Having eased into Meet Season with 6 people at Cornwall a few weekends earlier, MMC decided to Go Large for this one with a whopping 39 attendees! Luckily the campsite were very accommodating and allocated a separate field dedicated to the club. We were never quite sure whether this was for our benefit or the other campsite users! Either way, it worked out perfectly and no one got lost, whether they arrived on Friday at lunchtime or at 1am, or got left out of planning each day’s activities over an evening beer or morning coffee. The weather was also forecast to be hot, hot, hot… a great long weekend was anticipated.
The instructors arrived at the campsite to meet the training troupe and to talk through plans for the weekend. The first order of business for the Refreshers was to divide the eight people into two groups of four. Seemingly, this task was more complicated than any of the actual training that was to follow!
The Beginners headed to Clogwyn Cyrau to cover Top Rope anchor equalisation on pre-placed gear, and Top Rope belaying, which was new to most, and the group rotated to practice repeating these skills in different positions. Abseiling was next and the group first trialled the technique on horizontal ground before moving over to more serious, vertical terrain. The day was ended with a two-pitch retrievable abseil – Paul (one of the instructors) and OIi B (acting as an assistant) took three people each, pulling the rope down at the end of each pitch… not so much a beginner activity, but a fun and adventurous way to wrap things up nonetheless.
The first group of Refreshers headed Lion Rock to brush the dust off all their Trad Basics, re-familiarising themselves with gear placements, anchor set-ups, abseiling and general movement on rock before heading over to Bus Stop Quarry for some Top Roping on more extreme terrain and Sport Climbing.
The second group of Refreshers had similar plans, heading close to Fachwen in the morning for the Trad Basics and then Australia, high up in the slate quarries, for some Sport Climbing on the beautiful slabs it has to offer (everyone loves slabs, right?!).
Whilst all this was happening, Adriano, Alix, Anna V and David D were determining how best to spend their Saturday and cooked up some plans – Alix and Adriano headed to Tryfan Fach (Little Tryfan), where Adriano led the two-pitch Arete (D) to hone solid gear placement, whilst Anna and David headed to Gogarth North, having talked themselves into the über-classic Hard Rock sea cliff climb Dream of White Horses (HVS 4c) – a Top 50 for Wales. The UK? The world?!
The pair alternated leading the route and the first impression Anna had was that the rock was amazing! She had the pleasure of taking the 3rd pitch, following the long and wonderful flake crack. At first she was not sure about the security of placing gear into the flake, so was initially slow, but once she got into the “zone” any uncertainty disappeared and she climbed from then on with pure joy!
As David arrived at the belay before the final traverse pitch, both became concerned that the way ahead looked damp – what to do, press on and if so who would lead? Escape, and if so to where? The pair contemplated this for a while, but David drew on a reserve of energy, determination and focus – “I’m off!”. As if sensing the mood, the sun came out from behind the clouds, basking the cliff in shining glory. The final traverse pitch was smooth and quick, with both leader and second being laser focused.
Chris, Nick and potentially others headed in the same direction, but stopped just short of the sea cliffs to enjoy the wonderful climbing there is to be had on the quartzite rock at Holyhead Mountain, ticking off several routes each in fine conditions.
Ollie W and Wendy got stuck into the Moelwyns, as did Joe and Stef, as did David G, Carolina and Satish who climbed as a 3… with 1 rope – a technique first trialled way back when at Dewerstone (MMC Meet July 2019) with similar results. Everyone got up and down, that’s always the most important thing!
For the second day of training, the Beginners first headed to Bus Stop Quarry where they covered Sport Climbing lower-offs (anchor clean-up, rope re-threading etc) on the ground before jumping on to lead some routes and lower-off for real, with the belayers honing their lead belaying skills. They then headed over to Lion Rock to recap on the previous day’s activities, but this time learning how to place and judge their own (and each other’s!) gear for the anchors to Top Rope and abseil on. Ben, Darren and Louise were keen to get on the sharp end, so each led a route placing protection as they climbed, which proved rewarding and only a little bit scary.
The instructor wrapped the day, but the team were psyched and the sun was still high in the sky, so they headed back to Bus Stop Quarry for some more sports climbing action.
Meanwhile our first group of Refreshers headed out to Holyhead Mountain to recap Day 1 and to start to step things up a gear. The crag was not what one would call busy, but another group appeared determined to start at the bottom of a route our team were starting at the top of… quiet, then less quiet words were had and an arrangement was made – the other group moved elsewhere!
The rest of the Refreshers headed to Craig y Tonnau to get as much time in on the rock as possible, with climbers moving on to the sharp end of things and leading routes either side of the instructor, who had set himself up on a fixed line to offer encouragement and ‘constructive’ feedback.
Alix joined Anna’s walk with Adriano, Wendy, Sarah, Lena and Carolina (and Mia, woof!) for a delightful walk around Aberglaslyn, near Beddgelert. Their highlight was arriving at the beautiful lake of Llyn Dinas hot enough to want to brave the chilly waters. Everyone, eventually, got in for a proper swim. They took the high route back, rather than the boring tarmac cycle track down the valley, which became a somewhat-extended ramble over the tops as they tried to identify the path down to Beddgelert – an essential pit stop due to the excellent ice cream emporium. The mountain views were spectacular and the river which was followed back to the starting point, very pretty. A very jolly outing it was with lots of high spirits and high points!
Elsewhere, David D and Ollie W looked for somewhere to climb. The pair were stunned by the fact that every single parking space between Llanberis and Ogwen Cottage was occupied. This may sound like an exaggeration – it wasn’t, the police were around, people had camped by the lake, parked on verges and pavements, queues were everywhere and there was hardly space to move. Peace and quiet was found at Craig y Castell (Tremadog), where they climbed a Classic Rock route – Creagh Dhu Wall (HS 4b).
Chuck and Kat fared slightly better with the parking in Llamberis Pass, managing to get a spot and to jump on some rock in one of the most iconic climbing valleys.
Back at the campsite, everyone shared tales of their days whilst consuming food and drink in various forms and ABVs.
Sunday night was a chillier one, but come Monday morning a lot of people were still up for more adventure and the sun was again racing into the sky, prompting reapplication of suncream… a climber’s hands best friend.
Those with the time to do so were eager to put the new skills they had honed in the training straight into practice, with Eleonora, Elena and Bennet joining Lena and Kat for another trip deep into the Dinorwig Slate Quarries for some Sport Climbing.
Whilst Ben N, Louise, Mags, Svetlana, Darren, Julio and Christine joined Damien, Oli B, Anna V and Adriano at Clogwyn Bochlwyd, for some multi-pitch climbing on the buttress.
Five Pitch Route (S 4b) was the highlight for Oli B, Louise and Mags… and someone needs to find the history of this route as no one could believe it is ever actually climbed in five pitches – they did it in two, which is the norm.
Meanwhile Damien, Darren and Svetlana then Adriano, Julio, Ben and Anna V jumped on Marble Slab (HS 4b), which had a tricky crux pull through an overlap that each in turn enjoyed to varying degrees.
Elsewhere, Alix and David D beat the crowds to Milestone Buttress to take on Direct Route (VD). The route is probably one of the most ascended routes in North Wales – and therefore the UK – and so is SHINY! Not necessarily recommended, though apparently everyone should still probably do it once.
More adventures were had elsewhere across the whole weekend and this Meet Report only covers a small fraction of the antics everyone got up to, but one thing is sure – MMC are back and as eager as ever!!