The Diamond in Conwy, North Wales was a hive of activity this weekend as a swarm of top climbers descended and left behind some quality new routes. Ben Bransby, Pete Robins and Pete Harrison established five new lines ranging from 8a to 8b+/c on the steep limestone cliff. Wiz Fineron and Will Smith also made fast repeats of The Brute 8b.
The hardest of the five - Full Empire - was discovered and climbed by Ben. The line follows the pre-existing route The Empire State 8a but free climbs the previously aided start. The new start adds a Font 8A section resulting in an 8b+/c overall. Ben told UKC:
"I'm made up to get this done as it was a very obvious gap - Empire State itself is really good climbing going right to the top of the crag and you could tell that the start was going to be great as well. I thought it might feel a little imbalanced as the start was going to be so much harder than the top but due to my current lack of stamina this wasn't the case - I fell off on the 8a bit on the first day and on the ascent the top was a real battle right up to the very last move."
Regarding the grade, Ben was unable to decide between 8b+ and 8c, believing the difficulty to be predictably condition-dependent:
"Grade wise the start is 7C+ or 8A and the full thing probably 8b+ or 8c. I think the start suited me really well which combined with the good conditions might be what made it feel like the slash grade, Pete had tried it (in less good conditions) a few times and felt it was going to be 8c and I think Jordan (Buys) had tried it too. Grade doesn't really matter it is good to do it and great that so much is getting done down there."
Ben also commented on the increasing popularity of the crag:
"It feels like the crag is 'coming of age' - according to James Mchaffie there were '40 people down there the other day.' Mega!"
Pete Robins linked The Brute into the finish of Diamond Dogs 8c+ to create Brutal coming in at 8b+. Brutal goes left from The Brute's lower-off, doubling its length to 30m. Steve Mayers originally bolted the line in the '90s and attempted to complete it, but didn't succeed and the half-way lower off was added in 2009.
Not content with just one new line, Pete also established Diamond Lights 8a, a long pitch between the upper section of Wall of the Evening Light and The Shining, featuring about 20m of new climbing on perfect rock, as well as a new 8a+ that is yet to be named. It is the first route to run all the way up the middle of the crag. Pete told UKC:
"Last night I did the best of the lot - a stunning 45m monster! It's super sustained, with practically no easy climbing from the moment you leave the deck, untill you clip the belay at the very top of the tallest part of the cliff. Really really exposed, perfect rock, and some thin sections high up on the face. The route needs about 25 long quick-draws and an 80m rope. No name yet..."
In response to Ben's indecisive grading on Full Empire, Pete commented: "Whatever Ben says about his newie, it's 8c! (Ben keeps forgetting he's quite good)."
Finally, Pete Harrison added Shine On 8a to the mix, a pumpy number leading directly up the wall left of The Wall of Evening Light which he bolted in September last year. An alternative, shorter version running up to the first lower-off at 17m is Low Light, a soft 7b+ or hard 7b.