Leda Brewer, a divemaster and climber working for the SeaSaba Dive Center, had done some preliminary scouting for routes in her spare time. We joined forces and began identifying more areas of climbing interest and also having a go at some virgin lines. The shot at left is Jeb moving up a super hand crack. Several rock features around the island were found to be well-consolidated, although it also became apparent that some rare species of tropical birds were attracted to the same vertical playground. For example, Saba is the last foothold for the rare Whitetail Tropicbird, which nests in abundance along many of its cliffs and is protected by national mandate, precluding intrusion by ‘outsiders’ such as us.
Leda plugging in gear on a first ascent……
With each passing day, we began hearing more scraps of folklore about the existence of a cave up on a mountainside that was seemingly bottomless. Amongst other rather bizarre details, chickens had apparently been dropped down into it to find out how deep it actually went. Then we heard the chickens were found floating out in the sea along the shoreline several days later, indicating that there may be continuity from the known entrance at about 1500′ to sea level. It was too much for Jeb (an accomplished caver) to pass up, so we went to find the ‘Cave of the Chickens’. Sure enough, it was there. We roped up and dropped down into the inky blackness, however we didn’t have enough rope to “get to the bottom of the story”. We will be back to solve this one for good.
Our few days on SABA were far too short. It’s a place of lush tropical forest, tidepools, exotic birds, historic ruins, exciting diving, diverse and friendly people, fine restaurants – a rich natural and remote wonderland in miniature. Climbing potential is definitely there. Yet it also was clear that resources are limited and must be shared appropriately. Foresight and sensitivity must come into play before exploiting certain areas for one activity over others. In that regard, our proposal for the development of climbing is now being considered by authorities on the island. Part of the proposal is seen at left. There are no less than 14 areas of high interest that can be developed into EXCITING, CHALLENGING climbing locations on the island. One example shown at right (top) is known by locals as the ‘Hole in the Corner’, a dive destination. This 200 foot high seacliff is mostly well-consolidated rock with climbing surfaces ranging from dihedrals and cracks to sporty, near vertical faces and overhangs. A second area is known as the ‘Whale’s Tail’, a terrific location for several pure traditional routes as shown in the last shot (right bottom). We are currently awaiting the outcome which, if favorable, will turn Saba into a potentially very exotic climbing destination.
In the meantime. . . . . .
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