I finally went climbing today with Dave, who it is always great to head out with as we don’t see that much of each other anymore since he moved to the coast to get closer to all those sports climbs on the Ormes. There were several threads of conversations one of which was ‘Why all the Surfing?’
It was hard to put definite answer to but essentially I have spent the last year and a half focused on delivering North Wales Rock, now don’t get me wrong the process has been amazing. However it has added up to me being a little climbed out, as I have lived, worked and breathed rock climbing in North Wales for the last 18 years. I also decided that going bouldering on my own was quite dull, as I have had a lot of free time since finishing the guide and not many people to climb with as they all seem to have proper jobs.
What this means in real terms is that I have climbed all the routes I can easily and even managed many of the routes that are in the E5 range that are friendly. There comes a point when you are running out of starred or classic routes that are safe. For some reason I just felt that I needed a break and I had borrowed a friends surfboard and after two minutes just thought, yes, I need to learn to do this properly.
Since the day North Wales Rock went to the printers I have essentially focused most of my energy to the process of surfing. The I am still getting to the wall of an even and bouldering well with some V7/8, but for me the joy of an indoor wall is the problems change and if set well they should all be classics!
I tried to put that into words for Dave and I think he understood, but we managed to find a few starred routes neither of us had climbed in Twll Mawr on the Slate. As we enter I muse that this used to be the home of the big boys of climbing. Yet one man has made the climbing here accessible for all, and today I think we found one of his finest single pitch additions to the whole quarries.
We warmed up on a F6b Ian Lloyd-Jones bolted for his kids to lead, which is a really good two pitch route called Imagine Dragon. Definitely a good introduction to all Ian’s sports routes hereabouts. However when he was bolting this line I was taking the crag shot, unfortunately a topo line hides him, from above there was this amazing arete that he shouted across that he was attempting later that day.
The arete looks stunning one of the strongest lines on Slate and it has an obvious low and technical crux. He climbed the route ‘Set the Controls for the heart of the sun’ and graded it F7a. After our warm up Dave headed up to give it a go. He was close to the onsight after we rigged a stick to clip the second bolt, this is now in situ at the base.
The route has a really, and I mean really funky start to reach the third bolt. It is fingery and balancy despite seeming really steep. The end of the crux stepping up for a jug on the arete seemed like the limit of one balance, I might have grabbed the quickdraw, as I didn’t believe. Above the arete looks easy and in reality it is one of the best F6b one slate. As the majority of the holds are positive, however the climbing is still technical because you feel you could barn door off if you let your technique slip.
All in all I felt it was the best single pitch route Ian has put up. I wish I had time to climb it before the guide as I would have definitely given it more stars. For a F7a is it probably the strongest line in the quarries.