First Post-COVID Climbs and Scrambles

By Will Nicholls - July 03, 2020

We sat down (virtually) with a few members of the team to find out more about which rock they’re most looking forward to getting back onto once restrictions lift:

Climbs

Rich Gentry - Mousetrap, Gogarth

I’m not sure how it will work with dates and the bird ban, but I’d love to do Mousetrap as my first proper route back. If not that, then something adventurous but not too hard at Gogarth would be perfect, maybe the uber classic Dream of White Horses.  Bet I’m not the only one with that on the list!

Iona Pawson - Lion, Carreg Wastad

Caution, some view this route as a sandbag!  This is one of my absolute favourite routes.  The terrain looks inconceivable at the grade, and brute force alone can’t get you up there; an entire toolbox of skills attained over many previous adventures will be needed! Ropework skills and canny gear placements are required to avoid hideous ropedrag, particularly as you make a long traverse for one pitch.  The climbing crux is bamboozling until you figure it out, and then it seems so easy.  Lots of the belays are a challenge to communicate from. When I first climbed it, it felt like the ultimate combination of everything I had learnt to date about climbing, and perhaps that is why I love it.  In fact, even climbing it now requires every ounce of concentration still.

Will Nicholls – Aura, Craig yr Ysfa

I was climbing at Craig yr Ysfa last year and saw the striking crack line of Aura. I didn’t have time to climb it that day and didn’t manage to get back to the crag that summer, but it certainly made an impression on me. I can picture looking up at it; it’s seared in my mind! I wrote a list of routes that I really want to climb to keep me motivated for training at the beginning of lockdown. The piece of paper I used is quite funny when I look back:

will-nicholls-post-covid-route

Scrambles

Rich - Crib Lem spur 

I’ve already done my first post-Covid scramble. The mountains are visible from home, but I lived too far away for the first two months. I could see the Crib Lem Spur from home, beckoning me. I think I probably looked back most days, imagining running in from Bethesda, into the cwm below the spur, savouring the scramble and then running along the skyline to Carnedd Llewellyn and back down. 

Once restrictions were eased enough (the Carneddau have been open throughout lockdown) I was really keen to go. I was totally unprepared for the view of Tryfan and the Ogwen Valley when I topped out, it felt brilliant to see it again after months away... what an amazing place!  My legs hurt for the rest of the run, but that didn’t matter - it was really good to be back.

Iona – a circuit of Lliwedd

I long to explore the slopes of the Snowdon massif when it reopens.  Imagining it will be a bit busy on the classic routes, my first port of call will most likely be Lliwedd.  From the roadside I’ll set off under the glow of morning twilight, enjoying the easy-going Miner’s track.  This path makes for a fabulous warm up and soon I’ll arrive at the base of the Y Gribin Ridge (not to be confused with the Y Gribin ridge in the Glyderau!).

From a distance Y Gribin looks challenging and impassable, but is an agreeable grade one scramble, provided the rock is dry and the weather forecast is good. Soon I’ll be turning left at the top to trot along to the summits of Lliwedd to see the sunrise.

Rocky undulating terrain leads me to the descent path (the normal route down Lliwedd), whereby once again I will be engrossed with the challenge of some easy scrambling back down to the main pathway below. Finally, I return on the Miner’s path back to the road, ready for the remainder of my day.  I can’t wait!

Brad – Clogwyn Y Person Arete and Crib Goch

I love scrambling in the Llanberis Pass because once you leave the road for the higher cwms it’s really quiet until you reach the ridges high above. Folks are drawn to the major paths on Snowdown and the Gylderau, but heading into the cwms is intimidating. Good route finding and scrambling skills are essential for getting safely onto the ridges. Walking into Cwm Glas your eye is drawn to the Clogwyn y Person Arete; the ‘Parson’s Nose’ sits at its base. It’s graded as a V Diff rock climb from the bottom of the nose; the climbing is a bit bold for the leader, but straightforward and lovely.

You have to then drop down into the gully. This is where the rock climbing start (Parson’s Nose) meets the alternate scrambling start, which is grade 2. It’s then a case of choosing the easiest line up the ridge. Difficult sections of scrambling are interspersed with rest ledges, the angle eventually eases to scree-covered slopes and brings you to the main walking ridge between Crib Goch and Carnedd Ugain. It’s a short detour if you want to touch the summit of Carnedd Ugain, or you can follow the ridge east towards Crib Goch. Simple scrambling with expansive views leads to the classic knife edge ridge section. I was once told by a walker coming the other way that I was ‘going the wrong way’ along the ridge, which I chuckled at with them, but it's worth choosing your time wisely, as you could be a salmon swimming upstream making progress difficult – against the flow of a lot of traffic. You can then descend down the North Ridge of Crib Goch and enjoy the peace within the northern cwms of the Llanberis Pass.

It’d be great to hear what climbs and scrambles you’re most looking forwards to – let us know in the comments below.

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LESSONS IN ISOLATION

An Adventurer’s Guide to Surviving Lockdown. Dr Loel Collins, Director of Learning and Development, shares his advice from a lifetime of expeditions to help you make the most of your time in lockdown.

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