Thursday, November 20, 2008

White Magic part 2

So on day two we went new routing... Well that wasn't the plan. We actually went looking for a nice sounding grade V called Into the Groove but I think we probably walked over it as we made our way along the beach. This happens alot on chalk. Infact the only feature that didn't seem to have fallen down on the whole of the cliffs west of St Margarets was the finishing Tube of "The Real White Cliffs Experience". Which had a nice sounding direct start called "Better than the real thing". A great name but unless the first ascensionists couldn't grade for toffee their route also seems to have collapsed. But we started up any way. Chalk climbing is the best training on the planet for ice climbing. That is if you like iron hard black ice at minus 30c. Just getting a decent stick with your tool takes up to a dozen swings and getting the gear in is a herculean task. Traditionally warthogs are banged in with a lump hammer by clipping into your axes but I had the stupid idea that I wouldn't bother with that and I'd just hang on as I would ice climbing.
The result was the mother of all pumps, much groaning and lock tite cramps in both arms on pitch 2. Eventually I was forced to place the last few warthogs on the second pitch on aid before lowering down to climb it clean. Pretty mad pitch that one, it looked slabby but turned out to be overhanging the whole way.
Jon did a fine job following this and getting the gear out but I think the toll began to show when we topped out just as it got dark. All in all a fine day out for all the family.

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