It was a day like any other. It started off with an average breakfast and a gentle amble to the cliffs where the route American Beauty, HVS 5a resides.
We abbed in and climbed one of the best HVS routes I have ever climbed. 3 pitches of beautiful rock, follows the only clean route on the cliff. Higher up swathes of green lichen flank the route, but not even a grubby end, diminishes the routes quality.
If American beauty had been the only route I had climbed that day, it would no doubt have a longer blog entry. But alas, rather more special things happened that day.
After topping out and taking in some serious rays, we settled down to some lunch. Casually gorging on chunks of Chorizo, little did I know, this was the calm before the storm.
After lunch Pat and I decided to climb the classic route on the Devil’s slide, Satan’s slip, E1 5a.
This route had been on my wish list since hearing about Lundy Island. In person this route is far more intimidating than you could imagine. The top pitch has very little protection, and the protection it has got is shoddy at best. The climbing is relatively easy, but it is a route that you wouldn’t to fall on! I will blog about this route in more detail, when I get time. I think I may have developed an alternate first pitch!
For now let’s just say the climbing is fantastic, and the top pitch is definitely brown underpants time!
After 200 metres of climbing that day, with the sun rapidly setting, most teams would have done the sensible thing and gone to the pub. Pat and I however, had other plans. Pat really wanted to climb Wolfman Jack, E3 5c, so we decided to make our way over there. As it was an E3, I would leave the leading to Pat. Nevertheless, I knew it would be a great adventure.
After some difficulty finding the ab spot, we started to get the gear together. Looking out across the Atlantic to the west, we could see the sun setting at a rapid rate. A few words of worry were voiced by both of us. Questions like “do you think we’ve got enough time?” and “when does the sun go down these days?” were voiced, but to no end!
Without any particular notice, Pat disappeared over the edge and I then knew that there was no getting out of it! We would have to climb it, with or without the sun!
Standing at the bottom of an outrageous looking jamming crack, we knew time was against us. Pat set off up the first pitch with visible haste. Entering the jamming crack, with wild seas beneath, desperately placing enough gear to protect the initial hard moves.
Peering across my shoulder as he went, I could see the sun getting lower and lower. By the time he had reached the belay point, the sun had disappeared over the horizon. With waves crashing below me, I set off, knowing that I was up against it.
Initially I attempted to sprint up the hard jamming crack, but this proved to be an ill chosen strategy. Sun or no sun, I would have to take my time.
Arriving at the belay point, I clipped in, swapped gear and Pat set off again, with the light dwindling. In my head I estimated that we had about 20 minutes of light.
The top section looked increasingly hard. Pat struggled through, pulling on gear at the top, to finish the route. Seeing Pat pulling on the gear, I knew it must have been tough. As I climbed the light got worse, and before long I was only able to see the larger holds. Nevertheless, I made it to the top, with a little help from an insitu peg and a bit of assistance from Pat!
When we got back to the barn we were greeted with a round of applause and the offer of chilli from Karen and co. The food went down a treat, washed down with the nicest tasting can of Strongbow I have ever had. Exhausted and elated we heading down to the Marisco tavern for some well earned drinks! It was certainly a day to remember.