Dina Crac, E9 7a – Welsh Limestone Trad

I couldn’t think of a name for the project for ages…. I asked my friends, the wisdom of Twitter and even my daughter (she said call it “Climber”) for inspiration. Then I came across it this morning, whilst looking up derivations of the word “Dinas” or “Dinas Rock”

“Dina fooled me into loving her and toke all I had, but still I can’t get enough of her.¬†
I wish I can stay away from Dina but her mysterious ways are¬†irresistible.”

In those words it was chosen for me. I never was quite sure why I spent so many sessions in the carpark at Dinas sleeping in my van, driving the M1 for hours and hours and putting up with multiple days of ruined climbing just down to the fact that the condensation had set in. The lines above probably sum this up as best as I possibly could.

I think this particular crack project has been one of the biggest struggles for me, due to a combination of factors. The climbing is really quite hard, the conditions on the line are incredibly fickle and the moves are so complicated that each time I would come down, I’d waste at least half a day remembering how to move my body. The route starts up a very strange and steep 2 bolt sport route which is more like climbing a long boulder problem. This then gives you access to an 80 degree finger roof crack. The sequence through the roof is around V10 and involves amazing spins on finger jams, an undercut mono-style move and some funky heel action. All of this has to be stopped in the middle of though, to place two micro nuts, which caused me problems on a few occasions!


Placing gear in the roof (c) Kim Davies

The Dinas project has kept me occupied for 3 years I think…. Which seems like a long time. I got very close to it before going to climb Cobra Crack, but I rushed the last move and fell off on practically the last decent day of the season. Going back down again this week, I could feel all the same doubts creep into my head as I know that I’m off to Yosemite in 3 weeks and I’m not supposed to be trying projects. A friend offered a night’s sleep in his house before but I refused because I wanted to feel that I’d earned my route. I didn’t want any soft touches, no luxury, no compromise. It might sound a bit silly, but I find that if I take away the good things, it makes me want my goals more and makes me toughen up mentally.

Morning view from Hotel Randall

Morning view from Hotel Randall

The last day at the crag this weekend, was one of those really great days. A good crowd of people, a really relaxed vibe and absolutely no expectation. I’d been moaning for about an hour how sore my skin was, but that I’d just “have a little go to see where I get to” and then I could prepare for maybe coming down the following weekend. If I’m honest about it, I kind of know that this trick of “having a little look” is actually extremely effective on redpoint, as you fool yourself into it being a low pressure attempt. As we all know, the lower the pressure, often the better the results!

On the bolts at the start I very nearly fell off but I remembered at that instant that this had happened before when I did Greenspit. I pushed on. The next hard sequence felt hard and again I only just locked the undercut mono-style move as I was sagging out, so I pushed on. As the sequences flowed I just kept grunting away and trying to “fall up” the route – I think the climbers on the ground probably thought they were watching something rather odd. The climber above was using strange grunt sounds and a sagging arse to climb something quite hard. But hey, it worked!

It was pretty tricky coming up with a grade for this route, because of the afore mentioned factors in trying it. I possibly could have done it quite some time ago, but maybe it was a bit harder than I gave it credit. It’s so hard to be objective about it now though. So for this one, I’m going to assess it as to where it felt relative to other cracks I’ve done even though it took me absolutely ages to do.


Century 8c

Cobra 8b+/8c

Kournikova 8b+


One Infinity 8b+

Greenspit 8b

Army of Darkness 8b

As it’s a trad limestone crack (although, granted there are 2 bolts from an old existing line at the start) I will stick with the proper UK grade of E9 7a and given it a token US crack grade of 5.14a. All gear was placed on lead (not a very easy prospect!) and consists of loads of those offset Wild Country micro nuts, including the top 30ft of groove climbing.

Many thanks to everyone who’s kept me company at the crag over the last few years. You know who you all are.