Rare Lichen

Beautiful Ogwen © Oli Grounsell

Beautiful Ogwen © Oli Grounsell

After a brief window of warm weather a few weeks ago, my attention started to drift towards some of the routes I would like to do in the mountains. These are the routes I came to Wales for, and one of them  is Rare Lichen on the Gribin Facet.

The route is superb in all of its disciplines. From the striking line of the arete, to the ample amount of RP protection, and the satisfying yet always changeable final sequence. It’s pretty perfect, and a route myself and Nathan had always discussed him coming over for.

After a flying visit the other weekend, Nathan returned last friday, a day of promised dryness and sunny spells wedged between the rain. It was a bit of a gamble, but when I woke up on friday morning to see the mountains clearly from my kitchen window I had a feeling that luck might be on our side. The route in general does require some luck. For starters it’s only April, which means the difference between too windy and cold, or too still but the lichen damp is finite. On top of that the climbing is technical, and the gear fiddly.

The gear fiddled in first time and Nathan flowed through the sequences. Stood belaying I watch him make steady progress between the crimps and smears of the upper arete, towards the final favourite move. A simple pop to a jug which can be done slowly and enjoyed, he did just that and I couldn’t wait to be up there myself.

Once my hands were warm I followed in Nathans footsteps. With the bold lower half out of the way I began the final arete. The balancy moves felt easier without the weight of the top rope, and I knew I was in here straight away. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was able to savour and think about where I was on the last move, just as I hoped.

Half an hour later rain moved in and it felt much colder, a final nod from mother nature to sum up our lucky day. It was so nice to get it done in the manner we did, perhaps more memorable than during a dry spell in the summer.  The next day as expected we drove back to Sheffield via a sweaty and rainy orme and couldn’t even see the mountains.

Photo with Nate Dogg © Mike Hutton

Photo with Nate Dogg © Mike Hutton



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