Having managed to get a precious slot of free time I'd hoped to go to the Alps but somehow despite planning 4 months in advance I failed to convince anyone to commit to a climb with me! But never fear there are adventures aplenty within our own shores. So I'm halfway through a two-part 'UK choss-odyssey'.
For Part One I linked up with my fellow Climb editor Dave Pickford. First for a 1000ft plus traverse of Avon Gorge's main wall. The Equator is a 12 pitch historical classic which we managed in 7 pitches.Whilst the choss count was relatively low, it made up for it with some typically 'robust' Avon insitu gear.
A great quest though - finishing with plenty of time left for a slice of Bristol Cafe action.
This is about 3/4 of the route. For those interested in record breaking - a capable team could simul-climb this in an hour/hour and a half I reckon.
The following day we headed south... to the extraordinary lost world of Ladram Bay.This place has half a dozen sea stacks composed of some of the softest 'rock' I've ever encountered.The most famous stack is the Big Picket first scaled by Pete Biven and team in 1971.
We quickly began to realise what we were getting into when on pitch 2 Dave squirmed past insitu 6 inch nails (projecting 4 inches) and then had to take on the crux free move.
This is Dave after his first attempt - holding the crux hold in his hand - his second successful attempt involved a jump to a sloping mud block which he then manteled. Dave rated it the most disgusting move he'd ever done.
The third and final pitch bore little resemblance to the guide description - we presume most of its fallen down or Nick (the guidebook author) meant left instead of right! After a pathetic attempt at free climbing I resorted to aid climbing. Which proved to be very time consuming (1 1/2 hours for 20ft of progress? This culminated in an aid mantel over the summit cornice which at first bounce test promptly collapsed before a final terrifying belly flop in slings. Jim Beyer would have been in heaven.
Happy boys - Dave particular excited about the swim awaiting.