Best Crag’s in the World: Dinas Cromlech

Whilst many crags in Llanberis Pass are strafed with quality routes and stunning lines, none quite match the beauty of the open book corner of Dinas Cromlech, home a selection of best routes across the grades in this Valley, if not the UK.

Spiral Stair

For Beginners there is both Spiral Stairs and Flying Buttress, both outstanding outings at the VDiff grade. Flying Buttress was first ascended by Menlove Edwards, a notable homosexual and pioneer of rock in the early years. Menlove originally called the route Sodom, but the Climbers Club refused to publish the route under that name so instead the name ‘Flying Buttress’ was used. Which if you think of it as Flying But Stress will tickle you every time you climb it!

A Cunning rest of the uber classic Cenotaph corner

Above that grade there are several VS at the crag that are notably good, however the main events are the routes that surround Joe Brown’s ultra classic line Cenotaph corner, named along with its neighbour Cemetery Gates after the destination on front of buses (or was it Tram’s?) in Manchester. These routes often both get E1, however ‘The Gates’, is somewhat easier and the climbing more open, and being split by a belay on the girdle ledge, seems to make for a better climbing experience than the obvious corner.

Martin Chester runs it out on Cemetery Gates

After you’ve ascended Joe’s classics, then most people become fixed on Left Wall as the next goal. Yet another *** route that follows a slender crack, that dog legs it way up the wall to the left of the corner. Most people make it easily up the initial crack, but place too much gear, so abundant and enticing are the placements. You need to remember to save some of your guns for the final crack. Where despite the aesthetic direct finish, most climbers shuffle out left to the arete on some convenient jugs, before flopping exhausted and elated on the belay.

Left Wall

There are other bench marks on this cliff, Memory Lane, Foil and Resurrection that help bridge the grade gap, however none are as important to your climbing CV as Right Wall, I had put off this route for too long. After climbing it earlier this year after I was effective shamed into climbing it, I can say that the climbing is better than I could imagine, and the situation totally out there.

Nick Bullock ‘Warming up!’ on Right Wall.

To say I was ready for this route was a bit of an understatement. I felt like I levitated up, and actually savoured every move. The crux headwall seem float by and before I knew it I was alone hanging on jugs looking down the coolest wall in the world. An up turned football pitch and for that instance I was David Beckham, basking briefly in my own glory before topping out.

My glory was brief as Pete went onto to climb Atomic Hotrod and Tess of the D’erbervilles both E6! All climbers are equal some are more equal than others! (which film I have just watch?)

Private Guiding and Instruction

For private guiding, instruction or coaching up any of the Cromlechs many classic get in contact with Snowdonia Mountain Guides, we have professional qualified instructors who climb from up to E8.

Proper Planning and Preparation prevents poor performance

This classic coaching maxim is often applied to a whole manner of different situation, and it also holds true in climbing, especially if you are planning on pushing your boundaries. At its most basic it is refering to having done the ground work, for instant there aren’t many people who are going to get up after a prolonged period on the couch and climb at there previous limit. However if you have been out climbing at your limit for a few months and feel comfortable, then prehaps you’ve done the neccessary work to push those limits and step across that line in the sand to a new no mans land where anything can happen. If that’s the case then there are a few things you can do to minimise the unexpected.

This diagram can take the form of anything from a very basic pencil drawing showing the expected path, and main features like corners, aretes, cracks, holds and quickdraws. If its and indoor route, try to include all the hand holds and which direct they look best to hold them, were you can shake out, which holds you clip off and where the crux section of the route is. These diagrams can also be used to break the routes down into sections.

Eventually you will find that there is no need for you to draw a diagram of a route, as you can build a mental picture by breaking the route down, into easy climbing, hard climbing, crux sections, possible rests, even where there is protection. Often to achieve this you’ll need to view the route from several different view points, to get a better 3D image of the route, alternatively it is also posssbile to climb an easier adjacent route, allowing you a birds eye view of crucial holds.

Climbing an adjacent route will also allow you to get used to the type of holds, the angle of the wall, and even the style of climbing. This in turn will help you to imagine how you might climb the route in your own mind (see imagery post). At its most advance level you would include imagining a series of ‘What if’s’ – the gear isn’t as good as you thought, the holds are smaller, the rock is steeper, the crux is harder, the gear is better, etc…

The key Points are:
Draw a diagram
Breaking the route into sections
Where are the likely rests
Look at the route from several different view points to get a better 3D image
Climb an easier adjacent route to get a feel for the rock and another view point
Imagine how you might climb the route

How to Climb Harder Course

On the how to climb harder course we cover these skill sou planning and preparation as a tactic to improve peoples climbing. You’ll be amazed at how effective they are. To find out more or to check out when out next How to Climb Harder course follow the link.

How to Climb harder courses
how to climb harder courses

The Stretching vs Warming Up Debate

Recently someone posted this article on UKC, printed in the New York Times, now you should instantly question the scientific validity of a journalist perspective on what in all likelihood is a review of a review of stretching. Whilst I don’t doubt Gretchen Reynolds scientific credentials, I do question her academic integrity, after all her editor wants ‘good’ copy, rather than a in depth analysis of all the stretching literature.

I suspect that whilst much of her advice is true, a look back at the research, and the actual findings bring much of the context into when that advice is actually applicable. Like most thing in life there are several caveats that can and should be applied to general laws or rules that are often applied to stretching.

In the NYT Article there are several points made that can be argued reasonably easily with a brief overview of research literature, however many of these are perhaps taken out of context, and may only apply to the Olympic athlete.

Stretching Reduces Muscle Strength
Now whilst this is true, we are only talking about a 2% to 5% reduction, these studies have only look at weakening directly after stretching. So unless you are an Olympic athlete about to go for gold then does such a small drop in performance really make than much difference to you.

Stretching Increases Muscle Strength
In direct opposition to this stretching reducing muscle strength, is that if stretching is performed regularly, but not immediately before activity. Has been shown to lead to a 2% to 5% increase if strength if carried out regularly.

Stretching Helps Prevent Injury
There is a great quote from the NYT article about stretching and injury prevention.

The largest study has been done on military recruits; results showed that an almost equal number of subjects developed lower-limb injuries (Shin Splints, stress fractures, etc.)”

This highlights one of the problem when it comes to interpreting scientific research. This statement however true is questionable because how do you expect stretching to prevent stress fractures, the only type of injury stretch might be expected to prevent can surely only be a skeletal muscle or soft tissue injury. Interesting the same military study did conclude that soft tissue type injuries were significantly reduce.

Again research points towards different effects regards when you stretch. So stretch immediately before activity has little to no effect with injury prevention, however regular stretching not prior to exercise has been shown to reduce soft tissue type injuries.

Warming up reduces injury
At present it would appear that warming up prior to activity is key, in that its purpose is to help increase heart rate, dilate the capillaries, warm up the muscles and speed up nerve transmissions. Current research suggest that prior to a main activity then stretching might not be of benefit for injury prevention and may reduce muscle strength.

However a small increase in muscle temperature has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a muscle tear in isolated rabbit muscles.

In terms of warm ups the current thinking is working between 40-60% of you maximum for as long as it take you to develop a light sweat. It will take a fitter person longer to achieve a warmed up state than a less fit person. An alternative to jogging or light exercise is a passive warm up that might take the shape of a hot bath or shower.


  • It may not be advantageous to stretch immediately prior to activity, as it doesn’t help prevent injury and reduces muscle strength.
  • Using stretching as a general activity, when not training can increase you range of motion and help reduce injury.
  • Warm up before any activity session.
  • Warm up passively or activity prior to stretch session

For more information on warming up and stretching try visiting how to climb harder.