Shadrach (VS), Craig Bwlch y Moch

Shadrach (VS), Craig Bwlch y Moch, Tremadog
There are so many great climbs at Tremadog that could easily be the subject of a Classic Climbs feature. Some will feature here in the future, no doubt, but here I wanted to write about Shadrach, a climb that has everything - rough slabs, a deep and dark cave, traverses, crack lines, a pinnacle, and a step across a void. 

There are a couple of ways of attacking the first pitch of the climb, which has the cave as the meat of it - you can enter the bowels of the crag, and somehow squirm up through its innards to emerge at the top of an enormous flake, or you can climb boldly up the outside of the cave to reach the same place.
Dave Neville was taking pitch 1, leaving me to enjoy the crux on pitch 2. The way took us up slabby corners to the foot of the dark cleft. I'd made it clear that the 'proper' way to climb this pitch was by bridging up the outside of the cave. Dave stopped beneath the opening fissure and muttered something about it 'looking a bit bold'. I didn't know if he meant the cave or the bridge up the outside. "I'm just going to have a look inside." He announced, and was gone from sight. Grunts could be heard from within. The ropes inched out. Further grunting, then the ropes came back towards me a couple of inches. I duly took in the slack. "Trouble is, my head's too big with this helmet on." Dave yelled from the darkness. The ropes inched out again. "Oh man!" came from within. I could no longer see Dave at all, but there was a fair bit of rope udging going on, and he was definitely putting up a fight. And losing, by the sounds of it. "Shit!" he yelled, "I'm going to have to take my helmet off if I'm going to climb through here." 

"Dave. Why not come back out and climb it properly on the outside?" I called into the black hole. The ropes continued to move into the void. Something dawned on me. "Dave." I yelled. "If you've taken your helmet off and left it in there, I'm going to have to bring yours and mine through with me when I follow you." No reply. I envisaged trying to squeeze myself through narrow and awkward gaps, possibly with a helmet in each hand if I too would have to take mine off. "Dave, have you left your helmet in the cave?" There was a shuffling sound, then Dave yelled back, "Nah mate! I've taken it off and wedged it into the crack higher up. I'm using it as a handhold!" I collapsed laughing. The tension had been broken. I could hear Dave giggling from within.

Then the ropes came back towards me yet again. They kept coming, and before too long Dave slithered back out of the bottom hole of the cave, helmet on his head. "Oh man!" he repeated. "Shit!" I thought, "He's going to tell me I can have a go!".

But Dave's made of sterner stuff. He bridged elegantly up the outside of the cave, placing the biggest cam we carried and ploughed on to the top of the flake. Within a couple of minutes he was belayed and yelling down for me to follow. That pitch was indeed a bold lead. The cam - his only bit of gear - wasn't really big enough, and walked in to a widening as I climbed, soon wobbling out and sliding down the rope towards me. Of course, I had the benefit of the rope coming down from above, so I could just enjoy the climbing.
Once we were both on the belay stance we looked for the exit hole that we'd have had to squeeze through if Dave's troglodyte explorations had paid off. There was a crack about 8 inches wide, and we agreed there's no way we could have gone through that. I can only assume that the exit is actually down the other side a short way.

Many people miss out on this pitch by climbing the first part of the neighbouring route Meshach. You climb up well to the left of the cave, to reach the flake crack after the short traverse from the belay stance. This is very good too, but it does seem a shame to avoid what is a really exciting and bold pitch.

Pitch two starts with a short traverse left on slabby ground, then an easy climb up to the left-hand side of an obvious pinnacle. You climb onto the pinnacle and I found that I had two choices ahead of me. 

The guidebook states "Climb onto the top of the block and stride awkwardly into the shallow groove above." From the highest point of the block the wall above looked intimidating, and the holds very small. Over to the left was a shallow groove, with a wet streak running down it. I tried the intimidating wall, but didn't fancy the stride across. The wet groove actually proved to be much easier than it looked, and with the left hand on top of a flake of rock and a couple of good nut runners in, the wall above was soon reached. I moved right onto the wall, climbing via well-placed holds to the top.

Dave followed with ease, but didn't seem to use the wet groove. He'd climbed it via the step over from the very top of the pinnacle. 

"Glad you didn't belay below the pinnacle," he admitted when he arrived at the top of the crag. "I wouldn't have fancied leading that stride across". He'd not realised that I'd climbed the wet groove direct. Maybe next time we'll swap leads, and I'll have to do battle with that cave pitch!

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