Saturday, 13 June 2015

Daddyhole Main Cliff - Some lessons learned

Our initial plan was to head to North Wales this weekend to do a series of link ups in the Llanberis pass and Idwal valley. However, the weather up north wasn't in our favour. So saving this idea for another day, we stayed local and headed to Daddyhole in Torbay.

I'm renowned for not wearing the most appropriate footwear for the approach to a climb, and today I continued the tradition. Armed with flip flops, we made our approach down a slippery runnel, controlled falling from tree to tree, to a scree slope running down to a boulder strewn beach. We boulder hopped to the base of the crag and made a plan for the day. Having not climbed in a while, we decided to get on something safe and relatively easy. Triton (VS 5a), a two pitch VS with a sting in the top pitch!

Not appropriate, but I can do pretty much most things in these bad boys

Top pitch of Triton.
Chris led the first pitch which goes at about Severe/HS and was relatively straight forward, apart from a few loose blocks. The top pitch, however, was not what I was expecting. At the base of the climb, whilst gearing up, Chris pulled out his size 4 cam and asked whether it'll be useful. I said no, but he racked it anyway. I've never been on a climb where I have wanted anything bigger than a DMM 4cu size 2.5. I had even left my big Torque nuts in the pack.

But isn't hindsight a wonderful thing.

 Upon leaving the belay, I had placed the size 4 to protect it. From the base of the climb, the top pitch looked as if it would swallow a rack. And to be fair, it would. A rack of large cams that wouldn't look out of place in Yosemite and a rack of large hexes seen on the waist of VDiff novices (i'm just stereotyping here, I have no beef with novice climbers, we can all relate to that stage in our climbing careers). A tiny size 10 wallnut and not much else was eaten up by the corner crack, but it still remained hungry and empty. The 5a move at the top of the pitch took a while for me to commit to. It was a layback, and I'm not overly keen (i.e crap at) laybacking. I managed to find a mediocre cam placement, relaxed the disco leg and committed. It didn't help my confidence with the sea lice falling out down my arm, but I pressed on and topped out into the trees.

belay below the top pitch. The size 4 cam went in in the crack above my head.
We found the abseil point back to the beach where we were joined by a party of 3. They were aiming for our next route, Gates of Eden (HVS 5a), so being considerate, we let them crack on as we had already done a climb and they were gearing up. But, they were slow, which they admitted to us before setting off and offered for us to go ahead of them. I didn't want us to hold them up, but hindsight is a bitch. After an hour, we called it a day and headed home as the other climbs all shared the same first pitch...which they were still on...

Hanging abseil back to the beach

The other team starting up the 2nd pitch of Gates of Eden just after we had left.

Last Exit to Torquay (HVS 5b) goes up the corner line to the right and Gates of Eden goes directly up to the base of the corner, makes a rising traverse up to black roof, then traverses left into a hanging corner.
On our return back to the car, we thought we'd be smart and not go back via the approach path. Instead we went directly up the scree and boulders to where we thought would lead us straight back to the car park. Ohh how wrong we were. Instead, it brought us to the top of a large crag, upon a small hill, with a small gorge on the other side and a cliff face. So we headed down into the gorge to try and find a weakness up the cliffs. We clambered amongst all the rubbish littering the base of the crag and found a barrier resting up against the cliff like a ladder. It was our only real chance back up and so we soloed up the small cliff, using the 'ladder' as aid, until we reached a ridiculously tight chimney. Chris headed up first, I passed him the rucksacks and we soon popped out of the ground, right by my car, to the surprise of a local.

A few lessons learned today: 

1. Wear appropriate footwear, now matter how 'cool' flip flops are.
2. The guide book is the Bible, Approach descriptions are Commandments...Follow them!
3. If another party offer you to go first, DO IT! Be like a French guide (with a touch of Britishness)

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