Saturday, 11 January 2014

Another route lost at Saltdean

With Scotland still looking a bit buried under snow, and my body politely requesting an easy weekend after Cogne, I popped down Saltdean on Saturday with Laurence for some axe pulling practice. I we caught the tide at just the right time to do some traversing along the Eastern end of the cliffs - always a good opportunity to pump the forearms out.

Perfect weather
A short route climbed to the right of the Thunderdome up a mildly overhung wall to gain a steep slab to the lower-off. I made a quick ascent of this to round off the morning activities. The placements were small with arrows scratched into the chalk to identify them. Some of my foot placements were no bigger than a monopoint width. It swung right at the top towards the lower-off. Having led the route I quickly scampered up a more direct line to the lower-off on top-rope and immediately followed this up with another top-rope ascent via the line of protection. Three consecutive ascents and my arms were feeling a satisfying burn.

The rain has been causing further damage to the cliffs. The routes on the 4x4 Wall had already been lost a number of months ago, including Slab Route. Now Cold Front has gone. This route was only two years old. The upper half of the route is totally absent as though it was decapitated in the night. All that remains is a single bolt in the initial slab. I couldn't even recognise the climb at first. I actually felt off this route in November, ripping the final piece of gear in the process.

Cold Front before & after. Note that the roof has totally disappeared.
We climbed some of the easier routes on the West side in the afternoon. The start of Back Up has also seen transformation. Part of the roof has fallen down and the overhung wall to its left is now missing with surrounding chalk looking suspect. The first warthog above the roof is very loose. I tried to climb the route but twice this led to some large blocks of chalk becoming detached along with me. Particularly on the second attempt when I was painfully struck on the left knee cap. This section of cliff isn’t tidal so collapse is a rarer phenomenon compared to parts of the East side. The fallen chalk blocks were totally saturated with rain water, which appears to be the main problem. The holds at the start of Back Up can be reapplied but the crux moves will be much easier now without the awkward bridging moves beneath the roof.

Fallen chalk at the bottom of Back Up

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