The Perse School

Climbing Club scale the rocks in Wales

20 Apr 2015

Members of the Perse Climbing Club spent part of their Easter break in North Wales for a five-day climbing trip to test the skills they have been learning all year into practice. Students Jo Schoenberg and Hector Thornton Swan wrote a piece on their experience of the trip – we hope you enjoy reading.

“Over the Easter holiday, the Climbing Club set off for a five-day trip to North Wales. With a long drive ahead everyone piled into the mini bus to begin their adventure. We arrived in the early evening of Wednesday at Ben’s Bunkhouse near Llanberis. The girls volunteered to make dinner this evening, a perfectly spiced chili con carne. Due to an early dinner, we decided to head up the mountain behind us to watch the sun go down. It was a difficult scramble up to the top, but the view was worth it. We could see all of Llanberis and the surrounding area; while we waited for the sun to set we engaged in some strength testing bouldering. After the bouldering we all perched on a rock at the top of the mountain surrounded by amazing scenery and watched the sun set.

The next day we woke up early to eat a full English breakfast before heading off to Go Below, where we embarked on a unique mine exploration experience. We were led around an old abandoned mine by the Go Below staff, where we had some amazing underground opportunities including: paddling across an underground lake, abseiling down a cliff, zip wiring over deep water and testing our via ferrata skills. We emerged from the mine to Mediterranean heat and headed over to the local town to explore a multitude of outdoor shops and grab an ice cream. Then we returned home to a warm dinner and to watch a climbing film starring the mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick.

We had been in Wales for two days on a climbing trip and so far we had been into more outdoor shops than we had climbed. The next day to address this we planned to climb at a local crag, however, as we drove closer it became clear that the crag was closed. After a long conversation with an official Mr Parker established that the crag was closed because a large Warner Brothers film was being filmed there. After asking a number of locals we found out the film was King Arthur, a six part film somewhat like Harry Potter. Finding out the title of this film was a great success but we still hadn’t done any over ground climbing. Relying on Mr Slader’s local knowledge we headed off to a crag that didn’t feature in any guide books. The crag known simply as Lion Rocks, is set in a brilliant location with stunning vistas over Llyn Padarn and Snowdon. While some of the sixth formers and leaders were setting up the ropes, the rest of the group scouted out some bouldering and found an interesting route back up to the ropes. By the time we were at the foot of the rock face Jamie from the Lower Sixth had begun climbing one of the easier routes but with Mr Slader’s guidance he was practicing putting gear in as well. This was a very useful exercise, especially for some of the better climbers who are looking to lead outdoor routes in the near future. Instead of just climbing the three routes we introduced a circuit; we climbed one route and then clipping straight into another climb even higher. The view from the top was breathtaking. We then proceeded to abseil the long way down at high but safe speeds. When everyone had completed this circuit and all the climbs had been taken down we picked up all our stuff and walked ten minutes to another crag. These were slightly harder and Alywin took on the job of chief belayer. He managed to find a belay while lying on a bouldering mat with a jacket for a pillow, and the group was green with jealousy.

Our final full day was spent doing some very serious mountaineering; we had the challenge of climbing Tryfan which stands at a substantial 1500ft, the start was easy going for most of the members of the Climbing Club. However, the start was deceiving, as we climbed closer and closer to the summit our knees were complaining more and more. We had to take regular breaks to stay hydrated and add or take away layers. As we climbed along the ridge line we were faced with lots of scrambling and an increasing amount of small boulder problems. When we hit what we thought was the last short climb before the summit, Tryfan had one more obstacle to throw at us – ice. Every hold we placed our hands in was full of the stuff. As we emerged from the ‘last’ climb the group’s morale hit an all-time low. Yet again we were standing on a false summit, at least this time we could see the real summit and Mr Slader reassured us that this was the final push, as we started for the summit Angus decided to lift our morale with some amusing singing. Once we had summited Tryfan we unpacked our malt loaf. As we all sat eating our lunch we absorbed the amazing views of snow covered mountains and clear lakes. The cold weather meant we were soon too cold and had to move on again. To add some more variety to our mountaineering experience we climbed down a different way past Australia Lake. As we came down everybody exhibited different skills, Jamie showed skill in nearly but not quite falling, Angus displayed a skill in two-footed jumping down a hill without falling, and I presented my skill in getting one foot literally full of bog. Mr Slader decided it was time to show his perfected gift of head stands. He managed to find a perfect spot with a soft landing, the group had to stop and have a go at doing a headstand or a handstand for long enough to get a quick snap with the incredible backdrop. We finished our final day with a short trip to the local pub, which served some wonderful food; I would personally recommend the beef burger.

George in Year 9 was eager to finish off the trip with a bit of bouldering before the long journey. However, the great Welsh weather was not on our side. It was cold, windy and wet. George enthusiastically jumped out of the bus with some of the keener climbers following him, meanwhile everyone else stayed in the minibus and enjoyed some food and good music. Luckily we found three or four really good routes that were dry. As we were climbing the routes under Mr Slader’s supervision, Mr Parker sunk away to the minibus, apparently it was too cold for him and his very nice Arcyterex jacket.”


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