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Pool of Bethesda by David Mason

Pool of Bethesda by David Mason
September 15, 2010 -  David Mason    

Five hours drive for one problem....

In the last 8 weeks I can count the times I have touched rock on one hand! I have been locked away indoors, pulling on small bits of wood and plastic in preparation for going on a ten week trip to Fontainebleau and Switzerland. The relentless rain and humid conditions also make it difficult to muster up the motivation to head outside.

However last Thursday three of us decided to head to North Wales for the day. The destination of choice was the Llanberis Pass and more specifically the Jerry’s roof boulder. The problems to be climbed..... The classic Jerry’s roof (7c) for Nick and for Ned and me the rarely repeated Pool of Bethesda (8a+).


After a 2.5 hour drive, a stop for cake and tea and a brief warm up it was on to the main event. When looking at Pool of Bethesda you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was a warm up, in fact a friend of mine when shown it for the first time asked, ‘you’re not allowed to use feet right?!’ Alas looks are deceiving for this problem has only received 6 ascents since its birth in 2001. Four of the ascents by locals and two by visiting strong men Malcolm Smith and Rich Simpson. This problem has a reputation as being stern to say the least!

The climb revolves around a difficult first move involving a deadpoint to a slopey pod, followed by a few easier moves to the top. Sounds easy, right?!

I have had a few throws at the first move before but gave up quickly! It’s HARD! Not as easy as it looks! Ned had tried it the week before and got close, however I was less optimistic.

The first three throws as expected were a massive failure. However on my next go I pulled on; placed my left toe in the good pocket and put the bunched right toe hook by my hands and really gave it everything. To my surprise I didn’t fall instantly back to earth but was still attached to the rock! I flipped my right hand to an undercut, adjusted my feet and went up right hand to a side pull and then again to a good three finger pocket. That’s where the fairy tale ended, my feet cut and I couldn’t control the swing! Hello mat!

Next go I stuck the first move again, wow, but once again my feet cut higher up and I plummeted, earthbound! I just didn’t seem to be pushing enough on my feet, I knew I could do it but were my previous goes luck.

I rested and pulled on just as a breeze picked up. As I hit the pod my hand didn’t feel greasy, deep breath, right hand into the undercut, left hand adjusted. The pod feels better than before, right hand up and up again, my feet are still on, new territory, a controlled cut loose to put a high left foot, up to a slopey boss on the lip and again to a good side pull, right hand over the top, an even higher left foot and I am rocking over below the power cables!! Wow I have done it!! So unexpected, I was so pleased, in fact except Karma this is the best feeling I have felt from climbing!!

Ned went onto finish it off too and Nick should have sent Jerry’s roof but his feet didn’t seem to be attached to his body!! Five hours driving for one problem, is it worth it?! We all know the answer! We are off to Wales again tomorrow for a few days, fingers crossed for good weather!!


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