HS 4a

Adjacent Routes
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A pleasant, though serious, route up the arete of The Amphitheatre, finishing up a short groove. Sparse protection from small wires. Belay on the abseil rope. Take care as the route has lost a large block high up and maybe harder now.
FA. R.Heigh, W.Church 1968


We abbed of to Varina (25m) HS 4a, in retrospect, a bit bold on our part, because it was later in the afternoon and the HS was the easiest route out of the Amphithearthe, the rest in E1 to 4 range (the VDiff won't go IMHO).
I set off up the route and found there is ABSOLUTELY no good gear! There is gear but I would not have trusted dropping my rope on it, let alone myself. It was really extreme (for me) although an easy climb. That changed at about 19m when I was direct on the arete and started to rock over to a ledge jug on the right, which was the obvious HS route. Luckily I had moved my feet over and bit first, I tested the jug (as I usually do) and it seemed solid, but as I committed to the rock over and brought my weight to bear on the ledge to entire thing just crumbled at the base and cracked away from the face!!!!! I was more concerned about my partner belaying me from below, if I let this HUGE (1.5m X 1m X 0.3m) slab fall he was a goner, helmet and all, no doubts. I managed to push the slab back against the face and reseat it precariously. Then I "just" managed to rock back of to my previous position. Only then did the full weight of the situation become apparent to me. Wookie was luckily just to the left of the dropzone should the slab go of its own volition, however I could not finish the climb on the obvious route. I evaluated my options and there were none, except up. Down climbing the 20m on terrible gear was not something I even considered, that is how bad the gear was and if I made it down, then what? An E1... I checked the left side of the arete and found a "Climbing Wall" boulder problem types of holds, I would NEVER consider this on Trad. It had to go. I managed to pull it off and move the last 5m to the top and extra 5m to the belay, but with no gear and my last placement was at about 15m and it was not good at that.

My partner seconded up and pulled to slab off to ensure no other poor climber pulls it off and kills their partner on belay with the next attempt.
A Swanage EPIC.
Question? Who regrades this route, because in my humble opinion without the huge jug ledge and slab it is no longer an HS, the new top moves are serious and unprotectable!
Gary Wilson - 24/Mar/02

Went to check this out for the new CC guide, expecting a bit of a death trap after the previous comments. Instead I found pleasant climbing with a reasonably solid finish. Not much protection for the (easy) first half, but some decent wires to protect the upper section, and in any case you can use the ab rope to protect the top out. No change in grade.

Solitude (VS, 4b), the corner about 10 m to the right, is also worth doing though it is advisable to position the ab rope to use on the top out.
Bob M - 14/Sep/09

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