Monday, June 22, 2015

North Wales: Llanbris and Ogwen Valley

When describing an area as a "destination" there are some considerations.  Yosemite and Fontainebleau are climbing destinations for climbers all over the world while Monster Island and Hönö might serve as a "weekend destination" (If you don't know where those are you probably don't live very close).  Well, one of the primary perks of the relocation to England is having an abundance of new weekend destinations to explore and a few weekends ago we decided to tick one off the list with a visit to North Wales.

North Wales is a large region with lots of rock and a rich climbing history.  One of the trickiest parts of planning the trip was filtering through the spray and deciding which areas to check out.  We opted for the Llanberis and Ogwen Valleys which are peppered with small areas, some of which are heavily trafficked.  So here is my take on what I saw.....

The mountainous region of Snowdonia National Park attracts over 6 million visitor annually and it seems that climbers make up a noticeable percentage as there were plenty around.  We of course went for the bouldering which is fairly extensive but pretty spread out.  To be honest I was expecting more as I'd have a hard time spending a whole day at even the largest areas and it seems you'd have to move around quite a bit to fill your days.  It seems to cater to cherry picking which is less than optimal when you're got two small kids.

The rock itself (rhyolite and/or a similar igneous rock) is very climbable and can lend itself to some steep climbing but in general it is sharp and ugly.  That said, there are some beautiful lines and some friendly rock if you know where to look and/or are willing to search.

While overall I was less-than-impressed with the bouldering I was only there 3 days and had kids in-tow.  North Wales might not be a bouldering mecca but if it's only a few hours away it's certainly worth a visit or two.  And despite my less than glowing review I am more than willing to go back for a long weekend for a bit more cherry picking.

Here are some photos

Lina bouldering at one of the largest and most popular area in Llanberis .  The amount of traffic probably has a lot to do with the 30 second approach as the rock here was sharp and ugly.  On the plus side it was pretty solid.

Jerry's Roof was the one problem everyone said I should try.  With a "no commitment" approach it is certainly worth checking out and while it might not be much to look at it climbs really well and the rock is pretty friendly on the skin.   

If you're not into the climbing you can always just appreciate the area for it's scenery. 

Are there any boulders down there?

A pretty sweet problem within eye-site of the road

Lina on a sweet problem on the backside of the Caseg boulder.  This lone boulder was my favorite of the trip as it had a nice setting, good rock and good lines all around it.  I wish there where more boulders like this one.

Chris fires The Gimp on the Caseg boulder.

The Sheep Pen in the Ogwen Valley had a few gems on good rock and was well worth the steep 15 minute hike.  The Pinch my favorite problem there and one of the the most photogenic I saw the entire trip.  Fun climbing and a nice setting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

North Wales Bouldering Video

Here is a little video from one of our days in North Wales.  I'll post a little write-up from the trip in a couple days.  Until then.......

Ogwen Valley Bouldering: North Wales from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.