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DWS First ascents - Majorca

 

It was thanks to a lead from local activist, Miguel Riera, that we had the great fortune of being first on the scene at the mighty Covo Del Diablo in October 2001. Our team consisted of Mike Robertson, Tim Emmett, Gav Symonds, Ken Palmer, Grant Farquhar, Klem Loskott, and we set to work, racing across juggy roofs and up powering up pocketed walls. We could scarcely believe the quality of the climbing and to this day, Diablo still holds it's reputation as one of the best (if not the best) DWS crags in the world.

Reference: ‘Deep Water’ guidebook by Mike Robertson - Rockfax 2007 .

 

 
 Sticking the crux dyno of Ejector Seat 7c.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Sticking the crux dyno of Ejector Seat 7c.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Ejector Seat 7c Covo Del Diabolo, 10.01

Guidebook quote: ‘Another slice of utopia’ - ‘Deep Water’ by Mike Robertson, 2007

The steep pocketed wall to the right of Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels features a signature crux dyno to gain the crucial exit holds. This was the first time I had encountered a dyno on a DWS and I took several splashdowns before finally sending it on the last day of the trip after getting over a nasty bout of food poisoning. 

 

 

 

 Pulling through the top bulge on the Lobster 6c+  Photo: Mike Robertson.

Pulling through the top bulge on the Lobster 6c+

Photo: Mike Robertson.

The Lobster 6c+ Cova del Diablo, 10.01

Guidebook quote: ‘One of the best routes in Majorca ….Climbing just can’t get much better than this!’ - Deep Water’ by Mike Robertson, 2007:

The Lobster climbs straight up the leaning wall and capping overhang in the centre of the cove. During our first exploratory trip, our host, Miguel Riera had estimated that this route would be 8a+, so I set out on it not expecting to get very far. I was surprised to make it to the top overhang and expected the worst as I reached around and searched for holds. But sure enough, my hand sank into a huge bucket and I swung round in disbelief, whooping with joy. That said, the top overhang has been the scene of some epic splashdowns.

 The mighty Covo Del Diablo.  Photo: Gresham collection

The mighty Covo Del Diablo.

Photo: Gresham collection

Igunanadon 7b Covo Del Diablo. 10.01

Guidebook quote ‘A mega-classic.’ - ‘Deep Water’ by Mike Robertson, 2007:

Iguanadon weaves its way through some ludicrously steep terrain in the big sea-cave on the left-hand side of the crag. Every hold is a jug, but prepare to do battle with greasy conditions and bird-excrement! The route starts on the right-hand side of the huge cave and hand-traverses out leftwards along a rail. This leads to a series of ‘hueco’ buckets and onwards to the sanctuary of the upper ledge. You can either finish by jumping in or taking on the challenge of Microdot 7b. Early Spring or late Autumn conditions are preferable when temperatures are cooler, especially with an on-shore breeze.

 

Microdot 7b 8.02

A logical finishing pitch to Iguanadon, which has a highball, scary feel. From the ledge above the cave, climb the hanging groove on the left.  

 

Calamares 6b+ 10.01

A worthwhile introduction to the cove and the obvious warm-up for those wanting to get on the harder stuff. From the base of the descent ramp on the right-hand side of the crag, the route traverses leftwards along a line of pockets and jugs, approximately 6m above sea-level then follows a faint groove diagonally leftwards, before trending right to finish.

 

Whiplash 7c, Cova del Diablo 10.01

A powerful route, which starts as for Afroman but heads out rightwards via a sequency traverse along the lip of the cave. This leads to a white, heart-shaped shield and an easier rightwards finish. A variation has been done, which climbs directly out to join the original line at the point where it turns the lip. 

 

 

DWS First Ascents - Portugal

 

 The cliffs of Ponta Garcia near Sagres have now become a popular destination for DWS and our 2004 trip provided an indication of the potential. I joined forces with Mike Robertson, Julian Lines and Charlie Woodburn and we put up over 30 new routes from F5 to F7c. All are documented in Mike’s guidebook ‘Deep Water’, 2007. With an easy approach and universally solid rock, this is about as user-friendly as DWS gets, although it's worth taking a dry-bag to swim to some of the routes. My FAs on this crag are described from right to left as you face the cliff. 

 
 Match of the Day 7a+, Ponta Garcia.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Match of the Day 7a+, Ponta Garcia.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Match of the Day 7a+  Ponta Garcia, 10.04

‘A mega classic.’ - Mike Robertson, Deep Water 2007.

The imposing overhanging wall on the far right-handside of the bay is reached by dry-bag swimming. From the rest ledge underneath the capping bulge, pull through leftwards on huge flakes and gargoyle formations to a wild exit back right onto the upper slab. The seabed is sandy, but you may touch it if you fall from the top bulge. 

 

Portug’E’ezer Good 6c  Ponta Garcia, 10.04

A hanging arête, which is reached by dry-bag swimming into the big ledge at sea level in the centre of the crag. Follow the fault-line of Heaven Scent then trend leftwards and commit to a couple of steep pulls which lead to a leftwards finish on the upper slab.

 Let's Give it 7c, Ponta Garcia.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Let's Give it 7c, Ponta Garcia.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Let’s give it 7c  Ponta Garcia, 10.04

Guidebook description: ‘A brilliant and powerful test-piece, firing across a roof on huge jugs and pockets, except for that single two finger pocket of course!’ - Mike Robertson, Deep Water 2007.

In calm seas the route is approached easily by scrambling down from the ledges to the left.

 

The Linesman 7a+  Ponta Garcia, 10.04       

Guidebook description: ‘A fine route; steep territory indeed but with every hold a good pocket or bucket. Yum yum!’ - Mike Robertson, Deep Water 2007.

This route breaches the roof right from the back. The first and nearest route that goes through the roof is Portugalz 7a, and this is the next route to the right. Approach by scrambling in from the ledge on the left.

 

 Cabello Locko 7b, Ponta Garcia.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Cabello Locko 7b, Ponta Garcia.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Portugalz 7a  Ponta Garcia, 10.04

The first of the main lines through the obvious low-level bulging roof is approached easily from the ledge on the left. Big holds all the way.

 

Cabello Locko 7b  Ponta Garcia, 10.04

A right-hand finish to Jules Lines’ excellent Cabelo Loco. Make a low traverse into the cave and climb directly through the roof to the finishing ledge below the upper roof.

 

 

 

DWS First Ascents - Sicily

In the autumn of 2007, Mike Robertson, Gav Symonds and I decided to investigate a rumour that the Sicilian coastline might reveal the next major DWS venue. However, the trip proved to be a frustrating affair and much time was spent chasing our tails and we only found one worthwhile venue near Taormina, which offered a handful of routes. However, our return trip in 2014 was a different story.

 

 
 Grande Bleu 7c, Taormina. First solo ascent.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Grande Bleu 7c, Taormina. First solo ascent.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Grande Bleu 7c and Canicaccia 7b Taormina, Sicily 2004

It was thanks to local activist, Danielle Arena, that I ended up soloing two of the lines he’d bolted on the steepest part of the main crag at Taormina. Grande Bleu 7c takes the central prow and Canicaccia 7b, is just to it’s left. The upper headwall proved to be pretty exciting and well outside the usual comfort zone in terms of height. Meanwhile Gav Symonds added a superb bouldery 8a, which he named, Tarantella on the wall to the left and Mike put up a host of easier routes in the nearby bay.

 Sirocco 7c+, Syracusa  Photo: Roberto Zampino

Sirocco 7c+, Syracusa

Photo: Roberto Zampino

Sirocco 7c+  Syracusa 06.14

Following our disappointing first trip, the idea of a re-match with Sicily took some persuasion from local enthusiast, Roberto Zampino but with the promise of some new crags to go at, we took the bait. We met our host in Syracusa and headed out to an imposing tufa-laden cave that was capped by an ominous ‘high-ball’ roof. After repeating an existing 7a+ on the left-hand side, I set to work on the main line through the roof. This turned out to be a racy, acrobatic 7c+, which featured an upside down, pirouette move, with your back 60ft above the water. Sirocco was repeated straight afterwards by Christian Leube but it transpired that a seemingly crucial tufa snapped after our ascents and it is now substantially harder. There’s undoubtedly more to be explored in this area. 

 DWS crag near to Syracusa, where Sirocco is located.   Photo: Roberto Zampino

DWS crag near to Syracusa, where Sirocco is located. 

Photo: Roberto Zampino

Sirocco is located in a cave near to Syracusa.