Rock Climbing


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Rock Climbing in the Slate Quarries

In the Eighties, the Slate Quarries of Llanberis underwent a period of unrivalled growth and development as a rock climbing venue. The popularity of the quarries was mainly due to the quick drying nature of the rock and their easy access from Llanberis - Vivian Quarry is only about 10 minutes walk from Pete's Eats. So even on a dodgy day something could be salvaged from a trip to the mountains. However, in a very short period, slate developed a fan base; these 'Slateheads' (as they were known) were keen to savour only the type of technicalities and intricacies to be found on the slate; or, rock of that ilk.

One problem with the slate is that it is quite a friable rock, not only can smallish runners pull through but holds can fail without warning. With time a further characteristic of this rock can be seen, some routes have become easier through constant use. Climbs such as Fool's Gold have seen drastic changes, as their popularity has meant that regular forcing in and/or jerking of runners has put weight and pressure on the rock and this has weakened and cracked it. In time the rock is loosened and eventually comes off to form a larger crack or break.

Getting to the Cliffs
The first thing one has to do is to get to the Llanberis. There are then a number of options. Approaches depend upon which part of the quarries one wants to visit. For the Vivian Quarry, it is a simple matter, as the quarry overlooks the popular Quarry Museum (the Museum is also well worth a visit on a wet day) and its parking area. It is also only a short walk to the Vivian Quarry from the village. The Rainbow Slab and the Rainbow Walls area is also approached from Vivian; going up the two inclines to the right of the quarry and following the level track below an Iron Bridge.
The Bus Stop area and the Upper Quarry is best approached by turning off the main Llanberis-Bangor road at the top of the hill (before it descends) and heading through Deiniolen for Dinorwig - at the head of this road is the bus stop area. For the Upper Quarries follow the track leading towards Nant Peris, branching off this according to where one hopes to find.

The Gideon or Film Set Quarries still have access problems; the high wire fence surrounding the quarries is not being allowed to rust away, as it was at one time; this poses difficulties in getting over - some would say why bother. Access to the other quarries is generally O.K. at the moment; this does not mean that you can go anywhere you like - the quarries are 'owned' and follow the rights of way as much as possible. To get to Rainbow Slab and Walls do not attempt to traverse the hill slope above the First Hydro security gate; either walk up the two inclines from the Vivian area; or, take the zigzag footpath up the slate spoil to reach the same point at the iron bridge, then follow the track along to the top of the slab. Opposite the Rainbow, a large fence has been erected, do not attempt to surmount this; its easier to go up a level and walk along the next tier up. The obvious pinnacle of Y Cocyn, the Peppermint Tower in slate parlance, is still out of bounds.

Slate - a climber's guide. Written by Iwan Arfon Jones, Andy Newton, Leigh McGinley. Published by North Wales Slate

Maps - Ordnance Survey
Landranger 1:50,000 No. 115
Outdoor Leisiure 1:25,000 No. 17

New routes information is available on this web site, for more detailed information developments, one should ask around the shops in Llanberis; or, look through a copy of one of the recent new routes books in Pete's Eats - if there is one available.




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