Rob Wall's Blog

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Posted by robjwall on September 26, 2010

Its been a very wet September here.  Kira is keen to do a two day easy route on The Chief, but we have had no chance.  Last Saturday we snuck in a quick ascent of the classic Apron 5.9 “Vector”.   It had been wet in the morning, and we were the only climbers on the whole Apron.  The cux pitch is indeed as straight as an arrow, and wide (I was very glad of my new #4 Camalot that we purchased that morning).  It got dark just as we got back to the bikes.

Yesterday we thought we try something a bit more challenging.  After days of heavy rain that once again ended on a Saturday morning we needed something high, that would catch sun and wind.    We decided on a  route on the back of the Chief with a famously long walk in: “Sunblessed”.  Demelza, Kira and I left the house at 10.30am and wasted some time in the Coffee shop /juicebar/kitesurfing shop on the way.  By the time we had ridden to the campground, and then walked up the trail, following the tricky but accurate directions in the guidebook it was 2pm., and the sun was actually out!   The first bolt is 10m off the deck up and incredible dike feature. (There has been a lower one added, but chopped…)   I went up and clipped it before lunch so we could enjoy our pita bread and tuna knowing the scary bit was done.    The girls had no trouble with this pitch (easy 10a) and we all managed to avoid the little stream that was flowing over one hold with no problem.   The rest of the rock was incredibly dry.

The second pitch is a 35m thin hand crack in a stunning position, on perfect rock, with incredible  views to the South.  We are pretty fussy now after months of climbing, but we all agree this was a really really nice pitch: long, clean, good pro….  It took a while to get all of us up it though!  A quick roped scramble and we had 3 options to get off (the clouds were back with a vengeance now and it felt like rain any minute). 1. continue up the route via the 10b fist crack with “difficult pro”.  2. climb the nice looking 10a Arete to the right, which has had the first bolt hanger removed by some idiot. (I was thinking I could put a wire over it?)  3.  Go back down to the anchor at the top of the 2nd pitch and rap (I think it was 65m to the ground, and we had a 60m and a 70m rope with us).  The girls are good at abseiling, but it would be better if they could make the ground in one rap, as they are not experienced at multipitch raps.

There is one rusty bolt in the tricky part of the 10b so I decide to try it.   I place both the 3 and 4 Camelots before the bolt in the flaring crack (the 4 is actually not too bad).  Above that its just lots of grunting, some fist jams, and continuous painful left foot jams to get up the corner.  I  need both the 1, and both the 2 Camelots also in this short crack.  The crack is  damp, and I am slightly more scared than usual…!  As I reach the anchor chain there is a sudden heavy rain shower and the crack becomes  a mini waterfall in less than a minute.  The timing is exquisite.  I am able to lower the spare loop of rope down so the girls have that to pull up on while I take in.  They don’t muck around trying the soaking fist crack but both quickly pull up on the rope while I take in.  Its now late, cold, and nearly dark.  Normally you could solo up from here, but I take the rope up and around a tree and bring them up on TR.  We walk about half way down but get to a section of slab that probably only  20 or 30 degrees from horizontal, but slippery so we do the most horizontal abseil of my life (with a tangled rope of course!) down to a cairn that marks the trail.  I run back to the start of the route to get the packs, and we do the long walk down by headtorch, down the gully, which is now more of a river than a trail.  We ride very slowly home in very heavy rain for a warm bath and hot meal at 9pm.

Some photos of the route I found are here.  We had no time for photos, and the camera would have been ruined anyway!

One Response to “Sunblessed”

  1. matt lancaster said

    hi my name is matt we meet at the smoke bluffs. are u still up for a climbing on wednesday
    my cell is 6048488068,
    hope to see u soon.

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