Confession time:

Somehow in 20 years of cragging in Wales I have never made it to either Llech Ddu or Craig Yr Ysfa’s Amphitheatre Wall. Nope. Not even to climb the famous Mur-y-Niwl. That is until recently. Of course I am not including the 30+ ascents of Amphitheatre Buttress in climbing instructor times gone by, and I am keeping the 1990s “Ron Hills bottom” horror photos of that period locked in a very safe place!

Sultry summer days in Snowdonia are not an everyday event. It can be hard to resist the temptation of packing in as much climbing as possible by going to the mountain crags which are closer to the road, clean, popular and where the guidebooks and the beta are more recent, such as Cyrn Las or Cloggy.

Next time there is a heat wave, and you are not put off by a 2 hour walk-in to what is virtually the top of Carnedd Llewelyn, then the upper and lower amphitheatre walls will reward you with breath-taking exposure, stunning remote views, solid rock, sunshine all day and some long, steep pitches. Combining 2 routes from the lower and upper walls can give anything from 350 to 600 feet of unforgettable climbing.

So what was the trigger for this escape to the quiet side of Snowdonia climbing? (i) A heat wave and (ii) one of those fantastic climbing buddies who never seems to lose enthusiasm. Who is he? Who other than Alan Leary! He has given years of service to local guidebook publication and climbing photography and is the only man who can rival Team Sky for looking dapper on a road bike (feel free to contest this, the author was bribed). He has a passion for new routing on even the dampest mossiest loosest crags, and this is despite his advanced age (sorry Al, the bribe was too small). He is also the only person I know who gets more hair with age when everyone else gets less.

Hubby Simon Witcher and I were delighted to be able to join Al Leary and Mike Bailey on some of their guidebook development trips; repeating lesser known climbs, clarifying grades and descriptions, on-sighting new lines etc. This article is in support of their contribution to the much-awaited Climbers' Club Carneddau climbing guide, last printed 25 years ago. Sadly this is a guide which has traditionally sold relatively few copies, so the production of a modern update is threatened by lack of sufficient interest and hence revenue. I have no idea why, it’s a magnificent area and the pictures speak for themselves:

Meet the team/ winners of the Carneddau Hot Rock Awards:

  • Best hair: Al Leary
  • Best Photographer: Mike Bailey (sorry Al)
  • Most flexible: Si Witcher (sorry Al)
  • Best outfit: me (sorry Al)

Routes Ticked:

Craig yr Ysfa
Solid Air, Aura, Pinnaclissima, Plumbagin, The Grimmett, Agrippa, Pinnacle Wall and Girdle Traverse of the Lower Ampitheatre Wall.
(We felt that Plumbagin was probably more like 5b, 5c and the photo diagram for Solid Air’s second pitch was wrong.)

Llech Ddu
Great Corner, The Groove, Cupid’s Inspiration, Humour, some exploration and a host of fabulous new routes by Mike and Al.

Here are some nice pictures:

[caption id="attachment_6264" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6265" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6266" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6267" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6268" align="aligncenter" width="427"]Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6269" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Simon winning the flexibility contest on the stunning E2 Pinnaclissima. Pitch 2. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6270" align="aligncenter" width="445"]Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6271" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6272" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6273" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2, Photo ©Al Leary Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6274" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6275" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6276" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6277" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios) Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios)[/caption]

Leanne CallaghanConfession time:

Somehow in 20 years of cragging in Wales I have never made it to either Llech Ddu or Craig Yr Ysfa’s Amphitheatre Wall. Nope. Not even to climb the famous Mur-y-Niwl. That is until recently. Of course I am not including the 30+ ascents of Amphitheatre Buttress in climbing instructor times gone by, and I am keeping the 1990s “Ron Hills bottom” horror photos of that period locked in a very safe place!

Sultry summer days in Snowdonia are not an everyday event. It can be hard to resist the temptation of packing in as much climbing as possible by going to the mountain crags which are closer to the road, clean, popular and where the guidebooks and the beta are more recent, such as Cyrn Las or Cloggy.

Next time there is a heat wave, and you are not put off by a 2 hour walk-in to what is virtually the top of Carnedd Llewelyn, then the upper and lower amphitheatre walls will reward you with breath-taking exposure, stunning remote views, solid rock, sunshine all day and some long, steep pitches. Combining 2 routes from the lower and upper walls can give anything from 350 to 600 feet of unforgettable climbing.

So what was the trigger for this escape to the quiet side of Snowdonia climbing? (i) A heat wave and (ii) one of those fantastic climbing buddies who never seems to lose enthusiasm. Who is he? Who other than Alan Leary! He has given years of service to local guidebook publication and climbing photography and is the only man who can rival Team Sky for looking dapper on a road bike (feel free to contest this, the author was bribed). He has a passion for new routing on even the dampest mossiest loosest crags, and this is despite his advanced age (sorry Al, the bribe was too small). He is also the only person I know who gets more hair with age when everyone else gets less.

Hubby Simon Witcher and I were delighted to be able to join Al Leary and Mike Bailey on some of their guidebook development trips; repeating lesser known climbs, clarifying grades and descriptions, on-sighting new lines etc. This article is in support of their contribution to the much-awaited Climbers' Club Carneddau climbing guide, last printed 25 years ago. Sadly this is a guide which has traditionally sold relatively few copies, so the production of a modern update is threatened by lack of sufficient interest and hence revenue. I have no idea why, it’s a magnificent area and the pictures speak for themselves:

Meet the team/ winners of the Carneddau Hot Rock Awards:

  • Best hair: Al Leary
  • Best Photographer: Mike Bailey (sorry Al)
  • Most flexible: Si Witcher (sorry Al)
  • Best outfit: me (sorry Al)

Routes Ticked:

Craig yr Ysfa
Solid Air, Aura, Pinnaclissima, Plumbagin, The Grimmett, Agrippa, Pinnacle Wall and Girdle Traverse of the Lower Ampitheatre Wall.
(We felt that Plumbagin was probably more like 5b, 5c and the photo diagram for Solid Air’s second pitch was wrong.)

Llech Ddu
Great Corner, The Groove, Cupid’s Inspiration, Humour, some exploration and a host of fabulous new routes by Mike and Al.

Here are some nice pictures:

[caption id="attachment_6264" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6265" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6266" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6267" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6268" align="aligncenter" width="427"]Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6269" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Simon winning the flexibility contest on the stunning E2 Pinnaclissima. Pitch 2. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6270" align="aligncenter" width="445"]Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6271" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6272" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6273" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2, Photo ©Al Leary Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6274" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6275" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6276" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6277" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios) Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios)[/caption]

Leanne CallaghanConfession time:

Somehow in 20 years of cragging in Wales I have never made it to either Llech Ddu or Craig Yr Ysfa’s Amphitheatre Wall. Nope. Not even to climb the famous Mur-y-Niwl. That is until recently. Of course I am not including the 30+ ascents of Amphitheatre Buttress in climbing instructor times gone by, and I am keeping the 1990s “Ron Hills bottom” horror photos of that period locked in a very safe place!

Sultry summer days in Snowdonia are not an everyday event. It can be hard to resist the temptation of packing in as much climbing as possible by going to the mountain crags which are closer to the road, clean, popular and where the guidebooks and the beta are more recent, such as Cyrn Las or Cloggy.

Next time there is a heat wave, and you are not put off by a 2 hour walk-in to what is virtually the top of Carnedd Llewelyn, then the upper and lower amphitheatre walls will reward you with breath-taking exposure, stunning remote views, solid rock, sunshine all day and some long, steep pitches. Combining 2 routes from the lower and upper walls can give anything from 350 to 600 feet of unforgettable climbing.

So what was the trigger for this escape to the quiet side of Snowdonia climbing? (i) A heat wave and (ii) one of those fantastic climbing buddies who never seems to lose enthusiasm. Who is he? Who other than Alan Leary! He has given years of service to local guidebook publication and climbing photography and is the only man who can rival Team Sky for looking dapper on a road bike (feel free to contest this, the author was bribed). He has a passion for new routing on even the dampest mossiest loosest crags, and this is despite his advanced age (sorry Al, the bribe was too small). He is also the only person I know who gets more hair with age when everyone else gets less.

Hubby Simon Witcher and I were delighted to be able to join Al Leary and Mike Bailey on some of their guidebook development trips; repeating lesser known climbs, clarifying grades and descriptions, on-sighting new lines etc. This article is in support of their contribution to the much-awaited Climbers' Club Carneddau climbing guide, last printed 25 years ago. Sadly this is a guide which has traditionally sold relatively few copies, so the production of a modern update is threatened by lack of sufficient interest and hence revenue. I have no idea why, it’s a magnificent area and the pictures speak for themselves:

Meet the team/ winners of the Carneddau Hot Rock Awards:

  • Best hair: Al Leary
  • Best Photographer: Mike Bailey (sorry Al)
  • Most flexible: Si Witcher (sorry Al)
  • Best outfit: me (sorry Al)

Routes Ticked:

Craig yr Ysfa
Solid Air, Aura, Pinnaclissima, Plumbagin, The Grimmett, Agrippa, Pinnacle Wall and Girdle Traverse of the Lower Ampitheatre Wall.
(We felt that Plumbagin was probably more like 5b, 5c and the photo diagram for Solid Air’s second pitch was wrong.)

Llech Ddu
Great Corner, The Groove, Cupid’s Inspiration, Humour, some exploration and a host of fabulous new routes by Mike and Al.

Here are some nice pictures:

[caption id="attachment_6264" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey Christophe Profit’s lesser-known Bethesda cousin (Al Leary) on the 3 star, 500ft Lower Amphitheatre Traverse, E15c. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6265" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey Leanne Callaghan enduring thermo-nuclear temperatures on Aura, E2. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6266" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan Al Leary on the stiff first pitch of Plumbagin. Lower amphitheatre wall. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6267" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary Leanne on Plumbagin pitch 2. ©Alan Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6268" align="aligncenter" width="427"]Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary Leanne on Plumbagin.©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6269" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Simon winning the flexibility contest on the stunning E2 Pinnaclissima. Pitch 2. ©Leanne Callaghan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6270" align="aligncenter" width="445"]Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary climbing The Great Corner in great pants. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6271" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary Mike Bailey enjoying the exposure on Great Corner. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6272" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher Leanne on the traverse of pitch 3 of The Groove. ©Si Witcher[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6273" align="aligncenter" width="432"]Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2, Photo ©Al Leary Mike on Cupid’s Inspiration, E2. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6274" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary Kath Bromfield on Humour HVS. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6275" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey Al Leary on a gem of a new HVS. ©Mike Bailey[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6276" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary Carneddau exploration with Mike on the sharp end. ©Al Leary[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6277" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios) Llech Ddu (aka La Roca de Dios)[/caption]

Leanne Callaghan