The routes up Red Wall (or more correctly “Nizlet Majsi”), at the Blue Grotto are spectacular. The climbs are steep and exposed, and the surroundings are magnificent. The climbing is hard, and “Run Run Run” is no exception. This route is a John Codling creation, and that in itself is usually a pretty good indication of the seriousness of the route. If John did it, then chances are its going to be a hard route of good quality.
The repeat was done on Wednesday 10th August, the team being made up of Fabien Chavanneau and his “support” in the form of Rachel Carr, her dad Sandy and myself. Sandy’s wife Avril sat on the cliff edge across the bay and enjoyed the show! We started out with the route “Gladiator” – an excellent DWS traverse starting at the bottom of Earthquake Corner then going leftwards (looking in), passing through a tunnel that penetrates the buttress and emerging opposite the Blue Grotto arch. A horizontal ledge is followed all the way back at the base of Blue Wall to the starting point, usually on good handholds, with the crux being a step down past an overhanging section which was quite technical with not-so-obvious holds.
“Run Run Run” was next. Fabien geared up with Sandy holding his rope. The bottom section is a bit dubious in terms of rock quality, and unfortunately we had a scare when Fabien’s handhold broke off just as he was preparing to clip the first bolt. The cam he’d placed in a crack to his right didnt hold – it pulled right out but probably slowed his fall. He landed on his back on the platform as we looked on in shock. But he was ok.. no damage done – except for a sore derriere. After a few minutes recovery he got back onto the rock and this time clipped the first in-situ sling which is slightly left of the route and added a couple of nuts in the crack below the bolt to protect the clip.
This time he clipped the bolt without any problems though he commented that he had to be really careful when pulling up on the “shield” like jug hold which seemed hollow. At this point I attached my Petzl shunt to the abseil rope we’d left hanging down Earthquake Corner and started climbing that route with my camera as I knew I could get better shots looking down at Fabien as opposed to taking shots of his butt from below! The conditions were difficult as part of the wall was in bright sunlight which made the rest of the image shady.
As he continued upwards he became uncertain about the exact line and commented afterwards that he probably went a bit too far to the right half way up. In fact he missed out on clipping one of the bolts completely, but did use some trad gear to supplement the existing bolts. He got to the top without further incident and commented that it was a “really scary route”. Great lead Fabien – it sure looked scary to us too when you were climbing it!