Like father like son

28 November, 2011
Celt Lloyd-Jones on the first ascent of Celtic Blood F6a. © Ray Wood

Nine year-old Celt Lloyd-Jones' first ascent of Celtic Blood F6a, carries on what you could say was a long-held family tradition of making their mark in the Dinorwig slate quarries. The route takes the obvious blocky groove, right of Men of Leisure on the Alice Springs level, noted as unclimbed in the new Ground Up guidebook. Celt's dad and prolific slate new-router, Ian Lloyd-Jones, cleaned and bolted the 20 metre line for Celt, before giving him a top-rope on it to see if it was within his capability.

Celt breezed up the route on the lead. Owing to his height, this included a couple of extra moves than for most people to clip the lower-off. Young Celt's family has a strong association with the quarries since Ian's grandfather and great-grandfather both worked as Dinorwig quarrymen.

Ian and Ray Wood who climbed Celtic Blood afterwards, agreed that Celt got the grade spot-on in judging it to be F6a and thought it was a good route that is likely to prove popular. The level gets the sun until mid-afternoon and is in a fine setting at the top of Australia, with sweeping views across to Snowdon and the Eilio ridge.

A couple of days previously Ian continued his new routing spree in Twll Mawr with a two pitch slate adventure called Black Holes and Revelations (F6b, F7a). Starting from the bottom of the hole just left of In the Line of Fire, it aims for the hanging ladder that can be reached by a dyno or traversing rightwards using a line of boreholes for handholds. The ladder is then climbed with two bolts for protection to the spacious ledge by the approach tunnel.

The next pitch is fifty-metres, with the crux low-down in a smooth groove below a capstone, finishing at the viewing platform. Ian said: "The top pitch felt harder than I expected and I wouldn't be surprised if it was downgraded. I'd say it isn't quite as good as Supermassive Black Hole and Black Hole Sun but is definitely worth doing and will be better once the rain has washed off the dust and bits from cleaning."

In July, Ian added two multi-pitch sport routes to the same wall in Twll Mawr and last month just opposite he climbed what is probably the U.K.'s longest continuous sport route on the West Wall. The arrival of the new slate guide and the cooler temperatures has meant the quarries behind DMM's Llanberis base have been particularly popular of late. Climbing on the slate is suited to this time of year, providing plenty of sheltered facets, with the easy access allowing you to make the most of the shorter days.

Black Holes and Revelations F6b, F7a **


Ian Lloyd-Jones on the 'big pitch' of Black Holes and Revelations F7a during the first ascent. © Ray Wood

An entertaining two pitch slate adventure from the very bottom of the 'Twll Mawr' hole topping out on the viewing platform adjacent to the track. The route can be accessed through the Twll Mawr / Peregrine Wall Tunnels and walking down the scree slope to the bottom of the hole or alternatively a multiple abseil if you have a spare rope. Start just left of In the Line of Fire (left of Supermassive Black Hole) by an obvious and well bolted slanting groove below the hanging ladder.

Pitch 1 25m 6b: ‘The Wobbly Ladder Pitch’ - climb the bolted series of grooves to gain a small ledge on the main face to level with the bottom of the hanging ladder. From a good foothold it is possible to launch / dyno / fly / fall rightwards to gain the ladder – a unique and fun move! The faint hearted i.e. those refusing to fly can gain the same point by traversing along a series of bore holes. Run up the ladder via two bolts to a bolt belay by the tunnel.

Pitch 2 50m 7a: ‘The Big Pitch’ - head up towards the incredibly smooth wavy groove capped by a huge square chockstone (solid). Squirm up the frictionless groove and if successful carry on up over easier ground to gain the bottom of a square cut groove. The final groove proves trickier than it looks; bolt / thread belay on the viewing platform above.

F.A. Ian Lloyd-Jones and Sion McGuinness (Pitch 1) 25/11/11

Note: Both pitches can be climbed separately due to the easily accessible bolt belay by the tunnel, which allows you to walk in or out if you’re not doing both pitches.