home c.v. coaching contact blog

Monday, 2 January 2012

Climbing? The Isle of Man? Really??

I spent the latter half of August 2011 on the Isle of Man, I regularly find myself visiting this rocky protrusion in the middle of the Irish Sea to spend quality time with the in-laws, which is nice. Luckily Doug Hall (yes, the Doug Hall) is now resident on the Isle of Man so the opportunity for climbing is plentiful. For this particular trip I was in sport mode so was keen to clip some bolts. Fortuitously Doug has been quietly developing a sport crag on the island. Of course this been the Isle of Man and this been Doug Hall it was hardly going to be a roadside easy access crag of steady 6's and 7's oh no...
The Walk-In:
From the parking a brisk 10 minute walk uphill gets the blood pumping...
This gets you to the top of the "descent path", which is a grass slope which is I'd guess between 60 and 70 degrees and long, very long, I'd guess 400ft. Ok that doesn't sound that long but bear in mind, as you carefully make your way down this slippery glass slope with a laden pack on your back, that this is also the way out...
At the base of the grass descent is a small rocky bay from which a spot of precarious coasteering on wave splashed rocks eventually leads to the belay platform...
Ok platform is a generous term. It's actually a narrow shelf (say 20cm wide or so) about 15ft above the sea.

The Climbing:
The climbing is based around two sea caves in the cliff. The belay shelf is on a side wall and the main wall with the climbing runs perpendicular to it.
The warm up problem starts up the side wall before heading across and up the headwall of the main face to a lower off. It goes at about 6b+, so a nice warm up right? Well yes but as it traverses the lip of a large sea cave and the bolting is on the sparse side it would be perfectly possible to fall off into air leaving you the option of lower into the sea or prussick.
There are two other routes that start from the belay shelf, a 7c and a 7c+. Again they both traverse above the sea with plenty of falling into air sea-dip/prussick type potential.
And finally there's the 8a+. Which starts between the two caves. There are two options to get there:
(1) If the tide is at it's lowest point you can coasteer round the back of the first cave then climb a 7b+ first pitch which is seldom dry and even when it is dry feels damp. Or...
(2) Climb one of the other three routes (they all share the same lower off) then make a tensioned traversing down-climb to a bolt at the mid-point of the 8a+. From this you can then lower down the overhanging face clipping the bolts to take a hanging belay at the start of the route.
And once you've worked/climbed the route you need to get back which means getting back to the mid height bolt then climbing back up the tensioned traverse line (with no gear) to the lower off at the top of the other routes before lowering off down the rope that you tied off to the belay shelf, you did tie the rope off to the belay shelf didn't you??

The Walk Out:
By the time you leave the tide will have come in so the wave splashed rocks will be soaked for the coasteering, the hill will have grown from 400ft to 800ft and someone will have filled your pack with bricks. The downhill stumble back to the car is nice though...

Sounds epic doesn't it? Well it is, and certainly more committing than your standard day out bolt clipping, but it's also brilliant. I loved every minute of it.

The routes all finish up fantastic headwalls eighty-odd feet up with nothing below you feet but the crashing sea. The lower walls of the the harder routes are steep and great fun. It's certainly not to everyones tastes but if you like that sort of thing then you'll like this sort of thing.

Here's a photo topo:
From Left to Right:
Lime Green - Warm Up (6b+)
Red - Inbetweeners (7c)
Blue - The Groove (7c+)
Orange - The Shield (8a+) first pitch dashed line 7b+

If anybody finds this enticing or interesting then give me a shout, I'll give you more details. And if you fancy making a trip over there I can give you contact details for Doug, he'll happily act as guide for any keen climbers.

Of course if sport doesn't ring your bell and you'd rather a spot of adventure trad then here's a brief(ish) selection of some of the new trad that Doug has established on the island over the last few years:

Marine Drive, Douglas

The Big Bend - E6/7
Snake Eyes E5 6b

Santon Pinnacle Area
Voodoo Child E2 5c
Black Magic E4 6a
Witch Doctor E3 5c
Quartz Icicle E5 6a
Slap Happy E4 6b
Migrant Worker E3 5b

Santon Gully
The Left Hand Flake E1 5a
The Flake Just Right E2 5b
Pushing Daisies E3 6a
Wall Left Of Groove E3 6a
No Going Back E3 6b
Flight Plan E3 6a
Feel The Pain E4 6c

The Chasms
The Tooth Area

Sabre E5 6b
The Incisor E6 6b/c
Molar E5 6b

Primeval Wall
Omen E6 6b
Driven E6 6a
Manta E6/7 6c
Predator E6 6c
Horoscope E4 6a
Toother System E5 6b
Mansard E6 6b
Flawless E6 6c
Hang Dog E4 6a
Finite E3 5c

The Prow Area
Dynamite E4 6a
The Prow E5 6b
Elephants Ear E6 6b
Stainless Steel E5 6b

Railing Wall Area
The Quest E5 6b
Edge Of Reason E7 6b
One Life E4 6b
Forever Young E5 6b

This is just a selection of what Doug estimates at the 100+ routes he's done on the Isle of Man over the last few years, the majority E4+. And there is potential for plently more if you're willing to put the effort in. So enough for a weekend away I guess...

Again if anybody wants more information about climbing on the Isle of Man get in touch.

No comments:

Post a Comment