At the end of last summer the new Ogwen guidebook was released. In it was lots of new information about routes that had been done or repeated after the last guide. One of the routes included was Zero, E7 6b ***. I first read about this on Pete Robbins’ DMM profile but knew nothing about it or where it was. When the new guide described at heart stopping pitch forging direct up the amazing rock of Suicide Wall in the Ogwen Valley, I didn’t last very long before driving over armed with my shunt. Unfortunately I forgot my brush and the route has suffered from years of neglect and was covered in lichen. Whilst the rock was dry, the lichen was spongy and full of a summer of damp and was far too slippy to be able to get a true appreciation of the difficulty of the moves. It was also the last good weather of the summer and I knew the next chance I would get to go on it would be after a long wait over the summer.
Two things sprung to mind after that first visit. Firstly what a brilliant bold bit of wall climbing it was, and secondly how insanely impressive Pete Robbins’ and James Machaffie’s on sights of the route were.
Originally the route had been put up by Pete Livesey. The young and enthusiastic Andy Pollit went up to confirm his growing reputation and after abseil inspection repeated the line, finding it bold. It was later discovered that Livesey had actually made the line out of Suicide Wall Route 1 and up to the new ring peg, but bailed right to clip the top peg of Mur y Meirwon before moving back left into the true groove line. Jerry Moffat and Chris Gore also jumped in for early repeats; Chris Gore’s diary stating it was ‘one of the most serious routes’ he’d led.
In 2001 Pete Robbins made an on sight ascent of the direct line. the 25m pitch of blind slopey smeary climbing is protected mainly by a ring peg backed up by an average wire and cam at 10m and a solitary good small wire in the middle of the runnout, and half way through the crux sequence. Pete Robbins got committed on the blind sequency climbing and was unable to reverse back to the good footholds near the peg and had to press on. On sight, the rock was filthy and Pete was unable to locate the wire and had to push on without. This is a totally underestimated ascent. Awesome effort. It was also climbed on sight by James Machaffie, again this is unbelievably impressive.
Rumour has it that Twid Turner made an attempt, which had him calling for a sling near the top of the runnout. Tim Neill who was at the top teasingly dropped a sling on to Twid, followed soon after by the inevitable lob, landing Twid close to the floor.
With the recent high pressure sat over the U.K, one route was on my mind. In fact it had been all winter, niggling. Last Tuesday I made a quick dash over to Snowdonia, and ran up with Calum Muskett who also had business up there on a gap down and right near Capital Punishment. Calum made quick work of his new E7, Juvenile Delinquent which despite being slightly eliminate, does have some good bold moves that would be a scary on sight proposition and therefore warranting the grade. I seconded Calum’s new line then managed a quick half an hour top rope on Zero and got a sequence for the crux, and gave the route a much needed brush to dismiss the lichen, before having to dash home.
After an epic rest day at Nesscliffe on the Wednesday watching James Pearson dispatch every route in his way, I made the commute back over on the Thursday. I had an hour on the line before Calum finished work, so I checked my gear and did the route clean for the first time on a shunt. I was a bit put off by how pumped I had found it doing it in one and placing the kit. And I wanted to place all of the kit on lead. As well as the peg and back up bits and the crucial wire, I also had a small cam in a flakey pod just left of the rest, and a few shit RP’s scattered between little fins. At about 4, Calum came marching up the hillside. I had 10 mins and tied in. The climb itself went pretty smooth, and so it should have done with the knowledge from a top rope. Caff and Bobbins being up there on sight went through my mind. The enormous runnout and amazing technical and terrifying climbing. I enjoyed it so much and it felt so great commiting to the wall. I have rambled on now about this route, hopefully I have got my point across; a total gem of a route on a brilliant crag. Also it’s the beginning of the summer. Wahoo!
Ed Booth – High Sports Ambassador