Occasional postings about Maz and Si's big adventures

Monday, 20 September 2010

Why Aid Climbing is Scary....

Loaded up ready to start Leaning Tower West Face

Now, I thought that pulling on the gear was fairly straight forward, if not a little strenuous.  But I've now discovered it can be a little hair-raising.  Up until Leaning Wall the gear has all been good, and the protection that has been fixed has been there when i needed it, and been in good condition.  Not so on the first pitch of West Face of Leaning Tower (C2)...

100 feet up on pitch one, at about 110 degrees overhanging, after some good bolts, if not a little bit spaced, I reached the spot of a "Bashie" (a piece of metal beaten into a crack in the rock with a hammer, and attached to a piece of wire).  The head was in place, but the wire was long gone.  Giving me about 10 feet to the next piece of fixed gear from what i was hanging on.

Hmmm.... I'm not going to be coming down on the first pitch!!

I scouted around for options, the only one being an old shallow bolt hole in the rock, about big enough to stick my fingertip in.

Time for some hooking action.

The hook sat in it OK, but the base was still far away from the rock when i weighted it (due to the overhanging nature of the pitch).

This is quite scary.  Next placement.  That RP isn't so good. Lets test it with body weight...

POP.... I drop back on to the hook which appears to be working its way out of the bolt hole.  Heart rate is definitely up.

This is definitely more like it.  Try again with that RP 2 (a few mm squared of brass on the end of a wire wedged in the crack).  Deep breath.  Body weight.  Its holding! Next piece looks like a small Cam.

My heart is pounding in my ears as I stand as high in my aiders as gravity and my own strength will allow.  The RP is directional so I'm trying to keep it down and right as I lean up and left to place the Cam (a spring loaded device that "cams" into cracks), in a shiny thin horizontal crack I can't quite see into.

Its going to hold.  Body Weight.

Gravity kicks in as the cam pulls out.  I don't have time for a deep breath.


Slight jolt (the RP pulls.)  Big jolt (the hook pulls.)  Before i know it I'm 10 foot below the last good bolt, hanging at a funny angle in space due to all the gear hung over one shoulder.

Damn.  Only one thing for it.  

I tried again....



  1. Buddy, I've got sweaty hands just reading this!! Nerves of steel and Ice cool blood.

    Stay Safe,
    Dan (Fryett)

  2. Hi Si & Maz

    Wow, awesome blog dudes. Lovin' reading your tales of daring do and poo bags! The climbing sounds amazing and your lob made me smile; I think it might beat my lob off the Sentinal no? If only I was there to catch it on film! Keep up the good work with the blog, looking forward to hearing of future adventures. JB & Nic xx

  3. well impressed guys...keep up the hard climbing. Maz - you're looking too skinny. Si- impressed with the 6-pack! ;-)