Christine 8a Deep Water Solo

After returning from Long Quarry point last week I had only one thing on my mind.

Christine!

I just had to go back to her.

An unsuccessful attempt on Christine
Photo Hannah Brading

Christine and I came excruciatingly close last week but I fell on my last go, from the final move of the crux. Unfortunately I was already running late as I had to be back in Gloucester to run a coaching session in 2 hours so did not have time to finish her off.

On Monday I drove back down for my second date with Christine. This time I was sure something would happen.

On my first go of the day I climbed clinically through to my previous high point, reached for the next hold but could not hold the wild cut loose. Christine spat me off once again. This time I took a wild fall landing fully side on, and got a real ear full. A few minutes spent drying of and shaking sea water from my ears and I was ready to go again.

A creating waves

The route breaks down into 3 distinct sections, first up is a board style boulder problem to a no hands back and foot rest, next you have amazingly steep 3D climbing which culminates in this wild cut loose right at the lip, you then join and climb the crux of Blue Planet 7b+ and follow this route to the top.

The lower wall
Photo Hannah Brading

I climbed the now dialled lower wall to the rest. The rest on this route is special, hard climbing to it and hard climbing after it, but while resting you are on your own in this hanging full body bridge above the sea. The sound of crashing waves are in your ears and you can see small fishes darting around in the sea below, all very restful until you anticipate the climbing that you cannot see but is still to come. After the rest you lower yourself down, around and through bulges and ceilings, toe hooks are de rigueur. The final hard moves revolve around the afore mentioned cut loose on small crimps. This time I released one leg first to reduce the swing, dropped my final toe hook and engage the core. I stayed on. Whipping my feet back to the wall I made the final move before joining Blue Planet and enjoying this route to the top.

Finally holding the crux swing on Christine 8a
Photo Ben Norman

Relief after the crux

Climbing the top wall of Christine and Blue Planet
Photo Ben Norman

Overall this is one of my most satisfying climbing experiences as when climbing ground up on every go you are climbing into the unknown right up until you unlock the finishing sequence.

Christine, you are mine.

Deep water soloing never ceases to amazing me and give me joy. I think the main reason I love it so much is that even if you do not climb your desired route you still have a massive amount of fun trying. Falling into the warm blue sea is nothing but pure pleasure (most of the time).

Deep Water Soloing

Is Deep Water Soloing the greatest form of climbing? For me days spent deep water soloing are definitely up there with the best climbing days I ever have.

Mike Goldthorp on Arapiles oh Arapiles

Spring and early summer are by far the busiest time of year for me, as this time of year is when much of the work I do is in full swing, but fortunately this year I have had some great days out climbing above the water in between work. It is these days that have inspired me to to write a few words on my current favourite genre of climbing.

Mike on Arapiles

So why is deep water soloing so good? In my opinion this form of climbing incorporates all of the best bit from its neighbouring disciplines, and none of the worst bits.

Cailean Harker on Once a Dogger

First of all you have the adventurous feeling that you experience whilst Trad climbing, perhaps it is the apprehension of the unknown, feeling the fear and adrenaline of being way above your protection or the great sense that you must keep climbing despite the uncertainty of a mighty fall, and all this without the faff of ropes and gear.

Ben Norman on Blue Planet

When you do fall you realise that DWS’ing has much in common with sport climbing. It allows you the freedom to flow with the climbing whilst pushing your physical limits to the max in relative safety, you don’t even have to stop to clip a bolt.

About to get a face full… SPLASHDOWN!!!

This form of climbing has a really close connection with the vibe that you get when bouldering with a group of like minded people. There is a hugely social element and the feeling of comradery and mutual support are the real reasons that I like DWS so much. Participants whoop and cheer with joy at any opportunity, especially when they see their friends take huge splashdowns into the sea.

Mike on Blue Planet

Last month I had a trip down Lulworth, on arrival we were greeted by a large group of super strong climbers from all over the country. The conditions were amazing and the atmosphere was even better. The group moved from route to route ticking classics such as Animal Magnetism 7a+, Gates of Grey Skull 7b+ and Mark of the Beast 7c.

The dyno on Adrenochrome

Animal Magnetism is a cool route which starts already way above the sea and climbs to the top of the wall with a brilliant sequence on cool holds. Gates of Grey skull is a spectacular route, climbing a super steep wall on good holds to a final exciting dynamic slap for the top. Mark of the Beast is as fine an example of a DWS as can be found anywhere. It climbs a super steep wall on big pumpy holds to a final move which requires precision and strength of body and mind, way above the water. In total that day Mark of the Beast was climbed 8 times with 6 of those ascents being flashed (perhaps the most ascents this route has had in one day). I finished of the day with an onsight of Skullthuggery, a super steep and 3D start to Gates of Grey Skull. Super Stuff!!

Other must visit destinations include Berry Head, Long quarry point, Swanage, Pembroke and of course Mallorca. Get out there people and enjoy the sunny weather!

One thing to bear in mind is the safety of Deep water soloing, it is a great idea to take someone experienced in this form of climbing on your first trip. Always check the tides and landing zones before you set off and practice your falling technique before you start getting high.

Getting high and scared on The Lobster Mallorca