Climbing in the Llanberis Slate Quarries
Teaming up with photographer Mike Hutton and climbers Ethan Walker and Michelle Kim Theisen, we commissioned this content piece exploring the Llanberis Slate Quarries in Wales for Mammut.
Words and Photographs by Mike Hutton
Emerging through the main entrance tunnel we were greeted by a mind-boggling series of tiered levels that all looked impossible to reach. The colour palette of the rock is exquisite and subtle changes in the light can bring out pigments ranging from dark green to deep grey and purple.
Winding up the hillside is a concealed path that allows access to all of the levels, so thankfully non-climbers can enjoy the delights of this historic playground too. It’s a mesmerising experience as you gain height and look down on the eerily still lake. Scattered along the walk are pieces of ancient machinery and remnants of the old slate houses that some of the workers lived in, all of which allow you to get a real feel of what it would have been like to live back in the mining days.
“As I observed from a higher balcony, I could see rain clouds drifting in from the mountain range opposite. Just one drop of moisture and this particular rock turns to glass…”
When Ethan and Michelle reached the route, their eyes were drawn to the purity of the line. A lightning bolt, finger-sized crack soared up for almost 40m. It quickly became apparent to us that the climbing styles necessary to gain height on this strange medium were going to be unlike any we had practised before.
Most of the other walls on first acquaintance looked entirely blank, but as our eyes adjusted to the lack of contrast we spotted tiny edges and seams in the blackness. No amount of training in the climbing gym would have prepared us for this type of movement. Luckily the chosen route was quite unlike the others and Ethan was able to protect it well by placing an array of chock-stones in the well-defined crack. This also offered him an assortment of positive finger locks that would assist on his journey upwards.
As I observed from a higher balcony, I could see rain clouds drifting in from the mountain range opposite. Just one drop of moisture and this particular rock turns to glass, so it was critical that Ethan made it to the top before all friction was lost.
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Find out if Ethan makes it – and more about climbing in the Llanberis Slate Quarries – by reading the full piece on the Mammut website. Or take a look at the other pieces of content marketing we’ve worked on for Mammut:
- Ski Touring in the Scottish Highlands
- Peak District Aircraft Wrecks
- Climbing in Glen Clova
- Historical Hadrian’s Wall Walk
- Munro Bagging from a Glen Coe Mountain Bothy
- Scrambling Crib Goch
- The Howden, Derwent & Ladybower Reservoir
- Scrambling Crib Goch and the Snowdon Horseshoe
- Smuggling Routes of the Lake District
- Lake District’s caves, caverns and quarries article