Falling Debris Article...

Henry terrorising the wildlife
Henry terrorising the wildlife
Early this year I was flicking through a climbing magazine and was a little disappointed with some of the Articles in it most of them consisted of vaguely interesting climbs that were then milked beyond the point of being interesting. I sat there thinking why am I reading this I've done far more interesting things and I had only that morning I had introduced some ethiopian kids to bouldering and marked many a new problem with the traditional first ascentists (mine) blood. So I've written this series of Articles that I hope you find of some interest some rainy day or whilst escaping the heat of the mid day sun.

Henry terrorising the wildlife
Early this year I flew to Kenya to join the Hot Rock team for a 3 month climbing spree. Having spent a few days falling of Sport routes at Lukenya it was time for some slightly more adventurous climbing. Hot Rock had previously explored a large crag at Lake Baringo that is about 15km long with great new routing potential. So we decided to go and have a look for ourselves. We camped right next to Lake Baringo. Hippo tracks ran next to our tents and crocodiles lay close by enjoying the sun. In the middle of the lake was Devils Island and I was informed it had some great deep water solo problems however nobody seamed very interested I think that the crocodiles and signs warning about bilharzias (a microscopic snail that enters through your foot and makes you piss blood) might have had something to do with it.

trip photo
A link to a video of this trip
Hot rock had previously developed a small single pitch crag called touching my void and the routes were cleverly named so that they created a script that fitted in with the theme of the crag. So I and Dancing Matt set out to repeat all of these routes however the rock was a little loose and this made it hard to work out which routes were which. So when Henry our driver asked if we would climb a route on the main wall that had been put up by a friend of his I agreed thinking it would be a good fun to play on a bigger wall. The grading was in south African or Australian or some other system that just uses a number and doesn't take into account severity but I was assured it was an easy grade. The route was called Falling Debris and was one of only 2 routes on the 15km long main wall and its name didn't disappoint. Matt led the first pitch it was pretty easy although a tad loose probably around D/VD. Then it was my time to climb I started climbing up a slightly steeper section. I felt a little nervous as the rock didn't seam overly solid. Then it happened my foot hold decided it didn't want to hold my weight and it whizzed past my Belayer off towards the ground just as this happened my hand hold decided to join it after smacking my leg on route. This was the start after this near enough everything I touched came flying out and hurtling down towards the ground although a few pieces hit my rope as was evident by the two cuts I found later that evening. This left me in a bit of a predicament as I was up pretty high whilst I did have some gear who would trust gear in this kind of rock? So I had little choice but to climb as fast as I could to the next ledge. When Henry reached me at the ledge he announced that this was the hardest climb head ever done which I took as a compliment even though Henry was new to climbing he could still onsight 6a. I was happy to hand over the third and final lead to matt. The third lead was even harder than my mine and it turned out I had gone up the wrong section leaving us considerably off route but at least the rock was now solid. At this point we weren't aware of the two gapping big cuts in the rope which matt went on to lead on. By the time we all reached the top it was dark and we still needed to do a multi-pitch abseil.

Just to make life that little bit more interesting on the way down the rope got caught we tried all the normal techniques like yanking it really hard but to no avail so Henry offered to go up and have a look. I was now fairly tired and more than happy to let someone else deal with the problem. 10 minutes latter Henry returned and the rope now ran smoothly. On the walk back to camp Henry told us that he had to ascend most of the rope to untangle it. He did this by pulling himself up on the rope then locking himself off on his belay device. The though of this scared me nearly as much as the climb but Henry wasn't interested when we tried to explain how to ascend safely using prussics. All in all it had been a successful day we'd climbing 4 routes in the morning then falling debris (well not the right line but on a 15km wall with only 2 routes it was close enough) and I had even managed to miss cook duty back at camp but still got fed and my rope now has fulfilling life as a volleyball net.

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The website has become outdated so I'm working on adding new content from my recent expedition/the last 3 years and am having the site redesigned so check it out on a few weeks time.