Cloggy Revisited

Having polished off the Lakes section of Hard Rock over the Bank Holiday weekend, the ticking focus moved on to the remaining Welsh routes – Vember and Slanting Slab; both on Cloggy. A few dry days and temps in the high 20s promised ideal conditions, and Jim was readily recruited to the mission. We resisted the temptation of some sneaky parking and instead forked out a tenner to leave the car opposite the station, but nonetheless were at the “parting of the ways” in an hour…

… and gearing up at the foot of Vember in 75mins. Jim sets a blistering pace!

I’d done the famous initial “Drainpipe Crack” pitch a couple of times before, as it is also shared with November and Jelly Roll – an incredible testament to the first ascentionists in the 30s! Today the crack was oozing and the usually secure layaways were damp, so more tenuous than I remembered it.

Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few other teams also making the most of the weather. Here’s Jim just setting off up the pitch.

And a team on the Drainpipe Crack a bit later in the day.

Pitch 2 gets 5b, but was drier and so actually felt easier if anything, with occasional positive face holds to help you avoid getting sucked into the chimney / crack. Magnificent route! Here’s Jim topping out:

There’s a team on the top pitch in the photo below (just left of centre) and another team on Troach on the right.

One down, one to go… Slanting Slab E2 5b / A1 is a different proposition altogether – a rarely climbed route, way out on the Wild West flanks of Cloggy, which is traditionally done with aid to overcome the initial overhangs (though has been freed at E4 6a). It’s quite a mission even to get to the foot of the route, up the hideously loose Western Terrace, and near impossible not to send salvos of rocks skittering down onto anyone unfortunate enough to be lingering at the base.

Closer inspection revealed that at least one of the promised pegs was still in situ, though without any guarantee for its mechanical integrity. Beyond that, a 30m horizontal voyage across the lip of the overhang beckoned, without a huge amount of gear being too obvious.

After a team conflab, we decided that it might be better if I left it for a different day (and perhaps a different climbing partner!). We clearly weren’t the first to draw this conclusion as there was a handy abseil sling which had us down on terra firma without launching further missiles. Another instance of the adage: “Time in reconnaissance is rarely wasted”.

That left us with an afternoon to fill, and Cloggy Corner seemed like a great option – reportedly every bit as good as its namesake on the Cromlech, but a bit easier. Here’s Jim heading up the first pitch.

Starting the second…

… and topping out. It fully lived up to the billing – I’d even argue that it’s a better, more sustained pitch, though without as hard a crux.

Watching a team on Pinnacle Arete…

… and recalling my ascent with James a couple of months ago it was tempting to stay for another route, but duty called in the shape of a BMC Clubs Webinar.

Still, not a bad day – 12 hours door-to-door for a couple of mega routes and a valuable recce on the finest mountain crag in the country.

Postscript: When Jim went to tick his guidebook with the day’s endeavour, on returning home, he discovered that we’d climbed Vember together in 1998, on the same day as Troach and Mordor. LOL! Cloggy Revisited indeed! No new Hard Rock ticks after all, but a magnificent day in the mountains nonetheless, and the consolation that with a memory that fallible I’ll never run out of “new” routes to do!

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