Mat Wright has bagged the first ascent of a well-known roadside project in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia. He has named the route Eternal Fall and graded it E9 6c.
Mat first heard of the project when he was waiting for his partner, Anna, to cycle to him on her Mountain Rock Round, and he got talking to David Fidler. Over a pint after they had finished climbing, David tipped Mat off to a project in Ogwen next to a waterfall:
'He continued to emphasise the quality of the rock and the beauty of the line. It sounded too good to be true. Only issue being, he said the landing was atrocious.
'A few days later, whilst I was in the Ogwen, I went for a quick walk to check it out and my mind was instantly blown! An immaculate shard of perfect sandstone towering over the river in the Ogwen Valley. Literally visible from the road! How had nobody done this before?! I stood on top of the boulder and whilst looking down, I was able to see that the landing was really bad. It's a rocky bank that slopes downwards from the base of the boulder, with protruding edges that are very uneven. My initial thought was this isn't going to be a boulder problem.'
Using all the self-discipline he could muster, Mat waited until Anna had finished her Mountain Rock Tour, as he didn't want to tip off any locals that the project was in play. Once Anna could join him, Mat threw a rope down the line and started working it:
'The climbing was different to what I expected actually! It's very powerful, big moves on pinches for me at the start, powering straight up the face. Once I'm halfway, I then get both hands on each arête, then do this very insecure move to get my right hand on an obvious good flake. This for me was the scary move, your heel slipping here would send you spiralling off over your pads and spotter into some real nasty-looking boulders. Once you get this hold it's perhaps font 6C/V5 to the top; I did actually fall off this on one of my practice goes on the rope so I was worried about this too.'
He spent two days working the line and perfecting his method on a rope, before committing to the solo on the third day:
'I climbed it the best I had on any go and it felt perfect. I wasn't scared at all and I committed to the moves with confidence. This is what I love so much about trad!'
Mat estimates the Font grade to be around Font 7B+/7C, likening it to Gritstone solos such as Simbas Pride (E8 6b). He hastens to add the landing is truly shocking; a rocky bank, with sharp boulders that slope down towards the water. Between Mat and the team at the crag (David Fidler, Jack Walker and Will), they agreed that E9 was a more appropriate number to attach to the line.
Over the past couple of years, Mat has diversified his climbing from sport climbing and bouldering, becoming one of the most capable trad climbers in the country. In May 2022, he repeated Neil Gresham's Lexicon (E11 7a) at Pavey Ark and has since put up another route of his own: Live Fast, Die Young (E8 6c) at Wicket Gate Crag.