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Snakes and Ladders, Llanberis Slate

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Hi all, 

I'm thinking of some alternate activities for Snowdonia on Saturday if it is too wild to go up a hill. I've not climbed that much in the slate quarries, just the odd visit every few years going back quite some time, so after having read the Rockfax descriptions of Snakes and Ladders, I can't see in my head how easy the different sections are to access without doing the other bits. So for example can you do the Mod bit in Australia without doing the HVS bit in California first? And so on. I've done some of the easy sports routes in Australia in the past, but I'm not sure how you get to the bottom of the big hole where it seems Snakes and Ladders goes. 

We might well be up for a hike and scramble explore and a climb up some ladders etc. but I'm not sure if I'm up to leading HVS on a cold Nov. day or if my mate is up to seconding that! 

Any thoughts gratefully received!

In reply to TobyA:

I wouldn't get too worried about it being hvs, it's very aidable (it's a big thick chain), but you can miss that bit by going straight to the hidden hole (which takes you to the bottom of Australia) if you wish.

There a quite few points along the way you can bail if you've had enough too.

 lithos 25 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

you can easily get into lower australia, the route goes through a squeeze 

the bit in california is a BF chain which you can aid (!) on slings - fun.  the scariest bit is after entering australia if you go right there is a very loose dodgy scramble. You can walk left underneath 'looning the tube' and around to avoid that bit.

http://davetalbot.net/snakes-and-ladders/  is a good write up and info

do it, it's a fun trip

 Moacs 25 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

Perfectly ok in the wet and wild.

If you're familiar with the quarries it'll be easy; otherwise there might be a bit of stomping around looking for the abs etc.

it's a great trip; although not the same since the bridge went

 ianstevens 25 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

As others have said, the grade means absolutely nothing and it’s (IMO) incredibly dumb that snakes and ladders was ever given one. 

In reply to ianstevens:

So it's mainly just "adventureneering" then? So the bit in California that gets HVS is all aid climbable? It does look fun. My mate hasn't done much rock climbing in recent years, but he knows how to ab safely and all that. We used to winter climb a lot together, and he's done Mont Blanc and so on, so although not actively climbing now, has plenty of experience. But people seem to be saying beginners are fine doing it if their leader is sensible. Would you agree?

In reply to TobyA:

> beginners are fine doing it if their leader is sensible

I would agree with that 100%, no part of it is particularly tricky. Just take some extra slings for making foot loops on the chain. It is really good fun.

In reply to TobyA:

It’s a laugh on the chain but much easier to do that section in reverse with a short abseil, especially if it’s busy. All in all a fantastic day out and although it’s touted as a wet day alternative, done on a sunny day with a can of beer at the top of the final ladder is  a memorable experience. The shear scale of the quarries is jaw dropping.

 JamButty 26 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

Aiding the first chain is a good challenge,  hard work but not hard.  You can completely skip it if you want and go straight into Australia,  but California is a gorgeous hole.

I'd also go all the way to the bottom of Mordor,  you have to come back out the same way but its worth it.

As others have said,  provided you've got a sensible head on you,  and you don't worry too much about the fact that any section will fall down at any time,  then its an amazing day out.

 Rory Shaw 26 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

I would be very wary about flying slate debris given the forecast for saturday

In reply to Rory Shaw:

> I would be very wary about flying slate debris given the forecast for saturday


Does much slate actually fly around up there? All the bits I've seen have been pretty chunky and un-aerodynamic. I'd be more concerned about flash flooding, or is the whole place well drained?

 Red Rover 26 Nov 2021
In reply to Toerag:

If you look at the top of a lot of the qurary walls you have the flat pieces of scree forming a cornice, a bit like how the coins hang over the edge of the drop on a penny pusher. It doesn't take much to disturb these and send pieces over. I've been on the Khyber Pass in strong wind and heard bits come falling down into Mordor. Goats are bad for it as well.

In reply to Red Rover:

I'm hoping that with tomorrow's wind being Northerly, the slate quarries might be one of the slightly less windy spots because you've got most of Elidir Fach above you, sheltering your from northerlies. But its a very good point, so I'll keep it in mind when we choose what we do tomorrow. Cheers!

Post edited at 17:58
 Red Rover 21:07 Fri
In reply to TobyA:

No problem. The quarries have their own wind patterns so it might be OK in some spots. Rain can also be a problem as it gets into the joints between the blocks of the cliffs and lubricats them so it can make (big) rockfalls more likely. The quarries are big enough that there should be places where it's OK. The forecast for the weekend doesn't look that windy anyway, according to yr.no. The met office has it being quite windy though.

https://www.yr.no/en/forecast/hourly-table/2-2651238/United%20Kingdom/Wales/Gwynedd/Dinorwic?i=1

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/forecast/gcmn4jg3d#2021-11-27

In my opinion the most dangerous thing about the quarries is in the tunnel to california, as you skirt round the big drop there is a small bit of iron sticking up out of the path in the perfect position to trip people up.

Post edited at 21:09
In reply to TobyA:

Please read the post above, there are hazards like that. Extreme caution!

Get a decent description of the route, but to mention it is basically 3 independent sections that can be done separately that the full route links.

The trip into the tunnel from Dali's hole through Hades (trip hazard mentioned) into California, up the "snake", through a tunnel down an ab takes you back to the edge of Dali's hole again and is a loop. Can be bypassed, but where the fun there?

The "secret" entrance from Dali to Tasmania (bottom of Australia) up through Australia, ladders etc, buildings look round old canteen. That can be done separately starting in Dali and walking down the big staircase to go home. So this is a bail out point if needed

Lost world, Mordor, *UP* the slope past the tower (no longer bridge of death and I advise against trying to walk round the side where BoD used to be, too much landslip now very dangerous area), down the incline. That's separate and can start this section by walking up the big slate staircase

Post edited at 09:27
In reply to TobyA:

Without giving away too much fun

To start you off how to get to the snake, watch these guys  youtube.com/watch?v=kzi6yGM7SvQ& they do give some wrong names to some things (like Hades) but you see the start of the route

at 2:40 this other video they are looking for the "secret" entrance in Dali https://youtu.be/ceGK-c0J83cso So now you know what you are looking for, happy hunting

The rest can be done with a good guide/diagram such as the one given by Dave Talbot https://davetalbot.net/snakes-and-ladders/

Edit: although Dave Talbot is out of date on the BoD area, go UP instead at that point

Post edited at 09:44
 Red Rover 15:52 Sun
In reply to TobyA:

How did it go?

In reply to Red Rover:

Didn't go over to Llanberis in the end. Went for a very windy walk around Llyn Llydlaw yesterday, and climbed a slightly snowy but well frozen Crib Lem today.

Cheers for all the advice though. I'll do it at some point!

 Red Rover 21:55 Sun
In reply to TobyA:

No problem!

In reply to TobyA:

Crib Lem, nice wild mountain route!! I'm jealous...

Definitely try Snakes, ladders and tunnels next time you're in the area, if you're not familiar with Dinorwig it'll be an eye opener and a good overview of the landscape. The first time I went up there (after years of "Meh... I do mountain routes") I thought why the **** hadn't I come there years ago??

 ianstevens 09:50 Mon
In reply to TobyA:

> So it's mainly just "adventureneering" then? So the bit in California that gets HVS is all aid climbable? It does look fun. My mate hasn't done much rock climbing in recent years, but he knows how to ab safely and all that. We used to winter climb a lot together, and he's done Mont Blanc and so on, so although not actively climbing now, has plenty of experience. But people seem to be saying beginners are fine doing it if their leader is sensible. Would you agree?

Yes that. IIRC the "grade" was arbitrary assigned to the entire thing when it ended up on. here, as not having one isn't an option. The chain, even free, isn't worth HVS - its a line of great big handholds with gear everywhere. Not far off a ladder really. I think most of the grade was awarded for the danger factor now long-gone bridge crossing anyway. If they can belay, abseil  and do a bit of scrambling your mate will be fine if you can climb/aid up the chain. Just take crabs with wide openings, the rungs are thick. 

In reply to TobyA:

> Cheers for all the advice though. I'll do it at some point!

I'm definitely up for a slate adventure!

 Red Rover 10:13 Mon
In reply to CantClimbTom:

I thought that as well when I first went there. But I find that if I go to the quarries too often it loses it's sense of adventure and becomes a slightly miserable hole in the ground, and I have to stay away for a while for it to become fun again. 


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