We walked into Lochain today in light of the poor conditions in Coire an t'Sneachda yesterday. Despite the higher elevation conditions proved to be no better with the likes of Fallout Corner in summer condition. Fourth Man looked vaguely climbable however the traverse left out of Sidewinder proved impossible without frozen turf. We continued up Sidewinder instead, which proved no pushover in these conditions, and then bore right into the final gully of Western Route.
A Silly Game
Esoteric... intimidating... worrying... exhausting... are some of the words that I would best describe climbing on the white cliffs at Dover. It's one of the most unique and memorable places that I have climbed at and somewhere that has filled me with equal measures of dread and ambition. The style of climbing is far from perfect but it is partly the imperfections combined with the unique experiences and high levels of adventure that kept me returning.What's more the journey time of under two hours from my former London home made the area positively 'local' by London standards.
Mick Fowler's exploits were one of the main catalysts to me trying chalk climbing. I visited Saltdean a few times to climb the bolted chalk routes at Saltdean but was keen for bigger adventures away from in situ protection. An excellent article on Dover by Ian Parnell in Climb Magazine further raised my interest in the purely trad form, particularly in a route called The Tube, …
I was more apprehensive about Den Hvite Stripa than any route for a long time. The crux pitch I understood to be very bold, with just a couple of bolts on the crux pitch and no possibility for supplementary gear. A bold n6 grade would probably equate to something like UK E2 5b, and so right on my limit. The lack of an adjective grade with the Nordic grading system meant this was just an educated guess though.
How big would the run-outs be?
Big enough to pass my belayer on the way down?
Where did the actual crux moves lie in relation to the bolts?
One thing I did know was that my slab climbing abilities had only slightly improved in recent years and so felt close to a plateau. Now or never.
I lost the paper, scissors, stone contest. 'Lost' in so far as my partner Sten would lead the first pitch leaving the crux second pitch to me.
Just mounting the short wall at the start of the second pitch in order to gain the slab seemed an ordeal. Where were the hand holds? Maybe it was the…
Anna and me tried to climb Gone with the Weed a couple of years ago. I was still getting over my chronic fatigue on that occasion and it had seemed an ideal stepping stone due to its long-ish length, short approach, and easy descent via abseil. It actually proved to be Anna's sore feet that was our undoing and brought about a descent after just two pitches. Big toe pain from too much friction-type climbing on moderate angled slabs to be precise. Gone with the Weed had also been the plan A when I climbed the neighbouring route called Reven a year prior, but on that occasion the route was still wet from snow melt. All in all the route could be described as a little elusive for me, although it had largely dropped off my radar in recent years.
At least we had managed some single pitch cragging en route to and from Hægefjell during the first attempt. Anna's conclusion was that if she were ever to return to Hægefjell then it was best done in a group of three, so that she could more …