My first trip to Bwlch y Moch at Tremadog, many years ago was fairly unsuccessful… We couldn’t find the route we were after and started up the wrong one before realising our error. The next trip was better, but only marginally! Christmas Curry on a Bank Holiday weekend, yeah that was a mistake! It took us all day to climb it, each belay stacked high with other slow moving parties.
These days I love it, it’s one of my favourite crags, I spend a lot of time working there helping clients make their first leads and climb there a lot in my spare time too. The trees at the bottom obscure the starts to the routes which makes finding them a little tricky until you get your bearings but after that what’s not to like? Multi pitch climbing on great rock, the renowned Eric’s Café at the bottom, super short walk ins and awesome views. It’s often dryer and warmer than in the hills as well.
The route I’m writing about here is The Plum – E1 5b. It’s a route I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but hadn’t, until this week, got around to doing. Every guide sings it’s praises, the excellent Ground Up guide says “A variety of challenging obstacles awaits the leader on this stunning route” and the Rockfax Pocket guide says “A brilliant route with a bit of everything”. So as good as it sounded, I was a bit worried about the descriptions implying at some point I might need to jam….
Me and Stu warmed up on Grotto Direct which is another route I’d never done before. That starts up Christmas Curry before cutting off left, the main 5a pitch was lead by Stu and it’s surprisingly good and quite varied. After abseiling back down off the top it was time for The Plum.
The weather was great, a warm and dry November’s day, I feel very lucky to live in North Wales on days like that, especially when the crag is really quiet being mid week.
12 quikdraws racked up, 2 sets of nuts and some cams plus a couple of slings and I’m good to go. Lose the jacket – it really was that warm!
The start is really easy (the start is at the top of the Christmas Curry chimney), a little scramble up some easy stepped rock. There is a variation start which is more direct and in hindsight probably the best idea, which goes straight up the thin crack for a few metres – 5c apparently. Either way you’re going to end up under a small roof where you can get a good bit of gear, extend it well! From here the real climbing starts, remember to enjoy it, it’s easy not to take in your surroundings and the nice positions you end up in, from the small roof you step left onto the rib and your away! A tricky couple of moves lead to easier climbing then a small ledge for a good rest and good gear.
(Unknown climber on The Plum)
Looking up you’ll see a thin crack in a V groove, with a few potential placements, but don’t fill up your handholds…. This is a lovely bit of climbing, quite delicate especially for your feet but before you know it, you’ll be on a big ledge where you could arrange a belay, but hopefully you’ve extended your runners properly and not laced the route so far, so instead of belaying here look upwards!
I arranged a couple of bits of good gear before getting stuck into the wide(ish) flake crack. I don’t like jamming, maybe one day I’ll man up a bit and enjoy it! Because of this I climbed up and down a few times trying a weird sequence before biting the bullet and going up into a big arm bar. There’s not much for your feet out on the face, but I switched to laybacking the crack and smearing high feet on to good rock, big good holds are not far away.
Enjoy the position you are now in and admire the rib that’s above, you’re about to make one more cheeky little move with not much for your feet, chalk up your right hand though and go for it! Once you’re up on the rib the climbing eases off past a couple of bits of gear, but is still so good. Reach the top, smile and relax….
42m of fantastic climbing.
(Stu on the final rib)
Gear wise it’s mostly nuts, I think I got two cams in and a sling as well. I didn’t carry any micro wires and you don’t need any particularly big cams. Out of the 12 ‘draws I carried, I had one left over at the top. You’ll definitely want half ropes to do it in a oner.
Bwlch y Moch has lots of abseil points along the top, please check there’s no one on the routes before you chuck your ropes, or you can walk down one of the descent gullies which are easy enough to find and follow. If there’s space at the bottom you can park in the small lay by, enough room there for about four cars or for £1.50 you can park in the café where you may even be served by the legend that is Eric – if you don’t know about him, Google him!
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