Pagan – third time lucky 

Andy and I had had a couple of previous unsuccessful attempts at Pagan, a 3* 3 pitch E4 on Red Wall, Gogarth. Both had been aborted due to conditions, the line can be quite damp ( especially in January when perhaps my unbounded optimism might have been misplaced!)

This time we enlisted Stan for moral support and route beta, as he’d done it before, and chose a day with great conditions.

Pitch 1 is a space walk into very atmospheric territory, on large holds which are more or less stuck together with talcum powder – especially disconcerting when you fingers ooze into the wet gloop!

This yields a spooky hanging stance above the void. From here you either climb out or ab into the sea. Quite committing! The next pitch starts up more crumbly stuff before tackling a steep wall, where at least the rock is improving.

After all that, we’re still 45m from the top, savouring a grand day by the seaside.

Then it’s off on a zigzagging voyage of discovery, as the final pitch picks out a complex line of possibilities through the upper wall.

Simply awesome! Somehow it’s managed to reach 5pm and the sun is conspicuously heading towards the horizon. Resisting the temptation of a brew in the cafe and a rest on our laurels, we decide to “nip down for a quick one”. Of course, there’s no such thing on Red Wall. Andy pulls out a magnificent lead of the huge first 47m pitch, but the lighthouse is now clearly visible in the dusk.

Good mountain judgement prevails and Stan  leads us off the face via the last pitch of Wendigo.

Perfect timing. We top out having made the absolute most of the day. …then spend an hour looking for Steve and Hamish who have been held up by a slow team on Britomartis and finished the route by the light from the lighthouse. All’s well that ends well!

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