Twll Mawr

Twll Mawr means Big Hole in english welsh, and a big hole it is. Until recently it was mainly a playground for wads, but some new multi pitched sport routes have made this area a more common place to climb.

Combat Rock Area

Combat Rock E1 5b ** Feels more like soft ish E1- 5b
Tunnel Vision V5  8m. A wet weather boulder problem! Start on the obvious flatties by the Combat Rock tunnel entrance, on the left hand side as you look in. An 8 metre long traverse with lots of frictionless pinch grips, requires some working out / problem solving, finish at the end of the obvious hand traverse. More difficult extensions beyond this point may be possible….Worth doing on a wet day!
FA Ian lloyd-Jones 28/Oct/2011
Rhyfelwr E1+ 5b. Good micro now protects initial section. Above, climbing is more straightforward and safer than Combat Rock.

Colour of Money E4 6a New Bolts and lower off.12/06

Purple Haze E3 5c. New Lower off. NB the first bolt on Colour purple can now be clipped on this route. 12/06. Definitely three stars, a great route.

Color Purple E4 6b. New bolts and lower off. 12/06

Cyclone B E3 6a. New Bolts and lower off. 12/06

Lethal Injection E2 5c. New Bolts and lower off. 12/06

Legal Murders E3 6a. New Bolts and lower. Peg replaced with bolts. 12/06

Top Gear E1 5b. New lower off. 12/06

The routes below the path(bird man etc.)this can now be accessed by bolted abseil station that also acts as a belay to approach via the heart stopping traverse to the alcove.

Drunken Laughs E1/2 5b. new route in the back of the alcove. Tackle the boulder wall to gain the flake crack and totter onto the bolt. all is left is the slab and the lower off is yours. [FA Matt Pugh, Mark Dicken]

The West Wall

Abb Point to the Quarryman Ledge has been replaced, as has the bolt belay on that ledge, which belongs to the wonderful world of walt… THis means it is possible to get to the bottom of Twll Mawr in 2 abbs. Handy for nesting season.

The Quarryman E8 6c,6b,6c,7a
Bolts on New York belay replaced. Most bolts replaced on top pitch.

The Rock Bottom Line F6b,F7a,F6b,F7b+,F7b
135m, 5 pitches. The longest fully bolted sport route in the UK a great adventure from the very bottom of Twll Mawr to the Top of the Quarryman wall.
Pitch 1 (30m)F6b Climbs the Slab in the corner with some bridging. Clip the high 9th bolt and carefully traverse right avoiding the scree ledge to a double bolt belay.
Pitch 2 (30m)F7a Takes the obvious crack and flake line, easy to start, with a hard move over a bulge near the top to a ledge and double bolt belay where Opening Gambit used to cross.
Pitch 3 (30m)F6b The slab / wall to a ledge at the foot of a short groove and possible belay ledge (2 bolts) continue up the arete past 3 bolts taking you to the ‘Matilda Ledge’ double bolt belay.
Pitch 4 (25m)F7b+ The immaculate green groove above beckons. A beginners Quarryman groove. 2 bolt belay below Wonderful World of Walt Disney.
Pitch 5 (20m)F7b Belay a few feet further right. Take the flake / crack system up the attractive bulging slab / wall. The thin crack doesn’t take fingers very well. Crux is either a high step up right or left take your pick.
FA Ian Lloyd-Jones and Sion McGuinness 03/Oct/2011

Tân y Ddraig 180m 6b, 6a+, 6a, 6b, 7a, 6a+  THE LONGEST SPORT ROUTE IN THE UK.

Start at the base of a brown slab between the start of ‘The Desolation of Smaug!’ and the ‘Rock Bottom Line’  P1 – 28m 6b Follow the seam / crack feature to an easing at the arête, surmount the large flake before traversing a series of cleaned ledges which lead up to a bolt belay at the base of the large slab.  P2 – 37m 6a / 6a+ Follow the line of bolts directly up the slab to reach a vertical groove, bridge up this to gain a diagonal groove feature which leads to a shared belay (‘Long in the Twll / The North will rise again’)at the bottom of a ramp.  P3 – 25m 6a Follow the obvious ramp feature to a horizontal break, traverse along the break below the bolts until it is possible to step down into ‘Hamadryad’ just above a dead tree. Continue up and rightwards past a hidden bolt on a block ledge until it is possible to clip the last resin bolt on the second pitch of ‘Smaug!’. Belay as for Smaug on the slopey ledge. Note all bolts on this pitch are well hidden and well away from the Trad route Hamadryad.  P4 – 25m 6b Climb up to the third resin Bolt on P3 of ‘Smaug!’ before traversing across blocky ledges to an insitu rope on a square cut block, extend this with a sling and down climb until it is possible to step around the corner. Two further bolts (best to extend with slings) protect the remainder of the traverse to a bolt belay directly below the stunning Arête.  P5 – 35m 7a This is what all the traversing was for, a stunning well positioned technical arête, crux by the 2nd / 3rd bolt, the arête is climbed directly and provides great absorbing climbing all the way up. Possible belay at the top of the Arête or continue diagonally up and left on great dolerite in an awesome position to a mantel and bolt belay on a large ledge.  P6 – 30m 6a+ Traverse leftwards along the gangway for about 8m or so until the base of the green dolerite arête is reached, continue up the arête in a fine position with some funky holds to a belay where you can relax and enjoy some stunning views across to Crib Goch and Snowdon.  Ian Lloyd-Jones (P1, P3, P4, P5) Celt Lloyd-Jones (P4) Callum Nelson (P6) 04/May/2015

FA Ian Lloyd-Jones, Celt Lloyd-Jones & Callum Nelson 4/5/15

The North Wall

Here it is as promised, it also includes abandoned projects and escape points..

Opening Gambit 178m MXS
The original route of Twll Mawr, it crosses a band best described as “Geologically Lively” and has significantly altered since Joe Browns probings in 1971, the description is currently on its third rewrite, hence the upgrade from HVS to MXS. Potential ascentionists should be prepared for substantial looseness on all pitches varying from mild exfoliation to tottering of Jenga proportions. Start at the top of a scree cone in a corner, below the Quarryman ledge.

  1. 45m –. Pick your way up the scree coated ledges to arrive at the Quarryman ledge, where the bolt belay of the Wonderful World.. provides some safety.
  2. 25m 4c. Traverse gingerly right wards to a deep groove, ascend this to a sloping ledge. This is followed to a “Bad Step” above is a large bay where a thread belay can be made amongst the boulders.
  3. 33m 5a. Pick your way across the bay to its right arête. This used to be barred by a huge detached pillar known as the Banana flake, the tottering tower left by its demise should be treated with respect. Surmount the blocks to the left of the arête to gain some reliable gear in some hairline cracks. Monkey out onto the crystal ledge on the arête, and ignoring the 100m of air beneath your heels, mantle and gain the ledge above. A possible belay, but requires some inventiveness. Ascend the tower of blocks above the belay to gain a bay of steeply sloping scree. Good belay at the back at a slanting crack.

5, 6 and possibly 7. 75m 4c. Layback up the crack and take the easiest line up the variety of ledges above, belaying where applicable, until reaching a point where the faultline of Hamadryad terminates in a steep wall. The ledge here provides the final belay. Exit left along the ledge, over a hut roof.
Descent is either up towards heavens walls and over to Serengeti’s yellow wall incline, or down towards Watford gap, for the Bar of Soap scramble descent, or the Abb station of Drunken Laughs. (9/4/71) Replacement pitches 3& 4 climbed 02 M. Dicken, Tom Shaw. P3 re-reclimbed 5/10/07 M. Dicken J. Byrne.

Taith Mawr 283m E4 6a (got to be worth some stars..)
The Epic Girdle, ED2 is more like it! To get it in a single push will definitely require a summer’s day, prolonged dry weather and an early start. Begin by abbing into the Quarrymans ledge and belay as for Wonderful World..

  1. 25m 4c. As for Opening Gambit pitch 2.
  2. 18m 5a. As For Opening Gambit pitch 3, to the “possible” belay on the arête, big cams and an array of slings, hooks, whatever..
  3. 25m 5b. Traverse right to the end of the ledge and drop down 1m onto a continuation ledge. This terminates in a ledge with a shot hole in it which will take a folded nut. Continue to gingerly traverse right with hands on a rail of flakes, which takes a sky hook here and there. Finally reach a vertical crack and some good gear. Drop down a little and continue traversing to a hanging flake. Ascend this to belay in the groove of Hamadryad.
  4. 40m 5b. A poorly protected pitch. Follow Hamadryad until level with the Bastard Bush of Twll Mawr. Traverse underneath this to gain a big ledge on the right hand arête of the Hamadryad groove. Climb up a series of sloping ledges, keeping slightly right of the arete, until level with a gorse infested ledge in a corner on the right. This is your belay, bring secateurs.
  5. 40m 5a. Climb the groove behind the belay until it is possible to step right and up onto a sloping ledge. Slither right to a big flat hold and continue until a jug allows upward movement. More slopey slithering follows rightward, below a perched terminator block, around a rib into the groove beyond. Clamber up onto the ledges on the right, gain the dolerite arete and mantle to the belay of True Finish.
  6. 20m 4a. walk along the ledge and down to the Razor’s edge belay below.
  7. 30m 6a. Now it gets serious, check the daylight and seepage, as the next 2 pitches are inescapable. Down climb Razor’s Edge a few meters to the first significant sloping ledge. To your right is a series of sloping holds terminating in a gap, above and beyond which there is a slate spike and another slightly higher foot ledge. Lasso the spike, and rock over up onto the ledge, poor cam slot above, and a rounded jug. Bridge across towards the arête on huge foot holds and limbo under the impending holdless headwall to gain the jug on the arête proper(crux). Scamper round, remembering to protect your second, and belay in the corner below.
  8. 30m 5c. Climb above the belay until it is possible to pull out right onto a sloping ledge, shot hole protection. Insinuate right around the sharp arête and pop for the jug in the right wall. Campus to the ledge (pro), and continue right down a bad step to a vegetated ledge. Belay on the far right at a crack.
  9. 45m 4b. Drop down to the heathery terrace. Traverse above the belay of Bushmaster, above the tunnel entrance, and up towards the chimney of Scorpion, drop right and proceed to the huge perched block at the end of the terrace. Surmount this and belay on the ledge above.
  10. 10m 4a. Follow the ledge back left until it is possible to gain the Kyber Pass.

M. Dicken, J. Byrne (P1-4 5/10/08, P5-8 19/02/07, P9-10 M.D. solo 28/01/08) The 

Punters Retreat 55m E3 5b
This is a handy exit from the belay at the end of Pitch 4 of Twll Mawr. If say, you got benighted, or scared. Leave the bay heading left to gain a series of sloping ramps. This should lead you to a blocky tower with a V shaped cam slot on its right hand side. Ascend this tower and head upwards to a steep bay with a stepped arête projecting from its middle, ascend the arête, shuffle left and ascend to a verdant shelf capped bay just below the top (possible belay). Climb onto the shelf on the right and bumble left around a sharp arête to an easier exit. M. Dicken, J.Byrne (5/10/07)

next line right after Opening Gambit is:
Hamadryad E3 5c.**
First pitch starts at a large dolerite boulder, weave up to the hanging slab, climbed on the right, then exited via a leftwards traverse to gain the ledge and belay. rest as for prev guide.

Razors edge E3/4 6b step off the scree straight to the end of the 1st pitch by the chain. bolts replaced for the true finish and where relevent on razors edge. Razors edge breaks off right, the true finish (E4)* goes up,ascending seporate sections of the wall and seporate razors. (rebolted1/08) True finish pitch cleaned 08/08

Next right is:
Bushmaster E3 6a/b *
Amazing second pitch, Starts in the yellow groove with the NEW groove in the left wall (the result of the removal of hanging death) this is followed until its is possible to escape onto the left arete, which forms a rib upto a flat gorsey ledge below a steep slab- this is the belay! a mixture of the topo and the old guide will see you to the top.
Absolutely knackering groove, we combined it with the top pitches of scorpion, for that 1000 mile stare effect!

Last route starting at the bottom is:
Scorpion MXS
First bit is a tad loose, its easy ground, but the shelves are covered with slate blocks, these require tip toeing around.

THe line out of the tunnel right is R Kay’s Puff The Cracked up Dragon grade?

The South Wall

Practically esoteric E2 Checked original description and has definately fallen down, at least in part, and the area is now a tad unstable (further left of these routes as you look at the piccy).

Tales of the Golden Monkey E2 4c,5c 50m (probably stars)

  1. 20m 4c. Start Golgotha side right of the mouth of the skull. Scramble then climb dirct in to the right eye socket.
    Follow the tunnel to the Twll Mawr side.
    2. 30m 5c. Exit left looking out to find the groove round the corner. Climb this on small to diddy gear with much head scratching and muttering to a ledge, where a continuation groove above (staggered right) spits you out onto the tourist path.Mark Dicken, Fraser Ball (13/7/11)

Cam-ikaze Corner E3 6a 15m.

An offwidth corner crack which will appeal to some who enjoy the perverse pleasure of jamming, thrutching and squirming up these things, take plenty of large cams. Bolt lower off. The corner can be found above a large boulder directly below ‘Imagine Dragon’s’ on the level below the access tunnel level, 20metres or so left of the start of ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ FA Ian Lloyd-Jones 18 / 8 / 14
Booooom, Blast & Ruin * VS 4c 22m. On the same level as the main Twll Mawr access tunnel by the ruined quarry building. Just left of the bolted Slabby Arête (Dark Side of the Moon F7b) is a very worthwhile twin crackline. Layback, thrutch or jam your way up to gain the bolt lower off on the grassy pedestal. The twin cracks will take as many large wires, hexes and large cams as you have…Worth seeking out if you enjoy crack climbing.
Ian Lloyd-Jones and Sion McGuinness 04/Jul/2013

Dark Side of the Moon * F7b 22m. Climbs the slabby Arête on the South Wall of Twll Mawr behind the collapsed quarry building (on the same level as the main access tunnels). Climb the left hand slabby Arete (right of the trad crack ‘Booooom, Blast & Ruin’ VS 4c). Climb the thin and technical arête, 9 bolts protect. See if you can find the unique rock over that turns into a knee bar low down, before tackling the thin and sustained arête above. Lower off on the pedestal ledge above.
Ian Lloyd-Jones 04/Jul/2013

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun** – F7a Climbs the stunning Arete on the South Wall of Twll Mawr behind the collapsed quarry building (on the same level as the main access tunnels). Climb the right hand steep Arete which is smooth on one side and has an unusual criss cross pattern on the other. Great technical moves low down give access to more straightforward but delightful climbing above. Lower off on the pedestal ledge above.
FA Ian Lloyd-Jones 1
18 Jun 2013

Imagine Dragons *47m F6b, F6b An adventurous multi pitch F6 in Twll Mawr! The route climbs the South Wall and is accessed from the right hand fork of the main access tunnel. Start on a vegetated ledge which has a Sycamore tree. Pitch 1 (22m) – a line of bolts leads steeply with interest up the cracks behind the tree. Some high stepping moves and confident laybacking will hopefully gain the top of the wall and the start of the main slab. Belay bolts on ledge above. Pitch 2 (25m) – traverse leftwards from the belay ledge to gain the first bolt, follow the line of bolts to a short but entertaining technical groove (crux). Continue to a bolt belay / abb point or alternatively continue up and over to top out and belay on the fence by the main quarry track. First Ascent 18 June 2013Pitch 1 Tesni Lloyd-Jones (14) Pitch 2 Celt Lloyd-Jones (11)

Sport routes not in the old guide. bolts seem stainless or at least sound, rumoured to be in the low to mid F7’s 40 and 30m odd respectively.

Right-hand line (In the Line of Fire?) – FA: S.Mayers 1990’s
A good F7c+ with a thin upper section.

Left-hand line looks less good.
Supermassive Black Hole 75m ***F7a, 6b+, 7a / 6c+, 6b
An awesome 4 pitch slate adventure from the very bottom of the ‘Twll Mawr’ hole topping out on the viewing platform adjacent to the track. The route follows an impressive and awe-inspiring (read – intimidating!) line of grooves and pocketed dolerite. The route can be accessed through the Twll Mawr / Peregrine Wall Tunnels and walking down the scree slope to the bottom of the hole, or alternatively a multiple abseil if you have a spare rope. Start just left of Running Scared F7c+ by an obvious and well bolted groove. Pitch 1 -25m (7a) the obvious well bolted groove defined by a blank slab / wall on its right. When the holds run out make a rightwards move onto the slab followed by some more technical moves to regain the groove (crux). Belay on the grassy Ledge above. Pitch 2 – 12m (6b+) the pitch that joins the two grooves has a technical and precarious (fall offable!) crux. Continue upwards / rightwards to gain the belay at the base of the 2nd groove. Pitch 3 – 25m (6c+ / 7a) the second intimidating groove pitch similar to the crux on the first pitch when the holds run out make a rightwards move onto the slab followed by some more technical moves to regain the groove (crux). Continue up the groove which looks desperate but climbs more easily to a belay where the groove ends and the dolerite slab begins. Pitch 4 – 12m (6b) a change of character and rock type for the final well positioned pitch, climb the black dolerite slab via some great quartz pockets to thankfully gain the ‘viewing’ ledge above. Use a thread + fence post for a belay and RELAX! FA Ian Lloyd-Jones and Sion McGuinness 7/7/11

Black Hole Sun 75m F7a+ ***

75m, 3 pitches. Another great and absorbing outing from the bottom of Twll Mawr, start to the right of Supermassive Black Hole F7a and In the Line of Fire F7c+.

Pitch 1 (25m) F7a+ climbs up to the blocky ledge to get established on the crackline which gets increasingly more difficult the higher you go. Gaining the ledge at the bottom of the clean cut groove is the goal, you will gain more brownie points by stepping ‘in control’ across onto this rather than slapping and wildly swinging for it! Climb the groove or Arete which is trickier than it looks to a bolt Belay at the base of the next pitch.

Pitch 2 (25m) F7a A great pitch with some reachy and balancey climbing following the line of the arete. Great moves from the ledge passing the final 2 bolts especially for the vertically challenged, you may have to jump or commit to some thin technical climbing. Bolt Belay.

Pitch 3 (25m) F7a A superb arete,again reachy and balancey climbing which will entertain and try and throw you off. 2 belay bolts on the Fin above on the Watford Gap track level.
Ian Lloyd-Jones, Sion McGuinness, Phil Dowthwaite, Andy Schofield 14/Jul/2011

The Bolt Belay for Wolfhound and The Birdman of Caer Bellan has been replaced. These routes are accessable from the abb station at the start of the traverse to the alcove.

Black Hole of Calcutta 55m 7a, 6a+

Abseil in from the top of the fin or use the South Wall abseil point above ‘Wolfhound’ alternatively carefully traverse rightwards (roped) from the Twll Mawr entrance Tunnel.

Pitch 1 – 25m 7a Climb the attractive slab to the right of the 2nd pitch of ‘Black Hole Sun’ past 10 Bolts to a Bolt Belay on a ledge, an easy scramble leads up to the bolt belay of ‘Black Hole Sun’.

Pitch 2 – 30m 6a+ Climb the groove to the left of the top Arête pitch of ‘Black Hole Sun’ 10 Bolts, to a bolt belay on top of the fin of rock. The top pitch at 6a+ is the easiest sport pitch in Twll Mawr and is worth doing to ‘experience’ the Twll Mawr atmosphere (abseil in for this).

FA Ian Lloyd-Jones (P1) and Callum Nelson (p2) 15/Mar/2015



Rock Climbing Information for North Wales