/ Abseiling off Suicide Wall, Cratcliffe

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Droyd on 20 Sep 2016
Cratcliffe Tor Suicide Wall (HVS 5b)

Planning on heading to Cratcliffe tomorrow to do Suicide Wall, having not been there before. I'll be climbing with my girlfriend, who isn't the best at jamming, so am wondering what the situation is with regard to belays - it looks like the route tops out onto a relatively narrow buttress (i.e. Suicide Wall comes up one side and Owl Gully is only a few metres away), and I may well have to ab for gear, so will it be relatively easy to set up to strip the route on abseil or will I be better off having my girlfriend bring me up on second, or even leave it for another day when I have a partner that I know will be able to get up it?

It's a pretty lame question, but obviously it'd be a massive ballache to do the route only to realise that getting the gear back would be an ordeal, so cheers in advance for any info.
deacondeacon - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd: It's only a gritstone crag, you can have a look before you do the climb
It's not a skinny top with a gully either side anyway though, it's massive. From memory the belay is very straightforward though with good gear placements and even trees.

Tl;dr you'll be fine
GrahamD - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

If your girlfriend hates jamming, she'll really hate pitch 2. Unless you are planning on linking pitches ?
Offwidth - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

There is a sneaky way to avoid the 5a jams (the crux for many)... skirt round to the left and climb up right above. Its one of the best HVS climbs in the peak so not a place to take people who will be really struggling. The top isn't narrow and the belays are fine.
Droyd on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Thanks guys - I'm doing it as a sort of birthday challenge/treat to myself, as it's one of the few classic grit HVSes I haven't yet done, so just wanted to check that it would work logistically before driving over tomorrow, as I figured we could do something else if not.
So yes, I'll do it in one pitch for both practical and egotistical reasons - I'm hoping my girlfriend will be able to get up it on second, but if not it would seem that it won't be the end of the world!
Andy Hemsted - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

I climbed it with my wife belaying, then stripped it from above just as you're planning to do.

In some ways it's easier to do it as one pitch, as long as you have enough gear. Look at the guidebook well, and make sure that you know where the line goes near the top.

Good Luck, it's a brilliant route.
Bulls Crack - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth:

Or layback it!
Mick Ward - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> Or layback it!

For some bizarre reason, I didn't want to say that. But yeah, sure...

Mick
steveb2006 - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

Yes one of the best HVS's on grit. No problem on top - Owl Gully cuts in a bit but doesnt pose any problem. The tree belays are set back so when abbing you will need to tie ropes off and walk back up after to get them after. If you enjoy it - try Sepulchrave - shorter and a bit tricky to get to (so may be not ideal with non climbing girlfriend) but has more good climbing on wall to R.
Gordon Stainforth - on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:

> For some bizarre reason, I didn't want to say that. But yeah, sure...

> Mick

It was a long, long time ago, but I don't remember much jamming on Suicide Wall. Also that that final semi-layback was about the easiest part of the route.
Luke90 on 20 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

Definitely possible to do Suicide Wall without jamming, I did. Never have got my head around jamming so I avoid it like the plague, even on routes where I really shouldn't. It's more pumpy that way but don't rule out her chances just because of jamming, especially as she'll be able to rest to deal with pump. My girlfriend got up it (with rests) before she was regularly managing HVS.
Dave Garnett - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

As I recall the only unavoidable bit of jamming is that awkward short flared crack below the Bower. I did it a couple of years back and was surprised how much harder the start had become compared to how it used to be. It's quite a strenuous blind long reach. especially if you don't find the right hold immediately.
Mick Ward - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> It was a long, long time ago...

I've not done Suicide Wall since the mid-1990s. Jim Perrin was taking Will for a week-long tour of grit, just when Will was starting to get more serious about climbing. As I recall, it was a rather dreary Autumn day. At one point, when Jim was faffing around, I said, "What happened to that dashing young man in the white sweater?" (Jim in Hard Rock.) He laughed ruefully and replied, "He got old!"

Happens to us all...

Mick

ChrisBrooke - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

Suicide Wall is hard! And fantastic. I seconded it before leading Fern Hill and Five Finger Exercise. It was every bit as good, pumpy and technical, with proper climbing all the way from the ground to the top. Enjoy!
Gordon Stainforth - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> As I recall the only unavoidable bit of jamming is that awkward short flared crack below the Bower. I did it a couple of years back and was surprised how much harder the start had become compared to how it used to be. It's quite a strenuous blind long reach. especially if you don't find the right hold immediately.

Yes, seconding that pitch up to the Bower I found the hardest part of the route. I was however v psyched up for the top pitch, which went easily, so it's hard to cp the pitches. I probably found Suicide Wall quite easy because I'd just seconded Fern Hill (and led Elliott's Unconquerable just before that).

SteveSBlake - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:

Somewhere on that flake, next to gear, I'm sure there's a sneaky knee bar and near hands off rest..........

Steve
Frank the Husky - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Offwidth: Brilliant. 5 people have disliked your very reasonable and helpful post. Obviously I'm one of them but I wouldn't take that personally. I just know how much you enjoy getting those things.

Droyd on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

Thanks all for the advice - I didn't find the route quite as easy as I'd hoped to, but it was absolutely superb. I thought that the crack up to the bower was pretty straightforward and struggled more with the last few metres - most likely that was because I couldn't figure out a way of getting a good rest below the top flake (in the "uncomfortable niche"), having spent a while hanging on to figure out the traverse, and so committed to jamming it, only to discover that it was mostly too wide for my tiny hands (which may be why the lower crack was comparatively straightforward). My girlfriend took one look when we got to the base and declared that she wasn't into seconding it, so I ended up abbing for the gear, and can confirm that it was very straightforward!
Mick Ward - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to SteveSBlake:

Bloody hell! I was remembering that old photo of Jim in Hard Rock and vaguely wondering knee bar, hands off... then thinking don't be daft.

Didn't know about knee bars in the mid 1990s. Only started Egyptians about then. The first heel hook I remember was on Quietus, nearly a decade after the photo of the Mountain front cover of John Syrett on Encore.

I know, I know...late developer... learning difficulties.

So it goes...

Mick
Mick Ward - on 21 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

Glad you enjoyed it. It's brilliant.

Mick
GrahamD - on 22 Sep 2016
In reply to Droyd:

In a way I'm glad you didn't find it easy. Personally I get a lot more from a route if it puts up a fight.
Offwidth - on 08:56 Sun
In reply to Frank the Husky:
Spot on... more dislikes please... even more funny would be dislike stalkers liking my posts just to confound this view.

I'd love to watch some of these armchair warriers layback that short 5a jamming section below the Bower.. the laybacks at the top are 4bish in my view just a bit sustained and with a few tricky moves of HVS from the Bower to access.
Post edited at 08:56
Gordon Stainforth - on 10:57 Sun
In reply to Offwidth:

> I'd love to watch some of these armchair warriers layback that short 5a jamming section below the Bower.. the laybacks at the top are 4bish in my view just a bit sustained and with a few tricky moves of HVS from the Bower to access.

I agree with your assessment of the top, but dare one suggest that up to the Bower is 5b?

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Offwidth - on 11:47 Sun
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Not really given grit jamming grade standards ... any 5b is getting to the laybacks... the route is not much above 5a

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