|Date:||September 5, 1998|
|Climbers:||Mathias & Martin Beale|
|Area:||Baggy Point, North Devon, U.K.|
|By both choice and necessity, rock climber Martin Beale takes an experimental approach to his life on rock. For him, the Rock's confining limitations are inspirations, leading him to uncover the medium's hidden flexibility. "I figure if it's beyond my control," says the English-born climber, "I'd rather have fun with it - and enjoy the fact thatit's beyond my control, and not try to force it into doing something. Actually - I just love climbing rock. It's my life."|
The tide was in. It was soon going to be smashing into the Urizen corner soon. A crossing of the Fools Rush In traverse was the obvious objective. The route is all the better when the tide is in - more atmospheric. Needless to say, we would not get in the way of other parties (there were no other parties at the crag that day and certainly no semi-buoyant ones).
I led across the first pitch. I remember finding this unusually hard in 1994 and it was still just as hard. The classic traversing problem rears it's ugly head just as you are about to step into the Doors of Perception corner : is this a hand traverse or a foot traverse? It seemed to work as a foot traverse with a little nifty footwork. The belay is in a fine position, the beta that can be obtained on Speed and Distance is immaculate - what a great looking line!
I felt a little sorry for Mathias crossing the final section of the first pitch. It is a little disheartening when the tricky moves you are executing are graded 4c and you know that you are about to set off on the crux 140ft 5b pitch (sustained as it happens!). The start of pitch 2 looked hard - there is an overlap that looks holdless that slices across the slab; the slab below is devoid of footholds.
Mathias made the start look a little awkward. I was sure the next bit would prove even nastier. Mathias moved his feet up and pinched the glorious downward pointing flake that formed the overlap (unseen from the belay). It still required a little oomph and commitment in order to cross. There was a nerve wracking moment when Mathias' foot slipped, but he held it and was soon on friendlier ground (a foothold, however small, can be considered "friendly ground" on Fools Rush In). He moved up to Terrapin's peg, then waited a while before deciding to go down and hand traverse the next section of the break. He was soon in Lost Horizons, slotting in rocks as he went (canny purchasing decisions earlier in life would have meant he could have had 7 friends to protect the traverse rather than his 5 camalots - such is the wisdom of hindsight).
"Go on Mathias, crimp like a beast". He couldn't hear. The sea was sucking and slobbering like some disgusting animal. He moved out of Lost Horizons. "Go on Mathias, a little commitment will get you across". For a third time, "Go on Mathias, it's not far to safety". He moved further across. "You've never been that far across, you can't fall off now, you're all but there". A quick move and he was in the corner of Urizen.
The problems don't cease in the corner. The right retaining wall is somewhat pumpy and on fairly fragile looking rock. At the end of the right retaining wall, there had obviously been a rockfall. There must be jugs round there. He was pulling off virgin rock. "It can't be that bad, he must be making a meal of it". It was pretty bad though. Luckily the rockfall scar was narrow enough such that a good rightwards lurch gained good jugs and finally the stance on Shangri La.
The ropes traced a fine line across the slab towards Mathias hanging out in the distance. I got progressively more pumped along the traverse. I considered foot traversing the final bit of the traverse into Lost Horizons to escape the pump, but it felt that the team crossing would be in better style if I adopted the style of my leader. A few good power crimps (poor footholds, but good handholds) landed me close to Lost Horizons. Some of the rocks Mathias had put in here had come out (the way of the world - a good full rack of friends tends to sort this type of problem out). It was clearly not the sort of place to fall off - a nasty (but fast) smack into the Urizen corner would have been more than painful. Crimp, crimp, move down and I was safely in the crack of Lost Horizons. Moving out from Lost Horizons is both committing and hard. There is one crucial crimp that you have to swap hands on. Almost all of your weight is on this crimp. The footholds are both small and polished due to the countless teams that rappel down this section of slab. It was good to eventually swing my feet down into the Urizen corner. A few more stiff pulls across the retaining wall and a lurch saw me reunited with Mathias.
The last pitch is a joy. Straightforward jug hauling and jamming up the Shangri La crack. I was soon at the top watching Mathias hanging out on his belay, the spitting image of the photo in South West Climbs, the breakers crashing into Baggy Hole behind him.
No time to waste. We congratulated oursleves, packed the ropes and set off up our access rope knowing that we had the opportunity for one last tick before nightfall. We met a couple of guys at the top. "What routes have you just done?" "Terrapin, Lost Horizons and Fools Rush In" we replied with a sense that we'd bagged some fine routes. It was odd that they didn't ask us what routes we were going to do in the rest of the evening as they turned and walked back to Croyde, fishing rods in hand. Such is the South West.
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