Best Severe to Hard Severe's in North Wales
Updated: Mar 10
Continuing from our last post about the best routes at Vdiff that North Wales has to offer, in this post we’ll be looking at my top 5 Severe's and Hard Severe's.
Christmas Curry / Micah Eliminate - Tremadog (S 4a/HS 4a)
The original route of Christmas Curry is a Tremadog classic severe, with easy to place reliable protection and technical varied climbing. The route starts with an easy scramble approach pitch, before a few more challenging pitches, culminating in a tricky groove. Route finding can be a little tricky, so make sure you read the guidebook description carefully and consider the logical line (follow the polish!) as there are quite a few routes that share pitches and variations that break off. This is a good route for people practicing multipitch climbing at an accessible venue.
Talking about variations, if you find the climbing too easy the first time, the Micah eliminate finish is an airy finale for those wanting an extra challenge. This breaks out to the right before the final pitch, make sure you don't traverse across too early, otherwise you might unintentionally climb quite a lot of the Plum (E1 5b).
Main Wall - Cyrn Las (HS 4b)
Sitting high above the Llanberis Pass in Cyrn Las, Main Wall is one of the best adventurous Hard Severes not only in Snowdonia but in the UK. A route not to be underestimated due to its length, mountainous nature, sustained difficulty and complicated routefinding. This is a route for any Hard Severe leader to aspire to.
Situated on a north facing wall, this route is best climbed in the Summer and although it does dry fairly quickly it will be in best condition after a dry period. Its takes about an hour to approach the route and after an initial easier pitch the climbing is sustained until the top. From here you scramble back down to the Sergeants gully footpath and descend from there. It's probably best to make sure you have a full day and are suitably equipped for a long day in the mountains (spare layers, headtorches, map and compass and most importantly high quality snacks).
Tennis Shoe - Idwal Slab HS 4b
Another super classic on the Idwal Slabs, Tennis Shoe traces the impressive left edge of the crag. Although it is a similar length and grade to Main Wall, Tennis Shoe is a more accessible and less challenging route because it has straightforward route finding and the crux climbing is confined to the first and last pitch.
Starting up the polish groove is one of the hardest sections of the route and although not very difficult a steady approach is needed because the rock is very polished. The pitch does have good gear in the form of small to medium nut and cam placements. These are a little spaced out and are sometimes a bit shallow so I would advise placing quite a few to protect it safely. From the top of the groove, there are several tricky moves before easier ground. From here there are a few easier pitches, these can be run together by experienced teams before reaching the final pitch. The final pitch goes up the hanging slab and has probably the hardest section of climbing on the route, a tricky but well protected rockover move. This pitch can be skirted on the right up the gully if daylight is running out, but having missed the finale pitch you might be a bit disappointed.
Whitestreak/Honeysuckle Corner - Craig Y Wrysgan
The combination of the first pitch of Whitesteak and Honeysuckle Corner is a Moelwynion classic away from the crowds. The heavily pocketed an grippy volcanic rock is totally different to that of the Llanberis and Ogwen valleys and with it's slightly under the radar nature you will likely have the crag to yourself.
With only two pitches this is one of the shorter routes on the list, but it's certainly one of my favourite. A slightly bold and confident approach is required for the first pitch, which at first seems pretty devoid of holds and gear. On closer inspection the rock gives amazing pocketed hand and footholds and spaced but bomber gear placements. This pitch finishes on a large grassy bay, a great sport for a mid route lie down to watch the world gi by. The second pitch takes the slightly intimidating steep but short groove, again a confident approach is rewarded with fun climbing. A final trip through history awaits with a short descent down the old quarry tunnel, an interesting feature which on a hot summer's day acts as a very effective air conditioned wind tunnel.
Creag Dhu Wall - Tremadog HS 4b
It's hard as a Tremadog local not to be a bit biased, however Craig Dhu Wall is an incredibly popular route at the grade with an insitu climber present on most summer days. Personally it isn't my favourite route on the list, but with its distinctive Tremadog style climbing up big features it would be hard to leave it off.
The meat of the route is on the first pitch, with a wild traverse up through big features leading to a massive belay ledge. From here the second pitch continues up exposed terrain and vague grooves to reach an abseil point at the top of the crag, this pitch isn't to be underestimated as the route finding can be a little tricky and the climbing is technical. An abseil returns you to where you started. Take care with ropework on both pitches as at about 30m each there is potential for quite a bit of ropedrag.
Multiple - Clogwyn Yr Oen (S 4a)
Whilst it perhaps doesn’t have routes with three star classic status, Clogwyn Yr Oen is home to some great multipitch Severes as well as many other moderate routes. The rock is good quality and like Wrysgan, heavily featured with lots of pockets and unlike lots of other crags in North Wales climbs well when it is wet.
The best climbs there are;
VD - Chic, Slick
Severe - Kirkus Climb, Block, Bent, Slack
VS - Pinky
The crag is approached by following the road up to the dam on foot after parking in Tanygrisau and although the walk is steep it’s a nice steady approach on tarmac. At first sight the crag appears quite small, but it is deceptively foreshortened with most of the climbs being at least three pitches long. The climbs are descended from by a short walk down a south facing gully.
In the next post I'll be looking at my top five North Wales VS's. Are there any Severe's or Hard Severe's that you would have on your list that I didn't?