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Llanberis Slate



Published November 2011 by Ground Up

Reviewed by Karin Magog


This is the much anticipated new guide by the North Wales based Ground Up team and really is an outstanding looking guide. It's been a while since the heady days of the 80's, when slate was the happening place, however, it's seen a bit of a resurgence in more recent years. The old fixed gear has steadily been replaced and new routes have been rapidly appearing, especially in the lower grades. The quarries are once more fashionable and this book is more than just a guide, it's a celebration of slate climbing.


First off, the practicalities how easy is the guide to use? Each section starts with a detailed introduction to the area which includes info on conditions, approach and graded lists of both trad and sport routes. Navigating your way around all the different areas and levels of the quarries can seem a bit daunting at first. However, as well as clear approach maps throughout, there are also photographs of the more complicated areas such as Australia and Rainbow Walls, with the different levels, classic routes and approach paths detailed. This makes moving around the various levels much less complicated. The photo-diagrams are very clear and sharp and are complimented by well written route descriptions. All these aspects already make this an excellent, easy to use guide. However, it's the extras that really sell this guide to me. First off there is an amazing selection of action pictures. Here all grades and several decades are represented and really highlight the delights on offer. Climbing on slate is all about movement, consequently you make some pretty interesting shapes on some of the routes. Some of my favourite pics include:- Ivan Holroyd on Where are my Sensible Shoes, Jeff McDonald on Ride the Wild Surf, the sequence of Johnny Dawes on The Quarryman, George Smith on The Wall Within, unknown climber on The Take Over by Dept. C, and James McHaffie attempting the Meltdown project. The guide also includes short profiles of some of the iconic Slateheads, (the many characters responsible for the development over the years) and includes such greats as Johnny Dawes, Paul Pritchard, Stevie Haston, John Redhead and Martin Crook, as well as those less well known out of the area. Another added feature is the Diary of a Slatehead by Martin Crook, which gives a more colourful view on the history of this area. There's plenty more to read in the book which is great when you're sat in Pete's Eats waiting for the sun to break through.


The Ground Up team have done a superb job here and their passion for the area really shines through. I can't praise this guide enough and whether you are a slate aficionado or a slate virgin you should buy it and get exploring.


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