This quiet backwater venue is a great place to get away from it all. Out on the edge of the Migneint moorland there is a delightful sense of isolation. The circuit features problems mostly in the lower to mid grade range. The rock is rough and pocketed; in fact it can be a bit sharp in places – make sure you take some finger tape to patch up the inevitable flappers and cuts. The landings are generally okay, but do require some care in the main boulder field. Some of the problems are highball but there is plenty to do at a less scary height.
Conditions: The rock is mostly quick drying, however the shady facets hold lichen and are much slower to dry out. Year round climbing is possible, provided the sun is out and it’s not too windy. That being said the crag is exposed and situated at a relatively high altitude so wrap up warm if you’re making a winter visit.
Approach: The crag and boulder field is clearly seen from the Ffestiniog – Penmachno road. There is a small parking area on the southern shore of Llyn Dubach. Approach directly on the obvious footpath (which can get a bit boggy during rainy periods).
The circuit starts over on the right side of the boulder field on the Pen Ci boulder.
Slab right of arête; there is a possible escape off right onto the mossy slab.
2. Bywyd Ci 4A
Climb the arête on its right, slabby side. There are lots of positive holds but if you do dismount be careful to jump clear of the ankle-threatening ledge near the bottom of the arête.
Tackle the bulging face left of the arête.
4. Pen Ci 3C
The obvious weakness in the centre of the west face of the boulder.
The prominent Dark Side block has a number of highball lines on the sunny side and some steeper action on the shady, corridor side. It is worth bearing in mind that the easiest way off the top of the boulder is to down climb one of the sunny side highballs, Problem 7 being perhaps the friendliest option.
Scale the left edge of the sunny side of the boulder. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Follow the quartzy seam/crack up through the left side of the overlap, taking care to remember where all the holds are as you’ll be coming back down this way! [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Climb up from the shallow V groove to gain the upper slab. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Pick a line up the slab, passing the small overlap to gain the upper slab. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Around on the shadowy side of the boulder are some much harder problems.
9. Crad’s Other Wall 6C
Start sitting at the bottom left arête then move up right, following a selection of small holds up into the a finish on the vague rib. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
10. Dark Side Traverse 6B+
Start sitting at the left edge of the undercut dark face. Move up and follow a line of holds rightwards across the lip of the steepness to reach the top right arête. An excellent problem but can be green and slimy during the winter months. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
On the right side of the Dark Side corridor is a neat little slab.
The right arête of the slab, climbed on its left side is very friendly.
The central line on the slab is well endowed with positive holds.
At the top of the Dark Side corridor there is a steep face.
A powerful little number! Start sitting and make a burly reach with your right hand before spinning up left and gaining the lip. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Over in the upper central section of the boulder field, just below the crag proper there is an attractive wall.
14. Llygaid yr Haul 5C
A superb problem. The obvious left hand line on the wall goes best from a sit down start. 5A/B from standing. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
15. Llygaid yr Haul Llaw Dde 6A
The right hand line on the wall both fingery and quite fierce. The sit down start boosts the grade to 6A+. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
At the base of the crag, just up to the left, there is an alcove.
Climb out from the right side of the alcove to gain the diagonal ledge system.
17. Sausage Fuhrer 6C
Tough stuff! A series of fierce pulls lead up from a sit down start on the left side of the alcove to gain a finishing position on the diagonal ledge system. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
18. Crad’s Trav 5A
Traverse the base of the crag left-to-right to reach the offwidth crack. Harder (5C) and perhaps better if done right-to-left. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
8m down to the left are more good problems.
Traverse leftwards across the lip of the upper boulder then use the slabby boulder for your feet to top out on the left side. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
20. Pen Saeth 5C
Start sitting and follow the diagonal arête up rightwards. A harder (6B+) direct eliminate is possible. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Through the gap is a severely undercut boulder with a slopey lip.
21. Funky Gibbon 6A+
Start as low as you can on the steep right arête then follow the lip up and leftwards before grinding out a mantel at the left side of the boulder. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
8m down to the left is another interesting cluster of boulders.
The right arête of the boulder is short and sweet.
The steep left side of the boulder gives a powerful sit down start. [Sam Davis]
A steep sit down start on the right side of the hanging arête. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Climb the slab just right of centre on positive holds.
Climb the slab just left of centre on some sharp holds. There is a harder (6A) sit down start pulling round the low lip. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Up behind Problem 26 is another worthwhile problem.
Make hard moves up from the shelf onto the slabby upper rib. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Back down below and 8m in front of the Problem 26 area there is a long low boulder.
28. Tramwyiad Prentis 4C
Traverse the long low wall left-to-right, keeping your hands below the top; surprisingly tricky!
The next section can be found 150m round to the left at the base of the back crag. An impressive highball block catches the eye and provides some of the best problems here.
Make a tricky transition onto the hanging slab and pick your way easily to the top.
A stunning highball with some surprisingly good holds. Start up the layback crack but immediately quit it for holds leading up the hanging arête. Continue up, finishing ‘heart-in-mouth’ onto the upper slab. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
31. Hongian 6B!
Climb up underneath the roof then climb out rightwards to gain the upper section of Problem 30. [Calum Muskett 2014]
Another cracking highball challenge. Climb up underneath the roof then finish direct up the indefinite ramp feature. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
The pillar to the left of the roof gives a bold outing – be careful with that landing! [Dafydd Davis 90s]
If you scramble up the gully to the left of the Hongian block you will reach a steep arête on a leaning pillar. This gives a scary highball problem (6B! from a sit down start) requiring great care. At the top of the gully behind the pillar there is a highball wall on an upper level – there are some good but similarly scary lines here.
Back down at ground level and 10m to the left of the Hongian block there is a small bay with a couple of problems.
Start matched on the undercuts and climb up rightwards. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Tackle the steep rib front on. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Farther left again is an obvious undercut block.
Start sitting on the right and follow the diagonal lip/arête of the front face up left to top out at the apex. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
A tough, eliminate line. Start sitting on the undercut face just left of the arête. Move up and climb across the face leftwards, staying below the top. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
From a sit down start climb straight up through the traverse of Problem 37. [Dafydd Davis 90s]
Up behind this boulder there is a hanging block with an obvious eliminate project on its right side and a 5A sit down start on the upper left facet.