Monday, 19 December 2011

The Verdant Tube (III), Dover

With a free day but no partner I headed to Dover to solo one of the easier routes called the Verdant Tube. The start of the routes appears to have collapsed, therefore I started further left from the original line. I climbed a short slab to a ledge between some large roofs near a rusty drive-in ice screw. A committing tricky (tech 5) move out left over one of the roofs, and then up onto easier ground. 

Dover port
The start (with reference to the ladder in the background)
After this exhilarating start the route quickly descended into bashing through bushes and dirt. The top tube section was a good finale though as it wasn't stepped out like similar routes at Dover such as the Tube and The Real White Cliffs Experience, although the tube section was a little less dramatic and short in comparison.

Looking down the top tube section

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Auricle (VI,7) - My first Scottish VI

Ryan was having problems with his shoulder so I climbed Auricle with Dan Moore and Robert Durran. Dan put in a good lead on the crux second pitch and I was more than happy with my lead contribution on the third pitch. Excellent conditions in Coire an Lochain today. A perfect day to score my first Scottish VI.

Robert leading the first pitch (photo by Dan Moore)
Dan leading the crux corner
Me leading the third pitch

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Waiting for Winter

With still no sign of winter arriving in Scotland Mike and me headed to Saltdean for a third Sunday in succession. Having climbed all the bolted routes in the Western half of the cliffs over the last two weeks our focus today moved to the Eastern half, which is generally steeper.

We warmed up on Slab Route. This gets C2 in the CC guide but it is now harder due to the bottom of the route having fallen off since grading. Since climbing it last year even more of the lower slab has fallen off with a 5m wall needing to be climbed in order to gain the slab proper.

Slab Route - Not C2
With the warm-up complete, we up'ed the anti and tried S Club 7 (C7)  on the Six of the Best wall. All the routes on this section of cliff are overhung by about 10 degrees and therefore test the grip strength a bit more. The routes on the Six of the Best wall are the oldest at the crag. The axe placements are deep pockets from many years of ascent and the bolts are more weathered. The low shingle made for some tricky first moves in order to properly plant the feet. With no natural resting place the best policy was to keep climbing. With four bolts clipped I allowed myself a brief pause beneath the crux which involved a strength sapping move out left to an overhang that needs to be breached directly. I thought I had the strength, I was wrong. I moved out left but didn't have enough strength left for the overhang. I quickly retreated ack to the fourth bolt and took a proper rest. Second attempt I managed it albeit in poor style. Mike had previously cleaned the route first attempt. I'll be back to clean this myself at some point.

We next climbed Everyman (C5) on the Seaward Face which was more amiable but exposed with the upper half of the route proving good value for the grade. The lower-off carabiner was in a poor state so we replaced it was a mallion. 
Mike leading Everyman (C5)
Mike was keen for another route on the Six of the Best wall. We climbed Split Personality (C7) using the direct start as for Schizophrenia. The name refers to the contrasting two halves of the route. The lower half consists of of steep overhung chalk, the top half in contrast is an easier but more delicate slab. There is a traverse right between these sections meaning half ropes would be more sensible (but we managed ok with a single rope). I was happy to second the route but at least I managed it clean. My favourite route at Saltdean to date.
Mike leading the start of Schizophrenia before breaking right into Split Personality (C7)