Chris Parkin, having already established himself as one of UK's leading new routes activists over the last 15 years has really pulled it out the bag this week.
Tora Bora, his new route, where else but the Ladders, comes in at at hefty VIII-8. This is only the second grade VIII-8 to hit Wales.
Chris as usual played down such a fine effort and contribution to UK winter climbing when I spoke to him on the phone saying " it was a bit sketchy in places, with a few scary moves, but overall not to bad.
Having already claimed VII-8 and VII-7 on the ladders in the previous 12 months, what next ? Maybe the next 9-9 . Well Chris is off to Scotland for the weekend maybe for a rest ? The old Welsh Winter Guide seems to dismiss Chris's routes of that era, not realising what an impact these were going to have in the modern world and on current climbers.
This is a major new line for UK winter climbing on one of the best crags in the UK. Chris has a habit of finding lines through impressive terrain that many others dismiss. There is one secret ingredient of Chris's which Nick Bullock the other climber to add grade VIII-8 to Wales has . They both have big !!!! when it come to having it.
This is magazine front page coverage, not repeats of routes done years ago.
Pete Harrison aka Mr Winter Wiki had done 1 route this season due to injury before pairing up with Chris for this route.
Speaking to Pete he commented
"After a winter spent shuffling along Llandudno prom with the rest of the elderly/infirm population, yesterday I went to Ysgolion Duon with Chris Parkin and spent the whole day being scared back into winter climbing. My first time climbing with Chris - what a legend/psycho/highly talented climber! We did a very direct new route up a series of corners and grooves on the buttress in between the grooves of Imminent Conflict and Broken Cease Fire, Chris led the hard pitches. The crux pitch goes up a corner crack on torques, hooks and turf, a brief rest and then topped off with a tricky verglassed slab with more torquing in a crack to reach the turf above.
It's the best winter pitch I've climbed - 45 metres of technical, sustained and pumpy mixed climbing which keeps on coming, with only adequate hard-fought gear, a brilliant lead by Chris who took a whinger onto his axes at one point. That pitch by itself would be worth doing the walk-in and route for, a five star pitch if ever there was one but the other pitches are good and challenging too, the final one being 40-45 metres of serious grade 5 turfy corner which Chris basically soloed, the loon"
The route Tora Bora, 300m, VIII 8. - has 7 pitches - three of 3/4, one of 4, one of 5, one of 6 and one of 8. Bring a good selection of pins, turf pro, and a desire to strap it on. Neither of us had a camera so no photos.
IT Does not end there, oh no, the locals are mad for it, once one gets new routing they are all after a piece of the action. Lew Hardy one of Chris's partners back in the 90's when they did other new routes on the ladders was back at the crag today. Maybe he needed to get one back on Chris ?
Anyway, he and his partner Jamie Mac headed up to the Black Ladders. On the Ladders a thin layer of fresh snow covered still good neve. Although there was a lot of water running all the ice lines looked in condition. They did a new line 30m right of Ice Fall Gully Right Hand. The first pitch may have been climbed previously (any claimants?) but their continuation gives a direct line with the first two picthes sustained and nicely contrasting. It was Jamie's first new route, so he says he has to be biased, but Lew has done plenty of routes in his many years; he had a silly grin on as well so its gotta be worth a star or two! The only one other pair in the cwm today were on Jacob's Ladder. It snowed as we descended and the temperature dropped considerably, so hopefully all good for the weekend.
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
IV 4, 4, 1/2, 3, 1/2 *
Lew Hardy and Jamie Macdonald, 18.02.10
Another new route comes in the form of Snake Bite Direct on Snowdon climbed last weekend my Mark Lynden and Lew Hardy ( what has he lined up next I wonder )
Finally after waiting 20 years Martin Crook and Nick Walton claimed Cwm Raider IV-4 down near Beddgelert
So the Old Welsh Guard have truly stuffed us all this last week. Nice one chaps, give us some more
Well how do I sleep tonight with so much excitement in Wales. It is the place to be and believe me there is stacks of new lines out there.