St Nicholas

What better way to start your day than breakfast on the beach, 30m from the van? Time to check out the options for the day’s cragging in the guidebook over a coffee. 

St Nicholas is duly selected for today’s fun. Another zigzagging road (this one insanely so), another gleaming white Monastery perched improbably amidst red rock walls, and another shady crag.

Very considerate of the Monks to construct such handy access roads – in this case bringing two opposing walls within a 5 minutes walk from the car allowing for sun or shade by simply switching sides. In our case that meant left hand side for shade in the morning followed by a switch to the right for more shade in the afternoon. 

Our first route, Kilfinan,  gets marked down as the worst of the trip – grungy struggle on poor, dirty rock ending in a tree filled gully. Avoid it! The neighbouring “Monks in the Gym” didn’t look a whole lot better, but was almost worth doing just for the brilliant name! Instead we did Apo Michanis Theos, a 35m 7a up mostly vertical, quite “traddy” white rock with a hard (too hard for me) crux crossing a blank undercut wall on crozzly pebble holds, and another tricky sting in the tail. Here’s a fellow Brit making a better job of it. 

Switching sides (to follow the shade) I start up the classic 6a/+ Broom only to find it much tougher than I expected – also, after 20m there was no sign of a lower off where the route should have ended but instead a load more bolts heading up and around a sharp arête… At which point Helen reported that I was on a 38m 6c+ about 50m to the right of where we had thought. I cursed and pressed on, ultimately quite enjoying the route (which I probably wouldn’t have bothered with had I known the grade, being totally 6c+phobic!)

Heading leftwards we of course found “Broom” which proved excellent, and Helen completed the themed double bill  with “Witch” 

… And her favourite easy route of the trip: Kleines Geshenk.

Looking around for a final tricky route to try I’m left choosing between a 17m overhanging crack, a 30m featureless wall or a 20m steep orange wall that’s “hard to read” – I plump for the latter, “Wheelie” 7a, and am chuffed that I made some good guesses! 

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