4 of us spent a few hours climbing routes on Cabin Door Islet, having walked in via Pen-y-holt Bay. As I descended from our last route of the day, the other 3 were already packing gear away and getting ready to walk out. As I sorted my gear out, the others informed me that the tide had come in too far and walking out was no longer an option. A look at the guidebook showed our best option for getting out was to climb 'Ello Sailor VS 4C (well within my grade).
I geared back up and started to lead up. The others positioned themselves above the incoming water. I put in 3 good pieces of gear prior to reaching the overlap and found a really good hold high up for my right hand. Had my 3 other points of contact been better, I would have placed proctection where my right hand was. Unfortunately at this point I slipped and fell but was held by my belayer. I suffered cuts and grazes to my right hand as I desperately attempted to hold my fall. I also suffered bruising and rope burn to the back of my right thigh.
Feeling unable to carry on leading up, as my hand was bleeding too much, one of the others took over. He reached my high point and managed to put some protection where my right had been. At this point, we spotted someone on the cliff top and shouted up, asking if they could lower a rope. A rope soon appeared and the climber tied in to this so he was being top-roped while still being belayed from below. He topped out with some difficulty and set up his own belay to get the remaining 3 of us and our sacks out. Fortunately we had walkie talkies with us which made communication much easier.
Again with difficulties, a second person managed to top out and the decision was made to haul one of the sacks next. This got stuck at the overlap so the third member of group climbed up, wearing another sack. They released the stuck sack and continued up. The ropes were lowered down to me which I attached to the third sack and myself and started to climb out with my sack on my back. The sea was right in by now and I'd twice been soaked by large waves breaking over me.
With a very tight rope I managed to climb out, helping to haul the other sack over the overlap as I went.
At the top, we were all happy to be safe and in a position to walk back to the car. Looking at the guidebook later on, we realised that the picture of the route did not match what we had climbed. The upper part of the route must have fallen into the sea at some point, leaving behind a slightly desperate, loose and blank section, which explains why we all found it very difficult to climb.
1. Keep a better watch on the sea and the tide
2. If in doubt, place an abseil rope even if you intend to walk in and out
3. Check the guidebook even more closely to look for rockfall etc.
4. Walkie talkies helped us tremendously in being able to communicate with each other
Trad rock climbing
Slip, trip or fall
Rescue Services Involved?
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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.