NPC Newsletter 23, January 1989

Gee Gee Rider - first free ascent

Paul Eastwood

photo - 30k jpeg Paul and Dave just starting the final pitch towards daylight (photo © Andy Waddington, 1988).

Recently I have been pressurised to write a short note about our ascent of Gaping Ghyll. However, this has not been forthcoming due to our European tour. Still, a few words follow, just for the record.

On 11th June, 1988, Paul Eastwood and Dave Hetherington (alternate leads) free climbed the main shaft of Gaping Gill. The route, called Gee Gee Rider, was first climbed by Roger Baxter-Jones and John Moore in 1972. However, ten points of aid were used. Our ascent is the first time the main shaft has been climbed without any points of aid being used. The route took six hours and was completed in very dry conditions. It is now graded E3, 5c and comprises eight pitches.

The route involved climbing up a groove and crack system to a large roof at approximately 15m height. Then traversed right under the roof and up a greasy bottomless groove/chimney to Wingfield's ledge. From here we hand traversed around the back of the shaft to Birkbeck's ledge. The last three pitches involved climbing a gradually steepening crack system towards the surface. The last pitch is considered the hardest and most awkward due to the greasy nature of the rock.

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