/ Has this groove at Avon been climbed?

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nickcrowhurst 03 Dec 2019

In 1965 I had just started climbing at Avon, complete with the standard rope around the waist and non-bendy boots. I was walking from Sea Walls towards the Central Buttress area when I saw a lead climber fall out of the rock just to the left of the CB arete. He was a good friend, another beginner. He was uninjured, and he shouted to me that he was trying to climb Piton Route. In fact he was way too far to the right, and had crossed over into Great Central Route. Even worse, he had strayed off GCR and had fallen out of the groove to the left of GCR's crux move. Martin Crocker's superb 2017 guide book has a fold-out front cover with a 1955 photo showing Chris Bonnington on the crux move, which is approached from the right, around the corner. The short groove in question is just to his left, and would lead straight to GCR's belay. I had read the then current guide book, and thought that I should be able to lead Piton Route. I confidently swarmed up to my pal, confidently tied on, confidently set off up the groove, and confidently fell straight out of it. In the current Crocker guide there is still no squiggly yellow line up this short groove. Has it been climbed in the subsequent 54 years?

Nick.

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Dave Cundy 03 Dec 2019
In reply to nickcrowhurst:

It has.  I took a friend up GCR some years ago and he went up your groove, rather than stepping out right and then back left, as i had just done.  Having subsequently done that variation myself, i'd say it was a touch harder than the GCR crux,  more balancy.  It's no surprise that you fell off it in your early days 

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nickcrowhurst 03 Dec 2019
In reply to Dave Cundy:

Many thanks. I've been wondering about that ever since we fell out of the groove. I guess it must be 5b, as shortly afterwards I led on-sight CB, GCR and the direct start to Malbogies, all of which are now graded 5b, and all of which were polished even then. Most likely I was bombing happily upwards on what I expected to be 4b, making the beginner error of climbing to the guide, and not what was in front of my nose. I wish I could reminisce over a beer with my fellow Icarus about that day, but he died two years ago of Motor Neurone Disease. We had climbed together for 50 years. It was a good combination. We climbed at the same standard. He was better at delicate wandering slabs, and I led the cracks and overhangs.

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