(About 7/10 I reckoned)
|Beneath the slab|
|Conchalktivitis Slab in the Centre of the photo|
I veered slightly left and quickly heard complaints from my belayer's direction as the rain of surplus chalk was now falling in his direction. Really he could have just left the scene given the state of my protection. I moved rightwards to better protect him from my incessant chalk shower. I placed my only Screamer... for what it was worth.
I was making steady progress and now the top was within reach. The slab steepened to vertical towards the cliff edge in a similar manner to Brighton Rock at Saltdean. This route had dealt me a particularly desperate escape through a loose top soil and I feared a repeat. It looked from the ground as though the easiest escape was going to be via the far right of the slab. This looked pretty chossy and unpredictable at closer quarters and so I chose the left side. This was steeper but bounded by a corner that would allow me to generate some opposition through bridging. The axe placements had thankfully firmed up as the ground steepened but my feet were meanwhile peddling in slow motion through a band of unstable chalk that crumbled at will.
I punched my last warthog in...
... that would do.
I launched my front points onto the opposing walls and quickly punched my picks successively higher into the chalk. My front points desperately fought to find purchase but my axes felt solid. Then the optimistic swing into the grass at the top of the cliff. The axe held and quickly I swung a leg over the top and belly flop-mantled onto the grass.
I belayed of a small bush... (about 9/10 under the circumstances)
It felt a proud moment. It hadn't been the perfect of climbs but it was a new route at Dover nonetheless, which felt something special, and good foundation for further fresh objectives. I knew I would need to be stronger though for the other routes I had in mind.
|Laced - A view back down the route|
|Near the top|
Since my last trip to the Dover cliffs in December there has been a big slide on the cliffs immediately North of St Margaret’s Bay. My second ever Dover route, called Loose Living, is largely gone. It was by far the worst climb I have done at Dover so no great loss. The freezing weather weakens the chalk cliffs and no doubt there more routes were lost during the exceptionally cold last winter.