4th August 2014

Route of the Week Number 5

Kirkus’s Route VS 4c, Cwm Silyn

Number 5 has been a long time coming! This was my first climb in 6 weeks, I haven’t had a break from climbing for so long in years, but working in Kurdistan meant no climbing for me.

So the day after arriving back in North Wales it was off to Cwm Silyn and Craig yr Ogof to do a route that I last did a couple of years ago – Kirkus’s Route VS 4c. It’s a mega classic well worth a repeat.

The route was first climbed in 1931 and described in the 1955 Climbers Club guidebook as “exposed and sensational – a very fine route” and I can’t improve on that description. The guides worth a look at: Climbers Club Guidebook Extract

So on a sunny morning we wandered up from the small car park in t-shirts, it was nice to be walking in temperatures less that the 40 degrees I’ve been working in over the last 6 weeks. Still, the walk in is almost an hour and finishes up a very steep scree slope so me and Will still had a good sweat going and were glad of some shade to cool off in. The surroundings on the way up are amazing and much less frequented than the honey pot areas of the Park.

It’s worth taking your time at the bottom to check out where the route goes as it does take some concentration to stay on line, although there are signs of some traffic on the route, it isn’t polished like many 3* classics.

The first pitch was Will’s and he lead easily up it fiddling in some gear on the way, it’s not all the best, progressing up to the belay on some insecure holds on to the first of the good belay ledges. All the belays on this route are friendly, spacious ledges. I squeezed my toes back in to my rock shoes that they assumed they had seen the last of after such a long break, they didn’t complain too much though and followed up remembering how to climb again!

I took the second pitch, a straight forward groove with plenty of gear before starting the rising traverse leftwards which had a few damp holds. A bit of a stretch out left for my feet and I was a few easy moves from the belay. The cheeky cloud had left by now and we were back in the sun enjoying the views out over the coast and watching another two climbers on Outside Edge, V Diff.

Will’s next pitch is a cracker. The vague weakness in the slab is fairly thin on holds and gear and then you reach the overlaps which provide really cool climbing. The texture of the rock is great and the holds just work, the pockets on this pitch are very welcome because some of the footholds aren’t so big. It’s all over too quickly though and the belay is reached. You could well run it out to the top and that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The fourth and final pitch was mine and it’s another quality bit of climbing. Up and left past a block, get some gear in, a bit further left to a nose which has a crack and good holds running up and rightwards. A few easy moves and you’re at the top of the climb on the ridge with a choice of blocks and spikes to belay from.

It really is a brilliant climb, but take a minute to think of Colin Kirkus climbing this in 1931, no rock shoes, runners or guidebook – genuinely impressive, pioneering stuff.

All that’s left is a scramble on up the ridge and then a rather tedious scree and choss filled wide gully to descend – if you’re only going to do the one route I’d climb with your rucksack and stroll further on to take a nice descent down towards the footpath leading back to the car park.

If you’re after a quality mountain route in Snowdonia, away from the crowds, I’m not sure this can be beaten at the grade.

If you fancy being guided up this route, or learning the skills necessary to attempt it yourself, please have a look on the website for information or just get in touch.


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