As you have probably noticed, life has mainly been about earning money and looking after the family rather than wobbling up 400ft of virgin horror show. I got out twice in August, and this Tuesday was my first day out since then.
Acting on some stiff words from chief Wideboi Messr Randall, I stopped fooling myself with the pursuit of well trod classics, and got out on a damp day to revisit the Beast. The plan was to wander up via the fox steps, across the slipped shelf and drop down to Kyber Pass. A short shimmy later and I was at the top hut retrieving the carpet to protect the ab rope. I had in mind a thorough reccie, place all the necessary gear on the way down, give it a spring clean (it'd been a year and a half) and suit up and shunt my way back up.
With the lay off from this kind of silliness I wasn't sure I'd even get over the edge. However, the fear didn't come and I was able to absorb myself in the minutiae of project prep. Once I'd reached the ledge that separated the scary finish from the meat of the overhanging flare, I was able to assess things so far. This 9m section was harder than I remembered, the two clusters of gear, one of three rp's, one of four cam #2's. Both of questionable quality; the rp's shallow, the cams shallow and a bit hollow. I'd forgotten the first 5m of dirty baggy shallow hand jams / shape throwing, that made this bit more E5/6 6a than the E4 5c I had in my brain.
I swung into the lower section an immediately felt amongst the sharks. A lot of the gear I'd placed for the initial clean was just not feasible to place on lead, and mostly not worth more than an aid piece. My initial swing gained the rest niche and I confidently placed a key slider into the 7-8mm parallel crack that provides all the gear bottom to top of this section.
It ripped under less than body weight. Five or six attempts followed, eventually much lower down a cam #00 held enough to pull in on and continue down.
The game had changed, there was only a few spots in this 9m section where protection worth more than aid would stay, and it still would probably rip if I fell in anger. I arrived at the base a bit narked, with the groove having had a barely adequate clean. This section stays out of the rain, but being dark and enclosed sucks in and holds all the mist and condensation. Once damp, the algae turns to pure lubricant. Properly clean, I reckon this section is somewhere between f7b-7c+, so I wasn't expecting a lot today. I did at least establish some technique ideas, and identify some nicks that could be imagined to provide some purchase for the left foot.
The meat of the Beast is this undercut section of v groove; tighter and less featured than the quarryman, once inside (a brain masher in itself) the right hand does some finger barring, the right foot does some sloppy torques, left arm snakes into ineffective bars, and left legs swims for its life.
I'm totally sold on the Beast, but Its needs about 10 bolts. None of the available protection after 5m guarantees you'll survive, combine that with hard f7 climbing where you can fall off any move, and it indicates a level of commitment that is completely unjustified by the experience of the route.
As a sport route, you'll be able to clean it well before climbing, and you won't need 5 sliders, 4 cam #00's, 4 cam #2's and an array of RP's. Hardly standard rack.
The climbing is good enough to encourage repeats, the hollow section by the cam#2 cluster is going to fall off someday, so as standard sport route prep has got to go.
One Winter day I'll get it sorted so I can condition myself for the spring.
One last Hurrah?