There's a daunting feeling when your abseiling into the depths of the promenade, its almost as if the cliff face swallows you and makes you feel you've been transformed into a different world, the walls are steep, the rock is in great condition and the with waves crashing close by its got to be one of the best sport climbing venues on the south coast.

There's a daunting feeling when your abseiling into the depths of the promenade, its almost as if the cliff face swallows you and makes you feel you've been transformed into a different world, the walls are steep, the rock is in great condition and the with waves crashing close by its got to be one of the best sport climbing venues on the south coast.

The last few weekends have taken me to the promenade, this amazing sport climbing venue is located on the south coast in a town called Swanage, the routes are all at the top end of the grade and give so much endurance, power and technical climbing that’s its enough to keep us climbers busy for a life time.

I’ve spent the majority of the time down there with good friends Phil & Drew, both extremely strong climbers and both in the same boat as me that they are psyched and wanting to push there grade to the limit. Phil as been climbing well lately with recent ascents at the 7c grade and also Bouldering is first 8a & Drew also climbing his first 7b+ sport route and pushing harder, so climbing with these guys is quite inspiring and there always pushing me to want to climb harder.

My first visit to crag was one to remember, after the amazing abseil in the guys warmed up and easy route called flair trail, I was feeling pretty strong and wanted to get straight into the mix of things, so I skipped the warm up and jumped straight on a 7a+ called “Big brother is watching” the route itself was made up of a fairly slabby simple start going into a steep roof, (The crux) and the once over the roof onto a fairly easy slab to reach the lower off. I tied in and set off, the climbing fairly simple, I clipped the bolt on the roof and down climbed slightly to a good rest, As this was an onsite attempt I had no idea what lied above or where the hold were, I chalked up, psyched myself a little and went for it, I got myself under the roof and managed to find a fairly good hold over the lip, feet up and feeling good, at this point I was not far off being completely upside down, after a few grunts and desperate slopey moves I managed to stand up over the overhang and be at good holds again, I gave a scream of excitement as I knew I could easily climb to the lower off, this was my first ever 7a+ onsight so I was now Buzzing big time. I lowered to the ground and both Phil & drew congratulated me.

Both Phil and drew spent some time working a really tough 7b+ called “Electrical circus” the moves looked insane and it was doubtful they would send it, but persistence paid off when Phil tied in and managed to stick the crux, after some pretty impressive climbing he clipped the lower off, another awesome tick for him and goes to show how much stronger this boy is getting. The day ended with a couple of chilled easier climbs and a nice pint of cider in the local town with good company.

Another weekend passed and another visit to the Promenade, this time even stronger and even more psyched to push the boundaries. The waves from the sea were a little wild today so the route I was looking at attempting was out of bounds, unless of course I had a brave belayer that didn’t mind getting wet from time to time, but I’m a good guy and would expect that. We headed along further east this time to roofed area with some routes on, all of the routes looked insane and barely climbable but there were routes and they had been climbed so we knew it was possible. Phil was psyched to try a 7c called “Rise of the robots” this was awesome line on steep overhanging ground with pretty dynamic moves but the way he’s climbing lately anything was possible, he used the clipstick to put the draws in and have a small look at the line, after one redpoint attempt he pulled the rope ready for his ground up attempt, In the meantime myself and drew jumped on a nice 6b+ called “Titter me not Mrs.” this was pretty steep for 6b+ and tested us both, right at the top was probably one of the worst rock over ive ever had to face, I’m sure at one point the only thing holding me on the wall was my chin, I didn’t tell the guys but I was actually talking to myself preying to god not to slip, but after a few scrapes, scratches and cuts I reached the lower off.

Phil was now ready for is attempt on Rise of the robots, he tied in and both myself and Drew gave him some words of encouragement, he set on up the route and was looking strong, almost upside down at the steepness that this route was, he latched the tiny crimps with some shouts and I personally thought he couldn’t hold them, his feet into position and bang he made the dynamic move to the lip, all of his body leaving the rock with one hand latching the lip, the rest of his body swinging out, it was amazing to watch, a loud scream, louder enough that even the climbers from the distant cattle trough crag looked over, myself and Drew both shouting at Phil to stick it and not give up, at one point I nearly wet myself with excitement that he might actually climb this route, with a few more screams and some inspiring climbing he made it to the lower off… what an amazing achievement, a route that looked almost impossible to us had just been climbed by Phil on his second time on it, he lowered to the ground and you could see the glow of achievement in his face, we both congratulated him, both pretty psyched now and wanting to feel that same buzz that he was.

I had spotted this nice 7a+ called “Two tickets to a gun show” that ran up an overhanging arête and I pretty keen to try so got myself ready, tied in and went for it, the starting moves pretty hard but I moved through into the roof, I tried to negotiate the roof a few times but after a while run out of steam and had to rest on the draw, this was definitely the crux and it took some time to work out, Once through the crux the rest of the route is no harder than 6a+, I lowered off after playing for a while, both Phil and drew had a go, both failing at the crux, Phil did eventually send the route later in the day, due to tiredness and the tide coming in fast I decided to clean the route and try it next time im down there.

After another great day we packed up and headed out, all the talk on the way back was on the rise of the robots and how well Phil had done to hold on after the crux moves, today was a good day with great company and made me realize that no matter what goes on in day to day life an adventure always makes you wee how amazing life can be….

Tommy

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