Pete Robin's recently added a second top-quality 8B problem to the Ogwen Valley with his first ascent of Madame Allure. It takes the full-arete on the left edge of the Lily Savage block as a low-extension to what was originally climbed as Danny La Rue 7C+/8A. Last August Pete was responsible for the Ogwen's first 8B problem with Isles of Wonder (news item and F.A. video). Below, Pete has given us the background to Madame Allure with a few recommendations for other excellent Ogwen problems.
"This amazing arête was first climbed by Mike Adams and named Danny La Rue, after the legendary female impersonator and entertainer - there is a bit of a drag queen route naming theme at the crag. Mike envisaged a hard and scary problem, starting some way up the arête and slapping wildly to the lip, inverting, and committing to a swing onto his toe hooks above a big, bad drop off the edge of the suspended rock platform - eek! In fact, the rock platform also cuts away to the side, making a low start impossible unless about 20 pads could be stuffed into a huge hole.
When I went up to have a look at Danny La Rue, I thought that climbing the full arête would be really cool, and hard, and maybe possible if I filled in the landing with rocks. So I spent two full sessions filling in the huge hole and, hey presto, the landing is now much more accommodating. However, I did still end up using about six pads and a spotter tied into a rope. I’ve not made a mess and everything still looks really pretty, honest!
The sequence that I worked out in the end comprises about ten hand moves to the lip. There are also about three droppable foot manoeuvres which I also count as ‘moves’. By the time I get into a position similar to where Mike started, I’ve only got one move to go, and even that I do completely differently, since I couldn’t span to the lip with my left hand – I’m glad, in a way, because my jump method is utterly fantastic!
So, as a piece of climbing, the two routes are incomparable, hence the name change. Madame Allure is the female persona of a friend of mine, should anyone be lucky enough to meet her.
I really hope the problem becomes popular because I reckon its one of the best around, and I think it could end up feeling a grade easier than 8B (or maybe harder); it all depends on how you fit it... grading first ascents of routes you’ve been on quite a bit is desperate! I’m now running out of projects in Ogwen, and it is just about spring, so time to put on the harness again I guess. But I’ve had a really good run over the past year or so doing loads of amazing new problems that hopefully people will repeat soon, the best of the rest being (drum roll for the self publicising plug...): Snapdragon (8A), Isles of Wonder (8B), Nutstash (7B+), The Rocks the Star (7B+), Les McQueen (7C), Trench Fever (7C+), Wherever I lay my Hat (7C) and Momentary Grip (8A) - you should find details of theses problems on northwalesbouldering.com.
I’m now going to go on a bit of a plugging-rant about north Wales’ bouldering; it is really good! I haven’t always said that, but I was wrong! The big lures are the large varieties of rock, the different styles of climbing (there are even highballs) and the lovely vistas. Yet some prerequisites are needed: you have to be focussed on specific problems, enjoy nice views, and have some wellies (the problems in the hills are spread out but rarely more than 20 minutes from the road). Go do 'em."
Thanks to Adam Bailes for the video and the music is Nola by Broke for Free.