/ North Wales classic E1/HVS
After suggestions to revisit classic E1/HVS’s in North Wales.
Where to begin? Just work your way through the graded list in the Ground Up guide. Personal favourites:
Concrete Chimney, DoWH, North West Passage, True Moments/Freebird (thought Gogarth - the route - was overrated)
Dinas Mot Superdirect, personally preferred West Rib to Diagonal, Nexus, Plexus
Cemetery Gates (probably, not done it)
The Plum, Helsinki Wall
(No real classics in those grades on slate)
The Grooves on Cyrn Las
> (No real classics in those grades on slate)
German Schoolgirl, if you can stretch it to E2?
Also, off the slate, Great/Bow Combo on Cloggy ? (Llithrig is supposedly a classic but I was underwhelmed).
And a load of stuff I haven't done yet
combat rock , looning the tube, seems the same (slate)
britomartis (gogarth), one of the HVS at the far end of main cliff look good too but not done yet.
cenotaph corner (almsot goes without saying?),
Mur y Niwl at Craig Yr Ysfa
The Groove at LLech Ddu
The Corner at Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Hydro at Craig y Don
The ones with more stars in the guidebook are generally held to be of better quality.
Plenty at tremadoc; Meshach, Merlin Direct, Scratch Arête, Stromboli....
I think these three can be linked on Idwal slabs; Suicide Groove, Javelin Blade and Rampart Corner - all bloody good on their own.
JB & RC are on same level, but there's apparently a good HVS crack up the wall left of Groove Above on the next tier.
Virtually an unanswerable question I feel but for me White Slab on Cloggy is the best E1 on the planet.
And just before everyone starts shouting that it is now E2 I am referring to the Paul Williams (definitive guide to cloggy )which includes the lasso move on pitch 4.
I climbed Falcon again 30+ years after first doing it. Superb, sustained and well protected providing you take a full rack. RP's to large cams.
Ps. Scramble pitch to belay is not without interest!!!
> I think these three can be linked on Idwal slabs; Suicide Groove, Javelin Blade and Rampart Corner - all bloody good on their own.
Followed by Grey Arete, if you like a run-out
Neither Grey Slab nor Grey Arete are particularly run out with modern microcams. Both are well worth the journey up there via routes on the Slabs/ East Wall and continuation walls
Maoi Man and Ardvark on Gist Ddu are one of the best days out I ever had. Maoi Man is harder, Aardvark, better.
Continuation Crack, with direct start? - Brilliant, I thought.
Aardvark. Good shout. With the caveat that it’s probably not as clean as other classic routes so worth reserving for a very dry spell. If we are in the general area we should perhaps mention Doom and Acheron on Cowarch.
> cenotaph corner (almsot goes without saying?),
Not necessarily. I thought it overhyped.
Yawn. No it isn’t, who was it who said gritstone was 50ft of action? The corner is 150 ft of action with a really interesting, hard and uncertain crux at the end.
You only have to look at the comments in the logbook to see that it is not overhyped, with a huge number of people raving about it as a total classic that not only lives up to, but often exceeds, expectations. I suspect that anyone who is underwhelmed by it has left it too late in their climbing career, when they are climbing at a much higher standard. Also, those comments fail to appreciate its near-unique (?) quality of perspective when you are climbing it, bridging between those huge vertical walls - on the walls themselves you don't get that, just the massive exposure.
> I suspect that anyone who is underwhelmed by it has left it too late in their climbing career, when they are climbing at a much higher standard.
I seconded my friend up it - it was great fun, but I think sometime the history of such routes gets them elevated to a status that it would be hard for any route to live up to. I didn't think of trying to lead it because I've never led 5c in the UK so figured I'd probably need winching up the crux. As it was I didn't find any bit of the route desperate. Plenty of 5a moves I've failed on in the Peak that feel harder. The protection is excellent too, I'd suggest anyone who is unsure like I was take a big rack and tries leading it - don't let the supposed 5c bit psyche you out.
But the history also mean that it is polished and just has that slightly sad very well used look that lots of 'classic' English and Welsh routes have - Main Wall across the glen is another example where I felt the wear rather detracted from the experience.
So I don't think its necessarily only people who have climbed much harder who might be a bit underwhelmed by such routes, I definitely haven't, but maybe people who have climbed other places beyond the UK honeypots.
Mur y niwl was VS when I did it about 6 years ago. Has it changed?
I did it in 2016. Graded HVS in North Wales Rock.
> But the history also mean that it is polished and just has that slightly sad very well used look that lots of 'classic' English and Welsh routes have - Main Wall across the glen is another example where I felt the wear rather detracted from the experience.
I think this is an experience pretty specific to the Pass and Ogwen. On the whole, the Lakes is nothing like this in terms of polish/scratches/worn placements; up here you get a good number of *** classics with layers of moss on them!
Plenty of Lakes routes I've done - nothing particularly hard - are polished and clearly well travelled. I'm sure there are exceptions but I don't think the lakes is that quiet...
It's true that there are some that are very well travelled, e.g. Bowfell Buttress, which suffers from being popular for both summer and winter ascents. But, coming back from Ogwen to the Lakes was positively refreshing! After a very enjoyable but, nonetheless, polished Milestone Buttress Superdirect (with three bits of insitu gear welded in place) I was climbing a few days later on Haste Not, exclaiming joyfully at the grippiness of the rock - and even patches of moss! It was a busy bankholiday... so there were 4 teams, including us. Heaving, by Lakes standards! Normally get a crag to yourself!
Thanks for all the comments.
We did True Moments/Freebird connection on Castle Hellen and Gogarth on the Main Cliff which was a great day. For a contrast the next day we did A Grand Day Out on the slate in Upper Australia quarry which was an adventurous day?
It is very hard at VS. You wouldn't do harder at the the grade in North Wales.
Glad it wasn't just me! Though also found Lion pretty harsh too.
Barbarian is amazing but also an absolute monster. See my logbook entry for amusement (everyone else’s, not mine)
I remember really enjoying it; a fabulous, long, very sustained, technically varied pitch. I was climbing quite well then (1983) but was astonished by how hard it was for HVS, which is what it was then given. In my logbook I wrote that 'it felt like the hardest pitch I've ever led!'
Emulator (soft but sustained E1), Ramp (HVS), Gauntlet (HVS) would be a good day's climbing at Gogarth upper tier (RH of lower tier for Emulator obvs).
Could nip around for King Bee Crack (HVs) & Breaking the Barrier (E1) at Holyhead Mtn if still feeling fresh ... in which case you're ready for E2s!
At Tremadog I agree with previous posters about The Plum and Falcon being excellent. One Step in the Crowds is also an interesting E1, and not just for it's punny name.
In the Pass, Brant Direct is a fun well-protected HVS pitch that hasn't been mentioned. Superdirect on the Mot is my favourite route in the pass (already mentioned).
> I remember really enjoying it; a fabulous, long, very sustained, technically varied pitch. I was climbing quite well then (1983) but was astonished by how hard it was for HVS, which is what it was then given. In my logbook I wrote that 'it felt like the hardest pitch I've ever led!'
Similar notes in my logbook even at E1! I did it one summer's evening a couple of years ago and finished a sweaty mess even though I was cruising E1's.
> Barbarian is amazing but also an absolute monster.
When I first tried this, I got through the roof OK, reached the ledge to traverse left, started to foot-traverse it, found I had no handholds at was unable to stop myself toppling slowly backwards, I hit the slab below first with my feet which then inverted me, so the back of my head (fortunately inside a helmet) slapped into the slab. Not too hurt I took a breather, got back on and fell off again in exactly the same place. Barbarian 2, MK 0! At this point I decided enough is enough and abseiled off. Ontaking off my helmet, I found a 2 inch crack in the back. (Old style, 1970s fibre glass helmet.)
Fast forward a couple of years, I decide on a rematch. Through the roof, got to the ledge going left, hand-traversed instead, no problem! (Note this was back in the 70s, so things may have changed.)
Two things I remember most strongly about it: a superb blank arete after the tricky traverse left. (I think my tree-climbing in Kensington Gdns days helped me here, because I had become pretty good at desperate rounded barndoorish laybacks). Then you did a difficult step left onto a good small flat resting ledge and thought, great, it's in the bag! It wasn't. Although it was a bit easier, it was very strenuous, first up a groove and then up a jamming crack in its left wall. Hard, pumpy jamming every inch of the way to the top. Leaving one VERY 'well-exercised' at the top.
Shrike has to be one of the finest E1 routes in Wales.
It is amazing but isn’t it E2?
Recent upgrade. Pretty sure it was still E1in the ca 1990 guide I had
> It is very hard at VS. You wouldn't do harder at the the grade in North Wales.
I agree. Some years ago we did Mur y Niwl largely because Agrippa and the Girdle were wet but I recall being surprised by how hard it felt.
MyN has been on my wish list for some time. I presume it's better to think of it as HVS and then go "that was a bit piss easy" rather than think of it as VS and have an epic.
I think Great/Bow on Cloggy is another VS/HVS borderline route to be treated similarly and I'm sure there are loads others.
Shame if it puts people off, one hard move well protected and then romp away on jugs. Definitive E1 much easier than the likes of Troach or Serth which are my reference point for E2.
> Shame if it puts people off
It would be. It's a superb route. I think you could justify either grade. That top pitch does keep going!
You are correct - that would put you in the right head space.
King Bee Crack is amazing. It was my first attempt at a HVS lead. Didn't know how to jam. Or place good cams in a rush. Nearly died.
It's not technically HVS, but I did Noah's Warning at Dinas Cromlech yesterday - absolutely mind-blowingly brilliant. It gets VS but that's a lol grade. It's definitely HVS.
Have you done Cobweb Crack? It is VS but a full value one.
Plus a Joe Brown route tick.
> Neither Grey Slab nor Grey Arete are particularly run out with modern microcams. Both are well worth the journey up there via routes on the Slabs/ East Wall and continuation walls
Health warning re Grey Arete!
See the two previous posts in which we participated:
I thought it was very run-out indeed as did many others. Your last post in 2018 was interesting.
Yes, I’ve just realised that both my recommendations could be described as that . You certainly know you’ve done ‘em! Great routes for all that.
Off topic but it’s occurred that the Peak equivalent might be Kelly’s Overhang at Stanage.
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