Why would you go anywhere else other than Scotland. My friend Rob Jonson posted these words on his blog yesterday. Oh Rob I think you got it wrong. YOU WOULD GO TO NORTH WALES old boy !!! as its the happening place
Yesterday ( Mon 9th ) I visited the Black Ladders with Ian Parnell and Dave Evans. Since I was a lad, well a old lad at Uni, I had heard of the legendary routes Chris Parkin had put up with the likes of Lew Hardy and Dia Lampard in the mid 90,s on the Ladders. These mystic routes have had an alure surrounding them over time, as both Chris and Dia have a reputation for being handy and not afraid of knarly ground and long runouts with anything harder than V being just VI. These routes are only now becoming known as info is avaialble.
On my first visit to the Ladders in 95, I climbed Western Gully my first grade V and got a taste for classic Welsh grade V. Now I was back with a secret weapon in Ian. Most of Chris's routes have not received a second ascent to date and Ian was keen to get one done. He chose, The Scott Report, this being possibly the hardest of Chris's routes on the Ladders. After our ascent, this came in at VII-7/8 with a fine steady lead by Ian on the hard pitches. Read the full report on Ians Blog
Ian going over the first of 4 overhangs on pitch 1
Ian having just finishing crux which is on pitch one
The route had 2 main pitches, followed by an easier pitch, then up easy snow / rocks to top. On the walk out it was a lot warmer of late, with a thaw at lower levels.
With Ian making his second visit to North Wales this year ( previoulsy El Mancho and second full free ascent of Bledderhead VII-8 ) and Rich Cross and Andy Cave also visiting last week ( see below ) its really good to see these guys giving North Wales a shot . Its also great for the scene and if conditions continue I am sure they will come up with other goods here.
Over last weekend, I was keen to repeat Back in Black, on Equator Walls, in the Pass, which Pete Harrison and Megan Beaumont had put up on the 6th Jan 09 . There seemed more ice on it than when Pete climbed it. We climbed the route in 2 pitches, instead of 4 pitches which Pete did. Ist pitch at IV and the second pitch ( 55ms) at VI-6. Pete graded it at VII-7 but thats winter, the grades change depending on conditions. This second pitch provided really good, continually absorbing and interesting climbing, first on ice, then mixed, then turf, keeps coming all the way to the belay. Top find by Pete and think how many years this has been waiting to be climbed ?
Me on crux second pitch of Back in Black
Earlier the same day, Tim Blakemore, Tasmin Gay and myself managed to grab a rare ascent of Chequered Wall. This gave a pitch of IV-V to the first belay , then a good long 35-40m second pitch of steep, sustained ice, a little fragile at times at VI-6, with the last pitch being III-IV
Tasmin on first Pitch of Chequered Wall
Tim on second pitch of Chequered Wall
Tasmin on second pitch
Western Gully on the Ladders has seen many ascents since last Friday. This classic grade V Cold Climbs tick has lived up to its reputation. With the legendary Dave Walsh shown on one of its crux pitches in Cold Climbs, this routes provides it all. Dave Evans message on my phone tonight sums this route up. Best route, ever, just awesome, what such good climbing, its great all the way to the top, every pitch is ace, I would get on it with comments such as this. Also Dave and Pete Harrison climbed a direct pitch up from the first cave - missing out the original pitch 3&4 traverseout right, up and back into the gully. It's a superbpitch worth 3 stars by itself and is the natural line. It finishes at the big cave before the crux slab. Chris Ayres first did it. Dave gave more words of praise saying, everything you need in a pitch of mixed climbing and more, its a classic.
Whilst on the subject of the ladders, Chris Parkin himself has been out along with Steve Long ( Chief Officer of MLTUK ) They were trying a new line see Steves Blog for more.
Last Wednesday ( 4th Feb ) Rich Cross of Alpine Guides and Andy Cave ventured up into Cwm Lloer to climb on Craig Lloer. They climbed 3 nice routes, North Arete, 75m- III -IV. This Follows the buttress crest as closely as poss in 2 pitches. Moonrise Direct 35m. VI-7 ish ? This Follow Moonrise to its traverse left, then direct finish up short overhanging wall into an awkward final groove. Great climbing including a wide can opener crack, then tricky moves above a ledge to get into the finishing groove - there’s gear for this bit, but strenuous to place. Finally, First Trinity Groove (with RH variation at the top, into the last pitch on Second Trinity Groove). 80m. IV, 4. Excellent turf lined groove with spaced pro on first pitch. Belay after 45m on rib right of groove. Second pitch up a fun turfy grove and chimney.
Rich Cross on Moonrise Direct - Photo by Andy Cave
Cascade has had numerous ascents over the weekend.
Climber on second pitch of Cascade
Pete Holden and Matt Sutton also did Western Gully today ( Tues) reporting good conditions. Also saying that Icefall Gully and Pyramid Gully on the Ladders also look in magnificent condition..Icefall especially which is very fat and almost a single pillar of ice.. Of further note Pete did Devils Staircase on Sat with Chris Woodall and Dave Richards, which he described at the top end of its grade perhaps even six in the upper sections. This was having completed a solo tour de force of South Gully, the Ramp, The Screen and Devils Cellar as a warm up!
Jo Henderson climbed the Devils Kitchen today ( Tues 10th ). This has not been in good nick for years. Fantastic climb today, very atmospheric but seemed to be thawing a bit while we were there unfortunately. Needs to be climbed with care at the base of the route as it's quite fragile at the moment. Saw teams on South Gully and The Screen today also.
Devils Kitchen Tues 10th ( Henderson Collection )
Report from Nic South Gully has certainly formed interestingly. The right hand line was nice and steep with some excellent chandelier / icicle features to negotiate at the top of pitch 2. Mandy and I also climbed Lefthand Icefall gully IV 4 on the Black ladders on Saturday which gave a great day out. The ladders were fairly busy and I'm sure lots of people found the graupel storm interesting that set in during the afternoon. Huge torrents of the stuff flowed down from the open slopes above us, funnelling down the gully burying my arms (and the belay) as we climbed.
Nic on second pitch of South Gully
Well its been a long report, Hope it wet your appetite for the weekend. Lets hope the weather holds out so we all can go and have some.