Mecca survives! June 12, 2009
Hardly news to 99.999% of climbers, but to those that care, the starting block falling off at the start of Mecca was a big issue!
Rock hard, hard as rock! Rock is hard, but then it can still break, holds can still be shed. I learnt this a long time ago, plumeting for 25 metres with a fist sized chunk in my hand, crashing onto my back before I'd even realized what was going on. Some of our climbs are fragile without us even knowing, sometimes holds do part from the cliff, fortunatley, mostly, they don't result in injury. Spare a thought for Pete Hurley who wasn't so lucky recently, carrying a departed hand hold down to the ground. He's on the road to recovery but it's a long one.
Some of our routes are important, historical, brilliant or popular. If a hold breaks, for some rock types and some ethics it may be possible to glue it back on. Often nature is allowed to take its course and allow the evolution, but that can be painful, a route could become impossible or be changed out of character. British Limestone has a habit of shedding holds, it's not the best quality in the world. However, one of the routes is of a quality to match many in the world, so it was big news among those interested when the very large starting block on 'Mecca' started to wobble. At 8b+ it's one of the best hard routes we have. Residing at Ravenstor, it's many peoples first, and often only route at this grade. The starting block is big, the size of 4 or 5 shoe boxes stuck together, it was a very good hand hold, and then a very good foothold! But it never looked totally attached, and then it became apparent that it wasn't. I helped it's course down to the ground, catching it in a hospital bed made of ropes before gravity took over completely. Those with time invested were horrified to see their dreams now laid on the ground. It could be glued back on, but it will be a job and a half, maybe a harder job than climbing the now harder route.
But Mecca survives. There are other options. After a quick brush I went for a lead of the new sequence. It went first go, harder than before, but the grade stays put! Later I continued up the extension too, which also shed a hold recently that was repaired this time: the grade of that stays too. Maybe it's better in this state? It's certainly climable. But for those that fancy some serious building work, the block lies below the route.
Perhaps someone could sell it on ebay????