North Wales and the art of Trad climbing

North Wales and the art of Trad climbing

North Wales and the art of Trad climbing

seams-the-same Dinorwic Slate Quarry

Its common to hear trad climbing described as an art. Yet I felt more painter decorator than fine artist when I decided to take a trip to North Wales.

As much as I love climbing in Ireland, it takes a lot to beat North Wales and like all artists seeking inspiration, there’s nothing like new environs to inspire.

I arrived at night and parked at a lay-by in the pass. The dark form of Dinas Cromlech standing proud in the night to one side. Meeting up with Helen, Brian and Jon, the discussion quickly turns to aspirations for the trip. The weather forecast says dry, there’s no distraction of work or WIFI and I’m here for 12 days. The possibilities are endless.

The next morning we start lazily, but wander up to the base of Dinas Cromlech. A warm up for me on Better Things/Dives and Sabre Cut for Jon. I’m feeling less than fluid and taking some time getting used to Rhyolitic ways. As the climbs are not high in the grades, I naturally search for excuses. Perhaps plying my trade has made me soft. “perhaps this… perhaps that…”. The familiar excuse game. In reality I’m out of shape and out of practice. But lets not cut off an ear just yet.

The frustration continues in the afternoon and for the next few days. Venues and climbing partners change, but my progress is slow to improve, I struggle and punt up climbs I feel I should cruise with ease. A sunny and enjoyable ascent of Merlin Direct in Tremadog gives me hope. Its not all bad I suppose, there’s always work for painter decorators.

Day 4 brings a forecast for showers. We depart from our now homely lay-by and head for the Dinorwic slate quarry. Ive never climbed on slate before, but for some reason I’m confident its a medium Ill enjoy. A blank canvas and a fresh start.

I warm up on Seamstress and enjoy every moment. Deliberate and subtle moves, no aggressive brushstrokes here. Seams the same is directly beside it and I hop on. Its a classic and an amazingly enjoyable climb, with progress being made on unlikely and thin foot placements. I could happily climb here all day, but the showers arrive. With our intentions usurped, we head for the coast and a dry but windy abseil into Castle Helen crag.

Over the next few days we climb at Holyhead Mountain and Gogarth sea cliffs, make our way back to Tremadog and revisit Llanberis and the Ogwen Valley. Every new crag boasts a gallery of masterpieces. I’m cruising now and enjoying every ascent. I enjoy fantastic leads like Breakthrough the barrier and second classics like Vector. The banter and jokes between friends are endless. Standard policy is to induce disabling laughter whenever a new lead is started. Thanks Helen!

By the ferry trip home I’m climbed out and ready for reality again. 12 days sleeping in the back of a small van and pushing my body has taken its toll. I ticked little of what I intended but experienced so much more. Its a week til the Dal Riada Burren Meet and Ive got to rest up. Inspiration and pysche is high. I might sell a painting yet.



                 Lay-by Camping



North Wales and the art of Trad climbing

North Wales and the art of Trad climbingNorth Wales and the art of Trad climbingmountain training logoleave no trace ireland