Pant Ifan: The Arete Trilogy

After Simon took a rest day yesterday to hanging out with his heavily pregnant wife, we headed out today to try and find some dry rock, and given a rather murky start and a looming shower that was just about to hit Tremadog, we sat and watched the end of the Grand Prix, before heading off.

Now both of us have lived and worked in the mountains so its always hard to find a route we haven’t done and one that we can actually do. This is the way when you live in the heart of North Wales climbing territory. So we headed up to Pant Ifan, and after climbing Scratch Arete as a warm up, one of the best HVS route anywhere. Simon sounded like he was keen for Mangoletsi, having previously watch an OAP get tangled in his ropes and fall off the lip.

However looking across as I have done so many times at the amazing looking Spare Rib, I put that out there as an idea, and Simon bit. I was hoping to get the top arete but as it was Simon’s lead, and as he is also about to have a kid which will curtail much of his climbing I happily handed him the reins. I nipped up the first pitch of Mangoletsi, and Si followed.

Now just a few minutes before when we had been on the top of Scratch Arete, the route look reasonable and quite slabby. However the persective you get from the base of the Scratch corner it looks like a horendous steep and impossible line. Si looked slightly less confident at this point, but set off up to see what he thought from closer inspection. Great gear in the roof, a hard move and then some runout climbing.

He stood psyching himself up for a while, and apologised for it profusely. However when your pushing the boat out you can have all the time in the world, as I know I would want it. As he set off up, he made the difficult and balancy move to make it over the lip, and then composed himself. Above was the arete, about which the route follows but no gear. He continued up and swung back right round the arete to the steep face, at which point he shouted, ‘Oh Shit’, or words to that effect.

Looking up I am thinking two things, one thats a really long fall you might be about to take, and two that person on Scratch may well be your landing pad! Fortunately he was just realising that he needed to go right not left at this point, and powered on to the ledge. Now if you go and do this route, I would really advise not slaping for that ledge, as it is rather slopey. To me it was a E4 6a to turn the first lip followed by an E4 5c.

Anyway success, I followed and managed a no falls and no drama second. Then it hit me we needed to finish on Silly Arete, that way we will have ticked the *** trilogy of classic aretes at Pant Ifan. Now before anyone argues there is Intergral Direct as a fourth arete to the trilogy, I like to see that route as similar to the prequels to the Star Wars trilogy, in that its rather poor in comparison.

So I headed up Silly arete, something I have done a million times before, and having ribbed Elfyn saying is only one hard move over the lip rather than the sustained grovel of Pincushion. I promptly nearly fell off that hard move, when as I was rocking over on those tiny crstals my left hand kept feeling like it was going to pop off the hold at any minute, so I stopped to chalk up. At this point I realise I no longer have the momentum to finish the rockover, and appear to be stalled halfway over the lip. Pushing 10% more than i’d have liked to I eventually get stood above the lip.

At this point my youthful memories of the route was the next gear is close at hand, and not wanting to traverse into pincushion, I am force to start running it out to the first good gear some 20ft above, after this the route climbs like a dream. Good friction, lovely holds and some steallar exposure. Although note to self, need new rockboots, and these ones were so thin the rubber was stretching on the tiny holds.

With that we had to head home, just in case Lakey Jr. was on his way. What a great demi-day, ticking the three, three star arete routes at Pant Ifan. A might Arete Shone of a day.

PS, that last joke was the only real reason I wanted to climb all those routes, pun-tastic

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