Knot For Climbing

do love to be beside the seaside

May 15th, 2009

The Love Below - raging sea below the crag Nigel accending Curved Crack

Up to this point of the year I’d been working way too many hours on the computer and doing bugger all climbing. Thankfully, The Climber Guy was wise enough to collar me in February to book a weekend in Swanage for a spot of Trad climbing. And how grateful I was when we managed to pick one of the sunniest spring weekends this year.

We cruised down the Friday night and stayed at the very nice Tom’s Field campsite. We were joined by fellow climbers Nigel and Hugh for a mini-ender (a one night, one day weekend trip).

We parked ourselves at Subliminal. Subliminal and The Cattle Troughs are good places to get started with Trad climbing, there is a good selection of grades and given it had been such a long time since I last placed gear, I was keen to get some practice in.

The coastline at Swanage is part of the Jurassic Coastline and how amazing it was to descend my abseil beside some million year old ammonite fossil. Well, The Climber Guy got stuck in and headed straight for Suspension (S 4a). It was a good climb, tricky start but bomber placement for gear. I had real problems getting one bit of gear out and took my time trying to sort it out. With the wind blowing and the sea crashing in hearing each others calls was a trick. After that I had a crack at Curving Crack (S 4a) on top rope. Not much to say really, it was top rope.

After a period of faffing about with luggage and looking for routes we ended up settling down on a new patch were all the climbs were just too tricky for me. I had to settle for some top roping while our colleagues went in search of an ellusive route. It was a good day but much too much time was spent faffing about looking for routes. { Moral: plan your routes the day before and stick to them! }

Another beautiful day and an early start was welcomed as we wanted to make up for our lack of lead climbing on Saturday. We decided to go to The Cattle Troughs and had eyed up 3 or 4 routes.

I started off with The Chimney (VD) which was a pretty straight forward “ladder” climb. It was a good starting point for me to get reacquainted with placing gear again. And with good reason too as some of my early pieces weren’t set properly. As I moved on I got back into the groove and the placement was more secure. It was my first lead in about a year and it felt great to be placing some gear again.

The route has two finishes, direct for a VS and to the right for the VD. Next time I’ll go for the VS, it looks like a fun and more challenging finish.

Consolation (S 4a) was next up. I seconded for Climber Guy and it was a good climb, nice holds. Don’t really remember much about it to be honest.

Most enjoyable climb for me was Chockney (VD 4a). As with most of the climbs I tried at Swanage, getting started is often the trickiest. This was no different with a rather trixie Egyptian start and my lack of match fitness was beginning to tell. By the time I got to the top I was taxed but it was all made worth while sitting atop the crag watching the sailing ships cruise by and the sun reflecting off the water.

I was spent by this time but Climber Guy was amped and really keen to attempt Bunney’s Wall (S 5a). The start is really bold, with no gear for about 3 metres. At one point I thought I was going to have to catch him as disco leg, then arm started creeping in. With a few words of encouragement he composed himself, regained his focus and found some good feet. Once that first piece was in he was able to rest then move on. Good character building climb I thought, and when I tried to second it I realised how hard the start was, and how little energy I had left in the tank.

As the sun started setting I sat atop the crag again and watching Climber Guy, tug, pull, push, grapple, kick, hack, get angry at the cam that had somehow overloaded and wedged itself midway on the route. He may have ticked the route but the crag claimed a cam for his trouble.

View our photos of the trip on flickr

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