September 25, 2009 George Foster


Do i have to? Not really. Do i want to? Umm kind of not. Yup it’s the long awaited second installment of ‘Crags What I Likes’. How could i possibly follow on from Wolfcrag and Cambusbarron?? Well apparently i can, so without further adoo, drum roll please……….

Grit’s arch-nemesis – Welsh Slate . In at number 2 that lovely little medium that when i first started climbing had me thinking that slate was very rare and only ever found in one place in the whole of the UK….idiot. I now know that it’s not of course but you can’t blame me entirely for thinking that? There are other slate quarries about throughout the UK but when someone says to me ‘Have you ever climbed on THE slate’ they’re surely only talking about one place……

People harp on and on about how slate is totally unique in the way it makes you climb… why should i be any different? The nature of the beast i.e. fractured or chipped edges and ZERO friction (there ain’t no features for feet here), forces moves that you simply don’t encounter anywhere else. Here the crimp and rockover rule. Precise footwork, honed technique and the ability to be stupid conquer the frequently retarded level of boldness found on most of the routes. E1 4c anyone?? It is a place where in basic terms it is easy to read the rock, there’s either a bolt/gear placement or there’s not……if there’s not and you’re sketching…you’re fucked!

The stories that go with it inspire as much as the routes themselves…tales of Jonny Redhead tying a toprope round his nuts to lessen the desire to fall, or bolts placed deliberately just out of reach to scare unsuspecting leaders. Ho hum! Slate has classic routes right through the grades that can be enjoyed by anyone, however it is probably fair to say that the best (depending on how you define ‘best’) are reserved for those operating at least in the mid to high E-grades. Comes the Dervish, Poetry Pink (photo above by Mark Reeves – hope you don’t mind), The Very Big and The Very Small, The Medium, Dawes of Perception, Flashdance, The Quarryman, Bungles Arete etc etc etc zzzzzzzzzz…..the list is almost endless. Don’t worry if you all rush at once, the place is as slippy as piss – whatever that means – so a bit of polish won’t make a difference.

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