The classic VS climbs, Shadrach and the Brothers at Craig Bwlch y Moch are sadly no more. As previously reported, some very loose dangerous blocks were identified on these routes. After a thorough inspection, the BMC had no option but to commission a professional rock-engineering company to remove the blocks. Further works remain to be done and the area remains unstable - keep clear until the works are completed!
As previously reported, climbers had reported to the BMC that there were some significant unstable blocks on the classic VS graded routes, Shadrach and the Brothers, at the BMC owned crag of Craig Bwlch y Moch at Tremadog.
In the the original article the BMC describes the danger posed by these blocks.
First climbed in 1951 by Tony Moulam, Geoff Piggot and D Thomas, Shadrach was one of the earlier routes to be climbed here and its classic thrutchy and awkward chimney on the first pitch and the tricky step off the huge pinnacle on the second pitch will be known by many.
The huge pinnacle, estimated to be about 30 tons in weight was resting on a highly unstable block, itself weighing about 3 tons. On inspection this “smaller” block, surrounded by similar sized blocks, which turned out to be equally unstable, could be made to move by hand pressure only and there was a very real danger that climbers could place gear behind it or even inadvertently belay on it. If weighted by a fall or even an outward pull, it would undoubtedly fall, potentially taking the huge block with it, which would be catastrophic for any climbers in the vicinity and potentially landing on users of highway beneath.
On Friday June 14th after careful consideration and a professional inspection and survey, the BMC tasked Colin Jones Rock Engineers to remove the block in a controlled and safe manner. The crag was cordoned off and the highway was closed to traffic. A number of local BMC Cymru/Wales volunteers also assisted with the traffic management and safety cover.
Rock-engineers abseiled down the cliff and using only crow bars and a small car jack removed the blocks with what turned out to be a scarily small amount of force. As was expected from the survey, the impact of a 30 ton block falling over 30 metres on to the huge 100 ton pinnacle that formed the first pitches (the chimney starts) of Shadrach and the Brothers, also removed that 100 ton block in one swift moment of flying rock and a huge cloud of dust. That huge lower block was in fact resting on a sloping ledge, with less than one square metre of contact area!
A blank wall now remains on the head-wall and a wide groove where the chimney start used to be!
However – Warning
Some substantial loose rock, debris and even unstable trees remain here. A further days’ work has been commissioned to complete the works and climbers are advised not to climb or explore in this area until after those works have been done. It is hoped that this work will be completed in the next few days.
In the meantime, do not attempt to climb the routes Grim Wall, Meshach, the remains of Shadrach and The Brothers or any other routes in this immediate area. The parking area beneath the crag has been cordoned off until the works are completed.
The BMC want to thank climbers for being very understanding during this time and state that the decision to remove the blocks and effectively destroy two classic routes was not taken lightly. The only reason that we carried out this work was that while the blocks appeared, to all intents to be stable but were in fact very dangerously unstable and it's almost certain that if weighted by climbers in a specifc direction or even subject to the force of a minor fall on to climbing gear placed in the blocks, would have caused a major rockfall with inevitable fatalities to anyone in the vicinity, especially those belaying beneath or waiting to climbing these routes or the neighbouring classic Grim Wall or Meshach routes.
A further more in-depth article, explaining the BMC's reasoning and process for doing this work, will be produced, along with videos and timed photographs of the work in progress in the next few days.