A few of us were tempted by the good weather forecast for a Saturday in November. We arranged to meet at Durlston Head super early (well, about 30 mins earlier than usual) for 9:30 in order to make the most of the daylight.
Daj, Max, Bob, Alan, Anne-Marie and I turned up, more-or-less on time, and then started to think about climbing venue. We decided that, due to the wet weather overnight and possibly windy conditions, we should head for an area of the Ruckle with some “easy” routes. The area around the Ramp seemed to fit the bill.
Although I could see some large splashes as the sea met the cliffs further to the West, I was still optimistic as I abseiled down to the bottom. However once I was there, I realised that any boulder-level traverse was out of the question! I was quickly joined by Max and we started to see which of the possible routes out were within our abilities…
Max started off leading Jonah (VS), described by the 1995 CC guide as a “mediocre route”. Well at least it wasn’t the Ramp! Alan and Anne-Marie had descended by now and Alan jumped onto the other available exit route of Due Care and Attention (HS). Daj and Bob joined us last and were busy looking around the lower sections of wall when a big wave came in and soaked them through! Undeterred, Daj set off up a route inbetween Max’s and Alan’s lines, saying that he was making it up as he went along (the guidebook says it’s called Road to Ruin (E2)… ).
Jonah was good fun, but the top out (I led the second pitch) was pure slimy nastiness. Everyone else has the good fortune to be lowered a rope, but I guess someone had to be first! Max and I returned to the bottom to climb Due Care and Attention, where we were both soaked by a big wave. After we had got back to the top, no-one was in the mood for further wave/slime action, so we had lunch and then retreated to Subluminal.
A few climbers were already at Subluminal and were keen to ask how we’d found the conditions in the Ruckle (ha ha). One of them, after finding out that we were with the Wessex, said that he used to know a Wessex member, but was struggling to remember his name. He eventually asked us if the name ‘Bob Mott’ rang a bell, when Bob had been standing in front of him all the time!
The conditions at Subluminal were much more conducive to climbing. All of the climbs were accessible, belayers were not subject to the occasional drenching and the top-outs were wonderful, solid rock. Max and I climbed Transcript Direct (VS), which must’ve been missing a few holds, and then I led Back Street (VS), again taking a while to figure out the crux.
With the sun dangerously close to the sea, Alan and Anne-Marie confidently descended again for one last climb. Not to be outdone, the rest of us quickly followed suit. Max led Balcony (HS) (and strangely no sign of Paul Stevens on this ascent) and we all got back to the top just after the sun disappeared for the day.
A quality day’s winter cragging was finished off with beers in the Square and Compass. While we driving home, Max noticed that Alan had already posted on Facebook “Good climbing today, though a bit wavey and muddy. Who’s up for tomorrow?” – you’ve got to make the most of the fine weather while it lasts!
Here are (some of) the photos I took: