Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Gogarth Again.

JeffB and AndyC have been at it again, someone should remind them that climbing is so much more pleasant when the weather is warm and dry. Anyway, here is JeffB's report with photos from AndyC.

CASTELL HELEN, SOUTH STACK GOGARTH.


Tuesday 16th of September saw Andy C and Jeff B driving to Hollyhead in the pouring rain, trying hard to be optimistic about our prospects of climbing something at Gogarth. Sitting in the cafe at South Stack over a second cup of tea, the rain had stopped and although there was no wind to help dry the rock we felt it was worth having a look-see. Geared up on the car park (as you do) and it was off to the abseil point just below the old lookout.


Things looked really damp, so we prudently decided to ab to the halfway ledge and see how things looked from there before committing to a full 60 meter rappel down into the niche. From the ledge you can access the top pitches of RAP and PEL (both VS). As the rock was so wet though, we(Andy) found a cunning line using sections of both routes and making the most of any dry rock he could find. That said, he still managed to stay true to the correct line of RAP on the final wall which is steep and was absolutely soaked. Goes at 4b too. Nice one Andy.

Thus encouraged we felt more than happy to use our in-stitu ab rope to get ourselves down to near sea level and into the little niche from which we could make an assault on POSIEDON VS 1* ( 4b, 4c, 4a).


Jeff led the first pitch finding the climbing pretty straightforward and the positions ever improving as height was gained. Belaying from a comfy ledge I brought up a happy Andy who led through on pitch two announcing it to be even better than the first. The climbing being a bit harder and the exposure a bit more......er.....exposed. Smashing. The top pitch is really a bit of a scramble (it's the last bit of Lighthouse Arete) but we were quite happy to follow this line rather than try the direct finish which goes at HVS as this follows a shallow groove which was soaking wet.

My writing is not doing ths climb justice, it really is a belter and highly recommended.

So, back at the abseil point, a handful of nuts and a swig of water.........what next.....?

BLANCO 2** HVS (4c, 5a, 4a).

Reet then, back down the rope, into our cozy little niche and Andy led the first pitch. Off he went in good style but was a little thwarted by the amount of water seeping onto the route. We had no rain but where the last route had been quite juggy this was a lot more technical and the small holds and walls were very wet in parts.This meant resorting to a few deviations but Andy belayed as close to the correct spot as he could as I tried to make sense of the second pitch. Its a complicated line and I will, of course, blame the wet bits for sending me slightly off. My route finding skills are, of course, second to none. ( Say what.........?)

There followed a few ups and a few downs and a few left moves and a few fight moves and one large handful of rock which detatched itself as I was pulling on it and an eventual bee line to sanctuary, running out of quickdraws and panting and shaking and a glance down at Andy's rueful grin told me that I didn't need to get the guidebook out to know that I was way off line. Bugger, no tick for Blanco then.

The light was now fading fast and as we were packing up, the beam from the lighthouse swept across us every few seconds in the dusk causing Jeff a weird post adrenaline rush, in which he imagined the beam to be a searchlight which surely would soon be accompanied by shouts of "Stop or I'll shoot!" and the barking of guard dogs on the scent, and the crash and bluster of pursuit, and the whine of bullets just overhead. Dogs getting closer in the dark, their breath hot and wet. Dark shapes of men, darker than the deep dusk closing in, smell of menace, the taste of copper and feet stumbling and falling and falling and..........................................................................