Snakes & Ladders
Continuing the theme of fringe-climbing activities I headed out on Sunday to the Llanberis slate quarries with some friends on a mission to follow 'Snakes & Ladders', a 4 hour adventure exploring some of the more remote and exciting parts of this gargantuan scar on the landscape. I grew up just a few miles from Llanberis and it was only last year, whilst driving past on a bouldering trip to the Pass that I looked up and thought 'that really is a scar!'. I must have passed underneath it hundreds, if not thousands, of times during my childhood and since and never once gave them a second glance. I guess it was literally a part of the landscape to my young eyes. Imagine if a mining company wanted to do something like that right in the middle of a national park now! (check out Red Gold - it happens!).
Anyway, I heard years ago about a devious route that takes in some of the ladders, tunnels and scree slopes of the quarries, but had never managed to find a description. There’s a new guide to the Slate due out soon so I asked the author if he'd ever heard of it. He emailed back with a brief description and said that he'd be including it in the guide! I won't publish it here, suffice to say that the guide will be worth buying just to do this route / adventure.
It took us 3 hours, not 4, and that was fairly leisurely as a group of 4. There wasn't really any climbing to be had, but it helps to have a steady head as there are hundreds of metres of wobbly ladders to climb and a massive old chain to pull up. Torches are strictly forbidden (it's an adventure remember!), and not really needed anyway. If you do it, just make sure you take a decent camera and a spare battery (mine ran out half way around)!
Left hand two photos courtesy of Kat Cartwright