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General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
Descents 12-May-2006 At 4:36:04 PM pablitodawes
I spent some months climbing in Mexico a few years ago and i have some that come to mind. One involved tarantulas, another involved a 10m fall after a dynabolt failure, but the scariest by far was abseiling off a multi-pitch in Potrero Chico.

I had been climbing there for almost a month and was pretty confident leading 5.11+ or so. My partner Duanne and i had heard good things about a climb called El Sendero Diablo (the devil's path) so, on a warm 30-odd degree morning after a breakfast of 2 pieces of nutella on Bimbo toast and a swig of water, we set out.

The climb was 5 or 6 pitches and in the direct sun, and the ones i had were 5.12 or more. On one of the pitches i followed Duanne up on i managed to dislodge a brick-sized block that resulted in a bruised old feller and considerable swearing and crossing of legs.

By about pitch 4 we had stopped sweating and were starting to rue the decision to climb without sunscreen or sustenence. The final pitch saw us pulling on bolt plates and crying for our mothers.

And then we were at the top. The guidebook didn't actually say much about the climb, it concentrated more on the epics people had had on the abseil down - things like heart attacks and hanging in mid-air for 5 hours - you get the idea. You see the climb followed the lip of this big bowl/cave and we had to abseil into it. Unless you had two 250m ropes, the only way off was to abseil down to the lip, and from there abseil by clipping bolts through the roof (just like a gym) to reach the relative safety of the base of the bowl.

I don't know why i got conned into abseiling the pitch into the bowl, but there i was, clipping and abseiling, and feeling pretty dehydrated and weak. I decided that since i was running out of clips i was probably (probably...) close enough to the wall that i could just clip every second bolt. Unfortunately, in my disoriented state, i misjudged and was unable to reach the next one.

It's not a nice feeling to be hanging in mid-air, the end of my rope dangling 25m below me (100m above the deck), my partner out of view and oblivious to my cries for help 35m above me, and unable, no matter how i tried, to swing enough to be able to grab the next clip. I cried for my mother a second, third, fourth time.

After what seemed like half an hour of swinging, swearing, thrashing, panicking, attempting to prussic up, crying and praying to my mother, i was able to get a grasp of a piece of tat hanging off the bolt. I frantically clipped myself into it, and continued down the line, clipping EVERY bolt. I didn't run out of clips and reached safety, readying myself for my partner.

Because, if anyone's ever done an act of stupidity like this knows, the second abseiler has to unclip what has been clipped. I had to remember to clip in the bottom of the rope to my perch, so that when Duanne had unclipped all the bolts, culminating in a 20m horizontal swing out from the wall, i could pull him back in.

We completed the rest of the abseil without mishap, and when we got back to our gear we downed a litre of lukewarm water each, immediately perspiring like crazy.

Duanne and i decided not to try anything so hard and stupid ever again: i soon returned to the safe confines of Mexico City and Duanne ended up down in South America hiking some 6000m peak in blundstones.

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