Parisellas – Failure is an Option

The long greasy haired younger indie rock version of me had psyched himself up for a burn on Rock Atrocity, a tough V9 and one of the more infamous problems in the cave. The problem literally came into being when one of the early sports climbers armed with a drill started to ‘play about’ with the idea of ‘creating’ a some holds in this immense roof. Drilling not only a few three finger pockets but essentially gluing a block to the roof as well. As on first acquaintance you like them would think that the roof is devoid of anything resembling a hold. Today the chalk that permanently marks some of the toughest test pieces in the UK says otherwise. As such this cave is a testament to the modern boulders persistence and tenacity

As that grungy kid powered across a series of three finger pockets provided by the that helpful vandal the problem suddenly felt on. I was way across the roof and at the cross through to the glued on jug. One more effort and I’d be one more move closer to the end. As I give it some beans and commit there is an almighty snapping noise. My reflexes make me let go instantly and as I fall off the realisation that the sound came from my finger hits me. I land on a lone pad below the crux and turn round to see everyone else in the cave with the look on there face that is more commonly seen on someone who has just seen one of those youtube videos with a big wipeout, accompanied by the sound of a sharp intake of breathe associated with asking a plumber for an estimate. Somebody joked they probably heard my pulley pop in Llandudno, i did not laugh.

Having lived in Llanberis for a long time and despite the commute to the Ormes around 30 minutes, being a hard up climber during my most powerful years earning only £90 a week when I was working and even less when I was signing on, I would only ever venture there on the worst days. Preferring the trad climbing delights of Gogarth and Tremadog over cave life. Although distance is just a poor excuse for my lack of strength, power and roof climbing skills.

There has always been a strong coastal contingent to the North Wales climbing scene and this cave is undoubtedly the reason for it. Floppy Chris, Ding Dong, Patch and many other were weaned onto rock on that roof and as a result they have reaped the rewards at some point or other.

Be under no illusion, Parisellas and the adjacent Spilt Infinity Cave is not our typical round the bloc, don’t expect to find too many classic easy problems to warm up on. There are a few random bits of rock and parts of problems that will help. In the main the climbing is like hanging a fridge from the ceiling attempting to grasp it by a combination of vigorous bear hugging and using Bond villain’s Onatopp style leg clamping.

There are some less steep and easy problems suitable for warming up. One of my favourite easy problems is the pillar that leads up to the end of Left Wall Traverse at about V2. It is so innocuous it is not actually considered a problem by most cave goers. You can also try a few sections of Left Wall Traverse which will help you redpoint it later, as the full traverse which whilst never desperate, is a long, sustained, draining and technical V8. Other people resort to the doing pull ups on the jugs of the Beaver themed problems on the right of the cave. Cave Righthand whilst only V4 and is technically the easiest problem in the cave, it is no pushover.

You are better off heading to Split Infinity and doing some of the traverses there. Split Traverse V3 being the easiest problem in the area. Followed by the Pillar Finish V4. That though is essentially it for easy problems for warming up. So maybe consider going for a quick jog, skipping or joining the thera-band crew when it comes to a thorough warming up here. As you don’t want to follow my example and bust some mechanism vital to your fingers working.

Back in the cave if you missed your core days during training then this place is going to hand your backside back to you cut up, chewed about and spat back out on a plate. Nearly every problem seems to involve trying to keep your feet level or above you shoulders whilst you power outwards towards the daylight. Many people are resorting to the five ten knee pads, to help knee bar their way skywards, whether or not you see that as cheating is the post-modern ethical dilemma. It does make life easier though.

The whole place requires a stern constitution and the kind of mental toughness that Mo Farrar or Jessica Ennis-Hill possess. Not because it is some gnarl fest, on the contrary, the steepness means you are never far from the ground on many of the problems, it is the success rate that many people, myself included find mentally draining. One local spent every day off for 6 months heading to the cave with the sole purpose of climbing Lou Ferrino V10, named after the actor who played the Incredible Hulk in the 1970s TV show, albeit spelt by wrongly. For me it is one of the most beautiful problems in the cave. Following a hanging rib across the roof via a testing and powerful sequence that is beautiful to watch being climbed, a cross between wrestling and a vertical dance, although it does end at an arbitrary hold in the middle of nowhere.

This route has always been a dream of mine, but I have never paid the price of entry by putting in the time. I remember trying it once and flailing miserably with the wrong sequence, when Ding Dong turned up and in a pair of resoled Boreal Ballet rock shoes and proceeded to give us a ‘walk through, talk through’ of the problem as he climbed it in slow motion to show the subtle nuances of the foot sequences that went seamlessly from heels to toes. If he wasn’t so nice you’ve have told him to piss off, instead we jokingly asked if he could show us that again, he did!

There are some great easier sub V10 problems though, the previously mentioned Beaver themed problem like of Beaver Righthand V5, Beaver Cleaver V8, Clever Cleaver V7 and Clever Beaver V7. The best being Clever Beaver. There are also a bunch of variation starts to the Left Wall Traverse, Dust Kick Low V6, Flake Start V7 and Pillar Start V6 are all more vertical in natural than any other problem in the cave.

Another theme is the ‘cut’ problems. Upper Cut being a classic V8, followed by Trigger Cut a desperate V10, then Directors Cut V13 and possibly the mother of all the cuts Silk Cut which at V14 links the start of Lou Ferrino into Upper Cut.

Parasols as you can see is a rather hard place to climb, however with the advent of dedicated bouldering facilities in ever major city and the modern performance expectation, these grades that my generation have clawed our way up to is now the veritable starting bloc. More and more it is the places like Parisellas that is picking up the slack. Just watch some youtube videos of Pilgrimage V14, or Greenheart Connection V12, and you’ll see that its not just two move wonders through this terrain, but you’re now expected to hang on indefinitely as people link problems together to make eye wateringly sustain mega routes that are more like F9a sports routes.

This linking of problems has led to a near endless number of different combinations and permutations of problems usually all in excess of V10. Just ticking the ‘classics’ will be enough for the majority of people. Be warned though you might find yourself become obsessed by the place and making you own Pilgrimage to bag some of the bigtime numbers in this extreme form of mix and match climbing, that are available here.


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