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Dragonfly HVS 5a

It was Sunday afternoon, I was driving up to Hewlett-Packard for a rendezvous with Dr. Beale whom I was going rockclimbing with this fine sunny afternoon. It had been a great weekend so far. Friday had seen some good nightlife action in the various bars and pubs ending up at the "Severnshed" my next door trendy latenight bar, which was surprisingly good.

Saturday had seen some afternoon action with Dr. Wilkinson with whom I was rock climbing for the first time in the great crag of Chudleigh. We had ticked a decent rack of routes the highpoint being (for me anyway) my lead of Osfoergous - my first E1 lead of year 2000. A massive struggle, but it did go free in the end.

We had been talking on the phone about what we should treat ourselves with this afternoon. I had suggested a shot a Piton Route down in Avon as Martin had just climbed this one the previous week and it sounded excellent. But Martin had something up his sleeve - Dragonfly HVS 5a, no stars, and old classic as the guidebook suggested. Didn't stand out as a necessarily good route, but Martin was confident that this was an old forgotten gem. I was on.

So we left in the Rock Mobile from HP in high spirits towards Woodcroft on the other side of the Severn Channel. We arrived at the top of Wintour's Leap half an hour later, racked up at the top and walked down to the Fly Wall and found the start of Dragonfly. Looked brilliant. Straight line, corner with good looking protection from bottom to top. Martin tied on the sharp end to start this 180ft beast and I belayed him hanging from a festive little tree. These days I feel more comfortable hanging in my harness than I do standing on the ground. I love rock.

Anyway - Martin headed off, testing the rock as he went along. The guidebook suggests "suspect rock" so it was good to see the Rock Doctor approaching the holds with caution. It all in the end felt like good solid stuff though. Martin had a quick "go on" comment to himself and went for the crux which on the first pitch I think is getting up into the groove by some fantastically pure three finger underclinging. From then on you've done the hardest part and although it doesn't really easy off it's just pure enjoyment in placing solid gear and bridging and crimping all the way up the the big ledge which works as the midway stance. Superb stuff. We had a look at some of the other routes from this stance - this was the first time either of us had been on this particular place in WL. "Gerdarmerie" (E3) looked really good.

We swapped gear and I headed up the steep and relatively exposed looking wall above. The sun was still there just and it was a brilliant setting. I got my feet 'solidly' smeared on some alright footholds and the game was on! I was quickly up laying back of a massive colum which didn't look attached to the actual face but was so tall that the 70 kilos that I would pull hopefully wouldn't make a difference. I got some gear in behind her and this was now full-on commitment. It was great! Hands, feet, laybacking, jamming, crimping everything! I even managed a frontal mounting job which got the ground control pretty excited and the team mood was on a definite high as associations of the opposite sex was ineviatable.

The pillar ends in a sharp ledge and boy oh boy - just as you thought you'd done the best of the route you are looking into a finishing 15ft of ultrasolid laybacking (or jamming) with some superb rough textured slabby stuff for the feet. A bit tricky, but nothing a bit of yoor can't sort out! As I was hanging in the crux suddenly my mobile phone plays the tune from Starwars and it's Fred on the phone! I couldn't help picking it up (hanging in one arm) just for the festive potential. Fred had done a few routes with Sean in Avon which just made that last bit of Yoor that completed the route and made my Sunday absolutely complete!

We finished of walking past Martins possible new establishment - The Prospect Hut - which is 3 minuttes walk from the top of Dragonfly! Cool eh? After a meal on the Rising Sun, we headed the rockmobile back to Bristol.

Mathias 19 March 2000


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