To counter my other thread - what's the most unexpectedly nice belay ledge you've had?
I'll accept great belay ledges of any climb but I'd particularly like belay ledges that are hard to leave because of their great character, especially ones which go against the grain of the climb.
(No whining about "world class" please this, like the other thread is a whimsy).
I will nominate the final belay ledge of Fan Tan B (world class sea cliff climb without any doubt containing an optimal mix of fine climbing, slime, choss, grass and guano).
This ledge is huge and comfy. It is magnificently situated way above the sea. It's sheltered from above and all you can see is the sky and the sea (and luckily no view of the top pitch which would ruin the mood). It may be the only time during the entire climb you are really, objectively safe. It's perfectly inclined to lie on comfortably and get a great view without straining you neck. It catches the evening sun and you're perfectly alone with a really remote feeling and without anyone to ruin the mood.
The next pitch is >50m of very steep loose choss, grass and rubble with no runners. Too steep and loose for any useful plants to pull on or rabbit holes to belay from. Don't even think about touching the boulders - they are all poised to fall at any minute.
Therefore, the best thing seems to be to lie back on the belay ledge, watch the sunset and open a cold drink (if only you had one).
I'll also offer a worthy mention for the belay at the end of the traverse pitch on Heart of Darkness. The ledge is the size of a malt loaf and it's semi hanging but it is surprising comfy sat on the ledge facing out and the view is second to none. Until your second leaves the starting platform you are utterly and blissfully the only person around.
The Aerodrome on Pink Wall Traverse (HVS 5a) at Avon is a great ledge in a nice spot, in a superb position
The belay before the final pitch of Troutdale Pinnacle (S). Best when you're a novice leader and the final pitch looks mighty steep and exposed.
Little cham too, but that loses points for discomfort.
In the olden days, (60s) we used to climb Inverted V at Stanage in two pitches.
the belay in the ‘birdcage’ was brilliant, not comfy but wow, multi pitch on Stanage!
First time for me and many others I suspect.
One that sticks in my mind is the comfortable last belay on Coronation Street, by now many metres above the carpark and in an entirely different world to it.
The eye of High Crag Buttress (HVS).
I was third man on the rope and had a longish wait. I feel asleep, to be woken by a clap of thunder!
Near the Breche de Roland in the Pyrenees is a climb I did a long time ago that includes a pitch that goes up inside a cave and emerges on a pulpit stance - except this is a pulpit like no other I've seen. I remember it as having a rock balustrade in front of the smallish circular flat area, and just amazing exposure and views.
I nominate the ledge before the final pitch of The Verger (E1 5a). It offers a lovely grassy spot in which to relax after the disposable holds of pitch 2 and before the exposure of pitch 3. To be fair, there is plenty of grass available on the rest of the route, but at a less accommodating angle. When we did it, the belay was like a secret garden, sporting a riot of sea pinks and foxgloves. It helped soothe the monster hangovers we were nursing.
I would suggest the Ahwahnee ledge on the west face of the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. About 5m long and a meter or so wide from memory, with a cracking view of the sun setting down the valley. Feet hanging over the edge with nothing but air to the distant pine trees below, cracking open a beer and looking forward to the rest of the climb the next day.
Edited to say that it wasn't entirely unexpectedly nice, but was even better in reality than the guidebook description. Probably helped by being out first big wall.
The little belay ledge on The Ramp (E1 5b) is neat. A perfect seat in the middle of a big, flat, vertical wall.
Surely the best belay ledge is always the one above the crux pitch that you've just led?
Although I would agree its on an awesome position, the Aerodrome is terrible to belay from, as you end up lying on your back.
I would lead through to the top
Sitting at that last belay stance on Little Chamonix, listening to your second's expletives and protestations coming from just around the corner, is one of life's finer pleasures.
I nominate the granite armchair on Septumania (Eldorado, Handegg)- bolt to each side, and perfectly positioned looking outwards and comfy However, it is granite and the comfort does diminish after a while
> I nominate the granite armchair on Septumania (Eldorado, Handegg)- bolt to each side, and perfectly positioned looking outwards and comfy However, it is granite and the comfort does diminish after a while
The barber's chair stance on Cableway Crag (16) on Table Mountain is similar, but over a much steeper drop!
The tiny, improbable, ledge at the end of the Great Roof pitch on The Nose, El Cap. I remember it as barely room for a foot but the position/exposure was magnificent. Also the belay/bivouac ledge nearing the top of Half Dome - perfectly flat, just wide enough, 1500 feet of near-vertical view downwards just by turning your head.
Hell Gates (HVS 5a) is ace. Classic picture in the latest Avon guide adds schadenfreude, for extra enjoyment.
Trouble is it's such a great route to do in a oner...
Tyler Karow has a charming on-topic youtube playlist: A Tour of Yosemite Ledges
Late to this post but always loved the ledge on Cemetery Gates as it is a wonderful viewpoint to watching everyone else struggling on their respective climbs!
> Late to this post but always loved the ledge on Cemetery Gates as it is a wonderful viewpoint to watching everyone else struggling on their respective climbs!
Absolutely agree - it's a great ledge, with fabulous views (and position)
The belay after the second pitch of Big Groove was pretty spectacular. It meant I was forced to lead through! The rickety pillar on High Tor was good too, if a little noisy.
Another Venezuelan offering from me. After 4 days of sustained climbing up Acopán tepui, surviving on a ration of just 2 litres of water per day each (cooking included), we finally arrived at a luxury vegetated bivi ledge, with plentiful bromeliads full of stored water. So I could have a shave! 🙂
The belay ledge on Final Selection in the gorms. Large enough to accommodate a party of 3, which a stupendous view and such exposure it’s very hard to leave.
> I'll also offer a worthy mention for the belay at the end of the traverse pitch on Heart of Darkness. The ledge is the size of a malt loaf and it's semi hanging but it is surprising comfy sat on the ledge facing out and the view is second to none.
Here's another welcome ledge at the end of a traverse. Spacious, comfortable, over a huge drop and with an excellent view of your terrified second!
Another vote for the Cemetery Gates belay. There can be few small ledge belays on a route of this standard in the UK that are so exposed and vertiginous. Pic here. The belay is seen here about 15ft to the right of the climber:
Another classic favourite of mine (visited many times) was the Belle Vue Terrace at the top of Terrace Wall on Tryfan. A very exposed 'pavement' of perfect rock, gently sloping outwards. Such a great position that I vowed I'd one day bivvy out on it for fun ... but never did. Seen here at the very top of the picture:
Lovely spot for lunch isn't it. It's where I took a niece of mine for her first day's proper climbing.
She was ecstatic - mind you, when she showed her pictures to my sister ....
> Another vote for the Cemetery Gates belay. There can be few small ledge belays on a route of this standard in the UK that are so exposed and vertiginous. Pic here. The belay is seen here about 15ft to the right of the climber:
Great photo, Gordon, thanks. The ledge looks narrow... I've only been on it once, doing the Gates, but I remember it being a great stance
Happy days, unforgettable
It's not my photo, but Keith Sharples'. I should have acknowledged it. This is the source:
> The eye of High Crag Buttress (HVS).
Came here to say this. A perfectly formed belay 'nook', very comfy, 10/10. Has a roof too.
Two ledges on Gogarth cliffs to offer.
Friends bivied out for New Years night on the big ledge on Castell Helen
My experience of looking down from the small ledge on Britomartis at the seal looking up at me, looking a bit bemused, stands out
> I, too, have only been there once ... 38 years ago ...
I’ve never been there yet, I’d better get on with it!
Wow, Dave, that's a bit like a keen hill walker saying they've never been to the top of Snowdon! it's a 'desert island' rock climb: not technically very hard - just very sustained 4c/5a - but pumpy and sensational on wonderful holds. A route to relish when you're fit. Many people now miss out the classic belay ledge, but I think that would be a pity, because it really is something else for a route of its standard (HVS+, really), and all part of the experience.
BTW. I love the way the route got the name, which goes so perfectly with Cenotaph Corner. Shortly after doing the route Brown and Whillans saw a bus on the outskirts of Llanberis going past bearing the destination 'Cemetery gates'. At least I think that's the story.
> Another classic favourite of mine (visited many times) was the Belle Vue Terrace at the top of Terrace Wall on Tryfan. A very exposed 'pavement' of perfect rock, gently sloping outwards. Such a great position that I vowed I'd one day bivvy out on it for fun ... but never did. Seen here at the very top of the picture:
I remember that belay ledge when climbing North Buttress (VD) on Tryfan. The guidebook described the exposed traverse across to it as ‘…reaching the promised land of Belle Vue Terrace. One feels privileged to be here.’
Those words perfectly described the emotions my climbing buddy and I both felt when we arrived there.
> I remember that belay ledge when climbing North Buttress (VD) on Tryfan. The guidebook described the exposed traverse across to it as ‘…reaching the promised land of Belle Vue Terrace. One feels privileged to be here.’
Yes, that place is just SO special. North Buttress is an extraordinary route, because the bottom half is so scruffy and vegetated, more or less hard scrambling; then suddenly it has this wonderful traversing finale, going into territory that's very spectacular for its grade (which was always Diff). The beauty of it is that it goes in almost any weather, and I've taken quite a few beginners up there because it's such 'good value'. John and I did about three routes on Terrace Wall itself in our first year of climbing, in big bendy hill-walking boots. The first we did was the wonderful Terrace Wall Variant "V. Diff" ('Ogwen' grade) - that was the first climb we did that felt to me like a REAL rock climb. Sensationally exposed and quite serious on slopey holds, with poor pro. Quite a few years later I did Belle Vue Bastion, which seemed surprising gentle though of course in a wonderful position.
> Sat here many times.
The one just round the corner at the top of Joe's Route (VS 4c) is one of my favourites. It's not as expansive as the great ledge, but it has ring bolts right next to you so you can immediately set up the abseil when you top out with minimal fuss. There's a perfectly situated slab for a seat and a brilliant view in front of you, with the cliff falling away vertically just in front of your feet. It feels like a throne.
Piaz Arete/Delagokante (IV+) has a pretty breathtaking belay. You climb a face pitch on the tower to a ledge and then shuffle round the corner to the belay. When you round the corner, the ground just drops away with a few hundred meters of clean air beneath your feet. It feels pretty out there for a IV+ route.
Have a read of what Mr. Chouinard allegedly got up to on multiple belay ledges on Manure Pile Buttress and see if it ties in with your definition of "Character"
Fifty odd years after the "Events" and I still didn't want to touch anything.....;p
> BTW. I love the way the route got the name, which goes so perfectly with Cenotaph Corner. Shortly after doing the route Brown and Whillans saw a bus on the outskirts of Llanberis going past bearing the destination 'Cemetery gates'. At least I think that's the story.
Well Gordon, the story is that the bus was actually spotted with that iconic name as they were going home through Chester!