Winter Continues in Wales - New Route on Black Ladders

© Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden
Adam Wainwright on pitch 3 of Birdsong  © Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden
Adam Wainwright on pitch 3 of Birdsong
© Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden

Dave Hesleden on pitch 4 of Birdsong  © Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden
Dave Hesleden on pitch 4 of Birdsong
© Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden
As reported on the DMM Website:

Dave Hesleden and Adam Wainwright have filled in the obvious blank space between Western Gully and Ypres on the Black Ladders (Ysgolion Duon). The route, Birdsong VII,7, takes a direct line through the snowy gangway of Ypres and up the front of the massive buttress above it.

The meat of the climb consists of five independent pitches. Adam Wainwright explained that: "We thought were going to climb the series of obvious corners but these turned out to be hideously blank and we found ourselves following a logical line on the crest of the buttress to its right."

Route Description from Adam Wainwright:

Birdsong VII, 7 ***

330m. A very good route which sets off to climb the stepped left facing groove cutting through the buttress above the Ypres traverse, but ends up climbing much of the buttress itself. The crux pitch is well protected but some of the turf/reed pitches are not, although these would be considerably easier under perfect neve conditions. 

Start from the foot of Western Gully proper having climbed the 100m approach 

1. 60m (6) Approximately 15m right of Western Gully, a left facing groove leads up towards the Ypres traverse. Climb turf, snow and grass into the base of this before traversing right on turf to its right arête, where more turf and a narrow groove leads to easier ground and the Ypres traverse. 

2. 40m (5) Step right on the Ypres traverse until beneath a large left facing corner leading up and left into the main left facing corner cutting the buttress above. Climb this on turf to a large pinnacle where a traverse left under steep rock leads to a belay beneath the main left facing corner line. 

3. 30m (7) Enter the corner above from the left on turf. The corner itself looks difficult and badly protected. Instead step horizontally right onto the front of the buttress. Keep traversing right past good spikes and other good gear until a short left facing open groove leads with difficulty to a turf cornice. Pull through this and follow easier ground and a belay up and right. 

4. 40m (6) Above lie various slim grooves filled with turf, reeds and poor protection. Climb these as best you can to an easing of the angle at the top of the steep buttress. This pitch would be much easier with good neve. 

5. 60m (4) Climb easier turf and reeds above into an open right facing groove, right of a large pinnacle. This leads to easy ground and the top. 

Adam Wainwright , Dave Hesleden 28/12/09

Birdsong Topo  © Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden
Birdsong Topo
© Adam Wainwright / Dave Hesleden

Adam Wainwright is sponsored by DMM

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