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Craig y MerchedMeirionydd, WALES
Climbs 85 – Rocktype Gritstone – Altitude 311m a.s.l – Faces SW
The valley's honeypot, Rhino's Buttress, is grossly overdeveloped with a route virtually every 2-3 metres. 16(!) new routes have been claimed on this small crag since the last guide. Even though it is quite scruffy and a long way from being the best or most accessible crag in the Rhinogydd, this little buttress is (inexplicably) a very popular venue, possibly the most popular of all Rhinogydd crags.
Nearby is the far less visited Three Pillar Crag, which is very worthwhile and deserves far greater popularity. Similarly, the whole of Upper Craig y Merched is unfairly neglected; the rock is excellent and its collection of crags are well worth a visit. Those prepared to walk on for another 20-25 minutes from Rhino's Buttress will not be disappointed.
There has been a lot of development here since the 2002 guide, with loads of new routes on many brand new crags as well as on existing crags. All these new routes are listed and described below. Development continues and details will be updated as and when. Climbers are requested to carefully check the line of any future 'new' route with the information provided here. One new line on Rhino's Buttress has been claimed by 6 different parties while a few other 'new' lines have very little new climbing when compared to existing climbs.
It should be noted that "Napoleonic Legacy" and "Pack Rat" were John 'Fritz' Sumnerís last contributions to the area before his untimely death in February 2004. Sumner was the undoubted modern pioneer of Mid Wales climbing, having enthusiastically been at the forefront of development of the area's crags over a 40 year period. Since then, the pioneering's been mainly undertaken by local Terry Taylor, a prolific Rhinog activist; many of the new routes at Craig y Merched are his.
Approach from the A496 as described in the Meirionnydd guide. Then from the parking area, where two tracks fork, take the right-hand one past Cwm Mynach Canol cottage to a gate. Continue following the track through an open area until the old Blaen Cwm Mynach farmhouse is ahead on the left. Now turn right onto another track which leads via a stile into the forest. In 100 metres, turn right at the first forest road junction and then, almost immediately take a smaller and less well-used forest track which strikes off to the left. Follow this track for about 100 metres until it turns right to rise gently uphill. Then, from the outside of the bend, take a faint path (difficult to spot if overgrown by bracken) leftwards through trees which weaves steeply up the hillside through an area of young deciduous trees. Craig y Merchedís Rhinoís Buttress is now clearly visible on the hillside above. The faint path veers down and left to cross a stone wall to more open ground. The hard-to-follow path now skirts the left side of the open ground, ascending past a small stand of immature ash trees and crosses boggy ground to reach the scree at the base of the crag. Approach time is about 40-45 minutes from the parking area, assuming there is no route finding difficulty. In particular note that the final section of path is very faint and becoming increasingly (and rapidly) overgrown and is therefore quite difficult to actually follow on the ground.
(Note: This approach will NOT get you to South Buttress, Explorers' Wall and Bear Rock as these are located some distance to the south.)
For the Upper Craig y Merched crags, continue up the descent path past the left (north) end of Rhino's Buttress to reach a stone wall. (Going up the broad depression right of the buttress gets you to the same place, but there's no path.) From the stone wall, if you are keen eyed or lucky, you'll hopefully find a reasonable path that will quickly lead you to Upper Craig y Merched's Central Wall. For all other crags in this area, approach directly over the usual Rhinogydd Three Amigos - heather, bilberry bushes and hidden boulders. In summer, you may also add a liberal dose of bracken to the mix. Just keep repeating the Mynach Mantra: "It'll be worth it when I get there!" Oh happy days ....
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