Getting Stuck on “Zippatrocity”

I was first introduced to the most esoteric of grit classics by my friend Martin during a brief time when I lived in Sheffield. Martin had been projecting “Zippatrocity” for a few years already, and convinced me to go out with him to the Cowperstone.

After a quick lesson in taping I begun to rather ineffectively wedge my body parts into the crack. The first part of the traverse was seeping, but the second, easier half seemed quite inviting. I enjoyed the rapid progression from not being able to jam at all to stringing two, sometimes even three moves in a row.

Then I left Sheffield for Chamonix. Zippa was left behind until Alice Hafer decided we should try it during my next short visit to the Peak.

Contrary to our hopes, two days on the problem didn’t bring the great progression we had hoped for. Despite failing miserably, we almost had more fun than on our best sending days. Plagued by the heat and the midges, we kept trying for hours on end. Even after we realised it wasn’t going to happen, we simply kept going for the fun of it.

Somewhat surprisingly, a lowball traverse can be a source of some of the most intense bouldering experiences. Wedged in the crack, with my butt hanging less than two feet above wet grass, I felt as alone and focused as ten metres off the deck. Admittedly, I was very glad to explore the insanely technical intricacies of jamming while being entirely safe.

Since that one weekend last summer, I haven’t had a chance to be back on the problem. Alice returned in better conditions and, after some more projecting, the send escaped her narrowly. Soon she too will leave Sheffield behind and chances are that both of us will have unfinished business with the Cowperstone.

Before dismissing it as weird, give “Zippatrocity” a go. One is for sure: it won’t leave you indifferent.




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