Friday, 12 August 2016

Another newbie! "Enter Sandman" 7c+, The Gap, South Wales

Enter Sandman, 7c+, The Gap, South Wales.

Many moons ago, The Pickford had raved about Mad at the Sun, 7c/+ being "the hardest route on South Wales sandstone" but beyond that, I'd never really thought about climbing at The Gap.

However, owing to a dodgy back sustained from falling off the high-break of Traverse of the Gods, avoiding using too much body tension by doing some vertical/fiddling climbing seemed like a good idea. Helen was keen for the terrific Encore! Magnifique! (7b+) so we plugged Pontypridd into the satnav and set off for The Gap.

A momentary lapse of reason, 7b+/c is a very thin and technical route, with a slightly chequered past; the FA climbed the gnarly lower wall, then skirted around the roof on the left to a belay just below the heather. Since being re-geared with staple bolts, recent ascents have finished at the last bolt on the lip of the roof to avoid the the manky original belay (one rusty bolt; another sticking out 2 inches), as shown in the topo and description below.

The Gap topo from SWMC website
After a failed on-sight go at the lower 7b+/c bit, I had a play on the upper roof and worked out a tenuous sequence on micro-edges and sloper to take you up to the old belay direct. Everything was set - all I had to do was get through the start again!

After an aborted attempt, my skin was very thin, but the extra tie-in meant I'd now got a bomber sequence of crimps and high steps, so getting through to the rest below the roof was fairly straight forward.

Shouting down to one of the other climbers at the crag that day, I passed out instructions for taking photos with my phone and then set off up to the roof.

The mid-height rest - chilling out and passing on camera instructions

The internal dialogue went something like this:

Stretching through the roof
Long reach through the roof to the finishing hold of the original, clip the belay, heel up and stretch to the pocket. Turn the heel to a toe, frog stance and take the...

...Shit - which crimp is it?

...all the chalked holds feel dusty and rubbish...

...ah there it is - the chalk free one I brushed clean!

Sort the feet out and bounce to the better crimp - elbows out out - go for it anyway - catch the sloper with the right hand and stand up to the thank god jug.

Chicken wings for dinner anyone?

Enter Sandman is about 7c+; it's certainly short of the speculated 8a - the rest before the roof is just too good (Caveat - being tall helped on the first lock-off, but otherwise it isn't too reachy)

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