UKC Chief Editor Jack Geldard has added a new route to Craig Dorys on the Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales.
The route, named The Bigger Bang, takes an aesthetic groove line up the wall right of the Steve Mayer's E4 Bath Time in the Jacuzzi Zawn.
"I would say it's certainly one of the hardest routes I have done on the Lleyn," reflected Jack. "However I didn't do it in the onsight style, so I'm not sure of the E grade. It's UK tech 6c ish, got okay rock, but with the odd suspect crimp and fairly pants gear until about 12m where you get a good wallnut 1. The top bit is like a nice E6, with spaced but okay gear and awesome climbing. I'll go with HXS 6c."
When pushed for an overall sport grade, Jack guessed around F7c.
Craig Dorys is an adventurous sea cliff with many serious and rarely repeated routes. It has come of age in the last decade with a series of hard test-pieces from Stevie Haston.
Jack, who spotted his new line some years ago, initially attempted the route onsight, but didn't get too far due to a complete lack of protection and friable rock plus very technical climbing.
After a quick abseil inspection he realised it was a more difficult and serious affair than first thought and had a go on top rope with his climbing partner Neil Dickson. Neither of them flashed the line on top rope, and were pleased to not have really 'gone for it' on the onsight.
"It was much snappier at first. It cleaned up quite well in the end." Jack said.
Geldard left the line unclimbed due to being out of the country, but returned this week for a flying visit and led the line, partnered by Bristol based climber Maddie Cope.
"I opted to pre-place some gear on the lower section of route," said Jack, "You could hammer a peg or two in to that bit, but I have never placed a peg on a sea cliff as I think they rot too quickly and leave an unknown for future climbers, so personally for me some pre-placed removable gear was preferable. Neither option would be the best of course."
"Hopefully now a lot of the crumbly crimps have gone, it is a possible onsight target for someone." he said. "Someone like James McHaffie would waltz up it for a warm up."
The rock is remarkably good for Craig Dorys standards, but due to the thin and technical climbing, lots of very small holds are used and some of these crumbled during initial attempts.
"A crucial hold snapped on Maddie as she was top roping it just before I led it," said Jack, "luckily it left a slightly lower, but better hold!"
He added: "All this talk of snappy rock gives the wrong impression of the route though. It's pretty solid, with exquisite technical climbing on crimps and slopers, totally different to most of Craig Dorys. It really is an awesome route. 3 stars."
"Maddie had a good go on the lead, and took a short fall on to some RPs - but she was super close, I thought she had it!" Jack said. "We had a right laugh trying it that day, what with the abseiling in off tent pegs, holds snapping, getting to use weird gear like peckers and Ian being so hung-over he couldn't climb. Plus the car broke down and we were stranded at the farm next to the crag. Luckily the farmer's brother came up with a new water-pump for my mum's car... classic. It's why I like North Wales so much!"
Geldard is no stranger to the sea cliffs of North Wales, having climbed extensively on the Lleyn Peninsula and on Gogarth on Anglesey. He has previously added his own routes of up to E7 on the Lleyn, and made the first onsight of the Stevie Haston choss-fest of Bam Bam on Craig Dorys two years ago (UKC News).
Jack is sponsored by Marmot, DMM, Evolv