/ Slanting Slab
Now I have virtually zero experience of aid climbing, but I have an idea, based on a rather stressful ascent of Benny, that I might be quite rubbish at it. And I once looked up at the eaves of SS, in about 1983, and they looked dripping, loose, uninviting and altogether the sort of place where pegs might rot very quickly.
And I can't say I find this:-
terribly encouraging either.
I'll be sending my friend up first, of course, so to a certain extent if the pegs come out that's his lookout, but even so.
So how bad is it? Might it be the sort of thing a hamfisted punter might be able to get his arse up without too much in the way of mad aid skillz? Or should I make my excuses? I'd like to oblige my friend, but there are limits.
Alternatively, is there any way of outflanking this thing? I know you can now do a free start to Mynedd, but I'm uncertain of the geography - would that work for SS? I know you can climb the initial overhang of SS itself free, but let's say we rule that out.
Of course, with any luck Cloggy will be shrouded in driving rain for the whole of my friend's visit, but I want to be prepared in case of an Indian summer.
How it was in 1979......
I did it back in (I think) '99, so don't know if the peg situation has changed, but assuming it hasn't I remember my own shenanigans (leading the first pitch) very well.
Firstly, I was an E2 leader at best but free-climbing it looked utterly out of the question to me - all the holds seemed to be dubious undercut flakes that looked liked they'd snap off at the drop of a hat. However, I didn't use any etriers or anything specialist - just a couple of slings.
Second, my mate was going to lead it but couldn't see a way to get from the first spike (reassuringly bomber) to the peg out on the lip of the overhang. The reason for this is that the peg halfway between them (in the underside of the roof) is desperately hard to spot - it's rusted to the same colour as the rock, and it is (or was) tiny. Anyway, it was there, and by leaning out on the sling round the spike I could just clip one rope and my two slings in. However, it looked horrible, and if it goes while you’re hanging on it you'll swing back into the base of spike in a very painful manner and probably break something. So rather than launch across on it I climbed down to the terrace (which I'm sure you'll know is an evil carpet of huge unstable jagged boulders, just to give extra piece of mind...) stood underneath the peg and jumped up and down doing pull-ups on the rope till I was satisfied. Once that was done, I went back up to the spike, launched across (all artificially you understand - didn't touch rock at all) and clipped the peg, and using my foot slings was then able to clip the peg on the lip with the other rope. On reflection, if you were feeling very nervous, you could then aid back to the ground and repeat the performance, but as the 2nd one looked a bit better I just swung across to it.
I then found the transition back to free-climbing the scariest bit (there used to be a wire placement, but it's blocked up by the un-clippable remains of an in-situ wire). You've then (from memory) got about 20-30 feet or so of slab-climbing which wasn't very hard (4c-5a-ish?) but where you are more-or-less soloing (unless you have great faith in the peg on the lip) before you get your first gear.
Can't remember much about the rest of it, but don't think any of it was very hard - I'm not sure there's actually a 5b move on it. Rich Mayfield's comment on the logbook is revealing!
I have the remains of one of Don Whillans' pegs from it if that's any help?
I was camping at the crag in July 1983 when the first free ascent was made (at least what the guidebook has as the first free ascent), by a chap called Ian Carr - I remember chatting to him by our tent, very awestruck. This was within a day or two of Jerry doing Master's Wall.
Mike L - yeah, that's about the way it looked to me a couple of years ago! i think I might start preparing my excuses.....
You might be right, but all I will say is that was my partner's verdict when I did it (in fact, come to think of it, both of them - did it as a three). He could see the obvious peg at the lip of the overhang (which had tat on it) and couldn't work out a way of getting from the spike to there despite looking for a few minutes, convinced that the only way was to free climb out to the peg on the lip. The other peg (driven upwards into the roof, half way between the spike and the peg on the lip) was astonishingly hard to spot for some reason. Of course it may have gone in the intervening period, but if it did it presumably had someone attached to it at the time, and I'm rather surprised not to have heard about it - it would have hurt!
Actually, I dimly recollect what you describe from 1983 - being able to see one peg and then not seeing another for a long time.
Still, I don't fancy hanging the Cox arse off a peg which was rusted to the colour of the rock already in 1999 and has been in a drainage channel ever since. Excuses it is - unless Mark K is right about these cams.
No worries about that - fortunately my friend has decided on the Puerile Ticker version of Hard Rock.
Mark - I'll look in my old Cloggy guide for the dates. This conversation would have been on the Wednesday or Thursday of the week Jerry did Master's Wall. I remember it quite well - the chap had also done Curving Arete, which impressed me as it looked desperate from Vember, and he was the first person I heard call protection 'gear'.
I only think the chap was Ian Carr because I saw in the next guide he'd made the FFA of Slanting Slab and associated the times. Maybe it was you - were you camping up there? We were some way on the far side of the lake from the crag, in an orange tent, and this conversation was in the evening outside that, I think.
Is this the Ian Carr who chairs the BMC guidebook committee? You could try contacting him there. I ran into him at Curbar last weekend, as it happens.
Well, my guidebook only says July, annoyingly. I'd forgotten that at that time I was using Paul W's Snowdonia Climbs, which then vanished in a house move.
It does say Ian C's ascent was 14th July, though, so I guess you lose out by a day. That was the same day as Jerry did MW (which would actually have been my guess), so maybe it was IC I spoke to. Or maybe I spoke to you the next day and IC just walked up on the 14th and did it then.
Perhaps that's the more likely; it'd be a bit strange if you were both camped up there at the same time and didn't notice each other do the route. But I guess it's a big cliff.
What was Jack Soper's resonant comment? Something like, "You could stand with your back to it and feel this vast, brooding presence behind you."
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