Check out our Centre Manager Tym’s crag of the month – The Gap.
My crag of the month is the Gap; it is located just off the A470 between Cardiff and Merthyr. It can be seen from the A470 just after the first roundabout from Cardiff, look for the gap in the hill on your left. I have been climbing here since I started climbing and it hasn’t changed much. It was my first trad climbing crag, and many of my first hard sport climbs were done/attempted here.
The Gap is a quarried sandstone crag that faces east. The climbs are full, small ledges on horizontal breaks and some very nice vertical cracks, very typical for the area. The crag is split up into 3 areas; lower gap, upper gap and the bit in-between called the “The Edge” by the SWMC wiki. The lower gap contains most of the high quality routes and is now mainly a sport climbing crag. The upper gap is a small but pleasant area containing a few good routes that can be top roped or led, it doesn’t have any bolted lower offs but there are 2 large boulders at the top of the crag than can be used to set up a belay. The middle section contains short trad routes, some on good rock some on less good rock. The crag has had quite a bit of work done to over the years, and has new bolts on all the popular routes. There are some older staples on certain routes but they are in good condition. There are a mixture of lower offs, with some new double ring lower offs and some older chain lower offs. Loose rock on some routes is a problem, especially in the right hand side of the lower quarry. Around dusk the midges will come out in force especially on a damp afternoon!
How to get there
Google maps – https://goo.gl/maps/PdQ4t
Take the A470 from Cardiff to the first roundabout after Abercynon then take the right exit towards Ystrad Mynach exit. Turn left at the next roundabout (signposted to Treharris), and follow this for 1 mile to a narrow left turning over a bridge immediately before a pelican crossing. Follow this road steeply uphill, and over a railway bridge, then take the first right. Follow this road until the crag becomes visible up on the left. Turn left underneath the larger lower quarry. Park here for the lower crag.
Car theft has been an issue; do not leave anything of value in your car.
What’s in my pack?
For climbing at lower gap you will need at least a 40m rope, for some of the harder routes I would recommend a 50m rope. You can get away with 10 quick draws but if setting up top ropes after leading a line an extra 2 will come in useful. As will all sport climbing a daisy chain or sling with screw gate crab, and chalk for those hot summer days. Upper gap is shorter but because the boulders used for lower offs are set back from the edge you will still need at least 30m rope. I take 2 ropes when climbing at upper gap and usually just pre setup my lower offs using the boulders. Upper gap can also be a good place to do some top rope climbing. Remember don’t leave anything on show in your car.
I’m going to start like the guide and work around the crag starting at the bottom left. The first route I recommend you try is just at the top of an obvious dirt ramp just before the left hand corner of the lower quarry.
Fluster (6b) – It’s a nice little line that requires good crimping action and a lot of high feet. The first bolt needs a good spotter or a clip stick if you’re not confident. After the tricky first few moves it’s a nice steady climb to the top. It’s does feel fairly stiff for the grade if you’re not used to the flat edges and the high feet required.
The first routes on the back wall are on steep broken ground.
Generation Gap (5+) – This climb looks hard but once you start searching around you find some large holds on the overhanging blocks. It is well bolted until the last section. After you pull onto the large final ledge there is a large run out until you get to the lower off. This lower off is one of the older ones on the crag. Make sure to use quick draws if top roping to reduce future wear.
As you move down the back wall there are hard vertical walls separated by some excellent vertical crack routes. I suggest Land Of The Dinosaurs (6b) and Rattle Those Tusks (6b), which no longer has the wobbly chock stone that gave it its name, this was my first trad route. The grades get higher until you get to one of the best sandstone 7b+’s in South Wales, which I still haven’t sent clean.
Encore! Magnifique! (7b/7b+) – An excellent route that I’d highly recommend to anyone who climbs around 7a indoors. Lovely moves from start to finish, you just have to fight the forearm pump to get the chains.
The crag then goes round a corner, on the arête you can get an amazing double knee bar on One Track Mind (7a) – the crux is a massively high leg to pull up the arête at the halfway break. Next on the list is a route I worked for ages before realizing the corner wasn’t my friend.
Greased Balls (6c) – The corner looks inviting but will leave you stuck most of the time. The moves on the face are there, you just have to find them! When you have worked out the sequence this route is very rewarding.
The rest of the crag starts to get a bit loose after this point.
How about a bit of high lining between the gap in hill.
More details about ‘The gap’ can be found in the Gower and SE Wales guide book.