Friday, 20 March 2009

Route Review: Byzantium E4 6a, Craig Doris

Byzantium is to the Lleyn, what Right Wall is to the Pass.

It takes the central line up a huge and seemlingly featureless wall. From below its appearance is so blank that for a long time I had previously dismissed it as impossible owing to the fact I couldn't see any holds!! Fortunately this is far from the truth and once on the wall you discover a sea of ledges that are, by Lleyn standards, pretty solid.

For those who have never visited the Lleyn or Craig Doris before I offer a quick word of warning - this is an extremely serious place to climb and expect to encounter loose rock in abundance. The Byzantium Wall is more solid than the Stigmata Buttress and the Golden Wall but still demands respect. It would be wise for first time visitors to start off with a 'lower' grade route and progress gradually: a good starting place would be something like Full Sail E1 5a, Knowing Her E2 5b, and Cripple Creek E3 5b.

Although it may not be everyones cup of tea, Craig Doris has a truly unique atmosphere: it is (for the best part) non-tidal, features no bird bans, is in the rainshadow of the national park, and is a south-facing suntrap ideal for winter warmth.

Recommended Rack:
  • 2 Full Sets of Cams - At the bottom it will feel like overkill, but while en-route you'll quickly unload them into the cracks/ pockets
  • Lots of Quickdraws - Byzantium is a huge pitch (50m) with its crux right at the top - exactly where you DON'T want to run out of quickdraws
  • A 60cm sling - Unless your phenomenally tall you won't be able to clip the top peg at the crux... However, with a bit of skill you can lasso it from below and feel moderately safer.
  • Competence and Experience - It is without question a serious route on an extremely serious crag, although more solid than some of its counterparts the first section demands a lot of respect - take your time and test those holds before committing.
  • For more information see North Wales Rock or the CC Lleyn guidebooks

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