Since the latest Llanberis Slate guidebook appeared last October, new routes and areas continue to be opened up. Pete Robins once again proved he knows a thing or two about slate rock-overs with his first ascent of The Dark Tower, a 15 metre 8a+ arete in the Dinorwig Quarries, that makes up for its lack of size with a disproportionate amount of exposure.
Perched above the vast hole of Australia on the East Wall, to the left of The Serpent Vein, it steps off the end of the Salt Pans to reach the obvious arete and climb it with a crux rock-over below the small roof. This fierce move off small crimps involving placing your left-foot up by your waist on a poor hold is a demanding test of flexibility and sticky rubber.
Pete commented: "The rope can get a bit in the way of your foot on the crux [see photo above] but you wouldn't want the bolt anywhere else. The route is worth two stars for the quality of the climbing."
"When you're on the edge of the arete it's very exposed and climbing it was a bit more involved than I first thought"
Adam Wainwright had spotted the line in the new guidebook, but having bolted and tried it, he graciously handed it over to Pete knowing he'd make shorter work of it at the moment.
Lower down in the Dinorwig Quarries on the plateau facing the Peppermint Tower Ian Lloyd-Jones - a man with his name against more first ascents on slate than anyone - has developed an attractive slab across the plateau from the Peppermint Tower.
Plateau Area can be easily reached from the Parc Peris lay-by in about 20 minutes. It currently has seven sport routes on it, mostly around F6a from 12 - 18 metres in height. South-east facing, the sheltered venue gets the morning sun, with open views across the Llanberis Pass to Crib Goch and Snowdon.
Having cleaned and bolted the slab, Ian's children, Celt and Tesni, stepped up for all the first ascents apart from the 6c+. Nine year-old Celt added three 6a's and a 5 with White Tiger (photo) being his favourite "because it has a big rock-over and a long reach." [Ed: A lot of moves are a long reach for a nine year-old]
His sister, Tesni Lloyd-Jones, got on the sharp end for Circus Skills 6a furthest left on the slab and Teenage Dreams 6b (photo) at the far right. Tesni had turned thirteen two days before climbing Teenage Dreams which is probably the best of all the routes being the longest at 18 metres.
The routes follow obvious thin seam lines apart from Monster Munch 6c+ by Ian, which takes the smoothness between Circus Skills and White Tiger, with the crux by the last bolt - interesting rock-overs between good holds are only spoilt by avoiding the temptation to use an obvious hold on Circus Skills close to the finish.
Standing underneath the routes you could be forgiven for thinking they look harder than the grade suggests. A pdf topo to Plateau Area can be downloaded here.
On the walls behind Peppermint Tower across the way, you'll find two recently added two-star F7a's also courtesy of Ian, Honorary Limestone to the right of Jugs Mawr and Chinook Arete up the arete right of Midnight Drives. Both well worth seeking out.