Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Tranquil Avon Gorge

Our day didn't start to well. I picked up Chris and drove him to Weston so he could pick up his new bike and then ride to Avon. However, we got a few hundred on our way from Weston and his bike kept stalling. We turned around, took the bike back and was soon on our way. Little did we know that the Portway was closed due to a Triathlon. I don't know Bristol very well, so had no idea where else I could park. After driving round aimlessly, we finally ended up at the park at the top of the Gorge. Right, lets get climbing.

After our premature start, we were finally at the base of the Main Cliff. Every man and his dog were out, taking advantage of the closed road, and the climbers littered the cliff face like flies on wall. It was almost like a 3D topo with ropes drawing the lines of the more popular routes. We headed for Piton Route (VS 4c) and it lived up to it's name. It was practically a sport route! Chris led the crux pitch and the top pitch, and on my lead, I think I placed a cam and a nut. The climb was pleasant, with no worries of run outs above gear or crappy placements, just a bit of polish here and there. You could focus solely on the climbing itself and enjoy the route. Plus, it was affable to actually be able to hear your climbing partner!

Chris at the 1st belay on Piton Route

Piton Route seen from the road
Chris's girlfriend had joined us once back at the base, retrieving our packs, and she brought brownies :) We headed to Suspension Bridge buttress and decided to get on Hells Gates (HVS 5a). What a fantastic route! I led the first pitch, inching my way up the pockets and lacing the cracks to the Cave. To be honest, this pitch was short lived, with a one move wonder just below the belay and nice fluid moves throughout. The cave was very welcoming though, and very different to any belay that I have experienced before. I rigged the belay to accommodate 3 people as we had persuaded Chris's girlfriend to have a climb, plus I was also able to use my new DMM Pivot in guide mode for the first time too. Georgia put in a good effort, but got stopped by the crux and so I had to lower her back down (which the new Pivot does remarkably well). My belay for 3 now held just the 2 of us, more space for me :) Chris led through whilst I sat in the cave to belay him for the first moves up and over the cave lip (just so I was out the way), I then moved back outside so I could watch him up the rest of the climb. The move over the lip was a bit spicy, given the position and false sense of security the cave had offered. But overall, it offered great climbing in an exposed position. The 2nd belay (which we had decided to ab from) didn't inspire a lot of confidence seeing as a peg was just hanging from the tat. Chris reassured me that at least there were 3 others. Cheers mate. Oh and guess who's the heaviest to ab off first? Yeah, cheers again ;) We backed it up regardless and clearly had no issues, apart from those bloody stinging nettles at the base!!

Hells Gates with the cave belay clearly visable

Hanging belay at the cave 
Team selfie?

the cave, complete with visitor book and belay boredom...

My belay set up

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