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DWS First Ascents

This section is a log of Neil's first DWS first ascents in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

 Occams Razor 7c+, Forbidden Head, Pembroke.  Photo: Liam Cook

Occams Razor 7c+, Forbidden Head, Pembroke.

Photo: Liam Cook

DWS UK - Pembroke & Devon

It all began in the UK. Britain may not have in-land cliffs on the same scale as destinations like the Verdon or Yosemite, but our sea cliffs are truly world class. It is also thanks to the pioneering spirit of British climbers that DWS was first developed and has now become a fully fledged climbing genre. DWS is undoubtedly my 'desert island' climbing style and the DWS routes I've climbed in Pembroke lie amongst most the memorable.    

 Splashing down during the FA of Ejector Seat 7c, Majorca.  Photo: Mike Robertson

Splashing down during the FA of Ejector Seat 7c, Majorca.

Photo: Mike Robertson

DWS Europe - Majorca, Portugal & Sicily

Having earned our wings on the benchmark DWS cliffs in the UK, a small team of Brits (including myself, Mike Robertson, Seb Grieve, Tim Emmett and Grant Farquhar) launched a campaign to see if we could find the ultimate DWS venue. Our quest started in 2001 when we developed the monumental Majorca at Covo del Diabolo in Majorca. Following this paradigm shift, the question from then on was whether countries like Portugal or Sicily would reveal crags that could possibly compare. 

 Ho Chi Minh 7c+, Halong Bay, Vietnam.  Photo: Leah Crane

Ho Chi Minh 7c+, Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Photo: Leah Crane

DWS Global - Vietnam & Oman

It would take the mythical islands of Halong Bay in Vietnam to challenge Majorca's status as the world's best DWS venue. Our exploratory trip in 2003 remains one of the best climbing experiences of my life. We chartered a boat and ventured out into the Bay without having a clue what we would find; but sure enough, we unearthed a DWS paradise. With so much perfect unclimbed rock to go at, it was hard to know where to start. Some ten years later, the same team reformed and we set out to Oman to see if we could go one better. It turned out that the climbing didn't match up but we still found some highly worthwhile DWS challenges in a unique setting.