North Wales Limestone - the Ormesters Oracle

Posted by Niall Grimes on 19/12/2014

The fabulous limestone crags that line the shores of Llandudno now have the guide they truly deserve. North Wales Limestone is a definitive guide covering the coast from Anglesey to the Devil’s Gorge. It takes in The Great and Little Orme, the A55 crags, Craig y Forwen and many others along the way.

It comes up to the predictably high standard we come to expect from guidebooks these days. Fantastic full colour photo-topos, inspiring action shots, detailed maps and all the info you need to find the route you want.

The book seems to have two sides to it: there’s the information you always wanted on the famous crags and famous routes, showing them off to perfection in mouth-watering crispness. Alongside this there is endless acres of rock that has so far been local secrets. These, in many cases, look as good as the famous crags. There really is a life time of climbing here.

One fascinating development is that a digital version of the guide is also available through The Send app. Nor th Wales Limestone goes from 1984 to 2014 in one great step.

To purchase your copy of North Wales Limestone, visit the BMC online shop or call the Membership Services Team on 0161 445 6111.

To find out more about the book and the area we caught up with one of the authors of the guide, Pete Harrison.

What is your connection to North Wales Limestone

I grew up in Penrhyn Bay which is at the foot of the Little Orme and spent most days of my childhood scrambling around this steep sided grassy hump. Later climbing discovered me and I did bits around North Wales but it wasn't until much later, after leaving the forces, that I had the time and opportunity to properly start to get amongst the climbing in the area. Then I left to live in Canada for close to 4 years, and on returning found all these really good-looking and convenient - compared to the Canadian Rockies most things are convenient - crags with great routes which nobody climbed because the bolts were totally knackered, or the trad routes topped out through loads of anti-rock. Cue some 'can do', the graft of a few people supported by the bolt fund, a few new routes and 6 years after returning, a new guidebook.

What makes the area so special for you?

Variety. I love how the area contains just about every genre and sub-genre of climbing, except winter (although I do have photos of a climbable 50m ice smear down 'Gemstone' on The Diamond, 2 winters ago when I took the crag shots for the book). And so the area is a microcosym of the climbing world and a good example of climbing in a way that fits the terrain  - hardcore bouldering, old-school vertical sport, new-school steep sport, DWS, trad cragging, long trad on hidden cliffs, designer danger trad, serious crumbling sea-cliff XS, roadside grade 4 & 5 pensioner sport. I love how NW Lime reflects almost every phase of climbing development and almost every taste in ethic. It's an open-minded area, I like that. I love the North Wales mountains too, but The Pass is a two-trick pony in comparison (with lots of rusty in-situ gear..).

What made you decide to work on a guide to the area?

Well it was overdue a modern guide - ironically for a 'modern' area (most development only happened from the 80s onward) it was one of the few areas left in the UK that until this year didn't have a colour guidebook! And I wanted to show-off my locale, civic pride? It can get a bit annoying to know there's a bunch of good climbing to be enjoyed but nobody really knows the details, so the routes don't get the traffic. I don't know why that bothers me? But I think it's a good thing to try to improve as best you can whatever it is you're passionate about be it climbing or knitting or whatever  And finally the area simply warrants a properly researched definitive guide, not a select guide which leads to the neglect of the non-honeypot crags - the very thing we've worked hard to rectify with all the re-equipping work over the past 6 or 7 years.

What, for you, are the three stand-out lesser known gems of the area?

Apart from most of The Diamond. And I'm biased in favour of my own routes, they're all lesser known gems! So apart from them and the Diamond.. (and the new 35m 8a on the Diamond will be one the very best in the UK with no exaggeration, sorry couldn't help myself!):

Great Wall & Quick Step - Craig y Forwyn. Lesser known for a good reason perhaps. Both stand-out three star trad climbs on any crag anywhere.

Hades & Grand Canyon - Devil's Gorge. Owen Davies laid off the bouldering long enough last year to got fit and weak enough to put up this insta-classic power-enduro romp, while Grand Canyon has been there for ever - steep, big moves on big holds to some smaller holds and a pumpy race to the chains. The extension is crying out to be finished...

Primeval (DWS) and Heel Hook Look (DWS) - Surprise Zawn & Craig y Don. Have only watched Pete Robins do both of these for the camera but they both look brilliant (when the tide's in...)

Favourite route?

The next new one. New-routing is always very satisfying.

What were the highpoints and lowpoints of making it?

Highpoints - seeing, for the first time the physical manifestation of an idea that had taken up a 4 year residence in my head.

Lowpoints - the exhaustion I had earlier this year, I now know what the wrong side of exhaustion looks like.

What do you hope the guide will do for the area?

Allow people to explore new climbs and hopefully experience mini-adventures and enjoyable days out in new places.

Sum up writing the guide in three words

(A) test of desire


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