Monday, October 13, 2014

Cwm Silyn's Great Slab: Between here and eternity

I was sorry to read about the rockfall and resultant unstable conditions that remain on The Great Slab in Cwm Silyn. (See BMC Story) . The crags hereabouts are personal favourites of mine being quiet backwaters with stunning views and quality routes abounding. The direct ‘Kirkus Route’ is in my experience, possibly the best mountaineering VS climb in North Wales. This 400’ route, first climbed by Colin Kirkus in May 1931, takes a pretty central line up the great slab and offers delicate slab climbing and outrageous exposure in equal measure.

Just over a year later, fellow Merseyside based North Wales activist and bona-fide legend, Menlove Edwards put up his equally regarded mountaineering V Diff, Outside Edge Route. A route I climbed on a misty day one October when visibility was so bad that leader and second were out of sight of each other for most of the climb. Only making contact on the dank belay ledges. A couple of years ago, a couple had to be rescued from Outside Edge route after only climbing 150’ in six hours before calling for a rescue. Good job they didn’t try Crucible or Jabberwocky!

Just around the corner is the huge rambling cliff, Craig Fawr where on another dank day I climbed a 600’ route, Engineers Climb in a party of three. A route which saw three falls but no submissions as we struggled to the top in the cold rain. I was interested to read that north Wales activist and off the beaten track explorer, Martin Crook had put up what sounds like a fine direct VS version of the route. A expedition described in his article (Engineers Eliminate: The nuts and bolts of a first ascent). Thankfully for Martin, it appears the weather Gods were smiling when he visited Craig Fawr.

Another great crag in these ere parts is Trwyn y Craig where the excellent 1925 route, Overhanging Chimneys takes centre stage. (see the Footless Crow article-One step in the past).

The Great Slab has always been an esoteric venue for the connoisseur. It will be a shame if its current unstable condition remains as it could become a forgotten venue where climbers fear to tread. Could it be saved by a BMC sponsored ‘trundle fest’. A project to remove the unstable rocks without causing even more damage and instability, or will nature take its course and will we see a hard winter prizing the perched choss from the upper reaches of the slab?

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