Monday, 18 August 2008

Big bites! Too much to chew?

Buoyed up by last weeks success on Unleashing the Wild Physique I headed back to the Cornice on Saturday with south peak sport climbing legend Jon Clark. Initial intentions of going back on Ouijaboard were thwarted by fresh seepage so after a good warm-up I was casting around for a new target. Faced with the choice of cleaning up a line or going on an already cleaned and chalked one I opted to have a play on Love Amongst the Butterflies, which was already in good nick after Jon’s recent ascent and reliably dry unlike most of the other options. With the help of some much needed beta I had the moves figured by the end of the session and am pretty keen to get back on it. Funny how this route is not more popular really given that it’s an ever-dry, three star 8b, with long continuous but never desperate climbing on good rock with lots of bolts. I guess the vertical/technical nature, the long (compared to the Tor/Rubicon) walk-in and the element of un-known quanity serve to keep people away. Personally I’d always assumed it was very reachy which is not so, although there are a couple of sections where a few more inches would make life a bit easier.
Whilst lowering off at the end of the day I noticed a big juggy looking slot in the wall between RnP and LAtB. Further inspection seemed to suggest potential for a new line between the two routes, essentially a direct start to LAtB.
Come Sunday and my fingers were feeling pretty tired from the years first play on an 8b and I figured any attempt at climbing would be fairly lacklustre. With nothing better to do I headed back to the Cornice to scope out the potential new line properly. Bumped into Jon again who was down with his dad Pete working on Kristian’s new 8b+ called 32, which was just about dry enough for him to try the crux section. I stick-clipped and jugged halfway up LAtB to get a rope down the project and set about having a closer look. The slot once cleared of mud was indeed a very good hold and looked to be accessible by breaking right after the first bolt on RnP. Above the slot was a distant set of undercuts then a blank looking section leading into LAtB just after its rest i.e just when the hard climbing kicks in. More investigation revealed one good layaway and one poor layaway on the black section. A quick brush and I could hang the positions and decided it looked feasible enough to warrant bolting up. The rest of the day was spent putting in three bolts and cleaning up the line. The big undercuts turn out to be mostly a collection of disposable slats, stabilisation of the whole lot seemed impossible and in the end most of it ended up on the floor with only the a small solid section remaining which I then backed up with resin. The final verdict? Well it’s all definitely doable but it’s going to be hard, harder than anything I’ve climbed before, but looks like great climbing and worth putting some time and effort into.
So one semi-worked 8b and a possibly 8b+ project on the go, I’ve got my work cut out there then!! Is it too much to ask for the rest of the season – probably? Oh well it should be fun finding out.

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