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Jack Geldard hurriedly going for the crucial 4CU placement on the first ascent of Spinal Crack (E8/9 6c), a long-standing Cwm Idwal project, Wales. [Photo] Ray Wood

The new route activity over the last few weeks in North Wales has been as furious as the rising spring sap. On April 20, Jack Geldard added a desperate route to the growing list by sending a long-standing project in Cwm Idwal now named Spinal Crack (E8/9 6c). Everyone who walks around Llyn Idwal to the Slabs notices the enticing finger-crack on the buttress, a few hundred meters to the right of Sub-Cneifion Rib.

Geldard had a brief play on the route last year, and with the fine weather of late, he was quickly back in action. Geldard practiced the route on top-rope before taking the sharp end; he placed all the gear on lead. A bold start follows the line of holds out right to a reasonable, but horizontal, flake for sling protection (tensioned down by a rope and Grigri) at about twenty-five feet. There is also a decent wire out left, which protects the steep, reachy and technical moves up and back left to enter the crack. Falling off at this point, trying to place the 4CU in the crack, could result in a ground fall. Luckily Geldard didn’t find out the answer–but he said he came close to falling while clipping the piece.

Steve Mayers belayed and followed the route. He agreed with Geldard’s summary of the climb: “It’s definitely hard, and it’s definitely high quality.”

Over many years the project has become widely known; interest in the route goes back to the 1980s and Johnny Dawes. Mark Katz had previously climbed the lower section before but moved out towards the right arete to establish Hamartia (E8 6c). Local strongman, Neil Dyer, also attempted the line but fell off reaching the crack. His sling snapped on the spike, and he broke his back in the process, hence Geldard’s name for the route. And yes, he did ask Dyer’s approval before circulating the moniker, Spinal Crack.

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