Flying Buttress V Diff and Spiral Stairs V Diff on Dinas Cromlech – Snowdonia, North Wales.
Dinas Cromlech is one of the most historic crags in the UK, probably most famous for the Joe Brown route Cenotaph Corner, but also home to other E grade classics like Cemetery Gates, Left Wall and Lord of the Flies to name just a few. There’s some great VS’s too, Sabre Cut and Noahs Warning being two of them.
Both of these routes let you get an experience of this crag without having to climb so hard though. They are also both routes first done in 1931 by one of the pioneers of rock climbing – Melove Edwards, if you haven’t heard of him before get Googling!
Dinas Cromlech stands proudly atop the Llanberis Pass and it’s shapes and structure draw you eyes to it. A 25-30 minute steep walk up the scree slopes and you’re standing below history admiring the improbable routes that are beyond a lot of us!
On the righthand side is Flying Buttress and this was my first target. I was on my own today so soloing was the order of the afternoon. First impressions are that it looks fairly scrappy and you expect the climbing to be quite broken, but actually as you progress the holds are nice and you gain height quite quickly. The rock is nice and solid and although the polish guides you up the route I don’t think it detracts from the climbing.
At the halfway point you climb down from the initial pinnacles and start up the rising slab until you’re stood below an awkward looking chimney, described in the book as “polished, awkward but thankfully short lived”. In a good way it is both those things, but with a little old fashioned squirming your up and over it and stood on top smiling.
So that’s the first one done, a good route but it feels a bit detatched from the main part of the crag, step forwards Spiral Staircase.
This couldn’t start from a better position if it tried. An initial polished and precarious scramble (maybe worth roping up for) leads on to the starting ledge of the route, sharing the starting platform of Left Wall, Cenotaph Corner and other classics. Take in the atmosphere here for a few minutes, it’s a pretty special place in rock climbing history.
The first pitch is a cracker! Traversing out left above space on positive holds remember to protect your second by placing appropriate gear. Enjoy your surroundings again as you approach the first belay at “The Forest”, from here the classic Sabre Cut – VS, goes up the corner but we’re traversing left some more. Then it’s up a steep crack with some nice moves, carefully avoiding the sorry looking tree and before you know it you’re at the next belay on a massive, sloping ledge. The final pitch is more of a scramble up and over and sadly the route is over too quickly.
A quick scramble off to the right and down the side of the crag and you’re back down looking up proudly at the terrain the route just took you through.
The descent back to the road is a bit sketchy down the paths and scree, but you’ll keep looking around to “The” Cromlech and smiling, planning the next route you want to do up there.
So two really good routes but I think Spiral Stairs is the standout one just because of where it takes you. You may even get lucky like me and have the whole crag to yourself on a bank holiday Monday afternoon… Where was everyone?!