'Line of the Ormes' climbed & Detritus Wall access

24 October, 2011
Detritus Wall Access

It's hard to imagine a more neglected piece of U.K. rock sporting three star routes, than the Detritus Wall, on the far tip of the Little Orme. Its 'seawardness', degree of commitment and complex approach have put-off climbers since Dave Lyon added the majority of starred sport routes to this and the adjoining Atlanta Wall at the start of the nineties.

But all that's likely to change, thanks to the amazing and at times hazardous work of Pete Harrison, in establishing an airy fixed-line across Detritus Wall with a couple of double bolt abseil stations to access the routes below.

Pete said: "The carrot dangling ahead of me throughout the eight days of fear of drowning, over which it took to make a proper job of the traverse-line, was Dave Lyon's conspiratorially uttered words, 'the line of the Ormes awaits!', when I was chatting with him about his adventures on this wall."

Deservedly, after all Pete's efforts, he climbed that line to give Alberta Rose 7c, a 25 metre route comparable in quality and just to the left of Ocean of Emotion 7b+, itself given four stars in Steve Mayers 1992 North Wales Limestone guidebook and described in the subsequent edition as "one of the best sport climbing experiences the country has to offer."

Calum Muskett who belayed Pete on his ascent before redpointing it himself, said: "Pete pulled out a really determined lead after nearly falling off right at the start, managing to recover for the difficult final moves. The route is long and sustained on excellent quality rock. The crux comes right at the end on mono pockets and crimps, requiring you to recover well on the good holds below."

Access to the Ocean of Emotion end of the wall previously meant climbing across loose guano covered ground for at least a rope-length, past old pegs and bits of rope, to reach a belay from where you could abseil down to the start. Pete is justifiably pleased with his "do something creative whilst the weather is shit project, providing access to those intriguing routes out above the sea."

He said: "Of all the things I've done over the last couple of years this is definitely the thing I'm most proud of. It's been so fulfilling to go out there by myself after work and do such a bizarre thing, trying not to think about the consequences of a mistake and the resulting 40 metre plummet to the sea with rope, drill, batteries, bolts, gear and god knows what other shit hanging off me, dragging me down like a stone."

Adding: "Anyway I thought it was a fitting use of the last of the DMM Eco Bolts, which Dave Lyon gave to me in 2010 after having been holding onto them for the last 15 years waiting for the next classic. What a great design they were! Dave's efforts back in the day make mine look like child's play. During 'a bit of a bad patch' he thought it'd be good to go out across Detritus Wall by himself with a single 9mm rope, a sky-hook, a drill and some ironmongery. It took him half-a-day to do what took me eight - to get to the top of what is now Ocean of Emotion. I found it quite harrowing at times and I had all the old kit ahead of me to aim for. Dave wouldn't have had any of that. F****** loon."

Detritus Wall and Alberta Rose

Alberta Rose 7c 25m A perfect route taking the immaculate orange-streaked wall left of Dave Lyon's route Ocean of Emotion. Start on the non-tidal ledge as for that route. Dynamic balancey climbing through the lower third leads into awesome face-climbing through the middle section, which gives way to a thin and technical finish utilizing a pair of monos and an assortment of other dinks. A contender for the best 7c in the UK - right next door to one of the best 7b+'s. Lower-off, or swing across to Ocean of Emotion and finish up the last 8 metres of loose ground to the handline.

Having gone to all the effort of opening up these walls Pete hopes more people will check out these places and has kindly provided some access notes:

Detritus & Atlanta Walls Access to the these walls is actually simple - no harder than accessing Gogarth Upper Tier and easier than The Diamond. Head over the top of the Orme to just before the old lookout where you head steeply down and left to reach The Meadow (Hole of Creation). You can walk straight to the abseil point for all the routes on Atlanta Wall and the first three routes on Detritus Wall. Take care on the steep grassy slopes to get here. A simple 30m abseil reaches good non-tidal ledges with bolt belays on the Detritus Wall routes or a thread-belay for the Atlanta Wall routes. All the routes have good bolts - stainless bolts on Dave Lyon's routes, stainless 'Petzl long-lifes' on a couple of the left-hand Atlanta Wall routes, resins on Alberta Rose.

Atlanta and Detritus Walls

Atlanta Wall (faces due West) gets the sun from 2 p.m. in August/3.30 p.m. in October. Detritus Wall (faces North-West) gets the sun from 2.30 p.m. in August/4 p.m. in October. Both are more exposed to the wind and get more sun than The Diamond so are more reliable for good conditions. Climbing here on a sunny afternoon is pretty hard to beat. Stormy October/November may be memorable for less pleasant reasons.

The in-situ handline across Detritus Wall is very airy but well bolted. The route 'E' is reached by abbing down to a non-tidal ledge from the first set of double rings about one-thirds way along the traverse. Ocean of Emotion and Alberta Rose are reached by abbing to a non-tidal ledge from the end of the traverse.

You can gear up for the routes on Detritus Wall at the start of the traverse, but I find it better to take the packs in to the end of the traverse for Ocean of Emotion/Alberta Rose and leave them hanging from the line - careful with the wallet and car keys!

Either take an ab rope or a lighter option is to take a clip stick as a fail-safe for getting out. If you go with the clip stick you'll need to know how to rig a single line retrievable abseil if abbing in on Gri-Gri's, or bring a normal belay plate.

There are nesting restrictions hereabouts from 1st March to 15th August. Details can be found on the BMC Regional Access Database.

Note: Pete Harrison is the main driving force behind the forthcoming North Wales Limestone guidebook which will be accompanied by an iPhone and Android app. A 'taster app'