Early October and a fine forecast saw me heading west to Craig Dorys. One of the most notorious crags on the Peninsula (well so the guide said). Amazing clear views stretched as far a St Davids Head 100 miles away and a calm sea reflected the warmth of the bright early autumn sunlight.
A short walk in through fields of inquisitive cows took us to the top of the crag and a reasonable descent through deep bracken and some boulder hopping to bring the crags into view. First route took an attractive line on the right end of Golden Wall, Knowing Her E2 5B. Following a crack line with mostly good gear this was a reasonable proposition and perhaps quite easy for the grade. The Mermaid who shed her Glove. E4 6A was next up on the menu and although Matthew thought it was not perhaps 6a it certainly was serious with a series of thin moves between 3 metres and 8 metres well above gear and with ground fall an almost certain prospect as the only good runners were at about 4 metres.
My efforts were not good enough to keep me in contact with the rock and despite a couple of attempts I ended jumaring up the bit between 4 and 8 metres. After this the climbed eased to perhaps no more than HVS. It turns out that this route has been graded at E5. Our decision of what to do next was taken out of our hands by Matthews foot. He stood on a hidden metal spike that was razor sharp and cut a deep wound between his toes. An evening in Bangor Hospital was the sensible option! Mathews spirit was not squashed though and after some food in Caernarvon and some amusement at watching the 'boy racers' on laps of the town in their souped up Peugeot etc we planned to stay for another day.
Heading even further west we arrived at Trwyn Maen Melyn overlooking Bardsey Island at the very end of the peninsula. Some weird rock called Gwynd Melange apparently, although we though this was a made up name. Greenish shale with veins/lumps of Quartzite all twisted and folded and also pretty overhanging. One unusual thing about the rock is that it seems to attract butterflies, they must like the minerals the rock is made of.
Day 2 - Bats, Butterflies and Bruising Boulders
The Bardsey Ripple E2 5b was a great line following a quartzite band across the crag and right across the steep upper face. The main challenge was finding gear in the contorted rock and trusting the embedded holds were a permanent fixture! I was slightly nervous at the steep and tricky looking start as a slip on the initial section (pulling across from an undercut ledge to some small flakes) would have meant a huge pendulum into a massive boulder. The tricky looking groove in the middle of the route was actually the easiest part of the climb as the traverse across the main face was much steeper than it looked.
The next route was The Incredible Surplus Head E3 5c. A direct line up the main face. Plenty of holds in the middle section but a tricky start and an ever steepening finish. Matthew cruised up to the final steepening headwall, and managed to hold on long enough to get some decent runners in. Quite a few butterflies hovered around the rock face and at one point a bat flew out and around in circles, obviously not used to climbers! Moving up to the embedded block he started exploring the options for finishing. At this point his foothold gave way and a couple of brick sized blocks succombed to gravity and looking up seemed to briefly hang in the air before accelerating towrds me. I new I didn't have time to move out the way so I braced myself for an impact, and I certainly got one! One of the large blocks glanced off my shoulder, it was as if someone had given me a good kicking! No blood but a sore shoulder for sure. Matthew continued his struggle and by now had his hands over the top of the crag: but alas the finishing holds were well hidden and a fall was the only option. He fell well though and was not caught by any of the sharp bands of quartzite. He had another go but it wasn't going to happen and so after lowering off I had a got on a top rope and got the gear out. The last three metres kicked out nearly two metres, it was deceptively steep and trusting some of the embedded holds took real bottle on a lead.
A great area to visit, very quiet , I'll be back!