Upper Pen Trewyn – Sunshine by the Seaside

Llandudno looked like the best bet to escape the rain elsewhere in North Wales, and we woke up parked at the top of the Great Orme to find we’d finally caught up with the sun!

Driving through town, it’s easy to conjure up similarities with Benidorm (in terms of the weather, the clientele and the tourist establishments) and the seascape from the Marine Drive is certainly worthy of the Blanca.

The rock quality is also reminiscent – UPT is one of the few limestone crags in Britain that the Spanish would bother with if it were transported 1000 miles south. Whilst Pen Trewyn has become synonyms with sport climbing, there are actually a tremendous number of good trad lines left, and Jake had his trad head on. First stop: Plumbline Buttress, to enjoy the morning sun while it’s still bathing the crag in glorious warmth.

Jake put the gear in the eponymous route, E3 5c, so it would have been rude not to have a lead too. This could definitely be on the Blanca, but I was cursing the sun as I sweated my way up the steepening upper groove. What an ungrateful, fickle lot we climbers are!

Just to the left, Gold Rush is a much stiffer proposition – Formerly E6 6b, there’s now a bolt adjacent to the rusty relic of a peg which used to be the only thing keeping you off the deck if you were to fluff the tough blank wall between the two overhangs – it loses an E point but becomes a much more sensible lead. The first crux is navigating the bouldery start without disturbing the residents in one of the key underclings.

Here’s Jake having cruised the crux and poised to tackle the final roof.

Nice to banter with Kate and Dan who’d also spent the previous couple of days chasing some dry rock, making us feel we hadn’t played a completely useless set of dominoes!

Next we headed further right to the Chain Gang sector, only to find Matt and Dave gearing up beneath the eponymous route (which Jake had his eye on). Jake switched attention to Mr Olympia, another E5 6b.

Jake missed out on the onsight, but managed it second go.

Here’s Matt starting up on a successful foray.

… and passing through the crux

After a bit of a rest, Jake uncoiled the ropes beneath Chain Gang and coolly despatched his third E5 of the day. Here’s Jake after the crux…

… and Matt at around the same spot on his ascent earlier in the day.

Not too shabby, and definitely racked up the E point tally for the trip after a couple of damp days at Tremadog. A reminder of the stupendous quality of climbing available at UPT, with so much more to come back for.

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