Yesterday I had an adventure!
If you have been reading UKB and UKC recently you will notice a guidebook war is in progress. I won’t go into details but the threads are here and here.
I have stayed out of it as my opinions are my own and I know which guide I will buy anyway. I was dragged into it slight as I was used as a reference by Alan James for something I posted on UKC back in 2010 copy and pasting some information from UKB (I did not want to get involved in the thread then either can’t remember if I did). Alan had used my real name on the thread not my user name.
I do not hide my real name but I posted as my user name and I felt as I was not involved in the debate I did not want my real name there. Alan kindly changed it after a quick polite e-mail asking him to.
Anyway back on topic as the debate went on Pete Harrison replied to one of his critics about a new crag he had re-bolted a sea cliff crag with an atmospheric setting on the great orme. It was called Dutchman’s Zawn and had not appeared in any guidebook despite the routes being first climbed in 1986. I was intrigued as I love sea cliffs and I love sport. I was more intrigued when he said the grade range was 6b+-7a (my grade range).
My Friend Simon was also intrigued and posted on the UKC thread saying t sounded amazing. Instantly started hatching a plan was hatched. I PM’ed Pete on UKB and asked if he minded sending me the some details about it. He kindly replied yes. I sent Simon a text and he was like was keen as.
This week I had planned to go to Cheshire sandstone on the Sunday as a new venue. I randomly text Simon to see what he was up to on. Turns out he was about to text me. We then both thought about Dutchman’s. I sent Pete another PM saying we planned on going and asking for grades of the routes and an idea of an where the ab point was. He replied asking for my e-mail address and he sent me a PDF of the topo for the new guide. What a hero, cheers Pete!!!
We got to the orme and parked up under the pill box a little lost we wondered (I slipped) down the grass bank till we saw a jumble of rocks which looked like they had wear marks from a rope. We set up and ab and looked over the edge. We were in the right place. As Simon was leading the first route I went down first. We started on the right hand route. I lowered down on my grigri till I found the so called semi-hanging belay (it was a proper hanging belay). I got there and had completely cocked up the rope. I was trying to fix it and ended up in a bit of a cluster fuck.
Simon abbed in and clipped sorted the first bolted sorted the rope and then he went for the lead. At this point both my feet were completely numb. I could not feel anything and I managed to cluster fuck the rope again (sigh). Simon lead though the crux to a hand off rest and the rest of the route with a few tough moves. He lowered back to the belay.
I then decided to give it a go on top rope as I was trying to sort the rope to pass to Simon I dropped part of it in the sea. I slipped on the first move as I was leaving the belay and loaded a clove hitch. I had to aid the crux (nails) I ended up doing the crux section three times as every time I got past it I slipped and ended up below on rope stretch … ARSE!! After I finally got stood up past the crux. I had a hands off rest I tried to sort the clove hitch but it would not move. I eventually just carried on leaving the quick draw stuck in the clove hitch. The rest of the route was nice probably 6b at worst but I had the worst flash pump of my life combined with cold/numb fingers. Pete then walked down to the top to say hello. I was not the most friendly person at this point. I then belayed Simon back up to the lower off on top rope.
We moved across to the next handing belay. This had two routes coming out of it. A 6c+ and a 7a. I again went first to set up my hanging belay. I was better prepared with the rope this time. Until I dropped some of it in the sea … again. I then sorted the rope again as Simon abbed in he was setting the draws on the 7a while abbing to save time. He did the 7a without too many problems except pulling a large block off which thankfully landed in the sea and missed me and a shitty belayer who managed to cluster fuck the rope AGAIN!!!!
He lowered off the 7a back to the belay and we pulled the rope making every effort to avoid the end falling in the sea. We failed.
Simon tied back in and lead 6c+ with some spectacular moves including an all-out throw for a jug. He later told me he thought he was off 3 times.
This time I managed not to cluster fuck the rope and things just worked from my end (about time practise and all that). The waves were chrashing higher and higher in the back of the cave. Thankfully I was just top roping from here to end the session (we probably got out of there at the right time).
Simon belayed me on top rope but again I was cold, numb and flash pumped. The rope was pumpy as fuck anyway. So my arms were not my own. I eventually made it up to Simon happy to of made but disappointed at how I had climbed.
We headed back to the car after simon built a crap cairn on top of the boulders we abbed off. We eventually managed to remove my clove hitch (using tent pegs to slacken the knot). We decided to call it day after the routes happy in our climbing.
Dutchman’s Zawn is truly amazing. One of the best experiences I have had and definitely felt an adventure. It’s not a sport crag for beginners you need to have some trad experience to be able to deal with the situation. The hanging belays feel full on the easiest way out is 6c+ or E3 (or a long swim).
If you have read all this you will note that the routes we did were 6c+, 7a and 6c+ not the 6b+-7a as advertised.
The routes felt hard for the grade. Compared to say Malham I can do all the moves on a 7a in a session. I climbed a 6c+ on lead without falling at Malham (rested on a bolt while working).
Definitely go there with a grade or two in hand as it is not a place for red pointing, but it will be an experience you will remember for a long time.
Sorry for lack of photos I did not take my camera