/ Welsh slate advice

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Razza - on 10 May 2017
Howdy,

I have climbed slate sport a few times and loved it but was wondering how it like for trad?

I climb HS/VS Yorkshire grit and have done a few of the HS multipitches in the pass as well. It just seems a bit more intimidating being slate and I have no idea how gear would be.

Cheers
radddogg - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

Gear is a lot thinner on slate and won't stick as well, especially cams. It's generally smaller wires you'll need. Probably why most of it is bolted.
MischaHY - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:
> Gear is a lot thinner on slate and won't stick as well, especially cams.

On the contrary, there's plenty of bomber gear on slate, especially on the classics test pieces.

@OP: You'll enjoy such routes as Seamstress (VS 4c) and Equinox (VS 4c). If you fancy pushing into HVS you could consider such routes as Looning the Tube (E1 5a) (Definitely not E1) and Mental Lentils (HVS 5a).

The slate is a great place to push your grade IMO as the gear is good in the cracks and any really bold sections tend to have a bolt or such esoteric gear as an old iron pipe to sling - check out Pull My Daisy (E2 5c) if you don't believe me!

It's even worth spending some time just walking around as the quarries are an amazing place to explore with all sorts of tunnels, old ladders and broken down mine buildings.

Have fun!
Post edited at 09:08
ianstevens - on 10 May 2017
In reply to MischaHY:
Seconded - gear tends to be good, especially on the classics that you would undoubtedly be aiming for on your first visit. Cams are also fine if well placed - I've never seen one that "doesn't stick well" when loaded, and I've climbed hundreds of slate routes and fallen off more times than I would care to admit.

p.s. If you have any semblence of technique a lot of the routes are soft for the grade IMO.

p.p.s. As Mischa says, Looning the Tube is never E1 and is probably nearer to lower end of HVS.
Post edited at 09:18
Mike505 on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

Just bear in mind that slate can be a little loose, while popular routes are generally pretty good routes that see less traffic can be a bit friable (One of my climbing partners did have a hold on seams the same come off on them last year).
In addition "Leading" the chain that hangs from the cave in California can be a fun experience...

The routes suggested above are all brilliant and I hope you have many hours marveling at and exploring the eerily beautiful industrial wasteland.

radddogg - on 10 May 2017
In reply to MischaHY:
> On the contrary, there's plenty of bomber gear on slate,

> If you fancy pushing into HVS you could consider such routes as Looning the Tube (E1 5a) (Definitely not E1)

I'm surprised say that when the only trad gear on that route is a sling around a chain and a cam? Camming devices are notoriously poor on smooth rock such as slate and limestone. I'm not saying there is no gear on slate, as you say nut placements can be very good, but his question was comparing it to Yorkshire grit. There is a reason slate gets bolted and grit doesn't, isn't there?

Back on Looning the Tube, my opinion is that it definitely is E1. E1 4c or 5a. Technically a soft touch but the adjectival grade is correct as a slip before clipping the first bolt or the chain would be unpleasant.
Post edited at 17:02
Bulls Crack - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

Slates 'good' at trad sport not that great at sport and mostly poor at trad - although from experience Mau Mau, C the D and German Schoolgirl were good but few and far between
ianstevens - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:
> I'm surprised say that when the only trad gear on that route is a sling around a chain and a cam? Camming devices are notoriously poor on smooth rock such as slate and limestone. I'm not saying there is no gear on slate, as you say nut placements can be very good, but his question was comparing it to Yorkshire grit. There is a reason slate gets bolted and grit doesn't, isn't there?Back on Looning the Tube, my opinion is that it definitely is E1. E1 4c or 5a. Technically a soft touch but the adjectival grade is correct as a slip before clipping the first bolt or the chain would be unpleasant.

Its also really easy climbing apart from the move next to the bolt. The sling is bomber, the cam (not that you need it) is bomber and the bolts are, well, bomber. Crux(es) are safe (bolts) and everything else is easy. A slip before the first bolt would not be expected of a solid VS/HVS climber. Hence soft HVS. E1 4c is grade reserved for soloing IMO - see Californian Arete (E1 4c)

For further comparison, I lead Looning the Tube in trainers, then fell off the Grooves on Cyrn Las (in rock shoes I should add) the day after. No way the two are the same grade.
Post edited at 19:32
Mike505 on 10 May 2017
In reply to ianstevens:

Just ensure your Belayer is anchored to the tube...
spidermonkey09 - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

I refer you to this great article: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=8236

Seamstress is amazing, get on it! Just go actually, its a phenomonal place, dries in minutes and theres loads of good sport as well.

(Looning is soft HVS, there are Yorkshire and Peak VS's that are significantly harder!
Alun - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:
> I have climbed slate sport a few times and loved it but was wondering how it like for trad?

Slate is one of those funny rock types; some people 'get it' more than others. Some (most!) of my hardest trad leads have been on slate and I always thought the grades were soft. Then I introduced a very strong friend of mine (way stronger than me) to the slate one day and he had a total nightmare, backing off routes which should have been easy for him.

At your grade range you will find plenty to go at for a day or two. I suggest you start on Seamstress (VS) and head from there. Good luck.

edit: re Looning The Tube. I found it ridiculously easy for E1 (but see my comments above).
Post edited at 20:06
EarlyBird - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:
All good recommendations above. Also add Mad Dog of the West (VS 5a) - protects well with medium wires and cams. Just a shame it's short. Looning the Tube (E1 5a) is an odd route but a good one to go at if you find slate suits you - there are only four pieces of gear but the route flows and it doesn't feel run out once you're on it - intimidating before you start though.

*Edit - definitely not E1.
Post edited at 21:37
radddogg - on 10 May 2017
In reply to spidermonkey09:

> Looning is soft HVS, there are Yorkshire and Peak VS's that are significantly harder!

It isn't a Yorkshire or Peak VS though. Different strokes for different folks. I've climbed harder Lancashire quarry Severes, but they're only harder because I can't jam.

Anyway, this is derailing the original post. My advice leave yourself a few grades in the bag and work your way up until you're comfortable.
Ron Rees Davies - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Razza:
Slate's a very different style to grit or pass routes, and can take a while to get used to.
There are lots of good suggestions above, but you'll notice they start at VS. Lower grade routes are rare.

If you're concerned about grade I would start with an hour or two at Bus Stop Quarry. There are a few lower grade sport climbs to start on to get you used to the feel of slate, and then a series of trad routes to work through -
mud slide slim/Ferrero Roche (HS 4a) is one of few decent HS slate routes with good protection but still giving an idea of what (sometimes loose) slate can be like.
Equinox (VS 4c) can be busy and a bit polished but again is well protected with obvious nut placements and has a classic slate feel.
Solstice (HVS 5a) is more of a confidence test, with lots of gear but placed behind hollow sounding flakes whilst Fool's Gold (E1 5c) has a few tough moves but lots of really solid gear placements.

After that, forays deeper into the quarries are probably best approached as combined sport/trad outings - there are good, well protected, trad routes in your grade range like Seamstress (VS 4c); Mad Dog of the West (VS 5a); Zambesi (VS 4c) and https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=227708 (currently banned due to construction work) but they are widely spread, but often with similar grade sport routes nearby.
Post edited at 22:56
radddogg - on 10 May 2017
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

He's climbed slate sport already. First sentence. He's after advice on trad.
MischaHY - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:

I don't want to confuse the OP but in my opinion cams on slate can be just as bomber as on grit as long as the placement is good. Obviously caution required with a sketchy placement but if his gear placement isn't good then maybe some more time on easier terrain required to cement it.

I've only ever ripped one cam on slate, and that was a friend 0.0 which I'd mistakenly placed behind an expanding flake - needless to say, I haven't repeated the experience!

Mau Mau for example is climbed exclusively on cams in the upper section but you've never any doubt because they're just bomber.

What I think grit has over slate/lime is that marginal cam placements are sometimes more likely to stick IMO whereas with slate they tend to be decent, ok or fully crap.
spidermonkey09 - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:

If you can climb VS consistently on grit then there's shitloads to go at on the slate.

Obviously it's not a Peak VS. But you're in a minority thinking it's E1.
Ron Rees Davies - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:

Yep, I read the OP, including "It just seems a bit more intimidating being slate" (Third sentence).

That's why I suggested an approach to leading slate including some sport warmups and a series of progressively difficult trad routes with good gear (including good cams) rather than making unhelpful comments about gear being thin and unreliable on slate.
The Ivanator - on 11 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

If you do have a crack at Looning the Tube (E1 5a) avoid my mistake of not stepping up after the bolt midway across the initial traverse, the lower line I took to reach the chain (well overhead on this variation) includes very scary thin moves (solid 5b) whilst you are very run out just before clipping the old metalwork, I fell off, took a big pendulum fall and hit the remains of the tube, was fortunate to escape a nasty injury.
I notice Mad Dog of the West (VS 5a) was mentioned up thread, on the same Skyline level in Australia there are some great long Sports pitches too, if you've not already done them then Clash of the Titans (6a) and Plastic Soldier (6a) are well worth seeking out. Mixing trad and sport can make for some fun days in the quarries.
radddogg - on 12 May 2017
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

Sorry for having an opinion. That was just my experience
ianstevens - on 12 May 2017
In reply to Mike505:

The spike is far more suitable for this ;)
jezb1 - on 12 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

Gear wise it tends to be on the smaller side but it can be bomber or it can be crap, much like any other rock. Cams do stick, in good placements, I've certainly fallen on them.

A great intro to slate trad day would include Equinox, VS, Seamstress, VS and Looning the Tube, HVS, they're all top climbs.

radddogg - on 12 May 2017
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

> unhelpful comments about gear being thin and unreliable on slate.

I fail to understand how pointing out the fact that lower friction rock reduces the effectivity of camming devices is unhelpful

http://www.vainokodas.com/climbing/cams.html

"Physically, this means that in a parallel crack, the coefficient of friction between the rock and the cams must be larger than µ or the cams will slide down the wall and the device will pull out of the crack. This is why µ cannot be increased indiscriminately. On the other hand, if µ is made too small, the range of the cams will not be very great, and the following forces will all increase: the compression force on the cams, the outward force on the walls, and the shear forces on the axle. Also, the ability of the device to work inside of a flared (non-parallel) crack will be limited, as will be shown next."

I've not said that there is no gear or that all cam placements will fail. He asked for advice and my advice was not to expect the same type and characteristics of trad protection.
andrewmc - on 12 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:

Once they bite the friction is pretty irrelevant in practice. Slate can be slippery but also provides 'bomber' cam placements with clean, regular cracks or where you can tuck them in behind a slight constriction. Less clean and regular cracks can be grippier but not bite as reliably, IMO.
radddogg - on 13 May 2017
In reply to Razza:
I've linked to an independent scientific study providing evidence to back up my experiences and I get dislikes but pure conjecture from a boulderer gets likes. Ok believe what you want. I've said all I wanted to say. Can I have some dislikes on this post too please?
Post edited at 00:33
yodadave on 13 May 2017
In reply to Razza:

I've only had one day on slate, about a month ago. I did some of the routes listed below.
My experience was that the climbing was hard to adapt to (remembering not to smear)
The protection was easy to adapt to with one caveat.

The caveat was that I kept placing nuts behinds stuff, giving them a tug and watching them pull straight through the gap. Basically I kept on placing gear behind blocks I assumed were solid but they all moved enough to let a nut pass through. I don't climb a ton of trad so this is as much a reflection on me as the rock type.

Give it a go, you won't be disappointed. hone your nutcraft. Ohh and offsets, large and micro seem to be a must.
radddogg - on 13 May 2017
In reply to spidermonkey09:
As I said above technically it's not a typical E1. Typical E1 would be 5b technical. It is 5a technical so if it was typically serious it would be HVS 5a. So the question is whether it is more serious than a typical HVS. The crack is slightly run out but there is a bolt at the crux so for that section no it's no more serious than expected. For me, the serious part is the traverse. Technically it's what you would expect on a HVS but it is in my opinion more serious due to the run-out and potential for injury on a pendulum. Sure, you wouldn't expect to fall but stranger things happen.

E0 anyone?

Edit, the votes in the logbook give it low E1.
Post edited at 13:02
Dave Ferguson - on 13 May 2017
In reply to Rob Powell LC&CC:

> I've linked to an independent scientific study providing evidence to back up my experiences and I get dislikes but pure conjecture from a boulderer gets likes. Ok believe what you want. I've said all I wanted to say. Can I have some dislikes on this post too please?

I think the problem here Rob is that although you're in the minority you continue to try and justify your position, which would be fine if you were right but I would question your assumption. There is a world of difference between between an independent scientific study and real world experience. I have also taken a few lobs onto cams on slate and never had a problem, as always with cams its how you place them, particularly in regard to direction of pull. Most slate cracks are vertical or certainly in that plane and this helps when inexperienced climbers are placing them. I've seen more cams pull out of horizontal cracks in grit than I have on slate.
radddogg - on 14 May 2017
In reply to Dave Ferguson:
> real world experience

I wasn't aware boulderers placed many cams. Fair enough.

I still maintain that if you tested 100 slate placements against 100 grit placements, there would be more failures in slate than grit.
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