Sungold – Thumbs Up!

The Thumb is an impressive 300m high quartzite lump on the Tizi Escarpment, which dominates the skyline above the village of Assldrar. It has perhaps the highest concentration of long 3* extremes in the area, with a bunch of highly sought after E2s & 3s, of which we’d gathered that Sungold was the pick of the crop. Reports on UKC of benightments and 11 hour trips suggested not to take it too lightly – leaving the car around 10am didn’t allow more than 8 hours without a descent by headtorch…

It’s a fairly short approach – about 20 minutes if you manage to find the reasonable path (walk along the track over the stream bed and follow it to its end, then head up towards the crag just after a big red house with a walled garden – the path runs up the right side of a rough stone wall before leading around the right of a huge boulder and then follows cairns through the terracing to reach the crag)

The first pitch pulls up to an unlikely looking overhang and traverses left beneath it before romping up easier flakey ground to a ledge. Hint – go the full 55m.

Pitch 2 is easier – the only one that gets 5a, and you head up and right until you reach a large sloping ledge after about 40m – I belayed here, but the “obvious cracks” mentioned in the guidebook are a further 10m up and right around an arete. Here’s Jake on P3 having climbed the crack and contemplating the rather runout section up to a vegetated groove, after which more runout climbing leads to an “airy stance”.

I got P4 – perhaps the trickiest technically, pulling through an orange steepening, but well protected. This then traverses left to a commodious stance beneath a big orange corner. Here’s Jake arriving at the stance.

… and here he is halfway up the corner (using every technique imaginable)

P6 is another 60m job, with a pull through a jenga-block overlap followed by a raggedy crack and then easier ground to the top. Here’s Jake looking suitability alpine (quite chilly in the shade – the promised “morning sun” clearly doesn’t apply in December!)

Stupendous view down to the village, just emerging from the shadow of The Thumb, with distant snow-topped mountains in the distance.

Warmer on top though šŸ™‚ 5:30hrs for the route – not too shabby for 300m of quite sustained 5b. We took the leftwards descent via the gully next to the Tramline Slabs. It felt like a long way (1:15hrs rather than the 45mins in the guidebook) so maybe the rightwards descent is a better bet – you choose…

Here’s Jake’s topo…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s