At 6am the rising sun is nowhere to be seen. The rock towers that hold it back lay a cold shadow upon us.
We stare up at a piece of virgin rock and trace an imaginary line of potential over slabs and overhangs, a route with all the makings of an epic day out.
Stewart’s vision was inspired. Amongst the jungle of routes, he has taken an interest in a blank section, and has made that small step/ giant leap in suggesting we try for a new route.
A topo tells a fraction of a story. It is a snapshot of success. We quickly learned that a line drawn on a photo of a rock face is paid for with struggle.
Stewart led the first pitch fighting his way through grabbing vegetation with feet on wet rock, carrying the burden of injury sustained in rock fall the month prior.
He won the early battle, but not the war. After his well fought success on the slab, the route counters with a brutal overhang.
A lack of gear, treacherous rock, and physical exhaustion drains his ambition. He can go no further, nor can he retreat.
We need to push on, but the situation is far from ideal. Stewart finds a safe stance where he can be taken off belay and I make a daring solo up an alternate line to join him. There we swap positions and I tackle the overhang with a fresh mind and undiminished determination.
With time and a fresh perspective the problem unwound. The weakness in the rock showed itself as a rib running vertical and a wide sloper. Add to this a small wire to the right and I was making vertical progress. Inch by inch, slowly but steadily, using compression tactics I wrestle the route into submission and approach the critical moment. When I can put it off no longer I release the squeeze and slap for the hold.
The route was conquered!
We had charged off into the unknown in search of adventure. We found ‘Dafty Route X’