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The ‘Hamlet Block’ of Pen-y-Pass Photos: Big G




This month Big G ponders the age old question that faces the exploring boulderer: is what you’ve just found any good? A seemingly straightforward question, but one which leads us to myriad thought processes and philosophical conundrums.

Dear NWB readers,

This princely little block has probably been much observed by those passing between Pen y Pass and Pen y Gwryd junction, quite without them knowing. Here it sits, out of sorts among its lesser peers, above the road, facing the sun, observing the kingdom of Gwynant below and the Snowdon massif beyond.

Why the 'Hamlet' block? - Well, because it is the very Mona Lisa of boulders.
What a piece of work; it is neither destined for a firm position in the ranks of Welsh rocks, nor is it to be overlooked. It is neither slab, nor wall, nor roof. It will only show its nature when its two edges are grasped, wresting its assailants to the ground quite unexpectedly. Its pale volcanic facets lean back into the grass - like it's seen a ghost - the same soft grass that makes landings all too cosy; in-action being so much easier than action.

Access is no great drama - contour 300m or so rightwards from the YHA toward Pen y Gwryd (gr 650 555).

Generations will visit and re-visit this thing, each individual being presented with the issue of its worth, what to make of it, how to respond to it - how involved to become?

To pull on...or not?

And within this we must remember that boulders (no matter how good) are merely the raw material for our own performances and events - which are as special, and as rewarding as we make them.

Where is that line drawn between all of this and...Madness?
We’re boulderers - what do we care!

“O, from this time forth,
my thoughts be ...bouldery or be nothing worth!”

Love, Big G

Further reading:

Pen y Pass
There is something rotten in the state of Pen y Pass, where so much geld is handed over to the powers that be [and grumpy attendants] to park ones heap in such a worthless patch of land; thus to make the long ascent to another, higher, equally worthless patch of land. However there is a brief window this time of year when the attendants have cleared off at 5ish but the cafe is still open.

The ‘Boulder Sonnets’
Shakespeare is reputed to have written numerous bouldering sonnets but he did not publish them with his other work as they were not technically sonnets, and also, it is generally agreed, because they weren’t very good at all. Here is one extract as an example:-

Oh rock - thou blim of larval joy
Stout block-oh fruit of glacial grind
Pray, whilst thou lift my heart
And clear my cluttered mind?
Whilst thou, by thy gift
Of sloper, crymp and pump
By shifting shape and shaping shift
Dissolve my worldly grump?
May we away to yonder rocks
To use as other-worldly toys
Out thus - as earnest men
A’n women o’ the world-
Back...as girls and boys

Relevant links: