James 'Caff' Mchaffie has made the most of recent spells of good weather by establishing three new lines in the well-trodden Llanberis Pass, located 15 minutes' walk from the Cromlech boulders: The Trouble Bird E5 6b, The Sorry Face E7 6c and Youtopia E8 6c. Youtopia is particularly good, says James, and deserves some traffic.
The Trouble Bird was the first to be done alongside a team of friends, Adam Long, Angus Kille and James Taylor. James told UKC: 'Although it has high runners, a lot of care should be taken with the edge of the roof where a member of our team cored the rope after a small fall. If you are into grit style oddities you'd like this.'
The Sorry Face tackles the wall right of Grand, the E5 6c right arête. James had abbed down it a few years ago to take photos of Ben Bransby and Pete Robins doing Grand. 'I thought it looked climbable but a bit poky and didn't know if it would be worthwhile, thinking I'd leave it for Calum [Muskett] to do,' James explained.
James returned earlier this month as the forecast looked promising. He abbed the line to check it out and brush it, before making the first ascent with Pete Robins. He described the line as follows: 'It's got a mono move near the start and a precarious layback/flag move halfway up, which is protected by talon hooks before a jug yomp. It has some good moves here and there, but it is a bit naughty. I was having trouble thinking of a name that fitted the climb best, but got there eventually.'
Youtopia is on Clogwyn Blaen Coed, accessed by a near-flat walk following the stream up the pass and on the left. James told us: 'There is a good E4 there called Marlene and Youtopia takes the big roof left of this via a lot of great climbing. A technical face leads to a burly roof and tough crux moves to hit nice pockets over the lip and easing in the middle, before a wild headwall gives a slappy finish for the top.'
The roof had looked blank from below, but James abbed down and back aided it. Having discovered some holds, James was ready to give it a go. 'I made the worst rope cock up I've ever done on my first go and although I felt good and was almost through the hard bit, I couldn't move for the rope drag!'
James believes that there is yet more potential in the Llanberis Pass, especially now that the crags are drying out for the summer. Watch this space...