Esoteric Trad Climbing Adventures in Avon Gorge
This afternoon I met up with Dan and headed to Leigh woods on the west side of Avon Gorge to check out the "classics". Dan has done most of the routes on this, less frequented side of the gorge and I was keen to check them out. We headed to "the big ramp area" and Dan pointed out the line of Demogod, an interesting looking E1 5a put up by Martin Crocker back in 1975, that takes a dog leg line up through large hollows, pockets and runnels. Not wanting to waste time I jumped on that and found it to have steady climbing with good enough protection. The rock consistency varied from poor, to sandy, through to ok but it was a crag at Avon I hadn't climbed at!
Dan then said he fancied a route to the left: Red Planet, an E5 6a, which states in the description "Technically easy for 6a, but there's a whole lot of stuff going on..." Dan set off steadily, taking time with the gear. Soon came mutterings about poor protection. Dan progressed upwards. More throw away comments about miss-trust of RP's came filtering down. A committing move up to the break lead to a powerful move to an undercut and the mental respite of two pegs. Sandy, friable rock lead up and right into a crystal lined red groove and the top, and an in-situ rope lower off. When I seconded the route I half chuckled and half shuddered at some of the gear that Dan had got in and had climbed a long way above. As he said after I returned to the ground and commented on the protection: "Sometimes you just need to turn your mind off."
Suitably impressed with Dan's lead and psyked by the two star line of Lady of Satan, E3 5b, I racked up. Reading through the description it sounded like a perfect end to our day: "A superb and serious climb...", "...taking care with just about everything." I was pleasantly surprised by the route, which felt well protected and very steady for the E3 accolade. Well worthwhile if you're in that neck of the woods...
Cheers Dan for a cool afternoon.