Last week we had an epic on Lliwedd whilst looking to climb the Classic Rock route; Avalanche Wall. The epic was completely of our own making, but thought it was worth posting on here so that simple mistakes can be learnt from, and also to see if any learned folk on here may have a clue at what we climbed instead?
Has anyone else had a rough time of it on Lliwedd?
My notes below.
"Not even sure if it was this route, but feel like I need to record something from the epic that ensued. We went looking for Avalanche Wall (of course we did, it's the only thing people come up here for isn't it?) and went wrong straight away when we chose the West Buttress and not the East Buttress. The Rockfax photo is taken from so far away that it just wasn't obvious, especially from below! (although admittedly having downloaded the crag on the app, we then saw that there was climbing on two buttresses) Having scrambled to where we thought the route started, we still didn't think it was obvious, but had been told not to expect much polish so didn't think this was too strange. We had walked under a rope hanging down most of the crag (anyone claiming it?) which told of us people had climbed in this area before. We followed what we thought was the first pitch and it all matched up, including finding some recent looking ab tat at the top of the pitch. The second pitch was really tricky and we thought we hadn't gone far enough right so I then scrambled up to meet a quartz band which again matched the description for Avalanche Wall. It wasn't until we had become properly committed on the wall (at pitch 5) that we realised we'd probably gone wrong. Vertical moss and veg was the norm interspersed with gearless loose ridges and we just wanted to get out of there! Nothing stable to ab off even when we did find ancient tat on occasion, there has been some epics on this face!! After 7 hrs non stop climbing we topped out on the western summit, and then went about trying to find where we'd gone wrong. It wasn't until we reached the eastern top that we saw the famous final slab pitch of Avalanche Wall, we'd gone so far wrong! So what did we climb, was it a route? I think we definitely climbed the first pitch of Bracket Gully before then heading rightwards onto West Ridge, the Severe grade certainly wasn't found. much scarier and harder. Some 4c moves in there for sure and more veg / moss then rock"
West Ridge of Bracket Gully (S)Bracket Gully (D) Y Lliwedd
I had a similar epic on Lliwedd as a 16 year old who was solid at VS on grit so how hard could a Vdiff be? I think it was Horned Crag we tried, 25 years ago now. Ended up all over the show. Topped out hours later cold and hungry. We found mixtures of choss and pretty solid climbing.
I was up there to do the same last week - I also was looking at the West Buttress first off, but after much deliberation realised which it was. Moved together for the first 8 pitches in under 90 minutes, then made the classic mistake of trying to follow the guide book description rather than taking the obvious line - ended up on a desperate rib of crumbly rock covered in lichen that I couldn’t down climb once I realised my mistake - 20metres of hard climbing on crud with no gear made me sweat fairly! Luckily we got back on track after that though. It’s been on my wish list since I started climbing, but i’m Very glad I waited until now so that experience was able to get me out of a nasty position.
Sounds horrid. We are both pretty experienced and have climbed up to E3, but I think it was up there with being the most scared I'd ever been on a route, mainly because the chance of a huge fall felt pretty imminent.
I'm keen to try and find the route properly one day, just need to erase that day from my mind haha.
I think the lack of a zoomed out photo definitely confuses things.
We kept seeing what we thought was polished rock, but I think it was just water worn channels. Some of the lichen from a distance looked exactly like chalk smudges on the rock as well! Another aspect to this crag that just invites epics :-P
Haha the “this looks polished” shouts bring back vivid memories.
I only climbed it a few times. I think only once did we ever start and finish a route we meant to on it.
Similar experience to me. My partner at the time was a pretty solid E2 climber - we didn't get off the ground. All the holds pointed the wrong way, no gear.....bla bla bla. We slunk away with our tails between our legs.
Years later I found the right start (bit hidden) with a couple of friends and had a fabulous day on Avalanche/Red Wall. Really brilliant route.
Soloed Avalanche Wall years ago, then backed off Red Wall and finished up Terminal Arete instead. Don't recall any major route finding difficulties using the black & white photo in the first Paul Williams guide, but the first pitch of Red Wall felt too scary & committing for me to solo at the time.
It's best to identify the start by looking at the face from a good distance. You should be able to see the small platform at the bottom of the face, which has a thin band of quartz running horizontally across the platform. The platform is only a few feet high, maybe 20ft or so.
Has anyone not had a rough time of it? Par for the course!
Yeah, done two routes, first not far into my climbing and it went OKish. Second time we did Horned Crag and romped up it. Its a fantastic crag if a little adventurous!
I tried to do the classic rock link up years ago as a party of three and it also turned into a bit of an epic. I think we were on the right buttress too but still ended up lost. I remember lots of digging with nut tool for placements half the day but rarely finding anything. That day the whole of Wales was enjoying glorious sunshine, meanwhile every midgy in Wales was enjoying us on shady Lliwedd. We resorted belaying with jumpers pulled up over our faces! The slow speed of our fairly inexperienced three combined with the midgy-induced psychosis didn't help. We decided to bail onto what we thought was a Diff gully but not entirely convinced we got that right either as I remember desperately grasping the roots of heather to get over some overhangs. We ended up moving together for a long way in the end but did manage to make the summit just in time for sunset. Certainly a type 2 fun kinda day!
I did the Avalanche/Red Wall/Longlands (S 4b) link-up three years ago and I think my UKC log says it all, although in my case the trouble was on the first pitch of Red Wall, or rather me NOT being on the first pitch of Red Wall. I was routinely climbing E3 at the time, I think I would have had potentially fatal problems if it had actually been at my level.
> Did it in 7 pitches in approach shoes. Lead p3, p4, which was from the second belay of Avalanche to the first belay of Red Wall above the terrace. Went into the wrong groove off the terrace, taking the one immediately to the left of where the route goes. Deathy 4b territory with no gear to speak of and no holds that were not at the very least hollow for 25m, HVS 4b sort of stupidity. Note to self, don’t go off route! The Rockfax topo and description leave something to be desired.
Lliwedd is a great place for type-2 fun.
We had no problems on Horned Crag or Avalanche (I think topos might even make things harder as route sense and the description is more important on such a big face). Red Wall first pitch is tricky and bold.... should be solid HS in my view (even by the right line), as should some bits above including the last pitch on Longlands (S 4b is really for a safe short crux on a single pitch). The whole cliff is to be avoided in damp conditions, except maybe Slanting Buttress, which is juggy, open and delightful and with the obvious SS quartz bands at the base, easy to locate.
Fast parties (or those put off by the dark looming face up close) might enjoy a pleasant route on Craig Aderyn.
Many thanks to the OP for posting. It might make you feel better to hear friends of mine climbed the wrong mountain in the Alps
Yes, I had a fabulous time soloing it completely on my own. Luckily I managed to find the way. One of the finest days climbing I have ever had, topped off with a reverse round of the Horseshoe.
> It might make you feel better to hear friends of mine climbed the wrong mountain in the Alps
Been there - or rather, not there - done that.
Turned off the glacier into the wrong couloir in the dark and found ourselves on top of the Tschingelhorn instead of the Lauterbrunnen Breithorn.
It's quite amazing how one's mind manages to fit all the features in front of you to the guidebook description.
We once almost managed to fit a whole quarry full of climbs to the wrong quarry - the correct hole was next door, found just in time.
> except maybe Slanting Buttress, which is juggy, open and delightful and with the obvious SS quartz bands at the base, easy to locate.
Slanting Buttress is an excellent route (though not in the Rockfax book I think?). By far the best route on Lliwedd, good rock, easy to find, easy to follow etc. Everything else is almost guaranteed epic territory.
A friend of mine told me how he was once climbing on there when someone above him dislodged a human sized block and had to stand there desperately trying to hold it in place for an hour or so whilst everyone below got out of the way before he could release it!
Did this yrs ago as part of the Classic Rock link up. The book (or rather photocopied pages of it) was our guidebook. As we climbed, I remember going occasionally off route, discussing olden-days benightment, wondering how comfy we'd be on a ledge all night without a pipe and porters with hampers of champagne, and finally topping out much to the bemusement of walkers on the horseshoe. Lliwedd is an experience. Great fun..... Choose a hold, pick it up, examine it, replace it and climb on it. A great place of atmosphere, where you really get a sense of the past. Hope you enjoyed it!
Impossible to tell what you climbed but the rope hanging down is tied off just above Pinnacle Corner which is on the apex of the west buttress. It’s around 100m up so that sums up how little of the cliff height you can see up close. There aren’t many sub-severe routes on the ‘Elliptical Face’ that it sounds like you climbed up so it’s not surprising it felt very hard.
I have only climbed a handful of routes: Horned Crag, Avalanche/Red Wall/Longland’s, Bilberry Terrace & Slanting Buttress Ridge Route. They all went pretty well but do feel hard for the grade and they all have at least one pitch that feels two grades harder, especially the crux on Horned Crag!
As far as topo’s and descriptions go, I always get copies from multiple books as none are perfect. The definitive guide is good for figuring out features across the whole crag, rockfax & groundup have got ok colour topo’s, the scrambling guides are useful too.
> It's quite amazing how one's mind manages to fit all the features in front of you to the guidebook description.
So true! We've all done it.
Amusingly, the 3D model of the crag on Google Earth/Maps is higher resolution than any of the topos I've seen so far.
The 3D of Snowdonia is stunning - you can make out Left Wall and Cem Gates, lines on the Nose of Dinas Mot, look at the buttresses of Tryfan in detail, climb routes on Cloggy, etc.
Would be nice if the 3D modelling also covered the Lakes and mountain areas of Scotland - well everywhere actually.
Interestingly, the mature trees at the end of my garden have "disappeared" - the latest photos (or whatever is used) were taken before the leaves were out and the 3D modelling hasn't coped with that. Before the latest update the trees were in leaf and properly 3D.
It's amazing, I "cheated" with it to get to the bottom of a route on Glyder Fawr in a complete white out and it felt simultaneously super dirty (as I was not using my map skills in the slightest) and futuristic, as I was basically getting a first person view of the area I was in sans-fog.
I did Horned Crag Route in the pouring rain in big boots one November day many years ago. It remains one of my best and not easily forgettable climbing experiences!
Hey Matt! Think I did that route in 2012, did you find my old blue DMM 4CU? Placed it in some rock growing out of some moss
> So true! We've all done it.
I set off to climb Diedre Sud on Mowing Ward in Pembroke many years ago. Abseiled down and set off up the corner. This is bloody hard for hard severe we thought but fought our way up. We then retreated to the pub to ponder why Pembroke routes were so undergraded.
Looking through the new guidebook shortly afterwards I realised we had actually abseiled down Stackpole Head and climbed Stackpole Groove Direct.
Hiya Joe, no joy I'm afraid, some crag swag msy have brightened my mood slightly. Hope all is good 👍