Nick Bullock's Shockwave E6 6A

15 May, 2010

Nick Bullock has added an excellent route to the Afterburner Wall on Gallt yr Ogof in the Ogwen Valley, North Wales. It traces a line up the obvious space between Aftershock (E6 6b) and Afterburner (E5 6a). Shockwave E6 6a, links features for twenty metres up the deceptively overhanging crag, set in an exposed position overlooking the heathery expanse of Cwm Nant y Gors.

Describing the route, Nick said: “Using big undercuts get a head-jam below a small roof at the foot of a right-facing groove/flake. It’s when you release the jam you realise how steep the wall is and a knee bar is quickly needed to get set up at the bottom of the flake. There are good holds at the top of it with a skyhook, RPs and a poor wire for protection.”

“You then stand up on big hand and foot holds but strangely feeling like you might fall-off. The technical crux is moving up the small left-facing corner above, but still not with great gear. Then power up on good holds and a crack to better kit before following the line of edges out leftwards. One big lay-away move to reach the finishing holds remains before rolling over on to the top of the crag and letting the pounding in your temples subside.”

It was Heart of Stone on the Mission Impossible wall that initially attracted Nick to the Skyline Buttress Area but he got distracted by the Afterburner Wall around the corner and in particular the gap on it. “The wall was totally filthy with dirt and lichen but after doing Building the Perfect Beast (E4) and cleaning the other two routes it was in a much better state,” said Nick.

He added: “After briefly working Jack Geldard’s Aftershock from 2007 it felt a lot more serious than the E6 Jack gave it.” Dan Gibson, who partnered Nick on Shockwave, also did Afterburner reckoning that was worth a brace of stars.

North Wales has barely seen any rain over the last couple of months and the high mountain crags are bone dry, so now is the time to visit unfrequented venues such as the Skyline Buttress. The Afterburner Wall may not be this clean again for years.

Update: Nick Bullock returned to the Skyline Buttress of Gallt y Ogof over the weekend with Dan Gibson and Libby Peter to pick-off two more unclimbed lines he’d spotted from his earlier visits.

Sonic Boom E5 6a, takes the striking flying arete of the tapering wall abutting the left-hand side of the Mission Impossible face. Starting directly beneath the arete in an alcove, head steeply up on good holds to its base and a no-hands rest on the right. Holds on either side of the arete lead to a grovel onto a big sloping ledge and gear. More wild swings and lay-aways lead to the top.

Nick had this to say about the route: “A pretty amazing climb, if i say so myself, slightly reminiscent of other big mountain routes like The Axe or The Great Arête – ok, so maybe not as good. Marred only by the very escapable top section of the arête. For the full effect climb the right-side of the arête all the way.”

Heatwave HVS 5b, led and cleaned on-sight by Dan Gibson, follows the slanting crack for 18 metres in the wall to the right of Sonic Boom.


top: Nick Bullock making the first ascent of Shockwave(E6 6a), Afterburner Wall, Ogwen, North Wales. © Ray Wood

lower: Nick Bullock on the first ascent of Sonic Boom (E5 6a), Skyline Area, Ogwen, North Wales. Heatwave follows the obvious crack in the side-wall. © Nick Bullock Collection