Running Up the Down Esculator

James McHaffie on Box of Blood, E7 6b, Craig Dorys.

For the regular reader, you’ll know I time for time get drag round the harder parts of North Wales rock climbing by Caff. Ever since he started climbing F9a though it has become a harder and harder to follow him up the routes he wants to climb. As such I become something of an extreme belay bunny, although I am obvious less pleasing on the eye than some.

A few weeks back Caff and I had tried to climb on the Lleyn and been partially rained off, although me forgetting rock boots may have had something to do with it. So when Caff picked me up for a Dorys Day today, he of course asked if I had packed my rock boots, harness and my big guns. Given yesterday I failed on a F6b+ at the beacon when climbing with the Long man, I declined to answer the last question.

The drive down was anything but promising, as the windscreen wiper struggled against the deluge, it seemed the cafe would be the only thing we’d be climbing into today. The rain hadn’t relented by Abersoch and continued all the way to teh car park, but undeterred we headed down to Craig Dorys.

Unfortunately the crag was dry, so caff got psyched for Box of Blood, a Leigh McGinley E7 that goes up the stigmata buttress. Which for those that don’t know makes most loose crags look solid. As Caff started going up the crag started coming down, at times it was a bit like a scene from Blackhawk Down, with lots of incoming to avoid. Somehow Caff kept levitating up albeit slowly. There are a couple of ledges low down followed by a steep section with a respite then a steeper section with another respite.

As he powered through the first steep section he was groaning a bit and that makes me worried, when caff groans climbing it mean I will be at my limit. He had already been climbing an hour and I wondered how his arms were still hanging in there and he wasn’t even half way up.

Above the really steep bit he took forever as he started going the wrong way, and eventually found the right way. Reach the final break he plugged in some very welcome good runners the first from the roof to be honest. It then took him about 30 minutes to work out the final 8ft of climbing, a desperate rockover onto a foothold that looks like it is held on by nothing other than hope.

Seconding I managed to make it to the first ledge at 30ft, this was achieved mainly by moving up faster than the hand and foot holds were falling down. A brief rest and I headed up to the next ledge, which despite look easy was actually horrendous, be warned it is probably harder now as I seem to continue remove the hand and foot holds at a rate that was only just beaten by my uphill momentum.

Another shakeout and I psyched myself up for the first steep section and just went for it on reasonable holds of which only fragments started on their downward arc. Bridged out I had another shake as my now tired arms, I lost a bit of energy as I had just done the age old trick of rip and roll with the gear. So there was a string of runners on the rope in front of me. As I bridged I managed to get my foot through the sling of one of the cams and whilst it seemed very easier to do, it would have been rather hilarious for anyone watching.

First I tried to kick it off, then shake it and eventually I had to find a position in which I could remove it with my hand. Bare in mind I am half way up and E7, bridged out across a roof so it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to achieve. The result was me being even more pump than when I arrived at the respite.

I eventually summon up the gusto to traverse out to the roof and through it, I was just shy of another place I could bridge when I gave the first of many ‘TAKE!!!!!’. I managed to climb the top in about three sections from there, although it took me a few attempts to get started on each.

The last move off a thin crack was the hardest move, having climbed the crack you end up with you left hand in a great finger lock and make a step onto the foothold of doom and pray, a massive press and rockover up and about as far right as I could go and you reach a flat edge. On my second of third try I got it, however the finger lock was so good, I got the fear that caff was going to have to cut my finger off in 127 hours style. Totally spanned out it took me a while to wrench it out and yet another ‘TAKE!!!’ despite caff being in whispering distance.

A pop for a massive pocket and then a crank for the top and I had done it. Not very well but I had managed to climb all the moves. Given my poor performance at the wall yesterday I’ll take that as a good thing, given the nature of the crag and route.

Caff tackling the final roof before he has to deal with the headwall on Box of Blood, E7, Craig Dorys

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