Friday, 22 July 2011

3 days, 5 crags

Life as a climbing bum is going well: long days climbing with good friends, getting heckled onto routes, falling of projects and embarking on sea cliff trad adventures.

      ·         Tuesday:

Lowman – the windiest place on the planet – a nice trip up Aviation and then run away to...

Chudleigh – An escape from the wind and drizzle and an important stop on a tour of the best crags Devon has to offer for a visiting Northerner in the group.

Jerome’s attempts to persuade me to lead Interrogation had failed, as well as Interrogation SuperDirect, Blood Lust and a number of other Lowman horrors, but I gave in when he switched tack to Black Death. Black Death may not be the most inspiring name but it's an awesome route and, upon completion, you gain free admission to the Black Death Climbing Club. What more could you ask for?!

      ·         Wednesday:

Anstey’s Cove - The drizzle (or mizzle?) was forecast for the morning, so Anstey’s seemed the obvious choice, after all it’s always dry at the cove, right? Wrong! But lessons were learnt:
        ·         Cocytus is really hard in the rain,
        ·         It’s nearly impossible to get psyched for working a project route when you’re cold and wet and the damp’s seeping through the rock,
        ·         Empire of the Sun is the perfect route for getting more and more tired – I’m told this is called ‘training’?!
        ·         Just when you’ve taken all the quickdraws out of every route the sun will come out.

An enjoyable scramble along The Long Traverse to have a look at Sanctuary Wall rounded off the day perfectly.

      ·         Thursday:

Lower Sharpnose – With the sun shining and agreeable tides Sharpnose is an awesome and inspiring place, 3 fins of rock 25 to 30m high and about 2m wide jutting out into the Atlantic. Long routes, big holds (in places), good gear (in places) and rusty pegs. We abbed in and started up The Smile; holds and gear abound but it just keeps going.

My turn to lead next and Wraith was suggested, “an excellent wall climb” not overly reliant on two fairly rusty pegs. It was excellent, the gear and good(ish) holds give you no excuse to stop and ponder and with the crux at the top it’s an all or nothing effort. I sat in the sun at the top belaying with a grin on my face, good times indeed.

Unfortunately it was 3pm I was late for an evening climbing appointment the other end of the county. I left my mates contemplating scary E5 propositions on the middle fin and jogged back to my trusty van.

Sanctuary Wall - 2 hours later back at Anstey’s Cove I met John taking an evening out from his busy schedule to contemplate Madness, a route name that tells you all you need to know! Madness is a traverse of Sanctuary Wall, a loose, intimidating and absurdly steep sea cliff. The first pitch consisted of alternately hand traversing and teetering along a sloping ledge, with the odd bit of gear or rusty peg for protection. At the hanging belay we tried to think up excuses for not doing the last two pitches, we settled for a combination of potential rain, darkness and fear and escaped up the final groove of Call of the Wild.

It was a good end to three awesome days’ climbing, sitting at the top in the evening sunlight, surrounded by gear and a palpable sense of relief, tired and hungry but truly content.

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