Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Real White Cliffs Experience (IV), Dover

After our loose grassy slope climbing exploits on Loose Living Kirill was surprisingly keen for some more chalk. I wanted to climb a route called 'The Real White Cliffs Experience' which I had spotted a month ago whilst reconnoitring the cliffs. The route is only a short distance North of the St. Margaret's Bay car park and appears largely unchanged since its first ascent in 1992. It is one of the easiest to locate on the cliffs due to it's distinctive upper runnel which also forms the upper section to Better than the real thing.

The Real White Cliffs Experience climbs directly up 1/3 from the left of the photo to gain the obvious traverse to the runnel
We initially tried a new route between the start of the Real White Cliffs Experience and Better than the real thing. I gave up a short distance above the ground upon realising the section of chalk I was on was semi-detached. The moral of the stay was stay away from cracks as where there are cracks there is loose sections of rock.

We started further left at what we presumed the normal starting point for the Real White Cliffs Experience. I surmounted the initial bulge, continued up the short pitch on good chalk, then smashed some warthogs in for the belay. With only a regular claw hammer Kirill had his work cut out removing the warthog runners on second.

Kirill seconding the first pitch
Removing a warthog
From here it was a long two pitch rightward traverse to the runnel crossing increasingly loose and grassy slopes. With few sections of quality chalk there was little in the way of sound protection, which included belays. The CC guidebook states the route is 118m however I think this route is at least 150m given the length of the traverse.

Kirill traversing grass
Kirill on the first pitch of the traverse
The runnel provided a grand finale, climbing easy stepped out chalk to the top. It felt easier than the Tube given no steep crux but equally adventurous. 

Kirill on the final runnel pitch
Kirill at the top of the runnel pitch
View down the runnel

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Loose Living (III), Dover

Today was Kirill's first day climbing chalk so I thought we could try the Great Escape, a grade III climb described as 'straightforward and safe - for chalk' in the CC guide. We walked a long way North from the St Margaret's Bay car park before we located it. It turned out that the bottom of the route appeared to have fallen off.

I think this is the Great Escape. The bottom of the route has collapsed if it is
It was already 5pm and we needed a quick replacement. We opted for another grade III called 'Loose Living' that was close to the car park. The clue was in the title with regards what sort of climbing conditions were to be expected. The few patches of decent chalk near the start of the route quickly turned to choss chalk on the lower half of the climb. Higher up there were small bushes to clamber over and the top half of the route largely involved climbing loose turf and dirt rather than chalk. We disturbed a fox near the first belay, which gives some indication of the quality of the terrain. There was at least the stunning scenery of the white cliffs to keep us happy although it was dark by the time we did the top pitch.

Loose Living
At the second belay at dusk