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Rainbow Slab - Llanberis slate

By: Nicholas Hobley, photos Simon Carter
Country: Wales, Region: Snowdonia, Town: Llanberis (Gwynedd)

Rainbow Slab is arguably the jewel in the crown of Llanberis slate. The immense, smooth face is broken by a series of smaller ripples and of course by the rainbow itself, a pulsing vein which arches steeply in all its beauty from right to left.

The vast majority of the routes were established during the mid 1980's, mixing highly technical moves with extremely bold face climbing. John Redhead and Dave Towse left their mark here like none other, creating one classic after the next, such as Cystitis by Proxy, the first route up the slab, Poetry Pink with its tricky mantle to clip the bolt just above half-height, the run-out Splitstream and nightmare Raped by Affection. One of the hardest slabs in the world, The Very Big and the Very Small, was first ascended by none other than gritstone and slate guru Johnny Dawes, and this can be eyed from the nearby Pull My Daisy, a strong contender for one of the most popular routes on slate.

GETTING THERE

Drive out of Llanberis and cross the lake to reach the slate museum. Leave the car as for Vivian Quarry at the Gilfach Ddu car park and walk up the steep incline. After the winding house the incline levels off and the path bears left: cross the fence and follow the path rightwards, down across a small stream and past Colossus Wall to the Rainbow Slab.

THE CLIMBING

High rockovers, technical face climbing, small crimps, very little friction. The protection varies considerably from one route to the next, and very few are to be considered sport routes as most require a mix of bolts and tiny, run-out wires.

FOOD AND ACCOMODATION

Accommodation in Llanberis, ranging from hotels and B&B's to campsites. Pete's Eats is the tradional climber's hangout for meals, while The Heights is the climber's pub.

NOTES

At its peak during the second half of the 19th century, the slate mining industry dominated the economy in North Wales, employing almost 17000 men at quarries dotted around the country including the immense sites at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Bethesda and Llanberis. Entire hillsides were transformed irreversibly as Welsh slate was exported worldwide, but with the advent of cheap roofing tiles the industry showed the first signs of decline at the turn of the century, and then collapsed after the Second World War.

The Dinorwic quarry above Llanberis was the second largest mine in North Wales and when it closed definitively in 1969 it left behind a wasteland of vast proportions. The entire area was abandoned for years and it wasn't until the early 1980's that climbers ventured into the complex system of mines to explore this vertical Eden, discovering fantastic crags such as Vivian Quarry, the Seamstress slab, Bus Stop Quarry and of course Rainbow Slab.


Johnny Dawes e Paul Pritchard, taken from the film Welsh Connections


BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Llanberis slate" by Ground Up Climbing Media (2011)

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Details / crag
SECTORS AND ROUTES
BEAUTY

stella stella stella stella stella

BEST TIME OF YEAR

Summer. The crag dries quickly after rain.

HEIGHT

50m

ROPE

Twin ropes.

GRADES

E1 - F8b+

ROCK

Slate

ORIENTATION

North

LINK

onsight.com.au

NUMBER OF ROUTES

24

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