In order to make the most of the brilliant weather we are currently experiencing, myself and Nick took some impromptu holiday and headed up to North Wales for two days of mid week climbing. Online reports were suggesting that the eternally wet Cloggy (Clogwyn Du’r Arddu) was dry, so we decided to head up for two days of wild camping and climbing on Cloggy.
We left Llanberis early in the morning with ridiculously heavy rucksacks, it turns out that climbing and wild camping gear combined are pretty heavy and we were both pretty glad to get to where we were going to camp. After relaxing in the sun for a bit while we put the tent up and boiled some water to rehydrate we headed up to the base of the cliff.
The first route we climbed was an E2 called Jelly Role, the first pitch of which is always wet and the guidebook description made it sound awful, and it didn’t look any better while we were there. I was supposed to be leading this wide, wet, slimy crack but I couldn’t sum up the courage to leave the ground due to the lack of gear, so Nick let it, which also meant he got the stunning third pitch. The climbing wasn’t quite as harrowing as I was expecting on the first pitch, but watching Nick climb it did make me glad I wasn’t on the sharp end. Thankfully the climbing quickly improved on pitch 2, which had a very airy traverse left to a blind flake which felt very exposed. The third pitch was just fantastic, never desperate but sustained and steep climbing in a brilliant position.
We descended down back to our bags, and Nick decided to give Great Wall a go, despite giving it a very good go and spending a very long time on the route before falling, Nick didn’t manage to get the first pitch clean, and by the time he was at the belay he didn’t want to do the second pitch so he abseiled off.
By this point it was 5:30 and I was feeling a bit psyched out as Cloggy is a very imposing and intimidating crag, but we made a decision to head for the classic 6 pitch E2 called White Slab, armed with one head torch as you can bail with one, right!? I ran the first two pitches together, the first pitch was a very bold traverse which is equally serious for the leader and second as a fall would almost certainly result in hitting the ground, which is just far enough away to hurt. I climbed a variation to the second pitch which was a much nicer looking line as it didn’t involve another wet groove, but it turned out to be equally bold, which made it feel pretty exciting. Nick then lead the next slab pitch which involved some pretty tricky climbing in a fantastic position before heading around the corner to the belay before the lasso pitch.
I don’t know what I was expecting to see when I got around the corner on the lasso pitch, but it wasn’t what I saw. All I saw was a blank slab, which seemed to go down for an eternity with no gear and nothing to lasso. After a few futile attempts at throwing the rope into the groove on the other side of the slab, I decided to just go for the climbing without the gear, which made it feel very bold as a fall would have been very unpleasant. The climbing was brilliant, technical, exposed, airy and very memorable, however I was very glad to get to the thank god jug on the other side! At this point the evening sun began to hit us so we climbed the next pitch, a stunning slab pitch which seemed to fall away for ever below our feet, with a view of Cloggy in the evening sun, which was just fantastic. All that was left at this point was two pitches which I linked together to get to the top as the sun was setting.
The view from the top of the climb was just fantastic, however we couldn’t sit around and enjoy it as it was 10o’clock, the sun was setting and we were both very hungry. After a quick descent with Cloggy glowing in the setting sun, we arrived at our tent as the sun went below the horizon, where we enjoyed our dinner before heading to bed.
The next morning we unfortunately woke up to lots of mist, which was pretty uninspiring, but after a slow breakfast we decided to go with plan a, and head up to the pinnacle to climb another classic E2 called Shrike. The top of the crag felt very intimidating in the mist, especially as we had to abseil in and pull the ropes! After lots of faff and trying to delay the start, we finally made the very atmospheric abseil and pulled the ropes, by which point we either had to climb the route, or escape over loose semi vertical grass…
The start of the first pitch was soaking, and Nick did a good job at leading it, before getting to the 5c move. In theory the first pitch was E1 5c, however it was a very hard 5c sequence. After spending a while trying to work it out Nick went for a full on dyno and made the move. All too soon it was my turn to start climbing. Unfortunately I slipped out of the initial wet groove, but I was lowered back to the ground and then climbed it successfully ground up, after making the airy traverse left I was soon at the hard move, hopping I could avoid having to dyno, thankfully I managed to work out a static sequence, but it still felt hard! I arrived at the belay feeling very nervous about the second pitch, and nearly backed off scared. Thankfully Nick didn’t really give me an option and I soon found myself setting off on the second pitch, and I am so glad I did as it was just fantastic. It started with a well protected but hard sequence up a groove to a thank god jug and some gear, before the climbing eased off, and the gear got less frequent as the line of least resistance was followed up the wall. There were a number of pretty exciting moves a long way above gear but I was soon at the top. As I was climbing the mist began to clear, and Nick was even in the sun for part of his ascent before the mist came back.
After our ascent, neither of us were feeling particularly psyched to do another route, due to the difficult approach to get to the route we wanted to do, so we decided to head up to the summit of Snowdon. The views were incredible from the top and it was a really nice way to end the trip. After a quick descent back down to the campsite, we packed up the tent and made the walk out, which felt significantly easier than the walk in.
I am now very inspired by Cloggy and there are a number of routes which I want to go back and do, hopefully next time I will feel less intimidated by the crag as well!