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The short story of a new crag


Ghost Town

Pete's 2007 PhotoPete’s photo from 2007 (left), looking down the vertical corner to a ledge far below and titled “Ghost Town”, was enough to attract interest from several of his friends. It showed ropes tied up and dangling just below him. The name of the route is enigmatic in its description until you understand the context and location of the crag. Hidden almost out of sight just south of Mirki Geo, the name Ghost Town refers to the deserted hamlet of Wadbister to the west of the geo. It might equally refer to the fact that it is a very rare day that you’ll meet anyone else out on this wild stretch of coastline.

Ghost Town - Mike on lead

Ghost Town – Mike on lead

The name “Mirki Wall”, taken from the name of the geo just to the north, is somewhat of a misnomer for this fine south facing wall of Bressay Sandstone. Mirki comes from the Old Norse for darkness and when the sun is out the wall is bathed in sunshine until well after midday.

As with many crags on Shetland and in particular Bressay, it has taken quite a few years until the full potential of the climbing has been realised. Ghost Town takes the fine 30m left hand corner of the crag to give a great three star route and ranks as one of the best at the grade in Shetland and most definitely on Bressay. It can be climbed in a single pitch or a belay can be taken at mid-height to allow a party to share the lead and the excellent climbing. The route has seen a handful of repeats by Pete, Julie and friends until this year. A second line added by them starts at the corner and takes a slightly devious line to snake up the wall at a much easier grade but less reliable rock.

Motion Suspended

Kevin and I went out to repeat the route a couple of weeks ago on a dry, breezy and overcast day. Unfortunately a south easterly wind was gusting directly onto the route on that cool Sunday so we made the wise decision to find somewhere more sheltered and it was only later in the week that Mike and I returned to repeat the route. With a lead of Ghost Town dispatched by Mike, I climbed the awkward overhang a couple of metres to the right leading on to a fine vertical crack above. We called the line Deacon in reference to the helicopter winchman, William Deacon, who lost his life just off the cliffs here in 1997 during the rescue of the crew of Green Lily, a reefer that ran aground in a Force 10.

Motion Suspended FA

Motion Suspended FA

Motion Suspended E2 FA - Mike 02 (JM) RedMike then tackled another great looking line to the right of the wall. This starts up the vertical wall just left of a slot to an overhang before breaking out left around the overhang and then up and rightwards to finish up the spectacular wall, creating another 3 star line called Motion Suspended. The name refers to a series of photos taken by Julie that capture a large handhold popping off the route and narrowly missing me, the belayer, below. Not only did the rock miss me, but Mike managed not to come off and was able to press on to claim a clean first ascent.

Oops - Motion Suspended. Photo: Julie Maguire

Oops – Motion Suspended. Photo: Julie Maguire

Green Lily FAOur final route of the day was another great line that breaks through a small corner and up the wall between the last two routes called Green Lily.

You can check out the crag page for Mirki Wall here, with a photo topo of the routes.

Thanks very much to Ross for submitting the article and photos.

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