Tuesday 24 June 2014

New E7 at Wave Buttress

Starting up what was to become Final Wave E7/8 6b. Photos: Dorota Bankowska

Yesterday, after a rather damp day, a good dry breeze picked up. So I called Kev and half an hour later we were walking in to Wave Buttress. I had my pick of either trying to repeat his E7 Cu Sith, or trying a new one that I’d cleaned last time I was there.

With the breeze strongest on the new route, I chose that and finished cleaning it. I’d forgotten to bring a top with me and I actually got rather chilled as I cleaned the route in a good strong wind. Once I lowered down for a think about leading it, I started a comedy wobbly shivering fit. Right then, two of the world’s best trad mixed climbers, Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell came past. I tried not to look freezing cold on a June evening. 

The route started up a gnarly old E5 called Frantic Across the Atlantic, put up in 1987 by Mark McGowan. Mark is a pretty bold trad climber and even with the in-situ nut and peg (long since fallen out), the route is a full value old school E5. Near the top of the big slab it runs into a vertical arrier headwall and escapes left into the famous Crackattack (E3), leaving the obvious finish direct through the headwall unclimbed. I could see why. Where the peg was, there is now a collection of appauling gear I probably wouldn’t even lower off on, followed by a very thin, teetery move right that would be very easy to fall from. I wouldn’t like to think what would happen.

I knew I could do it if I was feeling confident. So my strategy was just to climb up the E5 part and see if everything was good inside my mind on arrival at the headwall and make a decision from there. At the last gear, I sort of laughed to myself. I didn’t feel any less apprehensive about committing to the crux. So the usual process took over - I just don’t like passing the opportunity to get the climb climbed. So without saying anything, I just swallowed hard and did it. What else can you do?

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