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Trip report: Climbing Highway One

Date: June 22, 1998
Climbers: Mathias & Tim Wilkinson
Type of climbing: E4 6a with a few in-situ Enviro bolts.
Area: Portraitist Quarry, South West England

22nd of June. In the afternoon. Tim comes by my cube as we have arranged to go climbing as usual on one of the local crags near Bristol after work. The weather looks excellent and after having been affected by rain and bad weather the whole previous week we are on for doing some serious climbing.

Tim suggests Portishead Quarry and I quickly agree: "Hey Let's do Highway One!" I say to Tim. A significant tick in Tim's left eye tells me that I have hit the target. Tim had climbed this route before 10 years ago together with his super climber of a brother "Joint". That time he managed to lead it on in-situ gear placed by Joint who - not without difficulties - lead the three-stared E4 6a back in '85. Tim has a bill to settle with this classic of Portishead. I on the other hand don't have a clue what the route is like - I had seen it once before when I climbed in the Quarry for the first time the previous year. It definately looked like a stormer of a route, but having never climbed that grade before I don't really know what I have proposed and I am therefore in a perfectly jolly mood as we drive down the M5 towards Portishead.

We arrive at Portishead around 6pm, it's warm and the conditions are perfect. We both have an intense look at "The Highway"before I start leading up "The Brink Of Solarity" a sparsely protected but otherwise straight forward HVS on the mainslab. Tim belays me nervously from below in the close presence of the main objective.

I finish the lead, Tim seconds and we abseil down to get started on the real business - Highway One *** 140ft E4 6a. As the guide book describes: "An area classic. The remarkable scoop, which is the main feature of the red-coloured wall offers sustained, technical climbing with the bonus of copious in-situ protection."

Tim begins on the dangerous start which offers no protection for the first 5 meters but still has some bold moves up to the first nut placement.

Tim begins on the dangerous start which offers no protection for the first 5 meters but still has some bold moves up to the first nut placement. He's looking confident and I belay him with complete attention (Hey I always do that! :-) First crux - takes his time - moves up, back down. Rest. Moves up again - going for it "Watch me Mathias!" - pfeww - Tim reaches a tiny but positive hold before the traverse onto the main face...

45 minutes later. Tim has reached the top - good effort, close to whipping it twice but kept in control. My turn next. I psyche up and start the route.

The route was really technical with to wild cruxes - the second one I dyno-slipped to reaching a reasonable comfortable ledge. The last bit was pretty strenuous and provided a grand finish on the previous technicalities.

Totally pumped, Tim lends me his hand and I join him on thetop near the young trees. We set up a rope and start abseiling down to our base. Midway we stop, and I give Tim a hug and we both burst out in tears as the golden sun sets behind the quarried limestone.

Mathias 22JUN98

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