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Trip Mathias and Martin's little epic on Terrier's Tooth.

We had been climbing all day on Chair Ladder using my 11 mm rope in the descend gully "Mitre", where we had fixed it for the day. As we finish Diocese in the afternoon, Martin suggests "Let's go and eat some food and enjoy the scenery", which I fully appreciated. The tide is around halfway from its maximum and we can't access the bottom of the routes anymore, so the day has ended.

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Mathias in Cornwall - notice the condition of the sea.

As we arrive back to our "base camp" I optimistically pull the abseil rope which is still in-situ, and the bloody thing is stuck all the way down in the bottom of the gully. This bottom is now being attacked by big wooshy waves in an increasingly frequent interval. I abseil down the stuck rope and I get to the edge of the cliff and I still can't pull it loose. It is completely stuck.

I then get Martin down to me and I decide to let Martin lower me down into the chaos below. I bring my knife in case I can't release the rope from whatever is jamming it. It feels potentially quite mad and a bit dangerous when Martin starts lowering me down over the edge and directly down (60 ft) to the ledge below where the rope is stuck in a crack. When I arrive at the ledge the first big wave whooshes in and covers me completely in ice-cold Atlantic Ocean water. A loud "Yyyyyyoooorrrr" assures Martin that I am still alive.

Epic diagram

In the short time before the next approaching wave I quickly bend down to sort out the rope problem, and luckily the rope has just jammed itself and I can quickly get it loose with a bit of fiddling. Just as I free the rope the next wave arrives and I manage to squeeze myself into the corner of the crack and hold tight. Completely soaked again I shout to Martin to pull up the 11 mm and I prepare to run around the corner and quickly start climbing up "Terrier's Tooth (VD)" which I need to find before the next wave comes in. I receive one or two big waves more before I run desperately out into the exposed rocky face where Terrier's Tooth should be situated. While running forwards and backwards Martin is following me on the rope from above. He needs to change to a prepared belay stance in between my change of position, and I am panically trying to find the VDiff shouting to Martin tighten the rope. I faff about a bit and another relatively modest wave just makes me hurry up and I find the two big holds, pull up, stand up - find the next ones, pull, get the legs with me, still wet rock all over, big incoming wave and I just make it to higher rock as a big mother f***ker hits the face and whooshes up and licks my feet. The jugs are big and I manage in record time to pull myself up on in safety on the ledge where Martin awaits with a big grin on his face.

As we look down, a really big baby hits the rocks and the whole face of Diocese, MitreGully and Terriers Tooth is completely swept in foamy ocean water. I am very glad not tobe standing in the little gully or on the exposed rocks in front of Terrier's Tooth. Thatcould have turned the whole project into much more than a rope rescue...

Soaking wet, Martin lends me his jacket and I belay him up the rest of Terrier's Toothwhich he leads quickly, understanding my increasing cold condition and I soon follow himand we top out hand in hand. As we arrive at our basecamp I give Martin a hug and we bothshed a little tear as the sun sets behind the blue and gold ocean swept granite.

Mathias 27APR98

[only one of the paragraphs is fiction - honest!]

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