Graig Isa, Cwm Nantcol: Guide to Traditional Routes

OS Ref: 641260

Altitude:250 metres
Approach time:15 minutes 
Aspect:North west
Drying:Reasonably quick drying

Winter sun: No 
Summer sun: Yes, late afternoon onwards
Rock type: Rhinog Gritstone

A selection of low lying, small scattered buttresses with a very straightforward approach (no wellies needed!) All the routes are slabby in nature and many are solos above sometimes good, sometimes bad landings but there are also some protectable routes. The farmer at Graig Isa is very kindly disposed towards climbers and permits access to the crag (which is directly behind the farmhouse and not on open access land) but requests no large group visits and that the designated parking space is used. Clearly all courtesies should be maintained in respect of his generosity.



Drive up towards the Cwm Nantcol roadhead and 500m past the right turn off for Dyffryn Ardudwy and 200m before Cil-cychwyn there is a designated parking area on the left (OS Ref. 632258). Walk down the road to Cil-cychwyn and take the metalled track on the right (public footpath) up to the farm of Graig Isa. 100 metres past the farm after the track descends, pass over a stile next to a gate, leave the track and head up rightwards to a metal gate in a fence in front of the crag. 

The main central area where you arrive is characterised by a jumble of boulders and pillars with a striking slim 10 metre monolith propped up against the hillside right of centre (this can be seen from some distance away where it appears slighter than it actually is)

The first two routes are found on a buttress 50 metres left of the monolith area.image2

01. The Clarendon, 9m, E4 5c *** †

The first route takes the superb wall and arête left of a chimney. Two brilliant varied cruxes with an unlikely monster jug in between, along with a perfect soft landing make for a cool a solo. Using crimps, the arête and a shallow undercut out left, gain the jug before committing to the final few moves with the aid of hand and heel on the curved arête. FA R Stanfield (solo) 3.10.14

02. Rock Bottom, 8m, S 4a †

The small corner, layback crack and roof at the far right of the buttress. FA M Davies (solo) 3.10.14


The next 4 routes are all in the monolith area:


03. Thank you for Cumming, 5m, E3 5c * †

The centre of the obvious short face of a giant wedged boulder. Make a rather painful sharp pull on the thin flake with poor footholds to delicately gain access to the top. Poor landing. FA R Stanfield (solo) 3.10.14

04. Radicalisation, 8m, E3 5b ** †

An immaculate solo of the elegant shaped rock to the left of ‘the phallus’. Start up the obvious wall from a projecting block on the right, before pulling over the steeper ground. Unlikely at the grade but its all there with very controlled climbing using the arête for both hand and heel. Poor landing. FA R Stanfield (solo) 3.10.14

The Phallus

05. Withered Tree Slab, 5m, E1 5c * †

The centre of the obvious triangular slab seen upon entering the crag. Excellent but short lived thin technical climbing. FA R Stanfield (solo) 3.10.14


06. Dark Orgasm, 10m, E1 5b *** †

Two star climbing on a three star feature! One of the few protectable routes at the crag and pleasantly low in the grade. Climb the front of the monolith on lovely holds with gradually escalating difficulties. A perfect wire at half height and small cam a short distance above protect. FA M Davies, R Stanfield 3.10.14

The right side of the Monolith looks great. A hard start then good edges but no gear and a terrible landing! There’s a few more possibilities right again esp on the small boulder style wall.

Aoife’s Wall

  OS Ref. 639259

150 metres SW of the monolith area past a small wooded dip is the final buttress consisting of good quality quartz covered rock, with two faces separated by a deep chimney. 


07. Supernova, 10m, E4 6a (*?) †

A bold line up the centre of the left hand wall. Go up a slim groove then using small holds on the right gain a small flat hand hold up and left and a good wire placement. Finish more easily straight to the top. FA T Taylor 4.8.14

08. Girl Stuff, 10m, VD *

The blocky crack system three metres right of the chimney. Good, well protected moves all the way. FA T Taylor, A Taylor 4.8.14

09. Endless Summer, 10m, S 4a 

Nice climbing on the right hand wall. Start down and right and using the right arête, pull up onto a slim ledge. Head directly for a crack above and pull up onto the clean ledge. Finish direct. FA T Taylor, A Taylor 4.8.14

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