The CC guide is cheap but looks a bit ancient but is it enough? Or am I at risk of ab'ing into the wrong route or ending up on a sandbag with it? Any preferences? Any online resources that I've missed?

Cheers,
Lee
Coel Hellier - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

I think you've covered the options, ancient CC guide, future Ground Up guide, or the Ground Up selective.

I'm not sure that Gogarth South is a better intro, though, I'd have thought it was generally scarier than Gogarth North.
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

I haven't seen the old CC guide, but I would advise against introducing yourself to big G without the photo-topos and current info of a recent guidebook.

I think you're likely to become very fond of Gogarth, and would get Gogarth North and start there. Upper Tier is a great place to start, and Main Cliff is of course absolutely awesome. In fact I think that if you're up for a full-bodied Gogarth experience at an amenable grade, then Scavenger is absolutely perfect. Has to be a contender for the best HVS anywhere. Watch the tides, don't fall off the sea-level traverse while racked up, don't set off up an E5 by mistake, and you'll have a ball!
Calder - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Big Lee)
>
> I haven't seen the old CC guide, but I would advise against introducing yourself to big G without the photo-topos and current info of a recent guidebook.
>
> I think you're likely to become very fond of Gogarth, and would get Gogarth North and start there. Upper Tier is a great place to start, and Main Cliff is of course absolutely awesome. In fact I think that if you're up for a full-bodied Gogarth experience at an amenable grade, then Scavenger is absolutely perfect. Has to be a contender for the best HVS anywhere. Watch the tides, don't fall off the sea-level traverse while racked up, don't set off up an E5 by mistake, and you'll have a ball!

The old CC guide is kind of ace in its own way, but definitely dated. The photo-topos that Ground Up have done are far far better.

I'd second the suggestion of Scavenger - challenging and very excellent. I mistimed the waves on the sea-level traverse and got wet legs and feet, and it's not like I wasn't already intimidated! Yeah, it's proper Gogarth.
kevin stephens - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Big Lee: the current (old) CC guide is cheapest and most comprehensive guide to Castell Helen and other south stack areas and certainly accurate enough (bearing in mind you already have Ground Up Gogarth North)
kevin stephens - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:
And Lighthouse ArÍte and Rap/Pell are great introductory routes without the scary top outs of many routes on Main Cliff and Upper Tier
Big Lee - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:

Yes was looking at this cliff for the first visit. Some decent VS climbs with the option of doing some HVS routes, rather than having to jump straight on an HVS. I just found this topo btw:

http://lifeinthevertical.co.uk/blogs/climbingcoach/classic-rock-routes/gogarth/castell-helen/

Wet paint description look decent enough as well (probably more words than the new Rockfax?). Thinking maybe sufficient for a visit without a guidebook?:

http://gogarth.wetpaint.com/page/castell+helen

Thanks for the info on the North stack btw.
stonemaster - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to kevin stephens:
> (In reply to kevin stephens)
> And Lighthouse ArÍte and Rap/Pell are great introductory routes without the scary top outs of many routes on Main Cliff and Upper Tier

That's as may be but the found the ab bowel loosening...:)
Bulls Crack - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Big Lee)
>
> I haven't seen the old CC guide, but I would advise against introducing yourself to big G without the photo-topos and current info of a recent guidebook.
>
How did we ever manage before? ;-)

Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Big Lee)
>
> I haven't seen the old CC guide, but I would advise against introducing yourself to big G without the photo-topos and current info of a recent guidebook.

As a bit of a pioneer of the area and a contributor to subsequent guidebooks, I don't see how you can go wrong in the easier grades with the old CC definitive guide. We didn't even have topos in the days I'm talking about or even a lot of knowledge of the routes, the CC definitive guide was a huge breakthrough guide, if you can get it cheaply it will easily do you up to E5 for a year or two.
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:

God knows. I suspect you wasted hours trying to find the routes.
Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> God knows. I suspect you wasted hours trying to find the routes.

No, we used patience and a talent for route finding.
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

I first went to Gogarth with a partner who knew the place. I've introduced others to the place. I think it's the kind of place that benefits from that approach.

As I say, I don't know what the old CC guide is like, but I do have the ones for Pembroke, and I would describe them as "interesting for historical purposes only".
Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Are you sure you are cut out to be a trad climber?
Andrew Wilson - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
Since when has being a trad climber meant you have to have a penchant for wasting time pacing around at the bottom of crags trying to figure out which route is which?
If there is up to date information, which is presented in a manner which enables me to get climbing the route I want quickly then I'm all for it. Progress, I think it's called ....
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Are you sure you are cut out to be a trad climber?

I think you're confusing plodding around low E-grade classics, which I am perfectly well cut out for thank you, with new routing on adventurous cliffs, which is not something I indulge in.

Trad climbing is now rather different to when you were putting these routes up. I did The Assassin not long ago, and it was right at the top of my ability. But I knew exactly where I was going and the crux pitch was well-chalked. I'd even seen a photo of a guy on the crux:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=68028

When I say "I've climbed The Assassin" it's a completely different thing to when you climbed it.

I get a huge buzz from the adventure of doing a route on Gogarth, but that adventure doesn't involve deciphering useless topos, route-finding up untouched choss and grass, not having any cams or any decent rockshoes, prussiking using my bootlaces or any of that. It just involves going out climbing with modern gear (including one of the excellent new guidebooks) and climbing the routes I want to do. It is much, much tamer than doing first ascents, and I don't deny that for a second.

But it is still trad climbing.
Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Ok, it's still trad climbing, but sadly from my point of view the adventure aspect of it seems to have been lost. I really can't understand why if you need it all cut and dried you just don't stick to sport climbing. Doing the trad classics with such a huge amount of beta that otherwise you won't set foot on them just seems a mockery of all we used to understand as 'trad'.
Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Andrew Wilson:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
Progress, I think it's called ....

Maybe it is, but it's not progress for the best of the sport, at least I don't think it is.
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Ok, it's still trad climbing, but sadly from my point of view the adventure aspect of it seems to have been lost.

It's the passage of time. Thousands of people have now climbed these routes and plastered information about them all over the internet - that's just how it is. It would be perverse not to make use of the information.

> I really can't understand why if you need it all cut and dried you just don't stick to sport climbing.

Don't be so over-the-top. Sport climbing involves taking all the fun out climbing, not just the adventure ;)

But seriously, trad climbing, even its emasculated modern form with photo-topos and internet beta is still a wonderful, rich experience, regardless of whether you happen to think it's 'adventurous' or not. And if I wanted to do adventure climbing, I could do, I'd have to travel further and seek out more obscure places, but I could if I wanted to.

> the trad classics with such a huge amount of beta that otherwise you won't set foot on them just seems a mockery of all we used to understand as 'trad'.

It doesn't make a mockery of it, it's just that what were once adventurous routes have become classics, and classics for good reasons. They can still be bold, scary, thrilling routes, even if they're no longer cutting edge.

'Adventure' in climbing is a sliding scale from 0 in bouldering and sport where it's just about isolating the difficulty of the moves, to the other end new routing on choss a thousand miles from the nearest road. Classic UK trad is somewhere on that scale, and as an enthusiast for places like South Stack and as the person who can never find a partner for Carn Gowler, I don't really think I'm a particularly appropriate target for your moaning about how trad has gone to hell in a handcart.

Please could you direct your complaints towards someone who won't look further than Stanage, the Pass and Tremadoc in future.
Andrew Wilson - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
Your attitude saddens me. Such a revered name yet a complete dinosaur. Do you think budding young trad climbers will be encouraged by your spirit?
I for one wish to see trad climbing thrive (so as the routes I want to climb stay clean I'll admit).
Telling people they may as well not bother because they are not as good as you is a bit sad really isn't it.
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Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: Jon, I'm not directing any complaints at you, I just think it's sad that a great deal of the respondents on this forum just seem so completely unadventurous compared to what the norm was when I was coming into the sport, and in fact what it was like for the first 20 or 30 years.
Al Evans on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Andrew Wilson: Andrew I regard your comments as a bit sad, ok I'm a dinosaur but I love this sport and revere the modern greats of it. What I don't respect is the modern participants who fail to appreciate what has been given to them.
It's too much to even explain what it was like when huge crags were still undeveloped and we had to go and find the latest routes, or develop our own, but then to hear climbers winging about not having the latest topo is just so sad.
Jon Stewart - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Jon, I'm not directing any complaints at you, I just think it's sad that a great deal of the respondents on this forum just seem so completely unadventurous compared to what the norm was when I was coming into the sport, and in fact what it was like for the first 20 or 30 years.

It depends how you see it. For one thing, I think it's great that these routes are being climbed and have become classics. Another thing is that trad climbing has not really become sanitised - the UK has such strong traditions with regards to bolts and such that a great deal of the adventure which could have been lost has been preserved. No, things ain't what they used to be, but an awful lot of things are better. Being able to have this discussion over the internet for example...
Rick Graham on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I think Al means the 1977 Alec Sharp guide. I have started carrying that again after checking the modern grade and that the route has not fallen down.

Terse descriptions but usually all you need.
Bulls Crack - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> God knows. I suspect you wasted hours trying to find the routes.

Nope..and didn't have a boat either
ian caton on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

Personally I like the Pete Crew guide as well. Often different descriptions and tells you where the route went originally.

All the guides are great in their own way, Ground up is particularly good at getting you off the main cliff at the top. But the graded list is comical.

The skill, as it always was, is to distill the beta from the bull. It used to be in the pub, now its on the web.

mrchewy - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans: I can cheer you up a bit. A couple of months ago I went to do some HS route on Raven's Crag behind ODG in Langdale. No guidebook, no description, hadn't got a clue which buttress was Raven's but we did have a black and white photo of the starting point that I'd printed out.
We found it, onsighted it and logged it. No dramas but a bit more fun than usual.

I'm quite of the opinion that if we chucked guidebooks away, we'd all climb a bit harder because we'd do lines that really appealed and we'd all have bigger smiles on our faces.
Coel Hellier - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

> I just think it's sad that a great deal of the respondents on this forum just seem so completely
> unadventurous compared to what the norm was when I was coming into the sport, and in fact what it
> was like for the first 20 or 30 years.

Isn't that inevitable as climbing has grown in numbers? I suspect that the number of adventurous climbers back then was pretty small, and that there are just as many around today (now doing E6 to E9).

There would also, though, be an increasing number of climbers who are less adventurous, but who still get a lot of enjoyment and reward out of climbing medium grades in relative safety. These climbs were once cutting-edge adventure, but are now classics accessible to the middling climber, given advances in protection, walls, information, etc. In your day, Al, such climbers would have stuck to VDiffs.
Simon Caldwell - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to mrchewy:
> I'm quite of the opinion that if we chucked guidebooks away, we'd all climb a bit harder

I suspect that most climbers would just give in.
In reply to mrchewy:
> (
>
> I'm quite of the opinion that if we chucked guidebooks away, we'd all climb a bit harder because we'd do lines that really appealed and we'd all have bigger smiles on our faces.

Maybe - but how would you know?


Chris
Al Evans on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
In your day, Al, such climbers would have stuck to VDiffs.

That's not a relevant statement, I also started out on V Diffs, and found just as much challenge finding the route as when I moved onto harder routes or new routes. But neither on V Diffs or harder routes did I or any other climbers of the day expected to be spoon fed descriptions.
Al Evans on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to mrchewy)
> [...]
>
> I suspect that most climbers would just give in.

Sadly you might be right, but at least it would cut down on overcrowding and the really keen climbers could just get on with it.
Postmanpat on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) Jon, I'm not directing any complaints at you, I just think it's sad that a great deal of the respondents on this forum just seem so completely unadventurous compared to what the norm was when I was coming into the sport, and in fact what it was like for the first 20 or 30 years.
>
Al, I think you are are overestimating the adventurousness of most climbers 40 years ago. You were moving in the elite crowd.

One reason most people were climbing lower grades was because most of the time they didn't want the "adventure" of pushing to their technical limits combined with with a lack of clarity about where the route went and the possibility of a long fall on clunky old gear if it went pear shaped.

Jon Stewart - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Toreador)
> [...]
>
> Sadly you might be right, but at least it would cut down on overcrowding and the really keen climbers could just get on with it.

I had been led to believe that the problem was trad climbing not being popular enough, not overcrowding (except at honeypots like Stanage). In fact, I don't believe there is a problem in either direction, it's just that people like to complain, regardless of whether anything's the matter.

As for "spoonfeeding descriptions" it's just that guidebooks have got about 10 times better in the last 10 years. Sometimes I go out with an old guide and it doesn't change my experience of the climbing one bit, but it usually takes me longer to find the route, trying to identify vague features off a hand-drawn topo. That's it. It doesn't add to the adventure, it's just a bit boring, and I don't have a nice book read at home and get inspired by.
Calder - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The funny thing with the old guide is that as you get a few routes done on a particular bit of cliff, the topo sort of makes more sense. It's sort of like colouring it in (I've still a lot of colouring in to do, admittedly).

I do like it though, it's got something about it which seems to fit well with the whole Gogarth feel. And mine's personalised with my thumbprints all over it in blood.

But then, yeah, topo's have come on a long way since 1991 or whenever it was - and guides will move with the times, they have to don't they! And anyway, I reckon Gogarth has enough about it to still offer up a good hearty dose of adventure. Especially to a scaredy cat like me.
Offwidth - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The early guides often tell you exactly how to do the crux. By Al's time the situation had almost reversed with too much information lacking to maximise adventure and some misinformation (grades esp). I think we have a happy medium now.
Jon Stewart - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Calder:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)

> And anyway, I reckon Gogarth has enough about it to still offer up a good hearty dose of adventure. Especially to a scaredy cat like me.

God yeah. While I wouldn't pretend for a second that the routes I do at Gogarth are 'adventurous' in the grand scheme, for me personally, they are deeply challenging (even if I go against all traditional ethics by taking a decent guidebook and checking the tides before taking all my modern gear down with me). Routes like Flytrap (complete with sandbag grade, inaccurate guidebook description and abysmal conditions), Creeping Lemma, the vertical sandpit of Red Wall, Quartz Icicle/Concrete Chimney escape with howling gale and impending nightfall, will all be remembered as 'adventures' whether or not they meet the standards set by those whose experience of the routes was obviously far more adventurous, and took far more commitment, judgement, skill and courage than a comparatively sanitised ascent these days.

Every time I scramble down to Upper Tier and Main Cliff, I always think of what it must have been like on the first ascents. Just getting to the routes without the path must have been terrifying, and the forcing a new line up that mighty cliff without knowing what you'd encounter deserves tremendous respect. The classic routes that have been created, now accessible to the enthusiastic and reasonably experienced climber, are fantastic contributions to the sport. I just can't see anything to complain about!
wynaptomos - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart: I agree with you about the adventure level still on offer at Gogarth however your comments earlier in the thread about the old CC guides demonstrate some ignorance. I did most of my Gogarth climbing during the 80's and 90's using these guides and you may be surprised to know that we rarely had any issues with the descriptions. If I go there now I will still use the same guide as there is no need for me to buy a new one given the level I climb at nowadays. That's not to say I don't value the newer guides - I have the latest Llanberis and Tremadog guides and while I find the topo approach useful, I don't see a great deal of difference in the time taken to find/work out routes compared to the old guides.
Jon Stewart - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to wynaptomos:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart) I agree with you about the adventure level still on offer at Gogarth however your comments earlier in the thread about the old CC guides demonstrate some ignorance.

My comments were a little bit tongue-in-cheek, as I've only every climbed at Gogarth with the Ground Up guides. I just know that the old CC guides to Pembroke offer pretty much no help at all in finding the routes and I'm glad that things have progressed.
Calder - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I think the old CC Pembroke guide is another level of vague and ambiguous and difficult to use when compared to the Gogarth one, which is pretty adequate.

Like Wynaptomos I haven't bough a new guide, just used a mates. The pictures are definitely more inspiring, other than that the Ground Up guides just offers a more slick guidebook. ie. A modern one. But I haven't noticed much of a difference in experience because of a full colour, clear, topo. In fact when we did Gogarth last year we took the CC one down with us because it fit in our pockets better.
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Big Lee - on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to Calder:

Cheers, for the feedback. I might get the CC guide on the cheap then for the South stack.

Btw I could always do with a few more partners for Dover this coming Autumn if anybody is up for some proper adventure :-)

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