Slanting Slab – just 10 Hard Rock routes to go

Slanting Slab on Cloggy is the only route south of the border remaining on my Hard Rock tick list. After a reconnaissance last year…

… all the ingredients fell into place for a successful tick. The mini heat-wave had dried the crag to a crisp, I’d recruited Jim (a different Jim!) to the cause, and Tim Neil had kindly posted some (faintly encouraging) beta on UKC after the first logged ascent in 4 years:

Though Tim’s description was hardly an unconditional recommendation: “I’m not mentioning any of this to recommend it as the start is pretty dangerous in its current state. Merely that it is still a thing that’s possible.

The path up Snowdon was inevitably rammed on the sunniest Sunday of the year, though as ever, the vast majority of folks headed up towards the railway track as only the special few filtered off rightwards towards The Black Cliff.

The approach up the Western Terrace to the foot of the route is fairly harrowing in itself, with any careless footstep likely to send a fusillade of potentially lethal blocks firing down the shooting alley onto any unwary climbers below. Happily it was still reasonably quiet “out West” and we were extremely careful!

The route was originally climbed via a couple of aid moves on situ pegs, enabling the initial crumbling overhangs to be breached to access the sweeping slabs above (and a few hundred feet of more conventional E2 climbing). The first of these has long since disappeared leaving a solitary ancient lump of rust sporting some tied-off tat at the lip of the roof. The roof has been climbed free at least a couple of times (kudos to Ian Carr!) but it’s a totally unappealing choss-fest – and anyway, it’s described as an aid route in the great book!

Moving gingerly up tottering blocks you can get a decent threaded sling around a jammed flake, backed up with a wire.

From here a big reach, a short clip-stick and a bit of patience will have the tat snared, and I clipped a knotted sling into this to aid up (if you think about it, this halves the load on the peg compared with jugging up the rope held tight by your second, and also leaves them free to be on catching duty should the peg fail).

I’ve led a few A4 pitches on El Cap…

… but rarely been happier to find and clip into a decent bit of gear after weighing a sketchy one…

Here’s the peg / rusty relic that you’ve just entrusted your life to, and the much more reassuring wire (superlight rock 4 fitted nicely) that you are about to rely on to protect the next 20ft of slabbiness.

Here’s Jim pulling over the lip (tricky to get established on the slab)

… and about to start the traverse. We took Tim’s advice and belayed on the first grassy ledge (it would have been handy to have a big blue #3 Camalot).

The moves left from the grassy ledge are quite thin and it’s not entirely obvious from the description what level you traverse at. Jim went up, along and down (but didn’t recommend it) so I went slightly down from the ledge then across. Either way there isn’t a lot of gear and it’s a good spot to practise the art of not-falling-off!

After seemingly endless traversing you finally start heading upwards and the the P3 5b groove pitch feels much more like regular climbing. There’s even a decent amount of gear, which helps soften the anxiety from the occasional loose hold.

Here’s Jim arriving at the P3 stance

Me topping out…

… and the view from the top.

Plenty of folks had arrived at the crag in the meantime to make the most of the weather.

We figured that we’d had enough adventure for one day, so wandered gently down to start the drive home. Jim was on chauffeur duties in his EV and the whole journey only ate up about a fiver in leccy! The only minor downside was a sunny sunbathe around the halfway mark to top-up the batteries – time to reflect on another fine adventure and sup a well-earned beer.

51 down and 10 to go – anyone fancy a trip to Scotland?

2 responses to “Slanting Slab – just 10 Hard Rock routes to go

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