Shipton Spire, Life is Lilac, solo new route to shoulder. In the summer of 2007 I went to Shipton Spire and soloed a new route to the first needle atop the northeast pillar (870m, A4+ 6a, 17 pitches to 5,300m). It was almost all hard aid (because I was looking for it), with some A4+ and A4 pitches. I followed a non-natural line on the right side of the wall, with some pitches turning to the north side, and finished at the last belay on Prisoners of Shipton (2005).
I set advanced base camp at 4,450m; from there I carried my stuff for eight days to the base of the wall, two and a half hours away. I fixed the first 200m and then spent 21 days (August 10–30) on the wall, with 20 bivvies in three camps. It was a great experience.
My goal from the beginning was to reach a high point at 5,300m. To reach the summit of Shipton (5,852m) from here, you must climb Ship of Fools (Ogden-Synnott, 1997), and there are many traverses with hard climbing; going alone was for me not a good idea, because of the danger of cleaning and rappelling traverses.
I rappelled the route. At belays there’s at least one bolt (8mm), except at the first belay. During the rappels I had problems because of the haulbags’ weight, and because I’m very small. During one diagonal rappel I had problems reaching the lower belay, and spent an extra night in the middle of this rappel, at 5,000m, in between two rocks, with no portaledge, no food, and little water. During one of the upper rappels my rope stuck, and after an hour I cut it. I know that’s garbage on the wall, but it was my only dynamic rope and I had no other one with which to climb the pitch again.
At the base I carried down my gear right away because at noon the next day porters were coming to advanced base camp. What I carried up in eight days, I carried down in one. Dragging it.
I had no radio or phone, and no other people at advanced base camp. Totally alone. I called the route Life is Lilac. My life had this color at that moment.
Silvia Vidal, Spain