blane_instag_meOn Sunday afternoon I headed down to the massive, derelict estate behind London’s Elephant and Castle tube station. Once Europe’s largest housing estate, it’s now Europe’s largest playground.

I wasn’t sure how much we would find but a bit of exploration turned up plenty: several highball drainpipe ascents, some crumbling, fingery brickwork and a rather wonderful arete, as pictured. To add a little more challenge, we eliminated the low wall on the right which ensured a smeary thug up and onto the horizontal break.

The first crux was getting into a position (as pictured) to fight the barn-door and reach up for a protruding metal window hinge. From there, it was full stretch to a second hinge that felt particularly precarious given that your feet are now a good 3 to 4 metres above the deck. A high smear and a foot onto the window sill allowed a deadpoint to a good rail for top-out. (Be a little careful with your feet otherwise you risk kicking broken glass down onto your spotters.)

After working the start, I backed off the top-out once or twice before strapping on a pair and bagging the first ascent. Inspired, Joe (pictured spotting) followed me. Both in good style – trainers, no chalk.

Heading back soon. And next time I’ll take proper pictures. (Photo below courtesy of Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat. Thank you to Joe and Blane and various others for a fun, slightly spontaneous afternoon of climbing.)