Saturday, 27 October 2012

Craig Bwlch Y Moch

After my long drive down to North Wales, I pulled into Betws Y Coed for a bite to eat and a drink while waiting for Chris to drive down from Scotland. At 22:30, I left the comfort and crowds of the pub, £20 lighter after buying a burger and a few drinks, and made my way to the car park behind Joe Brown's in Capel Curig. No soon than I arrived, Chris pulled up. We packed kit fro the following morning, discussed where to go and finally settled in for the night. Sleeping in my car was now a norm to me: Slide back the passenger seat, put it down, fold out duvet and sleep.

We set off the next morning for Craig Bwlch Y Moch on the A498 to Tremadog. Conveniently situated near a cafe, Eric's cafe. So we geared up, and set off across the road into the woodland shrouding the crag. Now the guide book does state "Finding the base of a route at Craig Bwlch Y Moch is sometimes harder than climbing it". And how right this was! More on this in a minute.

Craig Bwlch Y Moch from Eric's Cafe
We set off in search of 'Striptease (VS 5a). At the base of the climb, the guidebook description appeared to fit.  And so, Chris lead the first pitch which was the 5a crux pitch. Towards the top, he came to the roofs which he pulled over in very good style, even after a few wobbly shouts of 'Watch Me!!'. But this is where I started to become concerned. The pitch was only supposed to be 37m. And the belay past the second roof and at a tree. We could see the tree belay...but not a second roof. And at this point, Chris had dissapeared with only an arms length of a 50m rope left...

Chris on the 'crux' pitch
Just below the roof
 After a while, I heard the call 'On Belay! Climb when ready!'. And so I squeezed into my Anasazi Whites, and set off behind Chris. The climbing was easy, albeit a little bold with OK protection to begin with. Although, a fall would have resulting in hitting a ledge or similar. As I approached below the routes, something caught my eye in a crack to the left. Upon closer inspection, It turned out to be a rusted nut. Not a modern wedge shaped nut used today, but an actual 'nut and bolt' nut! I managed a no hands rest, bridging precariously, and took a picture (Below). I started on the roofs, trying to lay-back and jam, but with minimal success. Instead, I turned to the exposed wall to the right and bypassed the roofs this way on tiny crimps and pockets, failing to remove a hex in the mean time. I scrambled up the garden and joined Chris at the belay...which wasn't a tree belay...

Old skool 'nut'
Now at this point, we knew that we couldn't have been on the climb in which we thought we were, but carried on up the last pitch regardless. This pitch supposedly being 4c...if we were on the correct climb. I set off, laybacking an overhanging crack. Now it suddenly dawned on me, after downclimbing a few times, that this was not 4c climbing! 'I can climb 4c!' I told myself. 'I can climb 5c for crying out loud!' why then, was this feeling more difficult than 4c? In the end, I just went for it, and to be honest, the moves weren't actually that hard. It was just the initial shock of finding the first section 'hard' while expecting 4c moves. But in other areas, the protection was poor and spaced. The top section of the climb was a bold slab, with micro protection! Not VS climbing at all!! Finally I reached the top, belayed around a tree, and brought Chris up on second.

NOT VS type placements!
I could hear the clattering of his gear as he approached the top, followed a little white helmet and finally a face of desperation. We looked at each other and our faces said it all: That was the crux pitch! Chris agreed that this pitch was harder than the first and that the pro was shocking. We sat atop the crag, surrounded by the devil's swarm, Midges! We decided to ab off the route to collect his stuck hex, which turned out not even to be the hex that he had placed. He had placed one, with another clipped into it still, and in some unexplained way, they had switched positions.

Abbing off the route
Once at the bottom of the route, we collected our stuff, pondered about what route we had actually climbed, then set off in search of someone who had an idea. We found a group, and after a little while of talking, we came to the conclusion that we had in fact, just climbed Kestrel Cracks. HVS 5a! And to show just how wrong we were, it's a 3 pitch climb, not 2. And the crux pitch, the 5a pitch, is the last! So we were right in saying that the last pitch felt harder...

We headed back to the car so I could collect my chalk bag which i had forgotten earlier in the morning, and decided to have lunch in the cafe. After this, we headed off to find and climb 'One Step In The Clouds (VS 4c)'. However there was a party just starting up it, so we opted for 'Grim Wall Direct (E1 5b)' which, again, had a party starting up it. So instead, we did 'Grim Wall (VS 4c)'. I lead the first pitch, which consisted of super thin flakes and good gear. After setting up the belay and bringing Chris up, he then started on the second pitch. It was getting late, and we had dinner plans with my cousin who was up in North Wales for the weekend. So Chris traversed across to the belay of 'Grim Wall direct' and I followed bare foot and then abbed off.

And so, the day drew to a close. We met with my cousin and her husband, had a few drinks and discussed taking them climbing the next day on the Cwm Cneifon arete. However, when leaving their cottage in Beddgelert, It hammered down. And continued all through the night and through the next day. So me and Chris went to watch 'Skyfall' at the cinema instead :)

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