Friday, 20 December 2013

Mountains, slate and sea, just December in North Wales

     At the moment my Scottish winter plans seem to be going everywhere but Scotland at the moment. The recent warm weather meant a major thaw of any snow North of the border, and with a week off meant that winter mountaineering was off the drawing board. We decided to head down to North Wales, to make the most of the huge variety of crags on offer. After a rain the previous day, we headed to the quick drying slate quarries near Llanberis. I’ve done quite a few routes in different areas of the quarries, but the recent Llanberis Slate guidebook has endless routes in newly developed areas.
Piers nearing the top of Equinox
The Sidings of Australia, Llanberis slate
     We started in the popular roadside Bus Stop Quarry, which provided a good introduction to slate for Adam and Piers. There is a good mixture of trad and newer sport routes coupled with a good grade range to please all. The wind was gusting, and the rock was cold to the touch, with numb fingers being the order of the day. After a few routes we headed deeper into the quarries, to the upper sections of Australia in search of shelter. We climbed till the sun was setting and it was becoming to chilly on the digits, it is December after all.

4th Pitch of Gambit Climb, Clogwyn y Ddysgl
Enjoying mountain cragging in Deember
     I was a bit apprehensive before setting of the next day, after planning to head high into Upper Cwm Glas, with Gambit climb on Clogwyn y Ddysgl. At the docs a couple weeks, I was told I had tendinitis of the patella in both knees. Just what I need before a busy winter. They were both strapped up pretty good and the poles were out from the car, as we picked a path through the boulders are we headed higher up the cwm. Gambit climb was brilliant, perfect big boot route and even though I went a little off route on the second pitch, the best climbing was higher on pitch four and five anyway. Good belay ledges and gear, meant I could concentrate on Adam and Piers following up. We reached the top of the route on the upper section of Parsons Arete a 2/3 scramble which we then descended back down to the base of the crag. A steak pie and choc digestives later, we headed back to the car just as the dark set in.
Adam at Castle Inn Quarry
Here comes the wind, clip quick.
     Waking to a drizzly morning in Llanberis, we discussed our options whilst looking at the forecasts, opting for the North coast, and Castle Inn Quarry. I’d ever climbed at any of the crags along the North coast, and it was really good. I still couldn’t quite get my head around bolt clipping in Wales in December. The grey clouds and rain were approaching from the south, as we watched the blanket of grey getting near, it always seemed to stop just before us. The high winds made the climbing feel insure, like being on a winter route in Scotland, waiting for the gusts to ease before making the next move. It was to be last days climbing as the rain and wind set in for the next few days and trips to Pete’s Eats and the Beacon filled the time. Heres hoping for the snow coming soon though, I’m starting to get a twitch.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Great Wolfrey, a crag lost on the moors

     I’ve always been keen on exploring new crags, and although Great Wolfrey is located close to where I used to live in Pateley Bridge, its isolation and hefty walk in always meant I overlooked and flicked past it in the guide. The new YMC Gritstone Guide has again provided the motivation, thanks to cracking pictures and topos, and describes the crag as the most ‘out there’ crag in Yorkshire. They’re certainly right there, as the nearby Grimwith Reservoir is out of view and nearby landmark of Simon’s Seat is blocked from view as it nestles a top the moor. 
We can finally see the crag - Great Wolfrey
     Jack and Bob were keen for an early start as we donned the pads, the approach passed quickly, taking about an hour until the crag came into view. The friction was top notch, and the rock was similar to Slipstones, a nice silver and finely grained. It was quite scritty to touch, making even the most positive footholds precarious.
Jack climbing the layback crack of Autumn Gold, VS.
Me on Moon Madness E1 6b

     We started at the left end of the crag which at only 6m in height felt plenty high enough, getting used to committing to the rock. A good laybacking VS crack was followed by a couple of routes either side of an arete, which provided brilliant climbing and required some thought  finding footholds, as for once on grit, smearing was pretty much out the question. 

     Jack eyed up the right arete of the same block, although it didn’t seem to be in the guide, it looked like good moves. On closer inspection the first few moves linked well but there are a lack of apparent footholds to unlock the upper section. After a slap up the arete and a left sidepull, a high left foot and hooked toe allowed a poor crimp high on the face to be gained. I stalled a few times on the upper section which gained a slopey shelf and positive crimp before a bit of a lunge on poor feet reached a welcomed good hold and easier moves to the top. Bob f6b+. It probably has been climbed before but we can’t find any record anywhere.
Jack on the first ascent?? of Bob f6b+
Reaching the welcome jug at the top of Bob f6b+
     Moving along the crag, some of the problems have slightly poorer landings and get higher. There are some brilliant walls and aretes around 9m in height that look like they have brilliant climbing on them and surprisingly good landings in some cases. These routes stretch up to E4-6, and would definitely be worth going back for when I can climb a bit harder. There are also some cracking blocks below the main edge with some great problems and slopey finishes onto heather covered tops.
Me on the Heather Top boulder
     I can’t recommend the crag enough, the quality of the grit is top, different to the nearby coarseness of the Barden Fell crags. The walk in isn’t as bad as you’d think and if you want to get away from the crowds, Great Wolfrey is definitely the place to go, chances are you’ll be the only people there. Revel in its solitude and mystery whilst admiring all the quality lines there that will inspire you to go back for more.

Jack and Bob watch on as I near the top of The Flakes f6a 
Jack on Summer of 76 - HVS 5b
Jack up the nice moves of The Flakes f6a

Friday, 6 December 2013

Crack out the tools, its winter all year round at The Works

     It’s getting to that time of year again, the temperature has started dropping then rising, but the ding of the thermometer in the car when it hits 4 degrees and the snowflake appearing, funnily seems to get the heart going. By this point last year  I’d had my first trip up to Scotland, 3 routes under my belt and already planning the next trip. However this year has been a bit of a false start, my first trip coincided with nice warm weather and stripped crags. I made the trip across to the Lakes, to sample the dry tooling at The Works. I had never done any dry tooling before, and only just started getting the hang of mixed climbing last season.
Winter must be coming, the snowflakes there.
      I’d seen lots of pictures of the routes at The Works and read through Paddy Cave’s Blog (Mountain Circles) which provided more info and topo guides. Great work Paddy and Co sorting the place out! On first appearance the routes look pretty logical and with a few of the starting routes only being 9 metres in length, how hard could they be? I was to be proved so wrong!
Piers stretched out on Time and a Half
     We set up a top rope on the first route, Time and a Half, which in my opinoin provided the crux within the first few metres, using slots to gain a natural crack to reach the lower off. After a bit of a false start getting of the deck, I managed to scrape and hook my way to the lower off first go. The steep undercut beginnings needed high feet near head moves, for me anyway, with a dead weights of boots and crampons a bit of a change from rock boots. It was so much more intense than I could have imagined it to be, it looked so easy. Left axe, right axe, foot up, left axe....It was a complete all body workout, I felt knackered after one lap. 
After the start moves on Double Time
     After a good lead on Time and a Half, we moved onto the the next route along, Double Time. Once again the start felt really hard, match an axe, pull up and foot on and reach the next hook which felt miles. The hooks all felt shallower and more precarious, and after sorting the start, I became stuck at match followed by a long reach. Each time I reached up, I became to high on the hook and pop! It kept popping, time and time again. I managed to sort a bit of a plan by matching the axe and griping it over the head, like I was daggering it, meaning the pressure was straight through the pick. Until it popped like that as well, but I was sure that was the best way for me. 
Moving high on the match and...

     I talked through the route, where each axe would go to work it out so the hammer was in the popping slot, no way I wanted an adze popping towards the face! I lead went really good, well as well as it could of, there was a bit of foot slipping, stalling at the popping move and absolutely desperate top moves with completely boxed arms. I was so tired, after 9m, but its all good training ey? Bring on the white stuff now, I’ll certainly be back to the works though, beats the wall any day.

Lead time on Double Time
Past the popping move, Double Time to the top!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Solving puzzles at Shepherds Crag.

     I often think of climbing as a puzzle, a problem that requires brain power to work out how to climb the sequence and create the correct body positions to make progress up the route, all the while wondering what do I do next? This is what draws me to on-sight traditional climbing, where every route is a different unique experience mentally as well as physically. There are no rehearsals like sport climbing or bouldering, where time can be taken to work sections or individual moves. A completely different mindset is required to dig deep and work out the puzzle before the lactic acid becomes to much, or is it the mind that fails before the arms. 

     Jon and I were driving up to the Lakes for the day opting for Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale to seek shelter and dry rock, now that the cooler temperatures and Autumn weather are almost guaranteeing numb fingers on the mountain crags. The short walk in is always a bonus as well. He asked if there were any routes I particularly wanted to get on; I’d already had a flick through the guidebook and replied: ‘Black Icicle, Brown Crag Grooves and maybe have a look at The Bludgeon.’ Jon calmly answered that he’d been keen to follow me up some E1s for a day, meanwhile I was slightly nervous of the day ahead, having not climbed many routes in the last couple months. 
Jon following up Pitch 1 of Brown Crag Grooves
     We walked along to the far end of the crag wondering where everyone was hiding, not a single person at probably the most popular crag in the Lakes on a sunday morning. We started off on Brown Crag Grooves, on which I found good climbing, quite fingery from the off and slightly bold with a couple of crux sections in the first pitch. It certainly kept me thinking anyway. Jon finished up the easier but slightly mossy second pitch, we grabbed our gear and headed round towards North Buttress, past the swarms of people on Brown Slabs, seems like everyone had remembered where the crag was. After a couple of longer single pitch routes on North Buttress neither of us had climbed before, Evel Kineivel and Crunchy Frog, both containing really good moves and positions. After Jon’s next route on Fisher’s Folly Buttress he reminded me that we were getting close, we’d working our way back along the crag all day, Chamonix Buttress and The Bludgeon were next. I thought we’d give it a go, see what happens ‘ey. 
Jon leading Kransic Crack Direct HVS 5a
     Jon lead the first pitch which felt surprising bold, and I was feeling pretty tired making quite  awkward moves through the block towards the top, heading up towards the oak trees. Looking above to what lay ahead, the description of the lower moves didn’t quite make sense. I climbed where I interpreted the description, heading out left onto a bold rib leading upwards towards the pinnacle under the roof, thinking the crack above was to be the crux. Pleasant moves and solid gear lead to a niche to the side of the pinnacle with the overhanging roof moving out above me. place a couple of solid runners and began to think of what to do next, this was to be the start of my problems. I had underestimated this part of the route, thinking the difficulties lay above and the moves at this point would be fine, I was so wrong, the crack between the pinnacle and roof was around 6 inches, with featureless rock on either side. I somehow needed to get on top of this pinnacle. I was getting frustrated with the puzzle, trying different positions, not quite being able to get my feet where i wanted them and all the while hunting for something better for my hands. There was nothing, I had to just accept that, I needed to make it work. Both my arms and brain were tiring. I tried several methods, but couldn’t commit to them, no faith that they would work and unsure of what was to come and whether I could reverse it. I’d made the move, it had worked, I was now reaching reaching around both sides of the narrower top as my body now moved around the front of it, I had to think fast. One leg swung around the side and into the wide crack, I had just mounted the pinnacle and earned myself a no handed rest. I then shouted down to Jon: ‘What the f**k am I supposed to do now!’ The tanks were running empty and I stuffed another cam into the crack by my face. The crack above was narrower than I expected and I’d used that size cam lower down. I was safe here, I needed to chill and regather myself. 
Moving around the front of the pinnacle on The Bludgeon
     The crack above was completely parallel, nothing to layback off, and I am rubbish at jamming. I reached to what looked like a sloper, just out of reach. What to do here, I now had to unlock the top section of the puzzle. I shimmied slightly up the pinnacle, the sloper was a good flatty, big enough for two hands. The key! I pulled and stood a top the pinnacle, hands moved right to positive flakey edges, I reached what looked like a good jug, but it was too far. My fingers were tiring, I was grasping at holds, technique was long gone, though none of the pitch had been very graceful. Feet up slightly and I reached the jug, ‘right, I can’t blow it now’ I thought. I pulled through larger holds and thankfully the angle eased taking the pressure of my arms. The whole sequence there can’t have been longer than 30 seconds. I gave a little shout of ‘Come on’ at the top, which is quite unlike me, and I’m not sure if it was relief or wanting the route a lot that produced it, probably a combination of the two.
Mounted the pinnacle wondering what to do now? The Bludgeon
     It is experiences like the one above that are the reason I trad climb. To put myself in these situations and have the belief I can do it, testing myself physically and mentally. There were points under that roof that I wanted Jon to take me tight on the rope, the route pushing to defeat me, I was quite frustrated by that point. Determination and stubbornness  are pretty good attributes to working out the puzzles unlocking the route.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Alone on the moors at Brown Beck Crags

I was inspired. A couple of days ago I had a cracking afternoon visiting a new crag, getting off the beaten track and finding some great little problems. My exploration head was on, and the weather was a lot better for the grit, to say it was the beginning of October anyway. I was keen to sample some more of the hidden gems across Yorkshire. Brown Beck Crags is located across the moor beyond Slipstones, and is a bit of a trek to say the least. I was on my own, but determined and motivated to make the hike in after finding out the landings were pretty reasonable as there was no spotter for me. The guidebook reckoned about a 45 minute approach, which is about right with a couple of pads strapped to my back. 
Slipstones with its Autumn coat on.
I headed off up the track, keeping my head down trying not to look at the inviting blocs of Slipstones with its autumnal coat on. There were problems I wanted to check out at Slipstones, but today they could wait, I was on a mission. I passed the crag and crossed a natural ford above a ravine, a marched across the edge of the moor through varying depths of heather, bracken and bilberry bushes. I dropped beneath the ridge, which was a bad idea. This was just getting ridiculous, there was still no sign of a crag anywhere, so I checked my watch 35 minutes. The guidebook mentioned a solitary pine tree from which the crags were visible, I could see it, but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer as I battled through the undergrowth. I eventually made it to the tree, spot on the 45 minute estimate. The crag looked beauty.
Brown Beck Crags
Brown Beck is very similar to Slipstones, sharing the angular blocky shape with apparently smooth walls and stunning aretes. After sussing out the crag with the guidebook, and bypassing a few of the micro routes, it would be a rewarding trip with a rope, I found a slanting buttress with several problems to warm up on. The rock was surprisingly clean, taking no drainage and makes the most of any sun going. None of that today though, a chilly breeze and overcast sky made for some good conditions. The edges were good, the footholds just lacked that bit of traffic that gets rid of every grain of grit, so felt a little precarious at times on smears. 

Lower moves on Next of Kin f6B+
Moving onto the upper arete - Next of Kin
The crag has a very solitary feel to it and rightly so as you can’t see any buildings from the crag and there is no mobile reception. Perfect for just enjoying the rock and the climbing. There are some really good problems, walls split with the odd break and positive crimps in between, and some stunning aretes all culminating in the stereotypical sloped mantleshelf top out. Some of the problems were quite highball in nature but the landings good, however glimpsing the word ‘Snap’ on the mat below in the corner of my eye, made sure i was switched on for those top outs. I never pushed it too hard but the crag has some great problems, and is perfect if you ever want to get away from it all and just climb.

Smiley Dog Arete f6B - tricky moves to mantle onto the wide break
I apologise for the poor image quality, they're stills from videos i took.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Clint Crags: Exploring the wild grit.

Having grown up close to Brimham Rocks, gritstone was really the only rock I knew early in my climbing career, from scrambling around, starting to boulder and eventually learning to lead, all was learnt on God’s own rock. Since widening my climbing into the mountains and sea cliffs, climbing on a wider variety of rock types and styles and moving away from gritstone areas I have felt this connection growing weaker over time. Each time I revisited familiar areas I couldn’t quite climb as fluid or produce the right positions and failed to climb problems I had climbed a couple of years previous. 
Matt on the Arete
Now summer has passed, the air is becoming cooler the grit guidebook has reappeared at the top of the pile, flicking through for inspiration, and theres plenty of it. I’ve always loved visiting new crags and the new grit guide is so visual providing a never ending list of problems to try. Surrounding the outstanding crag of Slipstones, a number of smaller crags lie on the nearby moors similar in nature allowing top quality problems to be found just off the radar for those willing to hunt. 

Clint Crags is found beneath Masham Moor overlooking both Leighton and Roundhill Reservoirs. A solitary setting, you are almost guaranteed to be the only climbers at the crag, contrasting with the industrial feel of 100 year old dams in proximity. The crag is compact, with brilliant landings and a bit of scritty rock which is expected at less traveled destinations. A brief warm up on a few problems and getting completely shut down on a couple more that had incredibly tricky starting moves, which meant I lost motivation and couldn’t work the other moves. I moved across the block and found a good line up the arete on the right hand side, with a positive starting layback hold. 
The 'Long Lob'
Lobbing for the pocket

The problem suited me, requiring a long reach between good the start hold and slopey pocket whilst holding the barn door swing. On first appearance the sequence looked easy, but the problem wasn’t giving in that easy, maybe it did warrant its f7a grade. I tried and tried and tried. I seemed to be doing and failing on the same move over and over, putting it down to just not catching the top pocket right, without loosing the swing of the barn door. I’m always one for impatience between problems and attempts, never resting enough or thinking in depth about the sequence I have just tried and how I could change it. 
Jug top
Matching the pocket.

I forced myself to have a break, the first of the afternoon, fifth problem in and after about ten attempts on this one. Shoes off, water out and just chill enjoying the view. Next attempt, launch up for the pocket, latch it, flag my foot to hold the swing and quick hand up to match the slot. Its done, sort the feet, and move up two shelves to a rare jug on the sloped top out. It certainly was the Long Lob, and a cracking problem. This visit has really rekindled the spark that was going out. I love the subtle movements and changes that can unlock the problem, and am now looking forward to the rapidly approaching grit season.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Pinnacle Ridge, Ropes and Meeting new people: A winning combination!

With the autumnal weather moving in, Adam and I headed over to the Lakes on an optimistic forecast, hoping for an overcast day free of rain. Having completed my MIA training a few weeks back, I am more focused than ever to introduce people into climbing and the mountains. We picked Sam, Josh and Rebecca in Ambleside then onwards to Patterdale. Pinnacle Ridge on St. Sunday Crag was our objective. I was the only member of the group to have climbed the ridge before, one of the best scrambles in the Lakes provides great positions on climbing as the ridge narrows and a traverse of the pinnacles leads to the summit slopes. Leading the way on the steep approach, gave enough time to great to know a bit about our new companions before we contoured the hill to the base of the ridge. 
Josh and Rebecca: just chilling!

As we harnessed up Sam jinxed us by putting his waterproof and subsequently the rain came as we geared up. I led up with Rebecca and Josh following on to the base of the ridge, leaving Sam in Adam’s capably hands. After explaining the use of spikes, belays and the ropework, I headed off up the first sections of the ridge. Keeping our ascent fluid we weaved our way up through the blocky ridge, making the climb as direct as possible. Rebecca and Josh climbed really well, following my directions, as we spotted Adam and Sam on the lower sections. The selected belays were really important to keep the scramble flowing, using the appropriate belay for the ground covered as I showed why I had chosen them. 
Adam and Sam on the lower sections
The upper sections of the ridge are guarded by steeper walls and a corner in a bay. We climbed cracks and the corner as a short pitch of roughly 10m to access the pinnacles above. Josh and Rebecca followed with ease, and their previous climbing experience was now transferring into boots and a mountain environment. We traversed across the pinnacles and climbed down the slab leading to the final buttress. The rain had ceased on the lower sections and the lack of breeze meant we were all glad to strip the waterproofs at the top.
Sam descending the slab after the pinnacles
Students: always got their hands in their pockets!
We headed to the summit of St. Sunday Crag and descended down to a breezy Grisedale Tarn. It had been a while since any of us had been on a full mountain day in the Lakes so we climbed the zig zags up the Southern slopes of Dollywagon Pike. We passed a group of mountain bikers and were keen to escape the Helvellyn highway and began our descent of the East Ridge of Nethermost Pike. The initial steep section of the ridge soon eased as we dropped into Nethermost Cove looking up steep slopes towards Striding Edge. A pleasant walk along Grisedale followed, after a quick scout of Eagle Crag, one to head back to in the future. New partnerships formed, the team are really eager to learn and progress their mountain and climbing knowledge, which is perfect for my and their development.
The team heading down into Grisedale; St. Sunday Crag in the background.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Off the beaten trad in the Lakes: Scafell and Goat Crag

Weekends here, cars packed; tent and ropes. To the mountains. We were after shade, more so, my ginger skin was after shade. The weather was looking top, lots of sun and dry mountain crags. A quick escape from work and steady drive to the Lakes followed as people flocked to the mountains. We walked in, camping by Sampson Stones, Great Moss, and I was itching to get on the crags the following day.
Scafell's East Buttress, what a piece of rock!
What we thought was an relatively early start, turned out to be not so early, as we spotted several teams on Scafell's East Buttress as we approached Mickledore at 9am. We moved to the shade of Scafell crag and the popular route of Botterills Slab on the left of the crag. The climbing was superb, smaller holds than I was expecting and quite sustained I reckon, but never desperate. Just really enjoyable climbing on a brilliant crag. We made pretty short work of Botterills and headed back for more, selecting the classic Moss Gill Grooves. Another cracking route, and still in the shade. I looked down to the dots walking up the twisting scree towards Mickledore and Scafell Pike, with the sun beating down on them. 4 pitches up Moss Gill Grooves, we were at the top of the crag, and followed the scramble down Broad Stand to retrieve bags.
Me nearing the top of the main pitch of Botterill's Slab
Piers leading off the first pitch of Moss Ghyll Grooves
Mickledore Grooves was next, on the stunning East Buttress of Scafell, as we followed the shade round. Two long pitches ahead, crossing some impressive territory, steep grooves split by a traverse across an impressive slab. This was probably the best VS route I have ever climbed,  rough clean rock, and interesting climbing kept me throwing some moves as I climbed the long 42m top pitch.
Descending back to Great Moss, I couldn't stop looking back at the crag!
The following day was back down in the valley, slogging through the bracken towards Goat Crag, Borrowdale. Facing North-East and suffering from a lot of seepage from vegetation above, the crag takes a while to dry out. It was my first time here, and initially the crag looks really dirty, covered in moss and lichen but on closer inspection the holds and edges are mostly clean. Rock, paper, scissors for first pitch of the classic DDT. Tom won, racked up and set off up the groove following it to its top. I followed, surprised at how good the climbing was, with sustained interest and good gear, to reach a root ledge above. Stepping out from the ledge across the wall, I was able to gain a groove above, which lead across a mossy slab and the top of a cracking route. After a full length abseil to the deck, we headed round to the Hard Rock classis, Praying Mantis.
Tom bridging up the first pitch of DDT
Stepping out from the belay starting Pitch 2 of DDT
The route heads up a crux corner crack before weaving through some impressive territory by a couple of traverses. Tom won the scissors again, and I'm glad he did as I seconded up the pitch. The route is definitely showing more signs of climbers, the polished crack and lack of footholds meant an aggressive approach was needed. The following 2 pitches weaved across steeper ground as I was landed with fourth pitch to the top, picking my way through, following a faint crack which looked just like a drainage line, to gain mossy slabs above. The moss is just superficial, most of the holds are clean, providing really good moves and positions. The crag is definitely higher than it looks on the approach. It just needs a bit more traffic, which isn't helped by its aspect. Next time there's a dry spell its definitely worth checking out.
Tom on the crux crack of Praying Mantis

Friday, 14 June 2013

Hard Rock and Rescues on Cloggy

I had never climbed on Clogwyn Du'r Arddu otherwise known as Cloggy before, but had heard of its aura, it's walls stacked with climbing history, positioned high within the Welsh mountains. I'd seen lots of pictures online, in guides and magazines, you can't fail to notice it's dominance driving into Llanberis. After getting pretty scorched on the cliffs at Gogarth, Piers and I headed back into the mountains and an early night before the slog up the Snowdon path to reach the crag. The crag looked stunning and became even more impressive the closer we got. I was relieved to see the buttresses covered in shade as the sun moved round, no sun burn for me today.
The stunning Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
We skirted round Llyn Du'r Arddu to access the base of the West buttress, our route the classic Great Bow Combination from Hard Rock. From below the buttress looked huge, but broke down into 5 pitches. I set off on the first 45m pitch, climbing a brilliant cracked groove till the cracks end where a few bolder moves up a rib lead to good sized belay ledge. The rock was solid and quite rough, with bomber gear.
Piers arranging gear on Pitch 2
Piers continued up the rib above setting up a belay below the crux traverse to access the slabs above. I stepped up from the stance to place a high first runner then started the traverse along a break with poor feet, which was surprisingly pumpy with little protection in sight. I rocked up onto a ledge at the end of the break, placed a solid wire, and headed up to the belay above.

Now for Piers to second the pitch, who also had our rucksack of shoes and water to just walk off after the route. The traverse was just as bold for Piers to second as there was little gear for me to place on the lead. After the start a step up with small holds and smear enabled the break to be reached. I had a good view of Piers crossing to this point, I was careful not to pull the ropes too tight to pull him off the wall. These moves were pretty tough, and once all other sequences were ruled out Piers committed to the move. But then he was off! I thought he had made the move. The ropes went slack, as he pendulums across onto the wall below out of my view, swiftly followed by the shock as the ropes take the weight. I shouted down to him,  he was ok. Luckily able to climb the few metres of wall to regain the end of the traverse, took a minute and climbed up to me. He had skinned the knuckles and cut his knee, but was keen to continue after a quick tape up.

The end of the traverse on Pitch 3
Piers swiftly dispatched the fourth pitch up a cracked slab to an impressive exposed stance on the edge of the slab. I had noticed climbers across on the Eastern Terrace shouting in our direction as Piers climbed his pitch. As Piers set up his belay, he was talking to someone else, before shouting down to me: 'you're going to love this.'

We chatted about what was going on as I climbed the pitch. Turns out a team were stuck, or were unable to progress further on their route; Longland's Climb, a classic VS with a sting in it's tail, as described in the guide, an intimidating 4c pitch blocking access to the top of the climb. We were unable to reach Yohan and partner from our present position with a gully and a buttress blocking the way. We told Yohan we needed to complete our route then abseil down if we were to provide any assistance.

Looking back down Pitch 3
We completed our route, which was cracking. It had been a while since I'd climbed on the mountain rock of North Wales, and remembered how much I love it. However my mind was now focused on how best to help the stuck climbers. Trying to locate the top of a route from the top of a complex crag full of gullies and pinnacles is a right pain, especially seen as it was my first time at the cliff. Orientating the guidebook photo, to try and match up which way to head proved useful, as did climbers from the other buttress shouting directions to us.
Piers at the stance at the top of Pitch 4
We hunted down a large block to use as an anchor and I carefully started to abseil down the top section of a gully, ropes over my shoulder and paying close attention to where I place my feet, not wanting to dislodge any rocks onto the crag below. I moved down and around a corner shouting to the party beneath me. I located them, some 10m below the pinnacle I was now sat on. They sounded surprised that I was there, I guess it had been about an hour and a half since we first made contact with them. I was lucky that the rope was just long enough to reach down beneath me. I made a belay at my position to back up my abseil rope as Yohan tied into the other ends of my rope. I gave him a tight top rope up this tricky section of the route as his partner belayed him from below. He was so relieved to reach a ledge just below me, the previous few moves had been a battle for him. I kept him on a rope until he had placed 3 solid runners as he moved onto the easier climbing above. He definitely looked pretty shaky and then let on that this was only his fourth outdoor lead! Hats off to him for his enthusiasm but he was definitely out of his depth on this route, and obviously did not no how to sort himself out in this situation.

I carefully climbed back up my ropes to reach Piers at my block belay. After stuffing gear into our bags it was time to make tracks and drive home. Walking out down the path I kept almost tripping over my feet as I was looking back around at the magnificent piece of rock behind me. Matching lines in the guide up with the features on the rock, I just wanted to climb more. I can't wait to go back again!

Cloggy - What a crag!