Sandy and Lotty’s Excellent Adventure

One Saturday, Sandy Bagge and Lotty Choss took the opportunity of some late summer sunshine to snatch some stars in the Pass and to celebrate Lotty’s birthday of 3 years previously.  Their experience must be shared to correct the wording in the new Llanberis guidebook.

Bole Way VS 4c4c4c (One star) Carreg Wastad

Start at a rib with a vegetated, slimy and mossy groove at either side about 100 feet right of Trilon, 30 feet left of Main Scoop Route, 300 feet below an odd shaped rock, up a bit from Shadow Wall and quite a long way from Pen y Pass car park.

1. Bridge up the rib and groove looking optimistically for gear until standing airily on the top of the pillar, still looking.  Make use of a jammed rock below your feet to protect a precarious step onto a vegetated, sloping gangway then commit to 2 over-hanging pinch grips whilst swinging out and right. Congratulate yourself on completing the ‘awkward’ move then realise that the expected handholds have not materialised nor has the gear or indeed your balance.  Wobble onwards looking for gear, ignoring the inviting crack in the detached block.  Ascend the ramp through gorse and heather, looking about ever hopeful for gear, until you reach a steep wall emerging from a peaty hanging garden of heather.  Climb the wall to the holly trees and a dark, prickly belay in the slot behind (‘cosy’).  Pick the spines out of your fingers before bringing up your second.

2. Climb the left hand holly tree as far as gravity and your personal weight allows before its sagging trunk negates all advantage and returns you to the belay.  Climb the steep, grooved slab on small crimps, looking for gear, until a loose handhold provides reassurance.  Ignore the nut-sized crack behind it.  Step right onto the rib and continue up it for a long time, looking for gear, until you reach a decayed ivy root and a sense of security.  A sling round the left-hand root seems slightly more solid.  Look for the ‘obvious block’ – don’t find it and press on to the over-hang.  Look for gear.  Don’t find it either and instead, traverse the wall below the overhang on matchstick sized footholds and an overhead pinch.  Contemplate the dripping, hanging gardens of Babylon to which you are heading.  Pick out the one dry nodule of rock to stand on and pull into a streaming, grassy, muddy groove with a crack behind the vegetation.  Hoick out several tussocks of marshy grass and find some gear.  Try to dry your hands and shoes.  Go up the steep and ‘interesting’ groove which gets less vegetated as you progress.  Stuff the crack with gear to keep in practice and because you’ve brought it all this way after all.  Squeeze between the roots of some more holly trees and belay behind in a damp corner.  Ladies with broader than average hips must choose another climb.

3. Decide to do the ‘Original Finish’ as it’s only 4b and you have had enough.  Ascend the steep wall behind the trees on greasy sloping holds, using the trees as required plus a sapling above for protection.  Try not to slip off too often.  Struggle round the arête, looking for gear and ignore another crack in another loose handhold.  Move along the ramp utilising all your friction skills and some novel left hand under-presses.  At the gorse garden either shred your body as you try to fathom the guidebook’s wording of ‘easily’ or, better, descend the face and hand-traverse the ramp.  Don’t give up on gear yet.  At the knobbly sloping platform progress carefully towards the large heather patch growing on clumps of earth perched on rock (probably).  Now you can give up on gear.  Kick steps in the earth and reach the next holly trees.  Belay here and hope your second does not notice the long sagging ropes across the void.

4. Climb the holly tree (again) onto the steep headwall on sloping holds and algae, looking for gear.  Carefully lay a small nut on top of a shallow, nut-shaped dent and breathe a sigh of relief.  This and the sling in the treetop provide security for the leftwards traverse of the lichenous, earthy, damp wall and slab to the overhanging, undercut, wet, final wall.  Climbers of 6 feet 6 with a large wingspan may find the final moves 4b.  Place some gear (!) then aid climb the overhang to the first positive, solid holds on the climb – the top!  NB Don’t let your second over the edge until she has retrieved your friend and foot loop.

How we laughed when we finally stood upright on level ground.  What a good joke the new guidebook had played on us!  For those with no sense of humour, amend the wording in the guide as follows:

Bole Way HVS 4c 5a 4c 5a

(i)                  Cross out the star

(ii)                Amend ‘well-protected’ to read ‘hardly protected at all especially on the hard bits’

(iii)               Cross out all references to ‘easily’

(iv)              Add ‘wet’, ‘overgrown’, ‘earthy’, ‘slimy’ etc liberally throughout the pitch descriptions

(v)                Add ‘loose’ on pitches 1, 2 and 3.

(vi)              Amend ‘interesting’ to read ‘horrible’ or ‘nails’.


Sandy Bagge and Lotty Choss