It's Not Sport Climbing Folks...

I was falling… My hip crashed into the cliff three bolts below my high point. I looked down to see blood dripping from my fingers and a bulldog and quickdraw dangling from my rope. The last piece of in-situ gear had blown during the fall. I had fallen a good five metres. Fortunately the bolts below the bulldog were sound enough to catch me. My hip felt sore from the impact. I had been only a few moves below the lower-off of Cold Front (C5+) at the Eastern end of the cliffs. Almost close enough to reach out and touch the lower-off ring with an axe. I was clueless as to what had caused the fall. I had done the hard moves out right above the roof and seemed to have it in the bag. The composure and tension had felt controlled. The last thing I remember was trying to get my feet set above the roof. But then I was off. Maybe a foot hold broke off? I have no recollection.

The Eastern Cliffs
A second attempt was out of the question. Blood was running down my fingers and my hip was sore. The main problem though was the detached piece of gear, which now meant a big run-out to the top. If the highest bolt failed following a second fall from a similar position then I would be close to a ground fall situation. It was time to call it a day and go and find some plasters.

It was a positive day despite the unexplainable fall. I was feeling sleepy and so attempted nothing particularly hard. My axe grip was feeling relaxed and my movement and body tension markedly smoother than my last visit. But most encouragingly my strength feels better than previous autumns. For the first time in a few years I have managed to stay injury free through the summer and so have been able to steadily progress my fitness without setback. 
Back in Time (C5)
A final note: The seas... They were the roughest I have witnessed at Saltdean. We arrived shortly after high tide. The concrete walkway leading to Western half of the crag was close to impassable due to the volume of water crashing over it. Waves exploded maybe eight metres high before retreating back. It was difficult not to contemplate thoughts of being swept off my feet and into the sea. But after ten minutes of watching with nervous laughter we realised the big waves were fairly spaced and so made a break for it. The waves abated for long enough.

Big waves
Next visit to Saltdean I'll be ready for the steep routes on the Eastern side.


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