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, …
My one month trip to the Karakoram during summer 2015 could loosely be regarded as a success in that we climbed three small summits, two of which were first ascents. We had planned bigger objectives prior to the trip and we also fell short in this respect. The trip as a whole was far from being problem free and all too easily it could have been a disaster. There were lots of factors involved so I thought it was worth writing about some of the problems we experienced as well as things that worked well. As much as a reminder to myself for future trips. The original trip report is here for anybody interested.
Lack of porters at the trail head in Passu was our first problem, which I had not anticipated away from the Baltoro region. It has been ten years since I last hired porters in Pakistan and maybe the numbers have dropped off because of the lack of visitors. Maybe we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A local cricket match apparently depleted availability but I…
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…