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Comes the Dervish - Rockfall

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Just seen the following over on Facebook by Malcolm 'Mills' Davies, who's given permission for the information to be shared here:

"Comes the Dervish a classic 1981 route by Stevie Haston in the Vivian Quarry in Llanberis has suffered a rockfall, the 'fang' on the roof has completely gone. This area of the quarries had quite a big rockfall in Nov 2020 just to the left of the Dervish slab and wiped out a few routes, climbing has been banned here as it's so unstable."

It's a shame to see such a classic route in such a sorry state, but perhaps not all that surprising given the geologically active nature of that area of the quarry within recent years, that culminated in the complete loss of Nostromo and (more recently) the flake line of Gin Palace.

There's potentially an article out there somewhere, recounting some stories of people doing the Dervish, and if you've got one feel free to send it through - or share it here - and maybe we can give the route fitting eulogy.


In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I guess there's a reason it followed a crack line!

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

To paraphrase Cpt. Darling (Blackadder)

I wrote an entry in my diary today. It simply read 'Bugger' 

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Iconic route. Sounds like Stevie Haston was too vigorous cleaning with the Pete’s Eats knife.

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Balls balls balls, first E3 i got on (and subsequently fell off after z clipping the rope under the fang) allthough now I remember i actually jumped off as upwards progress became impossible. I never whent back to close the account and now I never will.

 Tom Valentine 12 May 2022
In reply to ebdon:

I did Last Tango and abbed down to the left of Dervish with my eyes closed so when the ascent came it would be pure.

It never happened.

3
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

My first E3. Only started climbing on slate to do this. Striking line, evocative name, tranquil setting of Vivian Quarry. Got hooked on the slate and after a year's apprenticeship was so pleased to get up it on sight on a fine late September day. Hesitated going back to it, not wanting to break that memory. Looks like I won't get that chance now

 Fruit 12 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I seconded it with a big youth from Bristol in the mid 80s, after leading Vector and Pincushion earlier in the day. At the overlap my foot slipped and so keen was I to climb it fairly I shouted ‘slack!’. Fortunately I stayed on and finished smoothly.

At a similar time we were watching a leader climbing the lower part of the route when the heavens opened. Quickly, the assembly formed a three tier human pyramid to rescue the climber.

Ah, fun and games

Post edited at 21:35
 pencilled in 12 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I did it in 2006. I had heard the crux was the first 20 or 30 ft, and was super careful with my RP and swedge placements, backing them up to protect the inevitable. I managed to get into some kind of rhythm with it and it felt good but it started to rain. I was unsure of the gear and didn’t fancy being lowered on the tiny bits that were in, so I Dow climbed it, waited for the rain to pass then got back on and did it. It had been on my list for years and I whooped with delight as I passed the lip. Good times. 

 Babika 12 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

That's sad news.

2 good friends did a very early ascent - they thought the 5th or so in 1982/83?

They were eating in Petes Eats and Pete recommended they go and have a look at it, before the route was published. 

At the time an E5 tick for Tony. Exactly his sort of route. 

 LastBoyScout 12 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

That's a shame.

It was my target before my 30th birthday - spent several months building up my leading and went up a couple of weeks before my birthday, to give me time to have another go if I failed/weather was crap.

As it turns out, it rained the night before, so spent most of the morning kicking around Llanberis until the sun came round and dried it out - actually chatted a bit with Stevie's daughter in Outside.

Anyway, it dried, we went over and after a bit of psyching myself up, I did it - allowed myself a shout of triumph at the top.

As it happens, I thought the sketchiest bit was getting to the start!

Wanted to do Last Tango as an encore, but was running out of time - I hope to go back at some point and tick that. I've got another story about that route, too.

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Nooooooo I had sworn this was the year I’d finally do it 

In reply to Paul Sagar:

> Nooooooo I had sworn this was the year I’d finally do it 

It looks as though it might still be climbable given a bit of time to settle and an inspection to check for life-threatening loose blocks.

 Darkinbad 13 May 2022
In reply to Dave Garnett:

So the question now is - goes the Dervish?

 alan moore 13 May 2022
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> It looks as though it might still be climbable 

Looks like it might be easier.....?

 Andy Moles 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Whereas Gin Palace is clearly finished, I wouldn't assume this is game over for Comes the Dervish. It might just have a new crux?

Pretty interesting how these bits have dropped off in the aftermath of the bigger collapse to the left, presumably not a coincidence. Certainly wouldn't inspire confidence in the blocks that form the right edge of Last Tango.

Imagine what a moderate sized earthquake could do.

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Can we glue it back on? This was my first proper E3 and I did it ground up after slipping off above the crux. At the time I was dreading having to do that start again but after a word with myself I managed it. Classic route and one I won't forget

 nniff 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

It has the perfect hands-off rest for a summer evening - one of the 'toblerones' is big enough to let you put your heel in it, turn round and lie back against the slab and soak up the sun and view.  Not to be missed, and hopefully it will settle down and play nicely again.

 Hardonicus 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Looks like it will still go and probably at a similar grade?

In reply to Andy Moles:

> Whereas Gin Palace is clearly finished, I wouldn't assume this is game over for Comes the Dervish. It might just have a new crux?

Possibly, and I've heard others say as much, but I think it's worth considering the level of activity within this area - it is extremely mobile. Whilst it may still be possible to climb it, I'm not sure I'd ever feel comfortable entering this area again knowing how much has moved (and how much more there is to follow). I'm far from risk averse too!!

In addition to this, the fact access to it is currently banned makes it a moot point. Given the additional rockfall I can't see Padarn Country Park wanting to re-open access anytime soon.

Either way, I've written it off, and would have irrespective of whether or not I'd done it before.

Choose life... 

Post edited at 09:38
1
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

> There's potentially an article out there somewhere, recounting some stories of people doing the Dervish, and if you've got one feel free to send it through - or share it here - and maybe we can give the route fitting eulogy.

Looking at the photos it doesn't seem a eulogy is necessary although I won't be going back! I first went to try this whilst at school in about 1988, my friend and I had done most of our climbing on slate as it didn't require much of a rack. The Dervish was the obvious prize and a bit above our level but we'd managed to borrow more wires and QD than we would normally have and had convinced ourselves that landing on the sloping slate scree would be soft if we didn't make it to the first piece of gear. There was some drilling going on the lowest tier (around Bobby’s Groove) as we approached the start. Lawrence dumped his rucksack down and we both watched in horror as it rolled down the scree and over the edge. We ran down to see it floating in the pool and Paul Pritchard coaxing it to the edge with a branch, I'm not sure how close we came to killing one of the boldest climbers of the generation as we were too star struck to get into a conversation but I got the impression it had been a bit too close for comfort!

Post edited at 10:34
 ianstevens 13 May 2022
In reply to alan moore:

Fang was never the crux though right? I thought it was the move(s) where the crack deviates. At least felt that way for me!

In reply to ianstevens:

Yeah, that was the crux for me too. I also completely messed it up, mainly because my feet were cramping up to hell and back, and to this day I don't know how I managed to rescue it, probably from sheer bloody mindedness as I wanted the onsight. 😆

 Sean Kelly 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I always found that polished start the most tricky bit, and that was in the 80s. The overlap move looks tricky but is quite easy, It all depends on the security of any new runner placements.

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> I always found that polished start the most tricky bit, and that was in the 80s. The overlap move looks tricky but is quite easy, It all depends on the security of any new runner placements.

It's funny reading the comments about the various cruxes, because I think I took a fall from just about every place imaginable the first (and second) time I tried it, although the one place I never fell was the start.

 deacondeacon 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I climbed it with a twisted ankle and could hardly walk. I was in absolute agony for the whole route. All the way up towards the fang, expecting it to be the crux, the sense of relief when I found the jug was heaven. 

As long as the crack below hasn't changed, I'm fairly sure the grade won't change 🙂

 Tigger 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I'm glad I got to play on this before it fell (unlike T-Rex), I was a little ambitious first time, fell on the dog-leg before lowering off and having to face the start again only to then fall at the overlap. Fortunately I had the opportunity to make a clean job of it a few years later. Your 'Lost Rock' article may be in need of an update.  

 kevin stephens 13 May 2022
In reply to deacondeacon: TD+ may be more appropriate now

In reply to Tigger:

> I'm glad I got to play on this before it fell (unlike T-Rex)

I'm still absolutely gutted about T-Rex. That move out of the chimney was one of the all-time greatest - and most unconventional - moves I've ever done and flummoxed me each time I did it. So awkward, yet so good...

> Your 'Lost Rock' article may be in need of an update.  

Had I have written it in 2020, after the Nostromo rockfall, I'd have included The Dervish, but given that I wrote it a couple of years prior hadn't even considered it

Wonder if there's anything else worth adding, were I do to a revised edition. Anything out there rumbling, or is it worth a separate thread to discuss?!

 jkarran 13 May 2022
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Wanted to do Last Tango as an encore, but was running out of time - I hope to go back at some point and tick that. I've got another story about that route, too.

Last Tango felt like a Giant Jenga built by drunks at least a decade ago, given how much that area is moving I can't believe it's still there!

jk

 climbingpixie 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Sad to see this. Comes the Dervish was the first route I saw that really inspired me to want to climb hard grades (as I saw them at the time) not long after I'd started climbing. It was my first Welsh climbing trip and the start of my love of the Dinorwic quarries when we went to look at it and I swore I'd be good enough to lead E3 and come back for it!

Later that year, another friend and I spent two consecutive weekends on the slate, working ourselves up to the route. When we got there, lateish on the Sunday afternoon, we realised we'd only have time for one of us to lead it without risking the car getting locked into the car park. We flipped a coin and Hazel won. She set off, only to come to a swift halt on those bold lower moves. I tried to be encouraging but, secretly, hoped against hope she'd back off it. She decided her head wasn't in it and downclimbed and I racked up instead. I don't remember much about the route, it was one of those experiences of perfect focus and total engrossment in the climbing, marred only slightly by the steadily increasing pain in my feet and calves, but soon enough I found myself at the top. A wonderful route and a wonderful experience, I was absolutely bouncing for days afterwards with the joy of it!

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I did the Dervish in the late 80's/early90's.  If I recall it was E4 or E5 and you would not have got any argument from me at that time.  The route as whole is brilliant but the only bit that really stands out in my mind was the, at the time, run out first 25feet. I found the rest relatively straightforward, possibly because it was well protected. I bottled out at first sight but my mate persuaded me to try again after we did Pull My Daisy, another excellent route. I believe that it is possible to protect the start these days but I did not have anything to fit so just went for it. After that I was totally relaxed and able to enjoy the climbing.  Not sure to this day if I did enjoy the first 25 feet other than the relief of getting over it

 Tigger 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Maybe these "Extreme Losses" could be compiled alongside stories and articles detailing now insatiable aspirations, then put into a hardback book? Copies might be worth a fortune in 30 years.

Post edited at 15:55
 Sean Kelly 13 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

The day I did Dervish was an election day (June '87) so I had the day off work (teaching in a school). I was climbing with a lad called Frank, and we ticked Wendy Doll, Last Tango, Flashdance & Devish. As I moved off Flashdance into the Dervish crackline, the holds seemed enormous by comparision. The top section of Last Tango was quite worryingly runout and loose, with flaky holds that creaked under your feet!

 ARB 14 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I fell off the Dervish in 1993. I'd seconded the route a few weeks earlier, and went back to lead it. Fell off the first unprotected crux and smashed up my left foot.

I managed to crawl across the bad step and hobble / crawl / shuffle on my butt down to the village.

I had an automatic car back then, so was able to drive myself to Ysbyty Gwynedd, stopping to give Tim Emmet (I think) a lift as he was hitching to Bangor. We had a good laugh about the whole thing.

Fairly standard Llanberis / 90's shenanigans. 

Post edited at 21:26
 fmck 15 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Not a slate climber but always wondered the name?

 Hat Dude 15 May 2022
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Was just musing that more classic routes seem to have suffered significant rock falls in the latest 5 years of my climbing life than in the previous 35!

Is this a sign that the world is falling apart

In reply to everyone:

Just seen the following update from Malcolm Mills Davies over the weekend:

"I abseiled down the route yesterday and it doesn't look climbable, it's very precarious with loose slate above where you abseil in, also when at the bottom you can not get out due to the rockfall from 2020. Being on the overlap it was quite tense as you think there might be another landslide, all in all I'd stick to the council's policy of closing the Dervish area and refrain from going there at all."

Don't think there's a great deal more to add, other than how sad it is to see it go...

1
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Yes, as stated up thread I started climbing there in the late 80’s so hold enormous affection for the area, new routes were still going up and the excitement of leafing through the new routes book in Pete’s seems a very strange anachronism now. Having recently moved back to Wales I was keen to have a look at Manic, still I guess there’s lots of other parts of the quarries to explore but for me Vivian is the very heart of Slate climbing even though the Rainbow slab is the show piece crag. 

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Choose life indeed, that would be my view, I think it's smarter to leave it alone considering the writing is on the wall...

2
 Nic 16 May 2022
In reply to ARB:

I feel your pain...I tried it sometime in the mid 90s if I recall, likewise fell off somewhere in the first 25' (probably lower than you!) but managed to avoid ankle injury, though I hit the ground then fell over hands first onto the slope. Managed to take most of the skin off my palms which meant that climbing was over for the day! Never went back, b*gger!

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

In 55 years of climbing I would rate it in the top 10 of my most memorable ascents, partly because of the quality of the climbing but also because it was at my limit but required a style of climbing that played to my strengths thus allowing me to push my grade.  It would be a great shame if it was lost to future climbers.

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

> Just seen the following over on Facebook by Malcolm 'Mills' Davies, who's given permission for the information to be shared here:

> "Comes the Dervish a classic 1981 route by Stevie Haston in the Vivian Quarry in Llanberis has suffered a rockfall, the 'fang' on the roof has completely gone. This area of the quarries had quite a big rockfall in Nov 2020 just to the left of the Dervish slab and wiped out a few routes, climbing has been banned here as it's so unstable."

> It's a shame to see such a classic route in such a sorry state, but perhaps not all that surprising given the geologically active nature of that area of the quarry within recent years, that culminated in the complete loss of Nostromo and (more recently) the flake line of Gin Palace.

> There's potentially an article out there somewhere, recounting some stories of people doing the Dervish, and if you've got one feel free to send it through - or share it here - and maybe we can give the route fitting eulogy.

Still looks climbable to me (at the same grade)

2
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> Still looks climbable to me (at the same grade)

Did you see my comment just above? First hand feedback from someone that's abseiled down it suggests otherwise...

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

My first E3 (circa 92) and I climbed it quite well, although the adrenalin was racing! (I was thrilled)

I went back the following year to do 'Last Tango' it was 'early season' and got talked into doing The Dervish again as well when I wasn' really fit enough. I made it but was right on the limit. I always wanted to get back on it but never got around to it.

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

> Did you see my comment just above? First hand feedback from someone that's abseiled down it suggests otherwise...

Missed it (now read it) rather sad. At least I got to do it before it went.


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