Outdoor Matters


Best first crags for: Sport Climbing

So you've been climbing inside for a while, you're happy leading and have the skills you need to take this outside onto some real rock (If you're not sure about what skills you need then my Sport Climbing course covers everything you need to know).

The big question is - where do you go first?

There's a wealth of information online and in guidebooks, but with so many options you might need some help narrowing it down.

What To Look For

Choose a crag with an simple approach, flat base, solid rock and easy routes; in short you want a climbing gym without a roof.

You don't want to have the walk there to be a death defying adventure across scree and crocodile infested rivers, or to fear for your life as you balance precariously to get your rock shoes on.

You might be climbing F6a indoors, but that doesn't mean you can do it outside straight away, so leave tour ego at home, drop your grade a few notches and enjoy practicing your sport climbing skills on some lower grade routes.

Top Crags For Beginners:

Wedge Wall, Black Buttress and Mermaid Wall at Rhossili are all good choices. Wedge is short, safe and fun (F5-6a), Black Buttress is solid with good routes (F5+-6b) and Mermaid climbs straight off the sand (tidal) with lots and lots of lovely easy lines (F4-6b).

Foxhole at Southgate is a sheltered suntrap with a perfect slab for your first outdoor leads, as well vertical and steep routes to progress onto (F2+-F5+). The walk down to it is a little scrambly in places but easy enough if you follow the path.

Castle Quarry and The Pinnacle are both crags at Taffs Well. Castle is shady with several easy routes (F4-5) that start from a (sometimes muddy) slope. The bolts can be a little spaced and the holds do get dirty after rain. The Pinnacle is a friendly place with well bolted climbs and easy access (F4-6a).

Mount Pleasant is just up the A470 from the M4 and has a wealth of routes (F5-6b) on quick drying rock. There have been access issues here in the past so treat it with care – no camping or fires.

Tirpentwys is probably the closed you’ll come to a climbing centre with no roof. Good rock, good routes, easy access, nice surroundings and a range of grades (F4-6b). The downside is that it can become very busy, so don’t forget – other places are available.

Folded Walls at Witches Point has routes (F5-6b) in a beautiful seaside location. Theresa wealth of classic harder routes on the cliffs here so prepare to start a wish list.

Temple Bay Inlets are just on the other side of the headland from Witches and are home a huge number of short, punchy routes (F4-6b). Some are tidal or require a scramble to access so make sure you know how to get to them safely.

Gilwern Main and Central have enough routes (F5-6b) to keep you going for a week. Some of the routes at Central have some loose rock sitting about so watch out for this.

Top Tips For A Good Day:

•Check out any nesting or access restrictions on the BMC Regional Access Database

•Use a clipstick on the first bolt to prevent ground falls, they also help you aid to the top to get your gear back if you can’t finish a climb.

•Wear a helmet. Your head contains everything that makes you – you, look after it.

•And have fun! That’s what its all about…