A gloomy forecast across the UK, with occasional chinks of dryness had Jake and me heading for North Wales in hope rather than expectation. Even the usual safe bet of Gogarth was looking dodgy, so after a final scan of the weather apps we set a course for Tremadog. Arriving around 2ish, we’d just missed a major downpour, but Vector Buttress seemed to have been sheltered from the worst of it. There was no option to dither over a brew at “Eric’s” as it was closed for the season (and of course, sadly, it’s no longer Eric’s anyway. In more “things ain’t what they used to be” news, the campsite has now vanished under an infestation of Glamping Pods – oh dear!)
Continuing the “Big Book ticking mission” I set off up the first pitch of Cream (shared with Vector) and congratulated myself on the decision not to try to combine it with P2 in the chilly, damp conditions. Jake made short work of the “urgent moves” up the steep groove, and settled into the comfort of the historically important Cave Stance.
After an airy amble along the ramp of Nimbus we were poised beneath the crux headwall.
What a great pitch – just enough holds to enable a l-ooo-ng reach where the crack fizzles out, in an absolutely stunning position. Fantastic route and a worthy companion to Void in Extreme Rock (completed the pair almost 30 years after the first installment!)
Whilst we were on the Vector Headwall it seemed rude not to check out the final Extreme Rock entry, and sample Strawberries to go with Cream. Tempting for Jake at least – I have absolutely no aspirations to be anywhere near this iconic 1980 Fawcett test piece – perhaps the defining route of the era? Jake confirmed the quality and the difficulty, but managed to get all of the moves and link them with one rest on a top rope. Dusk and exhaustion put paid to a lead attempt, but it’s one to come back to (for Jake, that is!)
The closed campsite and a better forecast in The Pass lured us back over the hills, but the sound of rain on the van roof in the morning confirmed we’d been sold a pup. More scouring of forecasts saw us back in Tremadog, arriving at 2ish just after another major dump of rain – Groundhog Day!
Craig Pant Ifan was our destination, with a warm up on Falcon, E1 5b, to check the state of dryness. The introductory “scramble” pitch was mildly terrifying, on sopping rock punctuated (or maybe punctured) by encounters with lethal thorn bushes. The route itself was largely dry, but testing nonetheless, with a tenuous sequence past the intimidating fangs above the belay; a wild swing across the void onto the front of the buttress; and more insecure climbing up the finishing cracks. Not a giveaway!
There’s a handy lower-off so at least you can get two routes done for the price of one prickly entrance pitch.
This deposits you back at the same stance, from which the soaring corner of Vulcan rears. We’d got the first 20ft wired, as it is shared with Falcon, but you soon know you’re in E4 territory as you round the roof on insecure smears and not much in the way of finger holds in the crack. More tough moves enable steady progress, until the corner crack relents a little to yield a few more accommodating holds. A final sting in the tail, past a “bacon slicing” spike on some creaking flakes brings another hard-won Extreme Rock tick in the bag.
As luck would have it, the sun finally decided to put in an appearance…
… but any thoughts of Fingerlicker had to be put on hold, given only 45mins more daylight!
Not the most productive couple of days, but probably as much as most managed to salvage from a damp couple of days – and always good to have something to come back for!