Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pen Trwyn - excellent couple of days!

I'd often seen the routes at Pen Trwyn popping up on UKC logbooks, with stories of excellent 'North Wales Limestone' and it's usefulness as a wet-weather option. Anyway, i'd not considered making it to Pen Trwyn before leaving Uni, until Conor put forward the idea of a day at the Orme and then a day in the Pass or Gogarth.

We returned home from Almscliffe and watched England attempt to beat the Italians by playing like Chelsea and going for penalties. Conor, Bert and I probably should have just head straight for North Wales! On route we were pulled over twice by a seemingly bored Welsh police force, for minor/non-existent offences.

Woken by lovely warming sunshine, we ate breakfast and climbed the first route of the weekend, Precious Metal - E1 5b **, which climbs a leftward trending weakness on lovely rock. Bert led the line first, with me flashing the climb on his gear. I found the climbing enjoyable but certainly noticed a difference to Yorkshire Limestone with footholds at Pen Trwyn often being on 'polished spiky smears' or in dish-like pockets, rather than on flat edges or black (polished) smears. The hand holds too felt a tad strange, i couldn't quite put my finger (sorry) on what it was...

Conor onsighting Excursion - E2 5b ***

Next up was Excursion - E2 5b ***, this time Conor climbed first, another leftward trending weakness on strange feeling rock. I again, flashed the climbing on the already placed gear. Lovely little route, ** or perhaps ***.
Conor high on Excursion

Bert on Excursion

Cool moves

Tricky moves high up

Conor was then very stoked to head into the shade (i agreed with this too!) to try Chain Gang - E5 6a/6b ***. I'd not highlighted any routes i wanted to do especially, just putting a note next to climbs that had favourable comments on UKC, so i was happy to try to flash the E5 after Conors onsight burn. He pulled on and placed the easy wire and medium cam that protect the start and crux. A quick shake and he launched into the crux sequence that we'd discussed from below. He climbed it in utilising our 'ground rehearsed' beta with a slight change to use an intermiediate sidepull-crimp. He clipped an insitu wire and made a move to an undercut... but, unfortunately a loss of momentum and a balance resulted in a fall. An unfortunate fall, one of those strange falls when you just don't quite get the hold properly and your arms just sort of give up. He pulled back on and lead to the top, with the meat of the climb already done.
Chain Gang Wall

Conor on the pumpy start to Chain Gang - E5 6a ***

Post crux, but just before the fall on Chain Gang

I then geared up and pulled on, the lower wall doesn't look steep, but you are soon starting to feel the effects in your arms. The rock however felt much better, less warm with conditions less humid as the day went on, i think this was the issue early in the day. Good holds leads into an awkward, crimpy section on good, but not juggy holds. Wire placed and cam clipped, i did the same sequence of moves, dual sidepulls, launching up to an incut with left and push through for a 'triangular' hold with right. A good wire and then a couple of burly feeling moves to gain some undercuts and another insitu wire and some cams from Conor. Pull over the roof on good holds, with a heel rest and then up the bold feeling groove choosing to run to the chains rather than place un-required gear. Excellent route, at about Fr6c+? I reckon. It would be nice to know if i'd have been able to onsight the line placing the gear, but a flash felt good non-the-less. Conor quickly climbed the line clean and Bert and I climbed the excellent Bauxed - E1 5b **.

Feeling a little embarrassed by my lack of onsighting, so far placing only a wire or two on routes Conor and Bert had led, i racked up to climb Precious Time - E4 5c/6a **. I liked the look of the line and it certainly looks 'varied and interesting' as the guidebook claimed. I pulled up to the starting bulge and placed, eventually, some small wires under the roof while being accused by my colleagues for wasting time not placing cams... I'm not a fan of cams on limestone after one ripped on me a year or so ago. Anyway, eventually i made the 'crux' moves around the roof above the rp's and made my way to a nice undercut. I was a little pumped from my gear placing and rushed a poor nut placement in a flared crack. Pulled through the roof to good gear in the crack and plugged away up the groove to a lovely traverse left to an excellent jug and belay. A great little route, felt fair at soft E4 5c to me with a tricky and bold feeling start followed by a bold section before pumpy but well protected climbing. Would be a very tough E3, i reckon but perhaps my wires didn't hit all the right places? Conor and Bert both led the line on my gear and felt similar with 6b+ climbing being soft for E4 but with a bold feel at a couple of points.

It was only about 3pm i think by this point and we were pretty stoked by our progress while climbing as a three (the wonders of bolted lower offs!). We stopped for lunch, taking in the views towards England while basking in the sunshine.

Lovely view


Pesky seagull


Unfortunately however, this rest made us feel somewhat jaded and psyche was lost. I was tempted to look at Scary Canary - E5 6a *** or More Genius - E5 6a **, but decided to instead climb the classic Plumbline - E3 5c ***. This excellent looking line up the groove/crack system is indeed a plumbline! I racked up, feeling tired and made my way up the easy start passing truly excellent wire placements. A quick couple of locks and some nifty footwork gets you past the bulge and crux. Feeling pretty steady a couple of mono pockets provided some interesting holds and i ran it out to the belay. Great route, steady away with a bit of fitness but i can imagine myself, a year ago, getting well and truly shut down at the bulge. I'm not convinced this is harder than say Triermain Eliminate - E2 5b *** at Castle Rock in the Lakes. Who cares though! It's a great route and really, really, really well protected. Conor and Bert repeated the trick and we packed up to head for some food and then the Pass.

Another pleasant nights sleep, we awoke to a grey day... it pretty much started to drizzle as soon as we awoke (good timing!). We chanced on going to Rhoscolyn with myself and Conor really interested in doing Warpath - E5 6a ***. However, Holyhead was wet wet wet, so we headed BACK to the Orme! I was stoked for two days there regardless so i wasn't too fussed. Today the conditions felt far more humid, so we decided to warm up on the apparently classic String of Pearls - Fr6b+ ***. An excellent looking sport line, I was happy to go first, expecting easy, interesting climbing. I certainly got interesting! Some thin moves low down, on grim feeling holds (humid). A couple of clips felt hard while slipping on small crozzly crimps and then the top section on much more positive holds, had me sweating up badly. A beautiful cross-through and the belay was clipped. Excellent it certainly is, thoroughly enjoyable and perhaps not far off Fr6c!  Conor repeated the line and then, Bert lead Pale Shelter - E1 5b **, which is excellent too! Then the rains came. We hung around while Conor ran to get a clipstick thinking our day was over, but it actually soon dried off and Bert got a good lead on String on Pearls and stripped it. Conor told us conditions were much nicer on the other side, so we stopped by to tick off Kanly - E2 5c *.

Bert on the very enjoyable Pale Shelter - E1 5b **

Move to the bolts

Long story short, Conor lead first and followed a line of weakness up the groove before continuing leftwards up a hanging, leftward trending scoop to a lower off. We realised Kanly went direct, but the link up between Kanly and The Stirrer, an E2 5c to the left, felt good and is well worth doing actually at about E2 5b *.

A tired day ended after lunch with a lead of Pocket City - E3 6a **. I was feeling ok, while Bert and Conor were a bit tired. However, I certainly was more interested in a tick or two at E3 rather than trying one of the E5s i'd highlighted. I chose Pocket City over Solid Gold (E3), while thinking that all the routes on this buttress looked hard! I was pretty apprehensive getting on the line, trusting the grade and how straightforward Plumbline felt the day previous. After a bulging start, protected by small wires, a cool crux rockover to a mono left me on a good hold with an excellent wire. From this point on, the mood calmed and the enjoyment raised. From below the line looks poorly protected up to the big undercut, however, hidden holds and gear makes the climbing continually interesting. A cool move to the undercut, which is host to some amazing holds, allowed a chill out with bomber gear below the groove. A few high feet moves and locks in the crack before strange, but excellent moves up flakes, monos and crack holds. Belay reached, i was pretty buzzing with this end of trip E3. Great moves, great if-a-little-sharp rock and good gear make this a must-do! A good reminder for me that it's all about getting on routes and not taking too much to heart about how they look from the ground. Conor climbed the line well with very thin tips, with me not really thinking and telling him there were no sharp holds (oops).

Packed up and away we went, drafting lorries back to leeds on very little fuel - good work Conor! A good couple of days on the Orme with a roadtrip to the Pass and Holyhead thrown in for good measure!

A final thought though... After doing a bit of the classic low extreme trad on the Orme and having recently experienced a fair amount of Yorkshires finest limestone trad, i really do wonder why Yorkshire limestone trad is not as popular... Many of the pitches are longer, with rock good and positions excellent. Routes such as The Diedre (Kilnsey), Central Wall (Dib), Butchers Dog (Kilnsey), Worlds in Collision (Kilnsey) are all comparable, or better than the classics such as Plumbline and Excursion...  I'd assume the classics of Malham are just as good! Basically there is little excuse for Yorkshire Limestone trad to be forgotten the way it seems to have been... still, that said i'm not sure how much more i'll do in the near future, as I've returned to the Moors!   

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