Some years ago Tony Dick, Andy Alcock and I, Snort, walked up to Yellowwood to do Armageddon Tine. We realized that the day was a high gravity day and instead snuck round the corner to do “No More Bells” 19. Always on the lookout for a new line I suggested to Tony we climb one of the lines on the supporting buttress just right of the Smalblaar ridge. He dismissed the idea saying that the angle was too easy and the rock to juggy. High up I had noticed an impressive looking headwall with a crack system splitting it and I was convinced by him that indeed this is a project to be deferred once the harder routes had all been climbed. We had a good time on No More Bells although I considered it a lot of effort to walk up there to do an easy 4 pitch route.
More recently, I, with Dark Horse and Dave Vallet, have been working on a route on the main amphitheatre which was called Half Time, but is now at Three Quarters and is a pitch or two from the top i.e 55m. To finish the route would include 3 options. The least savoury would be to finish up the grotty right corner, the second option would be to climb a corner crack system to the left and the final option to climb improbable overhanging aesthetic rock further left.
As I thought that as I was relatively unfit, my rotator cuff was impinging in my left shoulder, my DIP joint of my ring finger was having an arthritic flare up and I was climbing with Dave who lamented as to his own unfitness, we could race up the “easy” route to the right of Smalblaar and then rap down the last quarter of what would be called Full Time to check it out.
So in preparation for the putsch Margaret and I acceded to a dinner invitation at the Straughans. As they both have proper day jobs, and, the Wetpups athletics day only finished at 20h00, the multi-course dinner lubricated by a variety of alcoholic beverages kept us there till well after 10pm when I managed to sidle away to get some sleep.
Then Dave arrives early at 02h30 with an sms that he is the enemy at my gate! We had agreed to meet at 04h00!
Walking up Yellowwood in the dark is not really fun.
So around 07h00 we arrive at the base of the buttress and quickly realize that the climbing is much steeper than we perceived before. We pick the cleanest, easiest line and Dave leads off. He puts together a nice pitch at around grade 19. I then climb the next section that comes together like a jig saw puzzle at grade 20/21. Funky varied moves that start off a keyed in flake, pulls through a steep overlap and then finished up a long face with pro and holds unfolding just as you need them. The next pitch is a short scramble on lichen covered rock to a point where 3 lines start. I choose the steep chimney crack on the right and this delivers a stunning pitch (20) with crack climbing ending up in a cool classic and easy chimney.
We attain a ledge and high above us is the spectacular overhanging headwall. I am cowering in the shade of a corner when Dave sets off and climbs a steep, tricky crack system that entails marginal stemming moves at grade 21 and then after a another short steep crack section we attain the base of the headwall.
We were stymied. To climb the headwall is a serious undertaking as it is undercut, wickedly overhanging and with a lack of decent holds and obvious pro in places. So much for “easy and juggy”. Our final pitch had actually ended just to the right of it and we could easily walk off. The headwall requires an inspection on top rope by us “really good mediocre” climbers and we left it for another day.
We then scooted around to rap down Full Time and this went nicely until we tried to pull down the rope. Dave realized he had left the ropes to fall into a crack and they got stuck. So up he went 55m on prussics and he then flicked the ropes to the rap anchors on Down Time while I waited below getting frazzled in the hot sun. (I could scramble along a ledge system to the 2nd set of rap anchors on Down Time.)
We got down and the after a hasty cup of tea bombed down as I had to play at Faye’s 40th.
I got to the party at 20h45 and ended up having a great time till around 01h00. And as if that was not enough Margaret and I proved Shakespeare wrong and continued partying at home for another hour or so.
Content and satisfied, I for the first time in my adult life, managed to sleep in till 11h00 on Sunday morning.
Nice Time (21) (Grades, etc to be verified as done from memory) First Ascent Charles Edelstein and Dave Vallet 5 February 2011
The route starts in the middle of the buttress supporting Smalblaar ridge on the right. Walk round from YW amphitheatre, round the large genderme, as if going to the descent gully and chess pieces. Scramble up the easiest obvious grassy ledge system to start at a crack (cairn in place.)
Pitch 1: 30m (19)
Climb the crack to a blocky ledge 5m. Move left 2m and turn the overhang on the left and step right onto the face and climb up to a good stance. Belay to the right of the keyed in flake.
Pitch 2: 35m (20/21)
Climb up carefully using the flake till standing on it. Pull through the overlap and attain easier ground. Travers left to and the up on the left arête. Climb diagonally up with lay back moves to exit with a mantelshelf move on lichen covered rock. Belay on a small ledge system.
Pitch 3: 20m (18)
Climb the crack on the left and scramble up to belay on a good ledge below the obvious chimney crack on the right.
Pitch 4: 45m (20) Climb the yellow- red rock to attain the chimney. Continue onto easier bushy terrain and belay on the left next to large blocks.
Pitch 5: 35m (21).
Climb over the blocks and continue straight up steep cracks using stemming moves to a ledge. Belay here or continue up the crack system tending to the left to climb through the overlap. (18).
Scramble off right or have a go at the Headwall pitch on the left.
The last pitch I climbed last year and it is an over