Before I begin, I want to ask public opinion of the name of the route. Do You Know Where Your Children Are? is quite an in-depth/obscure reference between friends, which I fear will be lost on 99.9% and may end up being thought of as just a bit shit. Its closest contender was The Hangman's Daughter, which will be obvious to most as the prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn. At the time I thought this was perhaps too cliché, but now I am starting to reconsider...
So there it is, Do You Know Where Your Children Are? or The Hangman's Daughter? Where does popular opinion sit?
After the success on Dusk Till Dawn, I was ready to step things up, it was time to try the project. I felt that if I could make it to the pockets at the start of DTD, I could climb to the top even if I was tired. That meant simply being able to climb a wet E6/7 with rotting fixed gear, directly into a run-out fr8a+ - childs play ;)
We arrived in Huntsman’s a few hours after low tide and so the first few meters were almost dry after their last bath. The same could not be said for the next part, which was badly affected by seepage. Low down the protection was ok, which was a welcome relief as the moves were damn hard, at one point involving fingertip monos in both hands! After this, the moves became a little easier and the gear disappeared – the remains of the shaft of a once proud peg looked apologetically back at me.
I arrived at the separation point, marked by a yellow thread. I had been forced to replace this earlier that day after the original had ripped out in my hand. This was a stark reminder of how we should always show caution with fixed gear on Sea Cliffs. This thread is crucial, and without it, you are looking at certain ground fall from the moves above. On first sight, it looked ok, and I could easily see how someone would have clipped it on an on-sight/flash – potentially setting themselves up for a serious accident. This is probably not the right place to discuss the details of these complex issues, but I feel its important they are addressed soon, by the “correct” people, whoever they may be?
I recovered quite well on a pair of steep jugs, and after fiddling in the 3 micro-wires (1 good, 2 questionable) felt in with a high chance of sticking the next section. Long move, strange hold, bad feet, long move, strange hold, bad feet... you get the picture. In the middle of this section you slap into a big fat sidepull, which due to being a bit better than the other holds, serves as a rest point before the final hard section. From this sidepull you can also place some gear – a micro-wire threaded over an old rusty peg, and a decorative nut in your previous slopey left hand slot which has a tendency to fall out.
This gear is a bit of an unknown quantity as it was untested even with just body weight. If it holds, you will be ok, it it fails, well, you might still be ok, but it would be a long and scary few seconds before finding out. A few small crimps and more bad feet bring you to the redpoint crux. After matching the footholds of the crux of DTD, you must toe-in on a high left edge and make a LONG rockover to the glorious pockets!
I almost began to relax, but fortunately realised that I was only halfway through the crux of DTD, with only one hand and low shitty feet. A few more seconds of focus brought me to good holds and good gear. I was significantly more tired than before, and as I collected my thoughts and was thankful to have climbed this section before as I now had familiarity with the holds and moves. Knowing that the rest of the route should cause no further problems allowed me to really relax and enjoy the experience. The climbing on the lower wall is superb, some of the best rock and moves I have climbed in a while, and I felt lucky to have been in the right place, at the right time, in the right shape to do it.
As for the grade of the route, which I’m sure will sadly be the first, and in some case only thing people are interested in. My opinion is that the level of climbing is a step up from similar routes in Pembroke, and is a little more “dangerous”. There is a medium run-out through the entire crux to reach the peg, which may or may not hold. After this you climb a further few moves (redpoint crux) to join DTD, where you still have to climb the crux of this route to reach the next good gear. Climb DTD to the top but without the bomber gear in the crack, which is not too much of a concern at this point. If the peg rips, I have no idea what would happen – to be honest, I never thought I would fall so didn’t take the time to check the dimensions out.
Get down there and check it out.