ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

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Try Passion 61
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ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Try Passion 61 »

In late May '24, I revisited Parliament House Cave on North Stack promontory, a place I'd last stood 30years before. The reason for the drop in was due to one of our party suffering from acute sea sickness and we were looking for the quickest dry stable spot to land and give them some respite. It took me down memory lane as the last visit I made here in 1994, I'd climbed an old aid route called The Big Overhang (first climbed by Doug Scott in 1967) that it had taken 13hour to cross the main overhanging roof and 'escape' the tide sequence below.
On returning, it was pointed out to me that there's an escape route from this spot, (follow the tunnel just above the standing persons head which leads to a fairly benign scrabble to safety). I didn't know that in 1995 as we had 'committed' ourselves by pulling all abseil ropes to use for the climb.
Which got me to wondering - how many other hidden escape routes are there that you know of, which might be of use (albeit in desperation) as a last resort back-up.


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Sean_soup
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Sean_soup »

That's a very dramatic photo! Did you notice the change in the roof of the cave? I think your old aid route might currently be lying beneath the rubble on the cave floor since a huge rockfall during the winter three or four years ago.)

Not an escape route, but I spent an hour or so hauled up on one of the little stacks by Castell Helen while paddling solo on a bouncy day a couple of summers ago, waiting for my internal washing machine to finish its spin cycle. I lost a little bit of gelcoat during the landing which was less than elegant, but the desire to get off the water and onto a bit of solid rock in lieu of actual land had suddenly become overwhelming. Groo.

There are a few places around the Stacks to escape if you're up for a bit of a scramble and don't mind not being able to carry your kayak with you, most obviously I guess at the back of Abraham's Bosom, where the dodgy footpath has been recently supplemented with a brand new big concrete staircase belonging to one of the big houses above (the owner now keeps a boat down there on the shore). It's festooned with 'private keep out' signs, but that wouldn't bother me much in a genuine emergency.

Somewhere you could also potentially disembark is South Stack itself - the cave on the N side of the bridge once served as a dock for a boat to bring provisions in to the lighthouse and if you're up for the rocky landing the staircase cut into the rock remains, though the handrail isn't much more than a pile of rust now. When the lighthouse is open to the public you'd probably meet the person who checks tickets at the top. (Where you'd surprise them a bit, appearing on the 'wrong' side of the wall behind them.) When the lighthouse isn't open, I guess there would be a locked gate in the way of your escape back up to the road.

There's just about room at the foot of that staircase to haul one kayak out onto the rock, though in anything other than very calm conditions I don't know whether you could leave it there for long and expect to find it again when you got back.
ChrisJK
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by ChrisJK »

I enjoy the irony sean: an escape route is possibly what one finds when one is in an emergency. On the sea that's possibly greatly assisted by current local knowledge and experience, coupled with skill level along with the conditions at the time.
Today I was looking across from Hoylake to Hilbre island and the gap between middle eye and Hilbre island https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbre_Islands
I wasn't a paddler at the time recounted but apparently a couple of club trips having set out from West Kirby were out in challenging conditions and at least one group bailed out and headed back across in the relative lee of the islands towards red rocks. I have no idea of the tide situation or wind speeds but it can't have been pleasant. paddling over a choppy long sandy beach to reach land.
Then of course there's the problem of getting back to your transport etc. I think in this case the RNLI may have been involved at some point but that may be conjecture.
Try Passion 61
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Try Passion 61 »

I’ve belayed many times on the lower levels of Castell Helen Sean but never accompanied with only a sea kayak. That must have been an unnerving few hours!
In the (yes, dramatic) photo, the white scar nw of the standing figure on the back lower wall was once a VS ramp line to a ledge(of sorts) where the main aid route began. The entire ‘ramp’ block is gone now, and assorted ‘fangs and saw teeth’ are missing from the line, but I saw a few ancient bits of tat still waving their defiance.
Would fighting off the snakes, as per Bear Grylls signage put off any temporary ‘escape’ on St Tudwall’s I wonder?
Sean_soup
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Sean_soup »

Try Passion 61 wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2024 9:43 am
I’ve belayed many times on the lower levels of Castell Helen Sean but never accompanied with only a sea kayak. That must have been an unnerving few hours!
Actually once the worst of the nausea had gone it was really quite nice. The swell was left over from a storm somewhere a few days before and it was otherwise a lovely sunny day with just a gentle breeze. I found it was quite a straightforward scramble up to the top of the wee pinnacle there to watch the climbers doing their thing on Castell Helen - there were teams on several routes, it would be quite a nice vantage point to take photos of either climbers or paddlers. (Especially if you took a proper camera with a big lens there in a Peli-case or something.)
Would fighting off the snakes, as per Bear Grylls signage put off any temporary ‘escape’ on St Tudwall’s I wonder?
Heh. Well the trouble with 'escaping' onto an island is that at some point you still have to escape off the island again!

In an emergency I think my attitude to the signage put up by world renowned bat murdering jet-ski wanker Mr Grylls would be just the same as any other GOML land-owner. Hopefully someone who makes such a big deal of his Christianity in public would be able to find it in his heart to forgive a literal trespass against him in private.
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by mrcharly »

Fabulous photo.
Sean_soup
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Sean_soup »

Sean_soup wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2024 3:43 pm
There are a few places around the Stacks to escape if you're up for a bit of a scramble and don't mind not being able to carry your kayak with you, most obviously I guess at the back of Abraham's Bosom, where the dodgy footpath has been recently supplemented with a brand new big concrete staircase belonging to one of the big houses above (the owner now keeps a boat down there on the shore). It's festooned with 'private keep out' signs, but that wouldn't bother me much in a genuine emergency.
A little update to this in case anyone has a couple of million quid down the back of the sofa: the big posh house at the top of those new steps is up for sale.

I hope the new owner doesn't take that bit about 'private beach' too seriously, they might own the land above HWS but they're in for a bit of a surprise if they're expecting complete privacy on the beach itself. (For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know it's a very popular and completely legit sea kayakers lunch location which is also, just about, accessible from above by a little-used public footpath.)

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north- ... l-29342833
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Ceegee
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Re: ESOTERIC ESCAPE ROUTES

Post by Ceegee »

Not quite an epic, but I was progressing eastwards up the north coast of Mallorca, into an ever stiffening headwind, and after 25km just couldn't make it past the final headland at Alconasser into the safety of Sóller Harbour.

After paddling to stay still in F6 wind I gave up, turned and surfed back the 5km where I had to thread the needle into the very narrow Déia harbour or else run into the lee shore of the next headland's cliffs.

The "escape" involved beaching the boat safely, then climbing across the terrace of a very posh eatery (as featured in BBC's thriller 'The Night Manager'), negotiating a carpark of Bentley's and Ferrari's, and waiting on the pavement of Richard Branson's Residencia Hotel for a crowded commuter bus for a sticky, winding trip back to my destination where I had left my car, then returning for my kayak.

Sweat-soak rashie and salt-encrusted PFD in 38°heat, plus my one-piece carbon paddle didn't help with my popularity. Luckily I had the bus fare on me, and didn't forget my car keys in the kayak.

(It was a darn sight lumpier than the pics)

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Cheers,
Steve C. G.
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