Stack Attack – Rusna Stacks

The day’s jaunt began with two extremely psyched climbers wandering along the headland, regretting our lack of stakes & sledge-hammer. Had we had them of course, we would have spent the five mile slog from Walls Pier bemoaning their existence. As we closely hugged the cliff edge we periodically stopped to peer downwards at steeply undercut walls. Possible lines of weakness, cracks suitable for human fingers to gain purchase, guided the eye back upwards. Lines traced from rocky foreshore to grassy topout.

Every rise promised more, until we summited another hillock to find Rusna Stacks laid out below. They clustered below us, a collection of sharks fins rising from the briny depths. Each stack displaying a clean slabby sweep of rock rising to a crenulated ridge. Here at last was our days’ climbing.

First we circled, scrambling to gain different viewpoints, with each subtle change of vantage bringing new features to the fore. Crack systems separated by blank sections of rock, roofs jutting out above cracks, & the occasional ledge. We tried to reconcile potential plans to the gear and time we had available. Abseiling down the cliff then leaving the rope in place before swimming resulted in wet clothes and gear due to our lack of drybag. Pulling the abseil rope to use as a Tyrolean across the waves would entail in a final, horrific looking, loose scramble to regain the clifftop at the end of the venture.

Finally, lateral thinking prevailed. We outflanked the tottering cliffs with a sea level traverse. Our ambitions by this point had been reined in slightly. Rather than the blank looking slab, we proposed to tackle the precipitous ridge bristling with gendarmes rising up from our proposed landing spot.

One of us was going to have to get wet. It was the only way to get the rope in place for the Tyrolean traverse, the fragile rope bridge allowing safe dry passage across the waves. The rope would form an umbilical cord to the mainland allowing safe retreat in the face of high seas. In such situations there is only one course of action open, sudden death paper-scissor-stone.

My stone lost to Reeves paper so I stripped off before nakedly plunging into the sea. I tied the rope around a convenient spike and sat back to shiver whilst Reeve tensioned the rope and readied himself.

“I’ve forgotten my lid, I’ll be back in a moment” floated across the gap as I saw him bugger off back the way we came.

Some time latter he returned and queried the tension of the line, “I’m sure it’ll be fine” I replied, my judgement clouded by shivering and goose bumps.

A rapid decent down the Tyrolean deposited Reeve in the sea; this led him to loudly question my professional opinion on matters of rope work.

At this point we painted an amazing picture of incompetence. One naked man, helpless with the combined debilitating effects of nudity, shivering and uncontrollable mirth was sitting on a rock surrounded by the waves whilst a fully dressed man wearing a rucksack floundered in the sea. At this point a fishing boat turned up to assist me in laughing at Reeve. I gave them my most winning smile and grinned as much as possible to ensure they knew we were having FUN, and that this was all part of the PLAN, to prevent them feeling compelled to attempt rescue.

After some time had elapsed, some invective muttered and the abandonment by the fisherman of their fishing ground, presumably in search of less lewd behaviour, we were both finally on the platform assessing the situation. By some unimaginable fluke, my clothes which had been in the top of the bag were dry. I was soon warm and happy. Reeve however…..

I lay back in the sun belaying. Rocks rained down into the sea, closely followed by queries regarding the parentage of the said rocks. Apparently some form of rubble filled chimney was posing interesting questions regarding the fragility of mortality. Soon it was my turn and I teetered upwards having considerations for future teams enjoyment by leaving as many of the poised blocks in position as possible. The rubble-less chimney, neutered by the provocation of a climber’s weight had shed its load and consequently I was soon up at the belay.

Together we swayed from slings as we surveyed the twenty five meters of ridge leading up to the highest point of the stack. One giant finger was raised in defiance, sticking on, literally against the forces of erosion. It supported my weight but I left it unencumbered by slings as I felt to test with a fall would be possibly more than it could stand. We paused but briefly on top to congratulate each other on our tower deflowering, as Reeve now had the uncontrollable shivering.

Some down climbing & abseiling later saw us at the bottom.

I tightened the Tyrolean and launched back across making it with minor foot splashage. Reeve followed in the sea after releasing the rope.

Original Route VS……..

Written by Dave Brown and originally posted on his blog on 7th July 2011. You can check out Dave’s blog at http://daveeabrown.blogspot.co.uk/ Text and images © Dave Brown.

Leave a Comment