BBC - Weather Centre - Forecast for Llandudno, United Kingdom

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Ormesman of the Week: Jerry Moffatt - Orme Star Takes on the World

Jerry Moffatt is an Ormesman who went on to make a big splash on the global scene. Jerry became one of the best climbers (maybe the best!) in the world but his climbing career started in the Llandudno area as he attended St Davids boarding school. This weeks research was easy as i have a copy of Jerry's autbiography, Revelations. If you haven't read it yet you should as its quite an inspiring read. You can order it here. Jerry started to get the bug on a trip to nearby Craig-y-Forwyn. It was there he met up with Andy Pollitt who was the same age. The two youngsters were very keen and soon they ventured onto the Great Orme. Andy wanted to try and free the aid route Mayfair. Jerry describes his thoughts in Revelations:
The line was blanker and steeper than anything either of us had tried before, by a long way. It just felt like a waste of time, as i really couldn't see any way it could be climbed, and felt a bit miffed at Andy's over-optimism.

They bagged the first free ascent, a trend which would continue through the 80s.
In 1983 things really began to take off on Pen Trwyn with many of the top British climbers heading there regularly. Jerry was right in the centre of this scene. Jerry describes sunny days on the Orme in his book. It sounds like not much has changed, music coming form the pier organ and the hustle and bustle of Llandudno. Jerry and pals slept in the Cave and enjoyed a simplistic life. Jerry first met Ben Moon on the Orme and the pair would hone their skills there. Jerry left his mark with two hard first ascents. Oyster was the first to go down. Back then it was a mere E6, these days its regarded as 8a! Jerry then climbed Masterclass as Wofgang Gullich looked on. It was 1983 and this was the hardest route in the country at 7c+ (although it would have been regarded as E7 then). No one knows if the route has undergone any significant changes (lost holds?) since Jerry did it but compared with the rest of the routes in the area this route is certainly worth 8a these days. Did Jerry crack 8a in 83, i guess we'll never know! In 1987 Jerry began his most significant Orme journey. He had noticed the line that would become Liquid Ambar after climbing Statement in 1984 and in 1987 he placed the first bolts in it:
Abseling down the line, i placed some bolts and confirmed my thoughts. It would be extremely hard, but there did look to be just about enough holds to make it climbable. It looked amazing, right up my street and i began to work on it. It took a lot of time to sort the moves out and i spent a good few days on it that year. It was extremely tough, much harder than anything else i had ever done and my attempts carried on into the following year

Jerry's attempts were curtailed by a motorcycle accident but he returned in 1990 and completed the ascent. In Jerry's book it is clear that this ascent meant more to him than almost any other. He had climbed Britains first 8c, a real cutting edge route of great quality. Liquid Ambar has only seen 3 ascents since 1990 which i bet Jerry would not have believed at the time if someone had told him. It is a bit of a shame it doesn't get more attention as it is a historical classic and one of the best hard routes in the country. It seems to be regarded by most as 8c+ these days. This route hasn't changed since the first ascent so grading it 8c+ has significant historical ramifications as it would have pipped Hubble to the post as the worlds first 8c+. I don't know whether this is right or not but i can guess what Jerry and Moony think about this! I came across Jerry a few times when i moved to Sheffield. I remember one occasion in the nightclub, Bed (now Sainsbury's). Jerry was walking down the stairs next to me and in shock i shouted at him: "You're Jerry Moffatt". He looked at me and a big cheeky grin came on his face:"thats right i am" he replied I was starstruck and spent most of the rest of the night hanging out by the mens bogs to get another glimpse of the legend. Last night i dreamt that Ondra tried to onsight LA, he got through the first hard section and the cocked up on the crux. Now there's a show i'd like to see!



Doug said...

brilliant. do you know any story behind rock atrocity? Who drilled it, named it?

Doylo said...

i think george smith and paul pritchard may have had a hand in it