After a great day climbing on Tryfan on Saturday, and a fairly disappointing evening watching the Rugby, we looked for somewhere off the beaten track on Sunday since the Pass looked a little crowded and cloudy and our chosen crag – Craig Ddu – was under its usual covering of wetness.
I remembered Carreg Alltrem, a little crag to the east of the mountains which had a superb trio of routes that are almost guaranteed to satisfy. I done them all years ago but beyond knowing they were good routes, I could remember little else. These days it seems few people know about Carreg Alltrem so we anticipated having the place to ourselves. Of course class is difficult to hide and when we arrived we found ourselves vying for Lavaredo with Tom and Martin who had come here following their mate’s recommendation from the day before. There were enough routes to go round though so we all proceeded to have a great social day’s climbing on the three classics of the crag: Lavaredo (VS), Lightning Visit (VS) and Fratricide Wall (HVS at the beginning of the day). The photo shows Martin on the superb pitch 2 of Lavaredo on Carreg Alltrem
Grades are funny things. The more you think about them, the more complicated they get. Those three routes seemed to encompass many of the problems found when trying to decide on grades for routes. Lightning Wall is fine at VS 4a, 4c. Perhaps pitch 2 is a bit soft at 4c but few can really complain. Lavaredo on the other hand is give VS 4b, 4b in one guide and a more realistic VS 4b, 5a in North Wales Rock. The thing is that VS 4b, 5a doesn’t really cover it very well. It gives you the impression that pitch 2 is well-protected route with one hard move, but in fact the move is more of a section including placing gear, a big pull, placing more gear, then another pull, making it feel more like HVS for some, yet it probably isn’t that hard really. Whatever it gets, be prepared for a much harder second pitch than first, and be prepared to keep moving on the second although don’t forget to enjoy it; there are few better-positioned HVS’s around.
The final route of the day for us was Fratricide Wall which takes a complicated line up the big wall left of the central grooves of the crag. I made the mistake of trying to do this one in a single run-out. It got quite lonely near the top and the number of hard moves made me think this was closer to E1 than HVS for most. A great route though and well worth doing to complete the trio.
UKClimbing thread discussing the grades at Carreg Alltrem.
There are a few other gems there – like Civetta - which my guidebook says I climbed with Andy Fanshawe in 1990. I can’t remember anything about it now but at the time I added an extra star and changed the grade to E2 5c. If I were you I’d take the star but ignore the downgrade.