Climbing at Clogwyn Yr Oen || With Contour Outdoor and Arc’teryx

Good afternoon Ferals!

This blog follows on from last weeks North Wales blog; we’re now into Day two of our trip up to North Wales with Arc’teryx and Contour Outdoor. If you missed the first instalment then you can find it here.

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We awoke on day two greeted by moody skies and much cooler temperatures. The rain that had been threatening all week had come and gone quickly in the night, not pushing through to the following morning (thank goodness). We kept our camp set up, with the view to packing down in the afternoon once all the tents had dried off, and instead, opted to head down to the local cafe for breakfast.

We drove down to Moel Siabod Cafe and took up residence on the table closest to the large windows that looked up to Moel Siabod. We dragged chairs and another table over to the window and huddled around a few menus, eager to fill our tummies (I don’t think I had even really woken up properly yet). The table was equally divided in our choices; tea and coffee, full English breakfasts and pancakes and all ordered within 5 minutes of our arrival (we don’t mess around). We ate quickly whilst we poured over the photos and videos from the day before, laughing at each other and how lucky we were to just… be in the mountains.

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We pulled up into the carpark at around 10am, rested and fuelled, ready for a full day on the rocks. The walk-in was much shorter today, and after about 10 minutes we were stood staring up at the towering crag.

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We separated into our teams of three again, sorting out our ‘essential’ kit and the bits we could leave down at the bottom of the crag. Both teams started on two different VDIFF Climbs; one called Chic and other called Slick. Both climbs ran parallel to each other (with the climb ‘Bent’ sat in between the two) so we could see each other pretty much the whole way up! Bob wrote another killer write up on Chic this week (which both teams ended up doing), you can find it here.

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Steve, Andi and I started on Chick; Steve and I belayed Andi up the first pitch, paying great attention to the way he delicately picked his way up the slabby rock and placed his gear perfectly first time (every time).

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Andi built his first belay 25m from the bottom on a beautifully generous ledge and we followed him up, making good use of the incredibly grippy rock and good hand-holds. We joined him on the ledge (there was plenty of room for us three to have a little party if we wanted to), made ourselves safe and watched him pick his way up the second pitch. This is where I think Andi made his own way up! The route is supposed to follow the crack directly in front of where we were belaying from, but instead, he veered off slightly right, which looked a little trickier. After a few metres, he joined back on to the intended route and we lost sight of him over the ledge. This pitch is around 22 metres, so it wasn’t long before we felt Andi pull all the rope through and we dismantled our belay and got ready to climb. We followed Andi’s route, albeit a little harder, and continued up to the large, prominent crack above us. There were ample handholds and the crack was really satisfying to climb. After the crack, the gradient of the climb changed again and we found ourselves back on a beautifully tacky slab.

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From the second belay point, Andi headed up the rightwards facing crack for around 5 metres before stepping up onto the slab above. This pitch was only 18 metres, and we were met at the top of the pitch by Bob, Sean and Will.

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The path back down to the base of the crag was at the top of this pitch, so we packed up, threw on our approach shoes and trotted back down the steep, loose path. We were back down at the bottom in under 10 minutes and we took this opportunity to scoff a few sandwiches and ready ourselves for a second climb.

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We split up again after lunch; Bob, Sean and Will chose to head up Chic and we went around the corner to Pinky, a VS 4c with 2 stars. Again, we watched Andi dance up the tacky slab (that was now much more technical and balancie than our previous climb) and out of view, waiting for the shout up to say we could climb. We followed in his steps, delicately placing our feet (although, not quite as delicately as Andi) on little footholds on the rock. The delicate section gave way to large round pockets that made gorgeous handholds. We joined Andi at his ledge and belayed him across about a steep, grassy traverse, along to the next belay point. We followed him along, being met by a huge, steep rockface – the most prominent feature of which was two parallel, vertical cracks that made up the second half of the climb.

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We watched Andi intently taking note of where he chose to place his gear and his hands (and laughing as he picked bilberries on his way up). After Andi set up his belay we followed; this pitch skirted around a dead tree, up a large corner (with a big crack in the middle), before reaching a generous ledge at the start of the two parallel cracks. We, unfortunately, didn’t take any photos of this climb because we were SO focused, but it really is a MUST if you are in the area. For the first time all weekend and all at once, stood on this little ledge overlooking the valley and having to force myself to step out off this ledge and into one of the cracks, I got a real sense of exposure. I kept going, chuckling to myself and Steve about how beautiful this climb was. The handholds in the cracks were huge and incredibly satisfying and the feet were a mix of foot-jams and delicate footholds on the face. Surprisingly, we were up the pitch in no time. We helped Andi pack up and joined back onto the main path to walk down the crag.

The other team were already back down at the base of the crag, ready to head back to the car by the time we got down and we all walked back down to the car together, exchanging stories of each teams climbs.

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We piled the kit we’d borrowed from Arc’teryx back into Sean’s van, exchanged a hell of a lot of thank you’s and headed back to the campsite to pack up and head home.

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We had the most incredible weekend – Bob and Andi were phenomenal guides who really took their time to teach us rather than just lead us. The time spent in the kit was an absolute treat and Sean is just pure joy, too (it helps when you have a fabulous rep). So, if you guys are reading this, thank you so much – we had the best weekend ad we all came away from it feeling a little more knowledgeable.

If you guys would like to book in with Bob or see more of what he gets up to then here’s a link to his website – Contour Outdoor – He also posts great ‘Route of the Month’ blogs on the Trekitt blog page, if you’re needing a bit of inspiration.

Have a good weekend, Ferals!

H

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