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Showing posts from August, 2013

Exposure Explosion (HVS, 5a), Ogmore

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The nerves started to fray as early as the second pitch. The bulging section of rock only a short distance right of the belay was clammy. I moved onto the leaning rock, my feet undercutting my hands. Immediately the tips of my fingers were damp. I grasped the shallow holds that were filled with sandy moistness, my fingers seemingly slipping with each adjustment. Anxiously I retreated back left to safety in a corner. I leaned out rightwards and placed a cam at full reach in order to better protect the moves but my subsequent second attempt ended with the same outcome. Sweat was rolling down my brow. I wiped my forehead and arms, then chalked my fingers. It was time to wipe my brow again... I studied the rock. The moves looked moderate in principle so why was I struggling to execute? How much were the conditions playing a part and how much was the jaw-dropping exposure to blame? Worryingly for me the pitch was only 4b and technically moderate compared to those forthcoming. There could b…

Wen Zawn, Gogarth

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Anna had looked pretty comfortable on the VSs that we had climbed on the Upper Cliff yesterday. That was of course with the exception of The Rift for which it was impossible to be comfortable. It was time to head to Wen Zen and ‘see what happens’. Anna was still clocking mileage at VS and was yet to lead HVS but there were some ‘straight-up’ routes that would be safe for the second. Maybe the option for THAT route if things were going well.

The seas were looking high and a little wild so we abseiled only as far as the ledge rather than to sea level. I watched the belayer of another team get lashed by a wave at the base of the cliff, which reassured me that we had made the right decision. It was a beautiful day and the rock was bone dry. Wen seemed the obvious route to start with as it went ‘straight-up’ for the large part and was supposed to be low in the grade for HVS. Anna led the pitch above the ledge, which felt sustained 4c but with plenty of gear and nothing particularly strenuo…

The Rift (VS, 4c), Gogarth

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The mouth of the cleft repelled my attempts to enter her bowels. My pelvis wedged between the opposing walls but wouldn't pass. There was little room to adjust. I squirmed higher and found a slightly wider space to enter the confines of ‘The Rift’. The rope led up and left into the darkness. Virtually no gear separated me from my belayer but the chances of pendulum'ing within such a narrow cleft seemed almost impossible.

The space was only marginally wider than my girth. I spread my hips full width and flexed my knees like a frog. Wedging the inners of my knees against the rock I dropped the palms of my hands down to hip height and slowly shuffled myself higher as though climbing with four legs. My helmet clattered against the rock each time I surveyed my position. After ten minutes of fighting and I had moved a matter of metres. This was ‘traditional climbing’ in all its glory. I looked down at the rocks and saw blood. Was it my blood? How could I tell given that my visibilit…