Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Maiden's Wall FA (E6 6c**)

I've been working a lot on the walls at the Maiden's Bluff at the moment. There's a big slab, about 8 metres high, with around 6 lines on. The routes are fairly indistinct, with few features, other than a wonderfully fine pattern of ancient working. The climbing is bizarre and bold - few large features and no gear on most of the routes.

I think the easiest move anywhere on the slab is 6a or b and there aren't many of them. A lot of the sequences are great 6c, 7a and harder things, with delicate feet and very subtle body positioning. The rounded nature of the climbing makes it highly marginal and quite scary at the top (where all the cruxes are). It can be very interesting and convoluted for slab climbing, with a lot more than just padding and crimping - heal hooks, cross overs, sprags, catches of monos, toe pointing and dynoing.

Today we worked on a few of the routes and picked off the entry route to the slab. It goes at about E6 6c. A good line of pockets that glides up the slab and a true line of weakness. It's hard to know how good the lines are, as you can basically climb anywhere on the slab, but considering the relative lack of features either side of this, it feels like quite a good route. There's gear for the top crux too on this one, even though we decided to just solo it. The rock is at its softest on this left side, but it's fine. Very enjoyable.

I also had a go at perhaps the best line on the wall. I'd shunted the top of this and it seemed like a goer at bold English 7a. I managed to flash the start, which was also in the English 7a range - spectacular move, with a heel lock in a flake and then some rancid crimping that led out to a toe stab into a pocket and a throw for a poor mono gaston. This propels you into the heart of the wall and then onto the crux. A few of the routes end at a big break and gaining this can be pretty heart-in-the-mouth stuff. On this particular line, you end up with a rubbish rounded gaston and a very high foot. I got to this point and chickened out, managing to retreat and then jump off. Falling of this top move would not be pleasant I don't think and it's really quite hard!

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