Lord of the Flies

Photo: Ned Davies


Tuesday, 29 July 2014


The seed of Lord was planted right at the start of my North Wales climbing career. I had heard of these famous Cromlech routes, and, in true chopstick form, immediately considered myself suitable, youthfully unaware of the true nature of hard trad climbing. Once I had rapidly grappled my ego around E1, I accepted the humbling experience and resigned myself: I would never be good enough to lead E6!


Many years later, Lord changed from being an ‘impossible’ to ‘slightly possible’ when I dropped it into my Plas y Brenin C.A. interview this spring, 2014. When asked which routes I had my eyes on, I vaguely commented that Lord would be a natural progression after Right Wall, primarily to make me look like an enthusiastic and motivated climber. It did not seem like a realistic or tangible goal (at the time, at least). Nonetheless, the fire was re-ignited. 


This year’s fantastic summer of trad climbing in North Wales saw me develop a new level of fitness and confidence. The slow wheels of ‘momentum’ were set in motion and I made occasional comments about attempting Lord. A month ago, I was chatting with Dave Evans, fellow Plas y Brenin staff. He mentioned I should get on it, with a casual, hearty laugh quickly followed by a serious look. Oh boy.


A deadline was set; I had to take this challenge head-on. The demons must be silenced, one way or another. I ignored the route and chose the last sunny day in a two-week weather window.


Soon, everybody knew about it and I smiled meekly when people mentioned it in conversation. I occasionally found ‘public pressure’ overwhelming and wished I hadn’t told anyone about it - but that is a rarity, I suppose.


Dave Evans was in high spirits on the day, and after a ‘total fucking nightmare!’trying to park, we walked up to the Crommers. The skies were darkening and I briefly wondered if the rain was going to arrive early, forcing me to biff it. Thankfully, occasional sunshine returned.


I found the route true to form: that is to say, as I expected my first E6 6a to feel. It was much more mentally taxing than physical, and the climbing was strenners but not impossible. Thinking about it now brings back memories of small run-outs between good clusters of gear: rose-tinted glasses, perhaps?


The headwall was a delight to climb, although it maintained interest right until the final moves. A brilliant experience made all the more enjoyable by topping out calmly, rather that being utterly boxed and gassing for it.


I have written a more detailed piece about my experiences of Lord, but I’m not sure of my plans for it yet. Stay tuned. Thanks for the belay Dave.



Thanks to Ned Davies and Tim Monks for supplying a couple of iPhone photos. Have a look at Tim’s blog if you’re interested.

Tom LivingstoneComment