Six pitch slate route

26 April, 2014

Desolation of Smaug Pitch 1Back-in October 2011 Ian Lloyd-Jones added a route, The Rock Bottom Line, to the well-named Twll Mawr (Large Hole) in the Dinorwig slate quarry. At just over 130 metres in length it was tagged as the longest sport route in Britain.

That's no longer the case, as on the adjacent North Wall of Twll Mawr Ian has climbed the rib and slabby blankness right of Hamadryad for 140 metres in six pitches. Eleven year-old Celt Lloyd-Jones, joined his dad for the first ascent, leading the fourth pitch.

At the top of the climb the pair came to the grade consensus of 6b, 6c, 6c, 6a+, 6c, 6b and more importantly for Celt it was the opportunity to tuck into a well-earned packet of Fizzy Cola Lance sweets. Celt chose to call the new route The Desolation of Smaug and reckoned it wasn't as exposed as the multi-pitch Amptrax (El Chorro) he'd done with his dad last December.

Ian began the epic task of equipping the route towards the end of 2013 and had been waiting for a decent spell of weather to finally enjoy the fruit of his labour. Around 54 x 16 mm resin bolts plus expansion bolts with rings for anchors were placed. Ian commented that he was fortunate the route didn't require a great deal of cleaning.

The start of the route in the bottom of Twll Mawr can be gained by a tunnel, found a couple of hundred metres past the Golgotha slab: turn right off the main track by Dali's Hole and traverse left around under Peregrine Walls. Route description below.

Ian was grateful for support from Bolt Products and Cotswold Outdoor with this project.

Desolation of Smaug Pitch 4

The Desolation of Smaug 140 m F6b, 6c, 6c, 6a+, 6c, 6b

Approach from the Twll Mawr access tunnel. From the boulders at the end of the level carefully head diagonally down the scree slope past some larger blocks sticking out of the scree. The route starts below and to the left of The Razors Edge terrace which is identifiable by the large rusty chain on its right hand side.

Pitch 1 6b 30m: Start at the foot of a blocky groove. Ascend the wide groove until it is possible to step rightwards from a ledge and gain the start of a hanging narrow groove; some cool moves lead to the top of the groove. Step left to gain the start of a blunt rib. A delicate step onto the rib avoiding the loose blocks on the right, continuing pleasantly up the balancey stepped rib to a bolt belay below a small pinnacle (14 bolts).

Pitch 2 6c 30m: Climb to the top of the pinnacle from where a steep step up and pull gains the start of the large slab. Continue up trending leftwards across the slab. At about ¾ height the climbing becomes more delicate and insecure. Continue up the steepening slab until the left arĂȘte can be gained before stepping back right by the top bolt to gain the sloping belay ledge above (13 bolts).

Top of The Desolation of SmaugPitch 3 6c 25m: Traverse airily rightwards to gain the base of the large rib, continue upwards with some insecure moves to a wide groove. Climb up until it is possible to make a couple of wild and precarious moves out towards the continuation of the rib. Teasingly insecure climbing leads up the blunt rib to the belay at a small ledge at the base of a steeper wall. An excellent pitch (nine bolts).

Pitch 4 6a+ 20m: Exit the belay ledge with some steep pulls on blocky holds, hard to start but soon easing. Keep a look out for the last two hidden bolts on the right, a sling on a flake may be useful if the exposure’s getting to you, but easy climbing soon leads to a belay next to a large pinnacle (six bolts).

Pitch 5 6c 15m: Traverse leftwards from the pinnacle until a step-up gains the easy angled slab. Continue upwards to the base of a slabby groove. A thought provoking series of moves will hopefully gain the top of the groove and continue up the easy angled slab to a belay at the base of a groove (six bolts).

Pitch 6 6b 20m: A steep start soon leads to a short finger jamming crack in the corner. A confident approach will gain a ramp-line leading up leftwards to a ledge below the final short headwall. Don’t rush the final moves. Bolt belay above the sloping ledge (six bolts).

Walk off by going uphill until the hole of Mordor is on your right then head diagonally over broken slate to come down past Yellow Wall and Seamstress Slab.

F.A. Ian Lloyd-Jones and Celt Lloyd-Jones (Pitch 4) 25/04/2014

Desolation of Smaug