/ NEW ARTICLE: The First Ascent of the Troll Wall
In this exclusive excerpt from his new book Troll Wall – The untold story of the British first ascent of Europe's tallest rock face – Tony Howard recounts the team's first attempt to crack one of the key sections of the climb, the Great Wall.
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3466
The article title is rather misleading.
An ascent way ahead of its time and place. In the book, have they got the photo of the team retreating, a couple of days before the successful ascent? As I remember, it's the most amazing photo. Three guys on a ledge, totally shagged out, rain pissing down, probably freezing, ropes, in a mess. It's like photos of troops in the Russian front, a resigned, "We'll carry on fighting... but we'll still die." And then you look at Tony Nicholls and it's like looking at a wolf. He's saying, "You'll have to rip my f*cking heart out to get me!" And he got them down.
That photo has always haunted me, had a huge effect upon me. Years ago, I wrote an article about Nick (whom I only ever met briefly) but was too embarrassed to let him know about it. What spirit he had.
And the other guys were nails also. Impressive stuff.
That's it! Thanks. I saw it circa 1970 in a book called something like, 'The Modern Book of Mountaineering', coffee table type format but a good book nontheless. As I remember (and I may be wrong) the photo was reproduced in black and white which heightened the grimness (like the photo of Woubits first ascent in 'The Black Cliff' where you can see the rain pelting down). And it was bigger. So, 40 years on, with tired eyes, the effect isn't as stark as I remembered. But you look into Nick's eyes and you still get the message. This guy ain't gonna give in.
I think he got them down OK but was too shagged to go back up for the first ascent. And I guess, with the weather out there, they had to move quickly. But, doubtless, the book will tell all.
I spent some time in El Chorro with a great Norwegian guy from Romsdal who lugged casulties off the Troll Wall. Bloody hell, he was hard. I thought, if that's what it takes, I am never going anywhere near it!
Does anyone know who had the second ascent? I met the chap once on Lewis who did it with Doug Scott, but can't remember his name.
Guy Lee and Ted Wells climbed it with Scott in 1970. http://www.dougscottmountaineering.co.uk/lectures/biographical.html
I don't know if this was the second ascent.
Peter Storm cags? Off to the garage to find mine!
That’s very evocative writing and photos.
I've got some of my Dads (Dave Pearce) photos and diaries from one of his unsuccessful attempts on the French Route alpine style in the early 1970's with Ed Drummond.
The main narrative is one of continuing rain, aborted attempts due to getting rained off, loose rock on the occasions they did manage to get to touch rock, and finding activities to do in the rain...
I think the diary I've got isn't of their highest point which must have been their other trip. There is a photo of the two of them looking totally battered – I don’t think the Troll Wall takes any prisoners…
Lex, did your Dad run the Ellis Brigham shop in Altringham during the 80's?
No, he ran Nick Estcourts Outdoor Sports.... Did you know him?
This might be my last post for a while though as I'm going offshore in the morning and can't usually get 'Sport and Recreation' sites
and Hi Al, thanks for that!!
You don't hear much about climbing on Troll Wall these days. I vaguely remember it falling down or something. Anyone know what the score is currently?
I knew your dad and climbed with him quite often, we did (with him leading) what was I think the second ascent of Cruel Sister and quite a lot of the test pieces of the time. He was a great bloke and a really steady but powerful leader. We were both on the CC committeee at the same time and usually paired up on the meets.
Brilliant stuff. That's my next read sorted. As 'segway' and for future trivia questions a certain UKC proprietor slept on that ledge in the photo (if its the one I think its just above the lower crux and at the start of the Great Wall).
Although I never knew your dad, I knew many who did. As Al says, he was widely regarded as a great bloke. Someone of whom to be proud.
Oh wait, different kind of Troll.
Very nice article! Well done Ukclimbing for publishing this. I agree with ericoides that the title and the first paragraph (before the actual article) is slightly misleading. It is very easy to get the impression that Tony Howard, John Amatt and Bill Tweedale got the first ascent of Troll Wall, clean and simple.
And the Rimmond route became the most popular route on the wall. Especially from the 80s when people started freeclimbing the route, often in one long push.
After the large rockfalls in 1998 the Troll Wall has had limited action, and just a couple of teams has done the Rimmond route. The mainstream bigwall action in Norway has shifted to Kjerag anyway.
Lex, I didn't know your Dad particularly well, but bumped into him quite often and shared the craic - a nice bloke. Sorry if my post seemed a little insensitive, I've been out of the scene for a good few years now and hadn't realised he was no longer with us. My elder brother was killed in the mountains, so I also know the dark side of climbing.
The World is a poorer place without Dave.
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