The Wave

The southern side of the Braichmelyn woods is densely populated with coniferous trees. It seems an unlikely place to find a bouldering crag, yet hidden amongst the towering pines is an escarpment of volcanic rock. Much of the escarpment is broken or overgrown, but in places it provides some very good bouldering. Many of the problems are highball and the finishes are often dirty and vegetated so make sure you inspect the top outs before you commit! Although it enjoyed a good deal of attention when it was first developed in the mid 80s, recent years have seen parts of the crag become overgrown again.

Conditions: The sheltered nature of the crag makes it a good option on windy days, however there are a few obvious downsides. It is fairly slow to dry after rain and there is significant seepage in places. It can also be a midge trap on summer evenings.

Approach: From the lay-by next to the Ogwen Bank caravan park entrance on the A5 cross the road and follow the path over a track and up to a large clearing/junction of forest roads and paths. Turn right and follow the path for 50m. Just before the step in the path (silver Birch trees), turn left and walk up to a statuesque wave of rock that marks the start of the edge proper (and gives the crag its name).

Wave topo 1,2.CDR

1. 4C!
Vegetated crack on mossy wall right of The Prow. [Len Lovatt 80s]

2. 5A!
Climb straight up from the large mouth jug and up the mossy wall just right of the arête. [Len Lovatt 80s]

3. The Prow 6B!
A great problem. Climb up the arête on pockets from the bucket hold to a highball finish. [Len Lovatt 80s]

4. Broken Wave 7A!
Start 5m left of the last problem at another blunt arête. From a sit down start move up through the traverse line with difficulty to gain a high pod up on the right. Top out directly from here. 6C+ from a standing start. [Len Lovatt 80s]

5. 6A
The hanging crack/groove feature with an obvious knee bar position. The difficulty can be boosted to 6B with the Broken Wave sit down start. [Len Lovatt 80s]

6. 7A
The line left of the hanging crack/groove feature. Start sitting and move up using the left arête. Tricky and powerful moves lead up around the lip of the steepness and onto the obvious fin. 6C+ from standing.

Wave topo 1,2.CDR

It is possible to climb the narrow groove just right of the big crack (Problem 7) but the rock step landing makes it not very appealing.

7. 5C!
The dirty crack is best avoided (for obvious reasons) during rainy periods. The sit down start boosts the grade to 6A.

8. The Undercut 6A+!
A steep problem tackling the bulge left of Problem 7. From a sit down start off a left hand lay away, move up to better holds in a groove and climb upwards steeply to a sketchy top out. [Len Lovatt 80s]

The dirty groove to the left has been climbed but is usually too grotty and damp to be worthwhile.

9. 6A!
Climb up the vague rib then follow undercuts boldly rightwards into a finish just left of the top of the dirty groove. [Len Lovatt 80s]

Wave topo 2a, 3.CDR

10. 6B!
Climb up the vague rib then follow the line of intermittent cracks up to a distinctly highball finish. [Len Lovatt 80s]

11. 6B!
Start in the centre of the wall as per Wave Wall. Move up and trend diagonally rightwards to meet the top of the previous problem. [Paul Tunnicliffe 80s]

12. Wave Wall 6A+!
Climb up on sidepulls and crimps to a pocket which brings the top within reach. [Len Lovatt 80s]

13. Wave Traverse 6C
A long and entertaining traverse of The Wave with a choice of possible finishes, including the original which makes a bridge move out left. Start sitting just left of the right arête of the buttress with a good right hand side pull in a large pocket. Move up and follow the thin break up leftwards. A useful lower undercut will help you set up to reach holds at the base of the hanging crack/groove feature. Drop down leftwards and use low undercuts and sidepulls to gain the next crack. Follow the low break beneath the bulge into the corner then out left. Once you reach the big sidepull under the start of Problem 9 kick out left and bridge across the gap to reach the small boulder on the left side of the gully. Finish leftwards, rocking out onto the slab. A harder and less pleasant finish can be done by continuing up left crossing Wave Wall. [Len Lovatt 80s]

14. Wave Traverse High 7A
A more feisty version with some powerful moves across the central section. Follow the original into the hanging crack/groove feature, but move up to gain the knee-bar. A big reach out left precedes an undercut slap to a big hold in the groove right of the next crack. Keep going at the same height, eventually dropping down to the big sidepull on the low traverse. Take your pick of the various finishes mentioned in the Wave Traverse Low description. [Len Lovatt 80s]

15. Wave Traverse Low 6C+
An eliminate version staying low on the first half of the traverse. Start sitting as per Wave Traverse but head immediately leftwards staying below the obvious thin breakline and using a variety of sidepulls, undercuts etc. to gain the large crack at the rock step. Continue with either version of the traverse thereafter. [Len Lovatt 80s]

10m farther along the escarpment is a shady alcove.

Wave topo 3, 4.CDR

The bulging wall on the right is a hard project line. The hanging crack/groove on the right side of the hanging prow gives a fairly undignified struggle with a fist jam. It was originally done as part of a welly boot circuit developed in the 80s.

16. The Crest 8A+
The hanging prow of rock wedged in the alcove gives a great and surprisingly independent feeling problem. The eliminate rule is that you can’t touch the adjacent side walls, but such is the ‘locked in’ nature of the sequence that this does not feel contrived. Start sitting with double undercuts at the back of the roof and feet on the back wall. Upside down monkey moves lead out and up the prow to a triumphant finish. [Dave Noden 02.10]

16a. The Crest Crouch Start 7C
The original crouch start pulls on with an obvious crimp for the right and a slopey pinch for the left; clamp and slap your way to the summit! [Adam Hocking 2008]

The leaning wall 10m up and left has a half decent pocket line (start as low as you can) and a reasonable lip traverse.

25m farther left there is a free standing block below the escarpment – this has a couple of worthwhile problems.

Wave topo 3, 4.CDR

17. 4B
The obvious arête feature on the top side of the boulder. [Len Lovatt 80s]

Wave topo 5, 6.CDR

18. 6C
The round-the-block traverse goes in an anti-clockwise direction. Start on the top face, move past the arête then down and around onto the steep lower face where a distinct crux section will spit off the unprepared or the unfit. [Len Lovatt 80s]

20m farther along the escarpment becomes more pronounced with large walls either side of a gully.

Wave topo 5, 6.CDR

19. 6A!
The arête at the right side of the wall right of the gully is very good. Take care on the dirty top out. [Len Lovatt 80s]

20. 6B+!
The central line on the wall is currently in a rather vegetated state. Shame, as it does give a good dynamic problem. [Len Lovatt 80s]

21. 6C+
Traverse the wall right-to-left and keep trucking along the side wall of the gully. Again, a good problem which has been reclaimed by nature. [Len Lovatt 80s]

On the left wall of the gully there are a few more problems. Descend carefully via the dead tree.

Wave topo 7, 8.CDR

22. 6A+
Start sitting just left of the old tree. Climb out leftwards to gain a good ledge and then the vegetated top.

23. 6A+
The left arête of the gully is quite pushy if taken straight on. An alternative solution is a bridge and press manoeuvre on its left side. [Len Lovatt 80s]

To the left there are two crack lines and an arête. These look good but the muddy landing slopes away alarmingly and the top outs are rather vegetated. Over in the corner to the left there is another leaning wall with a better landing and a cleaner top out.

Wave topo 7, 8.CDR

24. Pebble Wall 7B
A desperate, snatchy problem climbed by a passing rock star. Take the infamous pebble with your right, power up to better holds and keep pulling for the top. [Jerry Moffatt 90s]

Hidden Cleft
Situated directly behind Pebble Wall is an impressive cleft with smoother rock. It takes a few days to dry out after heavy rain and is best enjoyed with several pads and a spotter as the landing is very jumbled. To reach it walk up the gully to the right of Problem 23 and squeeze through the boulder choke at its end.

Wave topo 9a, 9b.CDR

25. 6B+
The right arête climbed from an awkward sit down start.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

Wave topo 9a, 9b.CDR

26. Trench Fever 7C+
An intensely technical sds tackling the thin crack line at the right side of the steep back wall of the corridor. The stand up version goes at 7A+.
[Pete Robins 13.02.12]

27. 6C
Move into the crack from the bulge on the right. An awkward and tenuous move brings the top within reach and a highball exit.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

28. 7A
From a hang start on the ramp rock up into the crack and make a difficult move to stand up on the ramp to a scary finish.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

29. Groovy Number 6C+
The groove is climbed by a surprising sequence. Start hanging from the ramp below the groove.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

30. Frog Leap 7A+
The roof tucked in at the left side of the Cleft gives a surprisingly good problem. There is an eliminate rule, namely that the side walls should be avoided. From the undercuts at the back reach around to a good hold for your right hand. Make a powerful move to a crimp for your left and dyno for the jug. Finish easily.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

31. Hidden Cleft Traverse 7A
Starts far right on a triangular flat crimp beyond the bulge. A difficult starting move brings improving holds moving onto the ramp, traverse along this to finish up Groovy Number.
[Calum Muskett 09.11]

Down and left of Pebble Wall there is an attractive free standing boulder.

Wave topo 10.CDR

32. 6C
The boulder can be looped in either direction. It was originally traversed anti clockwise, starting on the upper slabby side, but the clockwise trip is just as good and perhaps hardest if started low at the right arête of the lower face. [Len Lovatt 80s]