Hazel Findlay has climbed her second route of E9 with an ascent of Chicama at Trearddur Bay, near Gogarth, Anglesey, North Wales. The route tackles the left slanting crackline in the left of centre on the photo below.
This exceptionally steep route has lain unrepeated for a decade. Tim Emmett's lactic acid inducing first ascent of this short and difficult to access sea cliff route was back in 2003.Tim actually jumped off the top of the route in to the water after he topped out, but this route is no deep water solo. There is a huge rock under the route, meaning a groundfall would be very dangerous, but this can be cleared by a running jump from the top, as the crag is so steep.
Hazel Findlay on Chicama - E9
Hazel told us; "Chicama hasn't been repeated for 10 years because it's a massive faff to work, not because the climbing isn't good. It's a 45 degree overhanging wall above the sea, without much natural gear. When Caff [James McHaffie] and I first went down on a top rope we had to do a tensioned down climb on wet crimps and then hook our feet through an old piece of tatt to get the rope clipped into an old peg. It felt about v7 even with all my weight on the rope."
The difficulties of reaching the base of the route are also compounded by fickle conditions and dangerously rotted pegs. The wall has several routes, the most notable being the righthand line of The Treacherous Underfoot (E7) from George Smith and the soaring crack / pod line of Chicama (E9) from Tim Emmett. Chicama is rumoured to be F8a+ in physical difficulty.
Both lines are reliant on old pegs for protection, which have not lasted well in the sea air. On a visit to repeat The Treacherous Underfoot in 2008 our team snapped several pegs before making some successful ascents.
Hazel commented on the logistics of climbing the route; "I went back three more times with Neil [Dyer] and Emma [Twyford] and then Peter [Graham], but on those visits not much climbing was done, it was mainly rope work, peg replacing and trying not to fall in the sea. But it all finally came together yesterday, when I spent about 10 minutes climbing the route and about 7 hours rope-faffing, peg bashing and trying to get to the bottom of the route in high tides (I wanted to do it before the weather turned poor again)."
The photo below shows the difficulties in gaining the base of the routes at this crag. Chicama climbs up and left following the obvious crack above the red piece of gear above James, passing two old pegs with blue rope on them. The access to that route is by a deep water solo traverse from the left (holds are chalked), just above sea level.
However Hazel's hard work paid off and she was rewarded with the second ascent of a forgotten yet magnificent route. She told us; "Despite being a massive effort the climbing is amazing, it's one of the best routes I've done, it's hugely steep with heel hooks and knee bars and all the moves you might see at a spanish sport crag. Yes it's a shame that it's so reliant on pegs, but the climbing more than makes up for it. Thanks to everyone that helped me out - Tim for putting it up and George Smith for first putting the pegs in- it must have been a right mission."