Saturday, April 20, 2013

Opening Gambit

I've wanted to do this route ever since Paul William's slate guide came out (1987!!) about the time I really started getting into climbing. It sounded amazing - one of the first routes on slate, one of the longest routes on slate, a moderately graded line out of the incredible big hole Twll Mawr and a Joe Brown route to boot. I was surprised therefore when I finally got my act together to climb it I couldn't find anyone to join me. As I worked down my phone book the list of excuses got longer. Eventually I remembered that I'd bumped into Rob Greenwood at the climbing wall, who'd just moved up to Sheffield from Llanberis, no doubt in pursuit of sport climbing fitness away from a dark past of adventure. Rob initially also refused, fobbing me off with the excuse of work. But I knew he'd just started work for the BMC, and as a past employee I knew the reality. 10 minutes later the plan was on.

If anyone isn't put off by the guidebook description ' prepared for substantial looseness on all pitches varying from mild exfoliation to tottering of Jenga proportions' It's worth taking a very small cam (black alien) for the crux - crimpy 5a/b whilst being stabbed by a gorse bush. We took lots of pegs but didn't use them.

Rob entering the mouth of the skull during the approach
Rob 'no headtorch' Greenwood chuffed there is light at the end of the tunnel
The incredible smooth wall of the meltdown and the Quarryman and the ledges of choss of Opening Gambit
Rob 'almost-rock-climbing' 
Rob 'turbo-gliding' to the sod of glory? or is he rocking over on hyphen to a gorse thumb-sprag?