North Wales is about as traditional as it gets, both in terms of the climbing and as a memory for countless generations of OUMC climbers. Snowdonia National Park, in the North Western corner of Wales encompasses just about every type of climbing you're likely to find in the UK, so it's no surprise that after the Peaks it's the most popular destination for OUMC meets.
For those in search of sea-cliff adventure climbing, the enormous cliffs of Gogarth really are an internationally significant destination, with steep and serious routes almost exclusively in the upper grades. Fortunately, whilst your mates are off having a sea-sprayed adventure, the inland Quartzite cliffs of Holyhead Mountain (more a hill than a mountain) provide a friendly alternative, with many pleasant climbs of one or two pitches across the grade range.
North Wales is also home to the infamous slate quarries, which retain their international reputation along with gristone as something uniquely British, and equally eccentric. In the slate quarries the sun always shines, and there's an amazing relaxed atmosphere that usually inspires people to push themselves up harder and harder lines... which is just as well given that most of the routes are in the upper grades. If you're with people who know what they're doing then slate can be a marvellous experience when the rest of North Wales is wet and miserable. Small (yes, very small) gear is recommended...
The mountains of Snowdonia are also littered with countless excellent crags, and famous names such as Dinas Chromlech and Dinas Mott sit comfortably alongside one of the UK's most daunting mountain crags - Clogwyn d'Arddu, or Cloggy. There are so many first-class multi-pitch routes on these (and other) crags that it's no surprise people keep on coming back. All of these are inescapable and long adventures that require appropriate experience and equipment.
As if all of that wasn't enough, and the saviour of many a rainy day, North Wales is home to the few true mountaineering routes in this part of the world. Low grade 'scrambles' such as those on Tryfan and Lliwedd may not compare technically with most 'rock climbing', but given the inevitable bad weather, big boots, or big rucksacks, these routes provide brilliant full-day adventures that have become a rite or passage in UK climbing, and certainly in the echelons of OUMC. Indeed, for many, the mountain routes of North Wales are the only reason to visit the region... Don't forget head-torches, waterproofs, and a sense of humour.
Of course, to ensure the full spectrum of climbing and satisfy even those who cant stand the long wet walk-ins, North Wales is also home to some excellent bouldering, and crash-pads and tooth-brushes are as prominent on the minibus as big packs and mountain boots.
This incredible variety leads to almost guaranteed popular meets; in both Michaelmas Term, when the new Committee get nervous about potential epics, mountain rescue call-outs and the resulting law suits involving new Freshers; and in Hilary Term when there's a good chance it'll snow, and even the older more experienced members fail to return to the bus on time. Daft party games and excessive alcohol consumption in the warmth ("more coal please") of the hut usually go on long into the night as people tell tales of their epic day's adventure...
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For more specific information, comprehensive details can be found in UKClimbing's climbing database:
- North Wales—Tryfan (East Face)
- North Wales—Milestone Buttress
- North Wales—Little Tryfan
- North Wales—Dinas Cromlech
Steve Broadbent has produced some excellent mini-topos for the most popular routes in a format perfect for carrying up the mountain with you without the hassle and weight of the full guide.
Read about staying in huts.