Houlding and Team in Big Wall Mode; But They Are Running Out Of Time
Having arrived at the prow of Guyana’s Mount Roraima, Leo Houlding and his team have switched into “big wall climbing mode.” The team set up a hanging portaledge camp on the wall itself, using the overhang of the rock to shield themselves from the elements.
From this base, they have started to climb the route. This is a two-stage process, first, a lead team forges the route using ropes, then climbers get a chance to free climb each separate pitch as the expedition works its way up the wall. Houlding and Wilson Cutbirth have made good progress, pushing the rope up the wall to a feature called the “invisible ledge.” As the name suggests, this is invisible from the ground, but on arrival Houlding found it to be three feet thick and 30 feet wide. It should make a perfect second camp for the team as they move up the mountain.
Meanwhile, Anna Taylor was establishing the free climbing route on some of the lower pitches. Pitch four proved particularly tricky and it took more than a day, and a few falls, before she mastered it.
The expedition team had been hoping to summit by December 4 and still have some tricky pitches to complete towards the top of the mountain. Houlding reports that they are “not in panic mode yet, but we’re aware of how little time is left to reach the summit.”