Easter in North Wales

The Official Report of the Official Splitters Easter Trip

Mike Bayley – April 2009

Thursday evening saw myself, Mervyn & Dave (a friend of Martin’s) gathering at
Jesse James’ bunkhouse in North Wales for the Easter weekend. With an
indifferent weather forecast for Good Friday, Martin & Adrian were driving up
the following morning.

True to the forecast, Friday started wet so after a slow start we headed off to
the Llanberis slate quarries for a look round. After an unplanned tour of a
Welsh hillside we arrived at the parking where we met Martin & Adrian. After
some damp wandering and taking in the industrial heritage, itchy feet saw the
party splitting. Dave & I elected to continue our wandering whilst everyone else
opted for a more energetic walk elsewhere. And so we continued our wandering
through the somewhat other worldly quarries, taking in Serengeti, California &
Australia in a carbon free style.

Dali’s Hole – an otherworldly place.

As the day progressed, the weather improved and the quick drying slate made
climbing an option. A dash back to the bunkhouse saw a rope and quickdraws
hastily packed and we got 6 or 7 routes between F4A & F5A in before the face
went into the shade and a trip to Pete’s Eats became more appealing.

Meanwhile, the walkers had changed their plans and gone for an ascent of
Milestone Direct with much squirming on the chimney pitch.

Over dinner plans were laid for the following day, all involving an early start.
Adrian & Dave went for Grooved Arête on Tryfan and were out of the door at 0730
to beat the queues. Martin, Mervyn & I opted for Pinnacle Wall on Craig yr Ysfa.
Despite starting a little later, we were the second party on the crag after some
extended walking along its foot and up into the amphitheatre in fruitless
pursuit of the start of the route, mountaineering judgement ruled and we opted
for the most popular route – Amphitheatre Buttress. A combination of soloing,
moving together and pitching saw us cover 960’ of climbing in 3½ hours and what
fine climbing it was too. Partway up the route, we were able to see Pinnacle
Wall, someway up the opposite side of the amphitheatre wall. Well there was no
flipping mention of that in the guidebook!

Talking to the pair who followed up on the route, it turned out that one of them
was a member of the Ogwen Valley MR team. Although not present on that infamous
day in 2006, we had a bit a chat about rescues and his experience of a rescue on
Great Gully. The day finished by walking off a broad grassy rib and a trip to
Ogwen cottage for tea and checking the weather forecast.

Sunday’s forecast was for a dry but cold start with an increasing chance of rain
in the afternoon. So, we opted for Bochlwyd Buttress, some 20 minutes from the
car. The downside was its north easterly aspect which gave us a chilly start.
Once again, the guidebook was less than perfect and we struggled to match the
topo to the crag. I took the initiative and launched up a route that I thought
was a Diff but which proved to be a Severe with an awkward exit from a niche.
The guidebook wasn’t wrong in that respect. I was up and down trying options,
placing extra gear and trying to keep my hands warm. When I finally went for the
move, I have never been closer to falling without actually doing so and a knee
had to be employed for, erm, stability. Later in the day, Mervyn made a proper
job of falling in the same place so I no longer feel quite so bad about the
tactics that I employed.

Martin then jumped in with a lead of Wall Climb, complete with an interesting
traverse. Still not sure if we did the second pitch correctly but a fine climb
nevertheless. Then it was Dave’s turn on Arête & Slab, another fine route with
some testing moves for a Diff.

My turn again – this time on Marble Slab. The guide suggests severe, UKClimbing
HS; I’ll take the latter as that’s what it felt like to me and very thin in the
middle. Focus was required!

And that was the end of our day, apart from another visit to Ogwen Cottage for
tea & check of the weather forecast.

As forecast, Monday started dry & sunny but with three of the party leaving
during the afternoon big walk-ins were out. Dave & I opted for a return visit to
the slate where, in a confidence building style, we repeated most of the routes
from Friday and pushed out to F5C. That took us to early afternoon and a good
place to stop. From my perspective a very good first weekend of the year, pity
about the cold I took home.

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