This is the last of a series of articles by a pal Andy Watkins who wrote them up after being confined to a wheelchair after a being knocked off his bicycle. This last article is about a winter cliff in North Wales on the mountain cliff LIwedd. Its a huge mountain cliff over 1000 feet sweeping to the lake. It was a place for the early climbers preparing for the Alps. Its a huge cliff and though I never climbed here in winter myself but had a few wild days on the Classic Rock routes. We even did a Rescue here when another climber fell nearby its a serious place. In winter which in Wales can be fickle this is a wild face with some classic climbs. This is Andy’s account of the Classic Central Gully Direct. As usual its an understated account of a winter climb on a classic Welsh cliff.
An Winter Ascent of Central Gully Direct on Lliwedd, A Memorable Day.
It must have been February 1987 when we drove, Gary Lewis and I, S. Wales to N. Wales in my 2cv. The forecast was good but there was no snow at the edge of the road.
I planned to do Central Gully Direct but there was no snow at Pen-Y-Pass, in the morning, so I thought my luck had deserted me. There was snow below Lliwedd though and things looked more promising. When we got to below the Direct there was a thin covering of ice and I decided to try it. The problem was that the ice was too soft to enable a secure placement. I led and got a poor runner at 50 ft. I advanced another 60 ft until I came to a steep slab beneath an overhang.
Here, the snow was even softer but I managed to get one placement with my trusty Simond Chacal, which I managed to mantelshelf onto. This put me below the overhang. I had just surmounted this when the rope came tight. The belay was 10 ft above me. There I was 100ft above a poor runner and I’d run out of rope.
What could I do but shouted down “Climb when you’re ready”.After a short interlude, Gary started climbing and I got to the, loose, spike for a welcome belay. Luckily neither of us fell off!
The gradient of the gully eased after this and we soloed to the top. Gary was effusive in his praise and said “that had been a lead that Mick Fowler would have been proud of “.
We returned to the SWMC hut in Deniolen and I basked in adulation.The next day Gary dragged me up Vector and some other E2s at Tremadoc, I forget which ones, but I will always remember that climb.
Note: Thanks Andy for these articles they were superb and many of your pals have read and enjoyed them I have put these together for you.
Peter White ( Chalky) Most of us have had epics on at least one of those ridges! A very understated account of an incredible achievement but that is Andy… absolute legend.
Bill Batson – I climbed with Andy on several occasions, both on rock and ice. Always an adventure of life on the edge. Stunning days in fabulous company.
Dougie Borthwick – That makes Tom & myself look very sedate…5hrs to do the same route.. in summer 😅. Nice memory of partying all night, doing the 4 ridges then drinking the Alt a Mhuillin dry 😂. Wonderful read 👍👍
Eric Joyce – A legend