Rock Climbing


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Another wet weather alternative to the mountains, but one that still retains its enigmatic aura, even though a guidebook to the area has been published recently. The area is renowned for its remote cliffs, the difficulty of access to some crags, large swells and waves and its sometimes-suspect rock, this peninsula holds an adventure area par excellence. Furthermore, with no coastguard rescue here, little if any 'outside' knowledge of where the routes lie and the possibility of serious epics and dire consequences awaiting the foolhardy - is it really surprising that few mainstream climbers have visited the area? Have we put you off yet? For those that have the ability and the nous to prevail, a tremendous arena awaits; to those coming straight out of the climbing walls; or, dangling on bolts find somewhere else to hone your skills.

The rock on some of the cliffs is like nowhere else in North Wales, some crags have gritstone style climbing, and others make you feel as if you're on a stack of boxes with band of crumbly biscuits between each layer.

There are only about 160 rainy days a year at Cilan, producing around 1,100mm of rain per annum; also on some South facing crags one may find it possible to climb all day in a T-shirt, even in January. Conversely, in the Summer one is always never to far from some cool North facing crevice in which to escape the heat. Although most of the cliffs in this area are sea cliffs, some - such as Gwylwyr and Tyn Tywyn are old quarries, these quarries have extremely compact rock and some routes may require many small wires. The sea cliffs on have their own difficulties; leaving abseil ropes and jumaring equipment in place may save one from a swim in some cases of failure. On other cliffs stake belays may be needed to set up an abseil. The largest cliffs are at Cilan, they need particular care in their approach, the steep concave slopes descending to the cliff tops are not the easiest of places to work out ones position. At Cilan and at Craig Dorys the nature of the rock allows the use of many camming devices, double sets may be required on some routes.

Getting to the cliffs
Most of the cliffs are to be found along either the North or the South coast. Therefore, the best approach depends on where one wishes to climb. If the cliff is on the South coast, e.g. for Cilan and Tyn Tywyn; then the best method of approach is to head for Pwllheli then to take the A499 west towards Abersoch. For the North coast cliffs follow the A499 out of Caernarfon then take the B4417 through Nefyn and continue along this road to Aberdaron.

Once at the correct location of some cliffs your problems are not over; indeed one may find that they are only just starting. The convex slopes lead one down temptingly to the edges of some ferocious cliffs; beware of these slopes in wet weather when slips are possible and in dry weather when the soil just crumbles under your feet. Then, in many locations one has to find the abseil stakes - these are not always obvious - having been hidden by grass, taken out or rusted away. In places there are no abseil stakes and rabbit warren threads may be necessary for abseils and for belays at the top. In other areas, make sure you have long enough ropes; one approach requires a 70m length. Have Fun!

Lleyn - a climbers guide by D. Ferguson, I.A. Jones Published by Thrillsucker Publications.

Maps - Ordnance Survey
Landranger 1:50,000 No. 123
Pathfinder 1:25,000 No. SH12/22/32; SH13/23; Sh34/44 - these will be replaced by the Outdoor Leisiure series in time.

New routes information is available on this website; or, look through a copy of one of the recent new routes books in Pete's Eats.





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