The Greatest Summer - Part VII. Shake and Bake

Paul Pritchard on The Fourth Dimension (E7 6c), Wen Zawn.

Photo: Dave Kendall. From the Gogarth North guide.


Friday, 28 August 2015


This is a funky, different take on ‘the climbing piece.’ I’ll explain afterwards, but for now just enjoy ‘The Recipe for The Fourth Dimension.’




“Everyone spices differently. 

Some carefully measure quantities, make sure aromas will match and never make a mistake, while others just pour it on and see what happens.

With the latter approach, sometimes you blow your brains out and think you’re going to die… but sometimes you come up with something really memorable.”


Brian Baxter, A Spicy Living.


The Fourth Dimension (E7 6c) ***


Serves 1


This is a fantastic recipe - full of flavour and adventure, with a healthy dose of spice. Best served fresh and hot, it creates one of my favourite dishes. The climbing is fierce with a committing feel, which shouldn’t be under-estimated.


It’s also apparently one of the best lines on one of the best crags in North Wales (and therefore the UK) - which is quite a claim! Add into account the reputation, weather, tides and long prussik above the sea, and you’ve got an idea of the size of this meal. I’ve found an open mind and a large pair of guns to be useful, although I admit to misplacing mine for my ascent.


Serve with a good mate over a promising forecast, and a cool beer to finish.




To get on Down!


1 abseil rope (80 metres works best). I prefer the static variety. Prussiking up a semi-stretchy rope as it bounces over the lip of the zawn makes me feel the fear. I can handle spicy run-outs and electrifying solos. But watching that single black cord rub over the edge makes my heart race.


2 ascending devices. Before you go down, it’s important to remember you’ve got to come back up! Top tip: For the ideal garnish, bring a jumar and grigri. Prussiking is rubbish. A Shunt and Ropeman work ok too.


To prepare: Baste in sunshine at the top, then ‘The Birkett Warm Up’ (see Psychefilm by Alastair Lee). Alternatively refer to the Gorillaz’ Rock the House. ‘Tap your toes and clap your hands.’


To get on Up!


2 half ropes, preferably 60 metres. 


1 standard trad rack. The usual shizzle will suffice: micro cams to medium/big, set of wires (choose your favourite variety) and plenty of quickdraws. Remember your nut key.


Chalk. Loose, and lots of it. If conditions are greasy you’ll be grateful. Use your own personal mix.


Gogarth North by Ground Up guides. Indispensable and full of amazing routes. The History section also makes for entertaining reading while your mate prussiks out!


De-greaser or greaseproof paper - as much as possible.


This is on top of the obvious: shoes, harness, helmet, gunz, psyche and gurn! Marinade and season. Mix well. ‘Twist your hips and do the dip.’





The Approach


As per the notes in the Gogarth North guide. Pre-clip the abseil rope through two threads as you pass under the lip to ensure a successful pendulum from The Whale to the route.


Once on the island, swing from The Whale to the base, across a 6 foot sea channel. It’s best to practice this in your garden or on your local swings to save embarrassment/breaking your coccyx on an unplanned return to The Whale.


Grab the small greasy spike at the base of the route, stick a cam in the crack and clip you and your abseil rope into it. This ensures you don’t have to keep swinging across each time. Rub your hands over the rock and say, ‘oooh, it’s not too greasy at the moment!’ Apply the de-greaser or greaseproof paper generously.


The Route


Pre-heat your conditions as described in Useful Information.


You didn’t expect me to give any beta, did you?! I will say that Paul Pritchard is too far right in Dave Kendall’s photo in the back of Gogarth North. It’s an inspiring picture, nonetheless. 


Remember to appreciate your surroundings as you squirm up the initial groove, smelling the salty air and wiping greasy hands on your shirt. Remember to breathe deeply, filling your lungs before you traverse under the roof; feel the quartzite bite under your fingertips, small flakes cutting soft skin. Remember the steepness as you clip the peg and launch into the crux, the sea lapping far below and the warm sunshine on the slab above. 


Go big, enjoy the positions and ‘ave it! Or again consult the Gorillaz: ‘shake and bake, do whatever it takes!’


The Descent


If you make it through the crux, rock onto the slab and relax - you’re out of the barbecue. Climb across to your abseil rope and tie an overhand knot with one hand. Lower off and strip - this is where it helps to bring the nut key. This is also assuming your mate wants to have a go. You could recruit a super-strong partner to second, but they might have a Weston-Super-Mare!



Useful Information


The Whale is a beautiful specimen, and not for eating. She’s spacious and usually dry, but she’s in a bit of a wind tunnel. It can be chilly down there, so bring your jackets. Avoid in rough seas/high tides. Take a rucksack full of provisions to sate the appetite between burns, and some cream to calm the spice.


I thought conditions were going to be the crux of this route but thankfully they’re usually ok, even in the shade. This dish relies on a light breeze and warm temperatures, otherwise it can be a little al dente. Of course, it’s best to wait until the sun comes onto the rock but this doesn’t happen until around 7pm.


Try This Instead


Billy Budd (E6 6b) makes for a tricksome alternative with plenty of chilli and three stars. It’s more of a blow-your-head-off sensation compared to the delights of The Fourth Dimension. Approach and seasoning as for TFD.


References and Thanks: 


Adam Wainwright - first ascensionist, and for being a legend and telling us our early attempts were going the wrong way.


Gorillaz - Rock the House: ‘tap your toes and clap your hands. Shake and bake, do whatever it takes. Twist your hips and do the dip!’


Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Cookbook (Collins, 2008). ‘Put some music in your food.’


Gogarth North (Ground Up, 2008).




This piece is a bit weird. It’s quirky, and stands out.


I sat down to write a ‘move-by-move, blah blah blah’ piece on trad climbing, in particular The Fourth Dimension, and quickly got bored. Nobody reads a ‘we did this’ unless it’s world class or very well written. And nobody cares about someone doing a rarely-climbed Gogarth E7.


But I’d been cooking a lot of interesting dishes with housemates, reading early Alpinist magazines (see The Spice Factory) and listening to early Gorillaz albums. This sudden pouring over recipe books and talks of exotic flavours and spices got me thinking: why not mix it up a little?




Ray Wood was the initial inspiration for checking out The Fourth Dimension, so thank you. Cheers to Oli for entertaining the mad idea and nice one for dispatching it in fine style. Thanks to Owen for the belay.


This piece first appeared on

Tom LivingstoneComment