Falcon…"you pull out right and the exposure hits you in the face like a frying pan"
Great wall… "An ascent on a warm sunny summers evening will remain embedded in the memory long after the cold winter nights have drawn in"
White Slab..."An incredible aura surrounds this fabled route; it exerts a magnetic pull that compels one to climb it....sooner rather than later...."
To say he brought the climbs and their history to life would be an understatement and out of climbers past that I would have liked to have met he’d be top of the list.
One of the lectures he used to give was called ‘The Slate of the Art’ showing what was going on in the quarries at the time and brilliant to see by all accounts. Paul had eyed up a big corner line going the full height of the Lost World hole found behind Twll Mawr (where the Quarryman is). Being one of the lesser visited areas of the quarries it’s managed to stay unclimbed for many years.
Martin Crook and Ray Kay had attempted the line but did not return for an ascent. In about 2006 I rang Neil Dicksen quite excited about the prospect of trying it, spinning him a yarn about it being one of the last great lines left
in North Wales. He drove over from Conwy and we made the pilgrimage into the pit where it started to rain and we were forced to hide out in a tunnel. Being Neils 21st birthday he was unimpressed with the venture. We left empty handed. Reading through Simon Pantons recent and excellent slate guide this October I found a note on the Ticks groove project which reignited my enthusiasm for an attempt.
The Ticks Groove appeared bigger and better than I remembered. Alex set off up the first, mildly chossy looking pitch making rapid work of it. Reeves went up next with me staying out of the line of fire. The 1st pitch was quite deceptive being steeper and less ledge shuffly than I’d expected. Looking up the main corner there were some uninspiring looking blocks low down which I figured would be the termination of our attempt.
Luckily after prevaricating about wether to pull on the main dubious looking block I just got ready to push it towards Mark Reeves if it came off and managed to get entrenched above the main danger blocks. This 1st third seemed like an easier version of many of the Pat Littlejohn sea cliff routes where you pull on things just because you know he did but you don't know if the holds will stay on or not.
The final pitch finished with a 10 meter technical corner with good holds at the top just as all the footholds runout making for an exciting scamper for the final moves of a great climb. The climb was found by one of the keenest
climbers ever and having done some great routes over the past year this adventure felt as good as any of them.
Pitch 1: 20m, E3 5b Follow loose blocks carefully up leftwards to a ledge
near the base of the corner
Pitch 2: 35m, 6b Climb the corner via some dubious blocks with lots of care,
at ¾ height it becomes quite technical and sustained with excellent moves to
gain a tree, the bracken groove above the tree leads via a ‘5c mantel’ to easier
ground and a good grass ledge and belay.
Pitch 3: 10m, 6a Step back right into the main corner where sustained
technical climbing leads to some great finishing moves.
J.McHaffie, Mark Reeves, Alex Mason, 10/10/13