Monday, May 20, 2013

On the rock with the Trail guy

 Tom Hutton-left-and the author in picnic mode

I first came across Tom Hutton through his Trail magazine features which I found to be amongst the most interesting material within the magazine. In particular,I liked the fact that in what was essentially a hillwalking magazine, each month, Tom was offering route descriptions and topos of recommended easy climbs.

I understand that Trail have dropped this element from the magazine which I think is a real shame. Note to editor; many climbers came into the sport from a hillwalking background-myself included. I don't know on what grounds it was shunted out but I'm sure there are still a lot of Trail readers who would like to see this feature back. These days,Tom still does turn for Trail but is just as well known for his popular mountain bike guides and as the chair of the BMC in Wales.

I first met Tom in rather sombre circumstances in October last year. We met up a The Goat Inn at Maerdy to travel down to Liverpool to the funeral of our mutual friend, David Hooper. A much loved and sorely missed compadre and stalwart of the UKC forums. However,today was a new day and the rare sight of blue skies and Welsh sun presented us with an overdue opportunity to do some cragging.

Tom Hutton leading Stoneweaver.

Tom had suggested The Llanberis Pass but with the Llanberis triathlon on and with weekend parking being a bit dodgy in The Pass I suggested we take a look at a little crag which had been developed  and which would feature in the next CC Carneddau guidebook. Craig Eithin is a fine little dolerite slab near Capel Curig which sports around a dozen middle grade routes, all within a couple of technical grades. Guaranteed peace and quiet,south facing and looking out to Siabod and Yr Wyddfa, with nicely cropped grass at the base, it's the perfect crag in fact for a climbing picnic. I believe in France they have particular family friendly crags were you can do a spot of climbing and then lay back and enjoy a pleasant repast .Sounds very civilized to me.

This little crag was first mentioned in the logbook of the Midlands Mountaineering club in 1947 when several routes were done but not described. In the last couple of years the crag has been worked on with all possible lines climbed, graded and documented.

With a fairly short day on the rock ahead of us,we each led a couple of routes before heading back to our cars parked behind Joe Browns in Capel, where we said our goodbyes and arranged to meet up again soon. I noticed  as I was leaving that Conwy Council have changed the public conveniences behind Browns into one of those posh bogs that you have to pay to use. Bloody cheek!  They'll be turning the car park into a pay and display soon I expect. One thing for sure; hell will freeze over before I'd pay for a slash or to park my wreck!

Dragonfly Wall-VS-4b

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