Rhoscolyn

Regular readers (both of you!) will know that Gogarth is my favourite stomping ground, so unsurprisingly I’m gradually running out of things that I haven’t done or aren’t too terrifying / hard / chossy. Stan’s Gogarth back-catalogue is even more comprehensive – sometimes resulting in us doing routes that stray into at least one of those categories! A tip-off from Mark about an off-the-radar hidden gem at Rhoscolyn made for a good enough objective for the year’s first pilgrimage to Holy Island.

Admittedly, “25 Years of Cellulite” wasn’t the most inspiring name, and nor was the guidebook description and zero star rating, but Mark’s recommendations have usually come up trumps before. Finding the Red Wedge on the Lookout Crags was a bit of a hassle, with the guidebook’s words: ‘Its position is not entirely obvious at first’ proving to be true. This is a largely self-fulfilling prophecy, as the guidebook description is inaccurate! It is 150m South South East of the coastguard station, not South West, and the OS grid reference is also slightly out. Here’s a GPS fix to save you the bother: 53.243999, -4.603683. Having found it (easily verified to match the topo photo by a straightforward scramble down either side) we also established that this west-facing wall would be a while coming into the sun, and with the guidebook warning that ‘seepage can be a major problem here’ we set about coming up with a diversion to amuse us for a couple of hours.

With the tide almost at its high point, Llawder looked to be the obvious destination,

and we spotted Takahe, a starred direct line through the classic Icarus. This is well worth doing, with the E2 5b direct finish making for completely independent and logical line (and very amendable at the grade).

Stan on the first pitch of Takahe

More perusing of the guide threw up another couple of options for ‘new ground’ so we scrambled over to the Wild Rover wall. Cocaine proved to be a complete sandbag at E1 5b, and Waxwing intruded on a couple of seagull nests, so we ended up with a Cocaine-Rover combo (lucky escape as the crux Cocaine bulge would have landed right in the middle of an unseen nest, and a likely altercation with its occupant):

Stan inspecting Cocaine with another team (right) on Wild Rover
Nest-city on Waxwing (worth being aware of, as these are invisible from below)
Stan high on Wild Rover (or should that be Cocaine-Rover?)

A leisurely lunch allowed for a couple of photos of a very smooth ascent of Mask of the Red Death:

Climber on the top wall of mask of the Red Death (also visible in overall crag shot above)

By the time we got back to the Black Wedge, it was basking in sunshine and looking pretty dry. Scorchio!

It’s quite an intimidating spot, with ’25 years…’ taking a wild-looking traverse across a bottomless hanging wall perched above the abyss:

There’s a stiffish pull onto the initial slab, then easy traversing on highly featured rock, before another pull up a corner onto the upper slab (huge hero-holds are very welcome!) The crux comes with crossing the final red wall ‘…carry on leftwards and downwards with difficulty, passing a peg…’ The peg proves to be illusory, but luckily so do the difficulties (providing you are tall enough to use the handholds in the upper break at the same time as the footholds in the crack below). Decent small cam placements provide reasonable protection, but it goes without saying that the second needs to be every bit as comfortable as the leader at E2! A similar space-walking experience to The Moon, though much shorter and less committing – well worth a star or two (and with the added bonus of being completely non-tidal). Recommended! There’s an interesting-looking counter diagonal, Behind Closed Doors, E1 5c, which looks to be just as improbable – one to come back for…

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