During the Covid lockdowns there was a flurry of first ascent activity in the Glyn Rhonwy quarries above Llanberis. Many great problems were ascended, including George Smith’s remarkable Whale-Shark (F7b+), but a few choice projects remained. Fast forward a couple of years and rising star on the scene, Osian Parry, became transfixed by a fiercely difficult line in the lower section of Chwarel Gideon.
Success did not come easy though. Osian had to grind through 13 sessions before he made the successful link – quite an impressive display of mental strength and tenacity! Echoes (8A) starts sitting with both hands on an obvious good edge. From here move rightwards out of the cave across some lovely textured holds, all the way until latching the final jug and mantling into the big scoop.
”Regarding the grade, I gave it low 8A+ right after the ascent, however the consensus seems to be hard 8A. Regardless of the number it’s an incredibly good problem and I hope other enjoy it as much as I did!” said Osian after the ascent.
Echoes has proved to be immediately popular, with a flurry of quick repeats coming from Jack Pearce, Tim Blake, Craig Davies and Luke Fletcher.
Tim also spotted and climbed a harder alternative line on the same wall. Crack a Smile (8A+) starts in the same place but goes left to a big pinch, uses this to gain a juggy rail and the ‘smiling’ feature. Awkward moves gain the top straight above. A key hold on this has since broken, so it might be harder now?
Jack Pearce has a short film documenting Osian’s ascent of Echoes coming out soon – keep your eyes peeled for that. Stop Press: see the link below This also includes FA footage of Jack on Illicit Activity.
The large boulders that you pass on the way down from Whale-Shark have also been developed by Osian, with help from Jack Pearce and Ben Ellis – these give some good 6 + 7 action:
The Eyes (6C) The beautiful black and red block down from Whale-Shark. Climb the grooves from a sit starting from the low left hand sloper and good right hand flatty/sloper. Prepare for a powerful mantel. [FA: Osian Parry]
The Avalanches (6C) Starting from the low sidepull/jug, make a long move to the ledge. A fun, dynamic, left hand leading move gains the top jug. [FA: Ben Ellis]
Surfing with the Alien (7A+) The prow to the right of The Avalanches is climbed from a sit start from two jug slots. Powerful moves lead on up until you can top out left. [FA: Osian Parry]
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (7A!) The highball arete/groove to the right of Surfing with the Alien is very good. The stand starts from a good sidepull. A sit start is also possible, however it doesn't add any difficult moves and is a bit hemmed in. Prepare for a scary mantel! [FA: Ben Ellis]
The Sound of Inevitability (7A!!) The highball compression prow climbed from a stand start - a very spicy ordeal! [FA: Osian Parry]
Illicit Activity (7B+) Climb the blunt arete of the roof feature below Echoes from a sitting start on obvious jugs! [FA: Jack Pearce]
Approach: as for Whale-Shark, but once you reach it, turn left and go down a scree path that leads to big boulders lower in the quarry (Surfing with the Alien etc.) For Echoes continue past these and go all the way to the bottom of the quarry. Walk through the trees to the very left side of the quarry. Here you will see a massive roof feature with a gully tuning up its left side. In this gully there is a static rope which leads all the way up to the block. (20 min)
Echoes FA story - short film by Jack Pearce