By Maddie Stocks
There's no real need to mention how good the climbing is in North Wales. From sea cliffs to mountain routes, bouldering, sport and trad, the place literally has it all. You can easily cover all three disciplines in a day, and if you can keep pushing your grade there's a potential lifetimes worth of routes and problems to go at.
Trad for me, is climbing comfortably within my limit, on long routes on a nice sunny day with good company. I love to climb hard and push myself to the limits, but I have bouldering and sport climbing for that. Grooved Arete (GA) has been on the tick list for a while. My friend Simon and I had hoped to climb it a few years back but the weather gods had different plans.
The route is listed as a top 50 in the North Wales Rockfax and is described as one of the best and most popular of its grade in the UK. It is given HVD 4a and is on the East face of Tryfan mountain in Ogwen, Snowdonia. There are plenty of good ways to get to the top of this mountain crag if you are climbing both harder or easier, but with 8 pitches and the fair old walk in and descent to go at, GA was an ample outing for us.
Camping at the foot of Tryfan at Gwern Gof Uchaf farm campsite allows you to get an early (ish) start. The approximate 60 minute walk in takes you past Little Tryfan, a lovely slab of leaning rock which has nearly a dozen 2 pitch low grade trad routes, and to pretty much half way up the mountain to the Heather Terrace where the route starts. The walk in is quite steep in sections and gets you fully warmed up for the climb ahead!
The route starts in a corner with the letters GA etched in the rock so you know you're in the right place. The guide has really good pitch descriptions but we basically followed the polish and made our own way up, occasionally checking to make sure we were on track! The climbing is really steady away, we tackled most of it in approach shoes but sometimes I felt that I would have climbed it differently, and maybe with a bit more elegance, if I'd have had climbing shoes on. I led the infamous Knights Move pitch and it really was an excellent little slab climb with great exposure as you round the arete and make a belay. With a few scrambles thrown in and some massive grassy ledges to belay off you can easily forget how high up you are on this route, but the view at the top of pitch 6 was a really good reminder!
A lot of the routes do top out on the summit, and you have the option here too. We didn't do the last pitch as the heat had got the better of us, but now there's something to go back for. The descent took us a while but the views were incredible. On a glorious summers day what better way to finish off an amazing day out on possibly the best HVD in North Wales, than a swim in the lake and a cold beer by the tent. Cheers!