Sheep Pen Boulders


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A fine collection of boulders scattered on a hidden plateau which tops a steep scree slope running down to the A5 road. The main boulder is very impressive indeed and numerous good quality problems abound on the smaller peripheral blocks.

Conditions: This is an exposed and sunny venue which dries quickly. There are some seepage issues on the main boulder; for example, the start of Toe Dragon is often a bit wet. Despite its altitude and decidedly ‘mountain’ feel it is possible to climb here right through the winter, provided there is enough sunshine.

Approach: Park in the large lay-by beneath the steep scree. Walk along the road in the direction of Ogwen Cottage for about 100m before heading steeply up the hillside, staying right of the Gorse slope. The most pleasant line trends rightwards before kinking back left. A couple of small blocks are passed before it is possible to contour leftwards above the Gorse to arrive on the hidden grassy plateau.

The first boulder is reached quickly from the edge of the plateau.

Sheep Pen Boulders topos 1, 2.CDR

1. 4B

The faint groove on spiky holds.

2. Bangor 5C
Pull through the left side of the small roof, just right of the faint groove.

3. Caernarfon 6A 

Pull up the blunt rib at the right side of the small roof. The sit down start on the lower ramp is a painful 6B+.

4. 6A+
The clean wall left of the arête from a sit down start.

5. Klem’s Arete 6C
The blunt arête taken from a sit down start provides joyous movement, well at least it does once you’ve got past the baffling first move. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

Sheep Pen Boulders topos 1, 2.CDR

6. Life in A Northern Town 6C+
From a sit down start just left of the sheep pen wall, move up to the obvious traverse line and follow it leftwards around the arête to a tricky section to pass Problem 4. Continue leftwards to the finish of Problem 2. [Si Panton 1998]

7. Little Groover 6C
The sit down start to the small groove feature in the sheep pen is great fun or incredibly frustrating, depending on whether you ‘fit’ the positions required. [Neil Dyer 1998]

The next good boulder lies 30m over to the right.

Sheep Pen topo 3, 4.CDR

8. Mack the Knife 6B
The acutely sharp arête gives a cracking sit down start problem. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

9. Klem’s Bulge 7A
The steep bulge left of Mack the Knife provides a superb, burly sit down start. Start with both hands on low undercuts (the low spiky block on the left is in for feet). Latch the big sidepull up right and make a hard bounce up left to some indifferent holds. Continue, slapping frantically, until the jugs arrive. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

On the far side of the plateau is the main event: a big overhanging block, ringed on its steep front face by a sheep pen wall.

Sheep Pen topo 3, 4.CDR

10. Soundtrack 7C
A vein busting traverse that barrels across the right half of the steep face to finish up Kingdom of Rain. Start sitting at the low right arête with both hands matched on the arête. Improvise leftwards past the initial tricky section on slopers, and then keep trucking through continuously pumpy ground. The obvious continuation line into Gnasher rates 8A. [Neil Dyer 1999]

11. Toe Dragon 6C+
From a sit down start at the base of the crack feature slap upwards, bearing right for the lip. A more direct finish (Dirty Slapper) is slightly harder. Linking into Dog Shooter gives an excellent 7A+, while going left again into Kingdom of Rain is a fine 7B link. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

12. Dog Shooter 6C
The big sidepull pocket marks the way on this killer problem. Originally done from a hanging start on chest high edges at 6C+. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

13. Kingdom Of Rain 6C+
Another awesome problem that starts as for Dog Shooter, but swerves left to gain a parallel line of weakness, that allows access to the top. [Kristian Clemmow 1998]

14. Gnasher 7A+
A dynamic stand up line, which does not go easily. Pull on with right hand on the horizontal finger rail and left in the sloping pod; make a desperate snatch to the crozzly pocket and keep pulling for the top. There is an 8A crouching start: left hand on the first crimpy rail on Jerry’s Problem and right hand on the middle hold in a line of sharp edges. [Mark Katz 1998]

15. Jerry’s Problem 7C+
From a sit down start on the low edge, blast up the steep face via the prominent gaston to gain better holds at 2/3rds height. [Jerry Moffatt 1998]

There is an isolated block perched on the edge of the plateau, approximately 40m from the Main Block. It offers several fine problems and the famous ‘pinch’ problem.

Sheep Pen topo 5.CDR

16. Front Crack 5A
The diagonal crack feature is a delight. The sit down start boosts the grade to 6A.

17. Weight Watcher 6C+
Follow the Front Crack sds for a few moves, before veering rightwards across immaculate steep ground to gain the sanctuary of Front Face. [Si Panton 1998]

18. Front Face 4C
Climb through the bulge – at the weakness just left of the adjacent platform – to gain the hanging slab. Bear left to finish.

19. Inch Arete 4C
Step up and balance round onto the front face. The 6B+ sit down start has tricky, barndoor moves.

20. The Pinch 7A+
A perfect problem with a frustratingly drop-able crux. From a sit down start on crimpy edges, gain the slopey pinch up right (not as easy it looks!). Dyno wildly for the lip of the hanging scoop, or rock it out in a stylish fashion. [Chris Davies 1998]