Rock Climbing at Idwal Slabs, Snowdonia

It was time to hit the road again. Destination? Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.

I arrived and had a couple of days to myself in the van getting some good hiking days in before my buddy Zac arrived for a few days of rock climbing. The weather was good and I decided to take us to Idwal Slabs in the Ogwen Valley.

It’s a great location to ‘learn the ropes’ when it comes to trad climbing, and multi pitch at that. I’m a confident climber but, I haven’t climbed multi pitch for a while and I believe this was Zacs first time doing multi pitch so, this was a perfect location.

Idwal Slabs (aka Cwm Idwal) has over 100 routes mostly multi pitch at various grades. Some of the routes top out at 160m. This really is a superb place to come to learn and progress, and the backdrop of the area is truly impressive. It’s one of my favourite locations in the whole national park.

Getting here is real easy which also makes it very popular amongst other climbers and passers by. Head to the Ogwen Valley on the A5 and you will notice ample parking locations on the side of the road. It can get real busy at peak times so get there early or climb during the week when it’s quieter. From the Ogwen Cottage it takes 20-25 minutes of easy walking along a distinct trail right to the base of the crag.

IdwalSlabs

Most of my trad experience is from the Peak district so it’s always nice experiencing different rock. North Wales has a huge variety of rock types to please everyone.

Right, let’s talk gear.

  • 2 x set of rocks

  • 1 x set of micro nuts

  • Size 1-6 Wild Country Cams

  • 60m single rope. (consider a double if your route is not that direct)

  • A few various sling sizes to build an anchor

  • 4 x screwgates

  • Harness

  • Climbing Shoes

  • Belay device

  • Helmet

  • Nut key

  • Day Pack with some food and water

  • Camera

  • Warm top (the crag is in the shade till later in the day)

  • Guide Book (North Wales Climbs by Rockfax is good)

NorthWalesClimbingGuideBook

This is the gear we took which was more than enough. The two sets of rocks were a must. I found the placement of cams to be limited compared to say Stanage in the Peaks. It’s up to you whether you want to take that many.

Before you visit make sure you’re confident at building anchors. The guidebook clearly shows the routes but once you start it looks very different when you’re on the rock. We ended up putting an extra stance in because we went off route a little. It doesn’t matter if you’re safe and having fun.

The descent is a little tricky. At the top you’ll see some markings telling you where to go roughly. There was a bit of an abseil to get past a tricky descent point. We just looped the rope over a rock and carefully pulled it down once at the bottom. You can hike down the rest of it no problems back to the lake.

IdwalSlabs

If you’re looking at refreshing your trad/multi pitch skills then this is a great place to visit. Routes for all grades and it’s in a relaxed environment to get those skills dialled in before your next big project. We had a great time here and i’m definitely looking forward to my next visit here for sure.

Aaron.


End Notes

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