Guided Climbing | North Wales & Snowdonia
Guided rock climbing can be organised for virtually any climb in North Wales and Snowdonia - we can provide guiding for the very best and most memorable routes in the region and so help you climb the routes that you have always wished to do.
We can also combine guiding with climbing instruction so that you experience the very best of the many classic climbs that North Wales has to offer whilst learning new skills and techniques.
A guided climb is a perfect way to experience the best rock routes whilst making the best use of time. It is also a great way of gaining experience in climbing harder routes so that you can gain extra confidence and break through a grade barrier.
Guiding can be arranged for all types of routes - so whether you want to climb Comes the Dervish in the Llanberis slate quarries, Cemetary Gates on the Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass, Vector at Tremadog or Gogarth on the Anglesey sea cliffs then we can help you.
So whether you want to climb a single, specific route or whether you want to be guided on the best climbs that Snowdonia has to offer then we can help. Simply contact us with the names of the routes that you want to climb or with an outline of a grade range or route criteria and we will come back to you with a list of classic routes that meet those requirements.
A full outline of the course is below and the answers to common questions about our courses are on the General Information page. We have also tried to spread general climbing advice around the site - there is information on choosing climbing harnesses in the tab below and a full list of articles on the Climbing Tips page
Guiding on Classic Climbs in North Wales | Snowdonia
A classic rock climb is one that by general agreement is deemed to be one of the best in the country - in climbing terminology these are 3 star routes.
Almost inevitably they are situated in a beautiful environment and have sustained, interesting climbing with loads of exposure. The best classic routes tend to have a rich history behind them; these were the cutting edge, break-through routes of their day and their ascents were often epic affairs involving iconic climbers.
North Wales and Snowdonia have a wealth of classic rock climbs and the diversity and concentration of high quality climbing on offer is exceptional; the high, somber mountain buttresses of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, the extensive crags in the Llanberis and Ogwen Valleys, the rain shadow crags of Tremadog, the quick drying Slate in the Dinorwig quarries or the adventurous Gogarth sea cliffs on Anglesey.
We are lucky enough to be surrounded by these famous and exciting climbs that have such a rich history behind them.
Silvia Fitzpatrick, your guide, is an experienced and talented climber ((Eiger North Face, 8b sport, E6 trad, UK Climbing Champion and first female ascent of Cerro Fitzroy in Patagonia, Argentina) and so can provide guiding on routes at all grades of difficulty.
We can provide all of the the technical equipment that you will and can arrange all the logistics - just let us know what you would like to do and when you would like to do it and we will arrange the rest.
Guiding can be arranged for those who have just started multi-pitch, outdoor climbing. These classic routes often have an almost mountaineering feel, exploiting natural lines of weakness on the big, mountain crags. Routes could include:
Tryfan (Ogwen Valley) - Grooved Arete: A magnificent expedition, arguably the best climb of its kind in North Wales. Graded Very Difficult, the route weaves up to the summit of the North Tower on Tryfan. Atmosphere and scale are tremendous throughout, and the climb subtly builds to a memorable climax high above the east face.
- Idwal (Ogwen Valley) - Hope, Lazarus, The Arête, Grey Slab: A superb link that provides one of Snowdonia's classic mountaineering outings and takes you from the floor of the Idwal valley to the summit of Glyder Fawr via some brilliant climbing.
- Lliwedd (Llanberis Pass) - Avalanche/Red Wall: Lliwedd is the biggest mountain cliff in North Wales and a perfect location on a hot day. This route is one of the classic ways up the cliff - 12 pitches and almost 300m of climbing give the route an almost alpine character.
- Dinas Cromlech (Llanberis Pass) - Spiral Stairs and Flying Buttress: Two classics from John Menlove Edwards that are perched high above the Llanberis Pass. These classics breach the imposing walls of the Cromlech and provide unrivalled exposure for their grade.
At a slightly higher level of difficulty the choice becomes even greater and opens the doors to the classics from such climbing legends as Colin Kirkus (Curving Crack, Clogwyn Yr Arrdu / Cloggy), Arthur Birtwistle (Diagonal, Dinas Mot), Jack Longland (Javelin Blade, Idwal) and of course the Joe Brown + Don Whillans partnership.
- Dinas Mot (Llanberis Pass) - The Cracks: The Cracks is the classic of the crag; sparsely protected slabs, an intricate traverse, perfect cracks and a crux right at the top above a sheer 250ft drop. Awesome. This crag also contains Diagonal - an ultra classic that is one of the most sought after routes in North Wales.
- Cyrn Las (Llanberis Pass) - Main Wall: Of all the classic climbs in North Wales, this is probably the one with the biggest reputation - this may well because it is hard for given HS grade and may be worth VS. Long and exposed, it is a fantastic climb that lives long in the memory of all those who do it.
- Dinas Cromlech (Llanberis Pass) - Cemetery Gates: Superb, strenuous climbing up a striking crack on good holds. A great route on perfect rock in an amazing position that was established by the legendary team Joe Brown and Don Whillans. If you still have the energy then we can abseil off before climbing Cenotaph Corner for another Brown-Whillan classic,
At a more advanced level we can help you climb such classic routes as Left Wall on the Cromlech, Gogarth on Main Cliff, Vector at Tremadog or ..
These are examples only; please let us know if you already have something in mind.
The best selected guide for the region that includes all the classics at all grades is the GroundUp published North Wales Rock.
Climbing Harnesses - Choosing and Fitting
All climbing harnesses sold in the UK (and EU) have to meet certain mandatory standards as set out by the European Union Directive 89/686/CEE on personal protective equipment. The EN standard within this directive that deals with sit harnesses is EN 813 (Full body harnesses are covered by EN 361)This directive sets out the conditions under which products may be brought onto the market, the manner in which they may be used by member states, and their free circulation within the European Community. It also sets out general rules pertaining to design and defines the certification procedure for equipment.
As far as climbers are concerned a key part of the testing requirement is that a force of 15kN (equivalent to a static load of 1500kg) is applied to the harness and it must hold that load for 3 minutes - so don't be worried about the structural integrity of any new harness. It is one of the strongest parts of a climbing system.
A climbing harness is a core piece of kit for any climber so it is worth spending some time choosing one that fits correctly and has the features that you need.
Don't buy your first harness on Ebay or second hand - it is most likely that you won't have the experience to determine if it is safe and it is very unlikely that you will get the best combination of fit and features that you need.
Head down to a good climbing shop that has a wide range of harnesses and shop staff that climb. The shop should have some means of letting you hang in a harness so that you can check that the harness will hold you in the correct position in a fall /during an abseil. This also lets you gauge how the harness spreads the load / how comfortable it is.
Then spend some time choosing the best harness - the article below will look at types of harness, features and fit and should hopefully give you a few ideas about what to look for...
1. Types of Climbing Harness
Thus the first thing to decide is what type of climbing that you will use it for – this may sound silly, but each different climbing discipline is best served by a harness with specific features. The majority of climbers will not have a harness for all the different types of climbing, but knowing what features you will and will not need should mean you don’t make compromises in the wrong areas.
Centre Harnesses: Centres and groups want harnesses with a simple design, great durability and wide size adjustment amongst other things. Thus most popular centre harnesses are constructed from un-padded 44mm nylon webbing with a minimum of gear loops. Many have a high tie-in point because they are often used with children and this feature helps reduce the chances of children inverting (children have under-developed hips and a higher centre of gravity compared to adults). They are perfect for groups, but their limited features means they aren’t perfect for personal use.
Examples: DMM Alpine and DMM Brenin
Mountaineering and Alpine Harnesses: These harnesses need to be light, easy to put on when wearing big boots / crampons, have a wide range of adjustment to go over a multitude of clothing systems and have drop away legs for calls of nature. Ideally I prefer these harnesses to have 4 or more gear loops, although a lot of people use bandoliers in the mountains.
They are normally worn over several layers of clothing and so do not need padding for comfort, in addition unpadded belts are lighter and absorb minimal water - if you do want padding then try to ensure the padding is made from closed cell rather than open cell foam as this won't absorb water.
There are two main styles of alpine harness – harnesses with fully opening adjustable legs and those that use a nappy design. Nappy designs tend to be most popular because there is only one buckle to do up/carry up the hill.
You will be using this harness with gloves so check that everything can be adjusted with gloves on. Features that are fiddly in the shop will be impossible to use on the hill.
It is likely that you will be wearing this harness as much for walking on approaches / descents / glaciers - so check that it does not chaff on you thighs.
Can you use the harness with your rucksack on? Is it comfortable or will the sack cause the harness to dig in? Stop you accessing your gear loops?
Examples: DMM Super Couloir and BD Bod (not the Alpine Bod which lacks a belay loop
Rock / Cragging Harness: This is the harness for general summer cragging duties. It is probably the hardest design to get right because of the contradicting demands placed on it – it also (unfairly) increasingly unpopular as climbers have moved/been pushed towards fully adjustable harnesses.
The harness needs to be padded so that it is comfortable on stances and yet be lightweight and unrestrictive, so as not to hinder athletic movements. This is best achieved by using a sculpted waist belt that is wide at the rear and is then cut away at the sides - when designed correctly this should provide support in the small of the back / over the kidneys and yet not restrict sideways bending. The quality of the foam padding is also important – there is no point in having padding if it collapses under load. Squeeze the waist and leg loop padding and see how it behaves - if is collapses easily then it is unlikely to provide much comfort. A few models of harness use a plastic stiffener in the waist to further help spread the load.
The exception to this is the new range of Arcteryx harnesses that use a proprietary weaving technique (Warp Technology) to create a very thin waist belt without traditional foam padding - it creates a very light, very comfortable waist belt. It should be noted that the legs don't use the same technology despite looking very similar - so if one of these harnesses ends up on your short list check that the legs are comfortable when hanging.
Leg loop design is also critical; a good fixed leg loop design will allow a reasonable amount of adjustment and provide support that is spread evenly across the whole of the padding. Round leg loops offer very little adjustment whilst elasticated, tier drop or delta legs offer much greater versatility. Leg loops constructed using structural binding rather than webbing that runs all though the leg loop tend to spread loads best. Try doing some simulated high steps or wide bridging moves to see if the harness restricts movement.
Females especially should check that the shape of the leg loop fits them comfortably, especially on the inner thigh where rubbing/chaffing can occur.
Gear loops should number at least 4 and depending on your preferred climbing style you may need up to 7. Check that you can fit your preferred rack on the available gear loops and that it sits correctly on them. Can you reach/see everything? Does the gear sit symmetrically on each side? Does the gear sit too far forward and fall in your lap?
Gear loops come in a variety of shapes and sizes - I prefer solid gear loops over cord/flexible ones because the gear is less likely to all crowd together and so it is easier to find the correct piece in a hurry.
Getting the gear to sit symmetrically over a variety of clothing systems can be difficult harnesses with a single waist belt buckle. This means that the gear on one side will sit too far forward whilst the gear on the other side sits too far back - a real pain. Gear loops can be permanently positioned symmetrically on the waist belt by using either double waist belt buckles or by using a floating waist pad. On a true year round harness (see the "All Round Harness" category below) this is a really useful feature.
I really like to keep everything tidy and organised on my harness and so always check that all excess webbing straps can be safely and neatly stored away.
Examples: DMM Maverick and BD Chaos
All Round Adjustable Harnesses: This will most likely be the type of harness you first buy – probably 75% of all harnesses sold in the UK fall into this category. This is because this style of harness can tackle most jobs pretty well – summer cragging and winter mountaineering.
The design is generally similar to the cragging harness described above, but the leg size will be adjustable via buckles to cope with year round use. The harness may also be beefed up slightly compared to its cragging counterpart and have winter features such as an ice tube racking system.
A key feature to look for is that the leg loops can be undone completely so that you can get the harness on over bulky footwear easily. Stepping into leg loops with big boots is a pain and trying this with crampons is guaranteed to end in tears.
Check that the harness size range will cope with the clothing you are likely to be using - will it cinch down enough for those summer red points when wearing just a T-shirt? Will it expand enough to go over your winter fleece and waterproof system?
As mentioned above it is a definite advantage if the gear racking on this type of harness can be kept symmetrical whilst being worn over a wide range of clothing systems - harnesses with double waist buckles or a floating waist pad win here.
Examples: DMM Renegade, Wild Country Syncro and BD Blizzard
Buckles: There are two main types of buckle – thread-back or “slide lock/ziplock/speed”. The majority of rock climbing harnesses now feature slide lock buckles because of their ease of use, however I must admit to being slightly old school and preferring thread-back buckles; they can’t slacken off accidentally/be knocked open - however it should be mentioned / stressed that the slide lock buckles do have a pretty much perfect safety record.
There are some fairly shonky far east buckles appearing these days and it is worth just looking at the inside edges of the buckles to check for rough edges / poor finishing.
Belay Loop: A core part of most harnesses as it forms a central connection point in a wide number of situations. There is a bit of mistrust about belay loops after a high profile accident, but this was down to user misjudgment and for sensible climbers who look after their gear this is one of the strongest parts of the protection system.
I have seen a few people thread a screw gate through their crutch loop and waist belt instead of using the belay loop, but this “belts and braces” system is very misguided as there is a serious risk of the carabiner being 3-way loaded.
Climbers should always connect into/belay off/abseil off the belay loop or rope loop.
As a side point always thread the rope carefully through the leg loop and waist belt tie-in points - this is the primary point for harness wear and careful tying-in and un-tying will greatly prolong the life of the harness. Pulling the rope through quickly will quickly cause concentrated abrasion damage.
Racking: As mentioned above check that there is enough gear racking for the gear you are likely to carry, that the gear racks are in the right place and that they are a shape and size that you like.
It is important that the gear loops sit correctly on the full variety of clothing that you are likely to use. This is quite a hard call as it needs to fit both when you are wearing just a T-shirt and when you are wearing a thermal, fleece and wind/waterproof. The best ways of keeping the harness and gear loops centred are by using a floating waist belt (DMM Renegade) or by using double buckles on the waist (Wild Country Syncro). Or you could use a bandolier to compensate – some people love bandoliers, some hate them.
Are the gear loops firm or soft; will all your gear bunch together and will it be a pain to find the right piece in a hurry? Don’t be afraid of hanging some gear from the gear loops and seeing how it hangs.
Padding: If there is padding on your preferred harness check its quality – just try to compress it – if it crushes down easily it is likely that it won’t work well. Quality foam is expensive and because it is hidden away is a common means of cost cutting.
Haul Loops: Horrible things that increase the odds of you messing up. Was that the gear loop I clipped or the haul loop? I much prefer a rear gear loop on which I rack my belay device, prusik loops and emergency kit.
Rear Risers: Females especially will find releasable rear risers very useful. Check that they are solid and won’t release accidentally.
Weight: As always light is right, but don’t compromise weight for function. Fit, features and comfort are for me key, but after this weight is a good selection criteria.
Price: Harnesses cost between £40 and £80 and last on average 3 years. £13 -£27 a year – not much at all. A good harness that keeps you safe in a variety of environments and allows you fast access to gear can help keep you safe and happy. If it fits and has the features you want hand over the cash; skimp and you will most likely regret it.
Compromise on comfort and you will be constantly squirming on every hanging belay trying to get comfortable / take weight off a pressure point.
3. Fit and Sizing
A good fit is absolutely crucial – take your time and forget about the labels on a harness. Some males find female harnesses fit them best and some females find that unisex harnesses fit perfectly – it all depends on your shape / size and the manufacturers sizing.
The reason why a good fit is important is that it maximises your safety and allows the leg loops to take the majority of the force in a fall or the weight of your body on a hanging stance. If your harness does not fit correctly then the waist belt may end up taking more of the force and this can be dangerous for several reasons – you may damage the multitude of internal organs that lie around your lower torso in a fall or the harness may ride up into your ribcage and restrict your breathing when hanging. A correctly fitted harness will also maximise the chances of you staying upright in a fall or upright and able to breathe if you are knocked unconscious.
As mentioned previously your harness should work with the clothing systems/number of layers you are likely to be using - try it on with booth just a T-shirt and with a chunky fleece/jacket. Does it fit both waist and legs / are the gear loops in the right places / will it go big enough/small enough?Is the padding in the right place? Can you move freely in the harness / bend easily from side to side? Can you raise your legs freely?
Look at a full range of harnesses; there is a much better choice of female harnesses now, but don't discard a harness just because it is unisex. If it fits well and is comfortable, consider it - it is all about whether a specific harness in a specific size fits you and has the features you want.
Is the "rise" OK? This is the distance between the waist and the leg loop tie in points - women tend to have longer rises than men. If the rise is too short the front of the harness will be pulled down causing discomfort and a poor hanging position. A rise that is too long will cause the harness to be loaded incorrectly and place more force / weight on the legs. Metolius have a patented variable rise system that is very good and worth looking at if you are struggling to find a good fit.
The waist belt should sit above your hips and cinch down enough so that if you do invert in a fall your hips will stop you from falling out of it. The legs should be snug and not tight. The rise should be such that the belay loop sits vertically almost, but not quite, under tension. Too tight and it will drag the waist down and cause you to flip backwards on an abseil or in a fall; too loose and you will find everything moves around a bit too much. Definitely avoid a rise being too small.
Once you have short listed a few harnesses try them on the shops hanging rig.The weight should be taken between the legs and the waist (more on the legs than waist) and the harness should hold you naturally upright. If you have to fight to stay upright / comfortable then it is time to look at another harness.
Silvia Fitzpatrick, who runs the Rock Climbing Company, was born in Argentina and learnt to climb in Patagonia. Silvia spent a lot of time at Bariloche and Frey, living in and around the the Frey Refugio whilst climbing most of the classic routes in the area, many of them solo. Silvia won the Frey Rock Masters competition in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
In between her times at Frey she traveled further south to El Bolson and El Chatelan where teamed up with the talented Eduardo Brenner, they established a series of hard and committing climbs on Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitzroy.
Silvia is more than happy to offer guiding services to climbers and trekkers who wishes to visit Patagonia.
An overview of Silvia's early life as a climber in Patagonia is on the Argentine site Alborde.com
Guided Climbing Prices
|Type of Course||
|Cost per Party||Cost per person|
|Guiding on the Classic Welsh Climbs||
1 Days Guiding
2 Days Guiding
The full terms and conditions are on the booking page
Equipment provided by the Rock Climbing Company: We will provide all the technical equipment needed for this rock climbing course - this includes ropes, climbing hardware plus a climbing helmet and harness for each client. You are welcome to bring your own helmet and harness.
What you need to provide: We always try to choose the venues and routes so that we get the best possible weather, but sometimes the weather will get nasty - so bring a full set of waterproofs (top and trousers), warm synthetic clothing plus hat and gloves. The walk-in's to some of the classic mountain routes can be long and rough so decent walking boots are the ideal footwear. Ideally you will need your own rock shoes as well, although we can arrange hire rock shoes if required. You will also need a rucksack (30 - 40 litre capacity) plus plenty of food and drink for the day.
There is more information on what to bring on the Equipment for Courses page.
What is not included: Prices do not include, transport, accommodation, personal insurance or meals.
Ratios and course sizes: The Guided Climbs course is best taught at a ratio of 1 or 2 clients to 1 instructor.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information