Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dolerite Daze.

I have said it before and I will put it out there again; dolerite is my favourite climbing medium - by quite some margin.  The Boss Curiver Bloc hidden in the evergreen expanses which guard Beddgelert, the erratics that dot the majestic Ogwen and Llanberis valleys, the chaotic jumble secretly secreted in Crafnant’s upper reaches and the blue stones that sit proudly on the hilltops of North Pembrokeshire; I just can’t get enough of it.  Deconstructing the dolerite experience gives us some pointers as to what makes it so addictive: dolerite can be rounded like grit, or angular- laser cut almost, like granite; lines always follow strong features, holds can be pinchy, sloping, or even savage and crimpy; however they all have one thing in common – texture.  Dolerite is like shark’s skin, it has possibly the best frictional qualities of anything (rock or otherwise) that I have chosen to slap in my entire life.  On a cold day you almost feel able to pull yourself up holdless dolerite faces through the adhesion created between your skin and this rasping rock alone.  One salient feature elevates the dolerite experience above all others and that is the effect of location; location, location, location.  There’s nothing quite like a boulder with a view, a grassy landing front and back and the potential for further development when the correct resources are available.

My favourite dolerite venue of the moment nestles on the hill in the middle of the sleepy town of Rhiw, far out on the western tip of North Wales. To most this small town would be an inconsequential cluster of whitewashed cottages with a priceless view and an air of the 1930’s. To the rabid boulderer it serves as the gateway to Porth Ysgo with its proud technical lines and miraculous micro-climate. We’ve all driven through Rhiw and looked at the dolerite hog back there on the hill. We’ve all thought, “hmm I wonder if there is any potential there?” and we have all driven on, dazzled by the promise offered by Ysgo’s stellar lines. Recent developments have changed that. A band of super-keen individuals have brought this crag to life, (you can read about it here and here) sending and reporting enough lines to get a Merseyside boulderer to stop and look on the way to Ysgo.

My first visit to Clwt y Fiaren and the Fisherman’s View Boulders was only meant to be a short fact-finding mission, an aperitif to my main course which was to be served at Porth Ysgo.  However I found the experience so absorbing I was still there shedding skin as the sun started to set; I just could not leave.  A second visit was scheduled, but this time in the cool, sunny conditions of a spring Sunday.  This trip confirmed what I had already suspected – this spot ranks amongst the very best bouldering locations in the UK. No really ……it is. 

Yes the site has deficiencies: there’s not a lot there and if you are looking for big numbers you will be disappointed; however the lines that have been developed are strong and proud and there is quite a lot to do around 7a. The element that places this venue in the bouldering premier league is the setting.  You will have to travel a long way to live out your dreams in a better landscape. As you boulder on clean, rough dolerite the sweep of Hell’s Mouth arcs away into the distance towards Abersoch.  Corduroy seas ripple past and break on panoramic shores as seals and dolphins swim lazily by. . . 

Welcome to nature’s smorgasbord - it doesn’t get any better than this.

Bouldering can be more than pulling hard, training, grades and posturing.  Climbing can be something deeper.  Spending a day slapping slopers, bathed in spring sunshine, as the sea shimmers into infinity is as close to perfect as is possible.  The boulders that populate the slopes around Rhiw are good; bouldering in this landscape is great – mind blowingly so!  Go once and you’ll go again, even with Porth Ysgo on the doorstep.  You really won’t be disappointed by this daze of dolerite.

Thanks to Sam once again for the vid and to Hip Hop Ben for the first photo.

No comments:

Post a Comment