Saturday, 5 April 2014

Rare Lichen

View from Gribbin
Sat behind the counter in Outside on a quiet Monday I browse through the various guidebooks. Ignorant of Welsh climbing in general I scan through Gogarth North, The Pass, Cloggy and finally, Ogwen. New places hold mysteries, lines catch the eye and a list begins; the lifetime list. Since then this list has grown, routes from countless destinations, of all grades. At home I still have the original scrap of paper that the list grew from. The first scribbled name on that scrap, Rare Lichen - Clogwyn Tarw - Ogwen.

Arête's have and always will hold a special aura for me. There is something about them, they draw the eye, the exposure on such features is hard to parallel; further to this they tend to provide a cruel lesson in technique to the uninitiated. Rare Lichen represents all of the above. The level of danger is also perfect, there is gear there, but how "there" it will be when you fall is another matter. Don't get me wrong its not a total chop route but falling comes ill-advised.

Clogwyn Tarw
The line breaks into three sections -
- Steady ledge climbing leads to bomber cams, then a little sketchy section to place an awkward RP2 in a blind slot.
- Tricky section moving around the arete, don't fall!
- Hard crux section on the top arête after placing a few RP runners.

It was last weekend that me and Oli gambled off up into the hills of Ogwen to check out the Gribbin. With the start being wet we set to work on the top section. Flicking between sidepulls and the arete the top sequence provides superb on-off climbing, with just enough holds to get by! The start gradually dried, awkward placements were found and we made solid links on the top rope. Not returning was out of the question. Then came the Indy Party and the rest of the weekend disappeared into the mist.

Ogwen in all its beauty
So this Thursday I repeated the oddly convoluted and longwinded journey from Sheffield to Bangor. Friday was the day, looking just about dry, perched between days of rain either side. Waking up Friday morning it was clear the forecast hadn't let us down and we again wandered up to the Gribbin.

On top rope the route feels harder than previous, with my old sequence seeming unlikely and on-off. After sorting out a more slappy, yet bizarrely solid seqeunce and learning the nuances of the gear the lead seems on. Selfishly I ask Oli if I can go when I get down.

Pulling on with warm fingers the holds seem better and more positive than on the top rope. Arriving at the awkward RP slot I feel solid. But after placing it it doesn't look right, no time to rearrange, press on. Moving around the arete I'm trying harder than I'd like to be, the RP in the back of my mind. Once round onto the front face you can relax, place the key RP's and enjoy an almost hands-off rest. The only problem is the rest is so good you don't want to leave. You could lower off your gear here. There was no chance of this however (You'd only have to do the sketchy bit again!) and pressing on the arête went like clockwork, tick-tacking up, enjoying the position and some of the best moves about.

Team Chummer
The day wouldn't have been complete without Oli's ascent, which followed soon after. I've been badgering him about these routes for ages so it was great to get the team tick! Also thanks to Mike Hutton for coming over and taking photos, legend! Cheers for the place to stay aswell Henry!

We finished the day with a route march up to the Lily Savage boulders and managed to bag the mega classic 7b Paul O'Grady. Cracking day, may it be the first of many this summer!


Cheers for reading, Nath.