Ian and Toms super tangly ropes (or how not to organise your safety!)

5th May 2017

Bosigran/The Great Zawn

Simple Simon – HS 4b – Lead
Picnic – VS 5a – Lead
The Variety Show – HVS 5a – Lead

A great day at Bosigran with three climbs that all delivered on the entertainment front. For a change Tom and I got to climb together and we lucked into three top climbs at Bosi. Considering how many times I’ve been there this is somewhat baffling, but as Tom said, there is a tendency to walk past the climbs in the initial area to get to the big names. And this is probably why they are missed.

Bosi

I’d seen some climbers on Simple Simon last month, so it was an obvious choice really. A somewhat bizarre opening pitch which involves grass trekking and avoiding the shrubbery actually delivers some good moves. The rising crack is fun and thought provoking. But it is the second pitch which is atmospheric, with a final crystal filled crack which needs some working out. Tom got it first time, but I had a few attempts before unlocking the slightly perplexing moves.

 

Picnic is if anything even more unusual. The rising corner seems straight forward enough, but there is enough about it to make it worthwhile. We left the upper pitch as we were Zawn bound, but I think the harder moves are found here and the crackline looks good. Something in the back of my mind says I’ve done this many years ago with Bart, but I might be mistaken.

Bluebells!! The hidden killer!

And so to the main event. We descended down the Desolation Row path (always entertaining with the lethal bluebells which act like butter on your shoes) and abbed down after Joe and Dave had kindly set up the abb rope.

Before we realised the ab rope was broken!!!!!

The Variety Show looks intimidating from the bottom and it delivers on intimidation when y0u’re on it as well. Basically a curving crack with a wicked sting in the tail. You have to be on your wits the whole way. But its soooooooo good.  I think this may be some of the most absorbing climbing I’ve ever done. Once at the top of P1 you’re faced with a complex series of moves to get established in the final crack. I ended up bridging after climbing myself into a weird position. It was the only way I could straighten out, but it worked well in the end. Tom had similar dificulties and ended up in the same area, but somehow extricated himself in a different way.

Anyway, both up safely we then managed to make the biggest pigs ear of our rope work. I dropped it down the cliff, then Tom tangled it on the belay. It was at this point we decided the only way to straighten them out was to keep climbing so we did P2. How much fun can you have on overhangs and grass!

Seat with a view

Eventually we bushwacked our way back to the ab rope to find that Joe and Dave were having a mare on Zarathrustra with stuck cams and upside down falls. Joe eventually sorted it by abbing off again to get his gear. Is there no end to his energy? And so we got back to the car as it got dark after a very full but enjoyable day.

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We’re going to a Bear Hug

29th April 2017

Pendower Coves

Pendower Grooves – VS 4c – Lead
The Cut – Severe 4a – Second
Pendower Direct – HVS 5a – Lead (dnf)
Time Tavern – VS 4c – Alt Lead

What an amazing location! And a top find on a day when nesting birds killed our initial objective of Excalibur at Carn Les Boel.

I think the reason I picked out Pendower was because there was very little info on it. Seldom (if ever) climbed I wondered weather it would be worth seeking out.

Pendower Buttress

The guidebooks hammer the point about environmental conservation and protecting the cliff edges so Dave and I made sure we avoided the plant life and did litle to disturb the wildlife. The Choughs were nesting in the square cut cave about 300 metres further West, but nothing appeared to be nesting in this area, although there were signs a Peregrine had been operating in the area with a number of feather piles and carcasses. But no nesting Peregrines in our area that we could see.

Belay on Pendower Grooves

We abbed into an amazing location. A boulder beach, quiet, relote and just stunning. The crag itself is excellent. The rock is crunchy in places, but this is more than made up for by the positive nature. No polish here. Just sharp edges, solid foot placements and holds which are easy to hold (once the loose crystals have fallen off 🙂 ).

Pendower Grooves is a class VS. We did it in one pitch. The bottom groove felt hardest to me, possibly because of the wave wash, but maybe because the first ascensionist was good at grooves. Who knows. Anyway, from then on it was just a joy to climb. Great moves, outrageous exposure and a bit of everything- feet free, traverses, laybacks and jams.

Being chased by the tide

Dave did a variation of this which tackled it straight up from the beach. This way you get to chomney and bridge as well. Who could complain. A quick lunch and we were back down racing the tide to get on the HVS Pendower Direct.

Joe and Tom silouetted

Now in my opinion this seemed a bit of a sandbag, but to be fair the situation we found ourselves in could have been part of the issue. The tide chased us up onto the face so Dave ended up below me when I was making a tough move. Had I fallen it would have been bad for both of us. This coupled with the fact the move was hard and bold, the pro suspect and the remainder of the face looked nails we bailed after I had fallen off a couple of times.

Stunningly beautiful

Instead I went up Time Tavern (we didnt know this at the time), with Dave finishing off in an overhanging flake/groove which was very crunchy and friable. A very good lead for this top section imo. And so ended a great adventure and a minor epic. Its what climbing days are made of and why we do it I think.

What is for certain is that I will be back to do a few more of these class routes.

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Grease is the word

21st April 2017

Lands End

The Cormorants Bill – HVS/E1 5b – Second
Longships Wall – E3 6a – Second (Dogged, but only just 🙂 )

I had anticipated an inch deep pile of shite around most of Lands End. Its often been the way when I’ve come here in the past and with the start of nesting season I realised a few routes would be off limits and many covered in guano.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasnt so bad, especially on Cormorant Promontory. There were shags nesting on the lateral walls, but the bill was clear (probably just too steep) and the top points wernt covered in poo. Bonus.

On the Bill

The ab in was as atmospheric as it was last time when I was here with Pete doing Cormorant Face and so Joe and I found ourselves on the base ledge in the sunshine on probably the best day of the year so far.

Racked!

Cormorants Bill has three crux’s in my opinion. The opening few metres are desperate. Joe jammed, I back and fronted. Then its getting established in the crack (no easy feat) with jams and bridging. And finally its getting through the overhang. Joe finger locked and pulled. I pansey’d around for a long time until I realised I was facing the wrong way (thanks for the tight rope here Joe 🙂 ).

Feeling good post crack

Once facing the correct way it was OK with high feet to get established and then a bit of a rock over. Once I’d worked it out it didnt seem too bad. I think I need to come back and lead this one, but I’ll make sure I’m on form.

Longships Wall

I’d planned on scouting a couple of routes on the World’s End face, but the ledges were actually completely white. It would not have been pleasant. So while Dave and Tom were off on Lands End Long Climb, we went to Longships Wall so Joe could have a go at an E3 no less. What an amazing climb it is. Longships Wall has it all. A very difficult start, tough crux and sustained but immaculate climbing through out.

Motley Crew

Joe worked it a bit on a shunt and then had a go in less than ideal conditions. The sun was beating down, and the rock had started to feel greasey. That said Joe made a valiant attempt, only failing on the crux because he got out of sequence on the moves. This will be one to return to. On my part, I struggled with the start (three tries before I got through) and then couldnt do the crux. I did eventually find a much easier alternative by using holds wide left and laying offthem. And then it just continues, and continues and continues. Great move after great move. What a climb. Maybe the hardest and best I’ve done, but so satisfying. I’m coming back to do this many more times, on a top rope of course unless I become super confident and fit in the near future.

I video’d a lot of the day and it has come out well. This will be the start of my year long video diary and will hopefully capture the essence of what it’s like to climb and be a climber in Cornwall. And old one anyway.

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No longer a Bane

17th April 2017

Pedn-Men-An-Mere

Vespula (The Wasp) – HVS 5a – Second
Midnight Express – E1 5b – Lead
Bermuda Wall – E3 5c – Abysmal failure

Some days are seminal because they mark an occasion when you conquer a fear or overcome a reoccuring problem. Midnight Express was a benchmark climb for me. It represented a level of climbing I wanted to achieve, but one which for a number of years I came up short on.

I dont think it was because the climb was so overly difficult. In fact I’m sure I’ve led harder, but because of an early failure, it started to loom bigger in my mind than it deserved. For this reason it became a problem because I started to psych myself out of the route before I even started. Hence my grumpiness with Dave on this day and my initial overbearing desire to just give up and walk away.

Ready for Midnight Express… Bring it on!!

But i didnt and in the end it went smoothly and was well within my ability. For Dave too, this was a climb he had wanted to clean and so we both had a big grin by then end as we both sent it clean.

Dave stylin on the crux

This was of course after a warm up on the twin cracks over towards the Marconi Wall area. I’d done these before a while back (I think I called it the Scorpion because of the sting in the tail, but have since found another climb with that name at Carn Barra – so its now Vespula another name for Wasp). Joe despatched this with ease, despite it still being a tricky finish. But a good warm up never-the-less.

Dave on Vespula

St Levans was its usual magnificent self. Stunning views, gorgeous beaches and immaculate rock. Also the wild flowers this year are putting on a real display. So it was with this backdrop that Joe set about Bermuda Wall. A terrific climb. Bold to start, then a bit thuggy and then technical to finish. Everything really. And Joe did it clean which was brilliant. More than Dave or I could say. We both struggled on the opening moves. I eventually managed to get past them only to gas out on the flakes. So one to try again next time. Unfortunately it probably means Joe will have to lead it again, but hey, thats what friends are for.

Even time for a look around

Also got a bit of video this time which I’ll add shortly. Its going to be a theme this year, as I’d like to document a year in video and make a short film from it. Lets see how it goes.

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The perfect day for shorts

7th April 2017

Boscawen Point

Looking Glass War – E1 5b – Second
Luke Lively – VS 5a – Lead
Lord Lucan – E2 6a – Second

Of course when ever you approach a crag that is recognised for its sharp thorny things, razor wire grass and nettles you should ensure you don’t cover your legs. In this way you get the maximum amount of pain for your money!

Amazing flower display

In actual fact the walk in to Boscawen is lovely, although coming back out again after a days climbing can feel beyond the cause. Unfortunately it is still just a bit cold for a swim so I had to content myself with three excellent climbs. Not a bad trade.

Upper reaches of Looking Glass war

In keeping with my route back to climbing form, these all gave me a challenge. Joe’s initial E1 was excellent, with a couple of tough moves. Joe is leading very well at the moment and despite some initial anxiety, he cruised through in the end. I wont say I cruised, but I felt OK throughout which was re-assuring.

Stunning Granite

My lead on the day was the fantastic ‘Luke Lively’. A VS which from the ground doesn’t look too bad, but involves some committing crack climbing and lay-backing. Well protected though. Its getting established in the upper crack that is the tough move and of course the undignified exit on slopers and grass.

Stylin on Lord Lukan

Sometimes when you repeat a climb your mind plays games, as does your memory. Joes final lead was a climb he thought he knew the moves on. My own experience has taught me that this is often distorted and sometimes you are better off just putting your pre conceived ideas aside and just reading what you see. In the end Joe managed the very technical and balanced moves, but maybe there’s a lesson learned in thinking you can just repeat everything stored in your memory. Mine particularly isn’t that reliable :-).

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“Lets start on something easy”

6th April 2017

Sennen

Delilah – E2  5b – TR Dgd
Africa Route – VS 5a – Lead
Terrace Cracks – HVS 5a – TR
Slanting Crack – HVS 5a – TR

Its been a while since Chris and I had a day out on the rock and given Chris’ recent absence from climbing and me being away for a couple of months, we figured we’d warm up on an E2. Of course we did! What else would we do/ Just what were we thinking!!!

Well, bizarrely it was a great idea. We both failed to climb it clean, but with waves crashing into the platform at the bottom, slightly damp holds and an exhilarating airiness to the whole affair we were buzzing by time we finished and ready for more.

A quick repeat of Africa Route reminded me of what a good climb it is. Technical start and with delicate moves through the groove. Well worth its three stars and a reminder that Sennen is littered with quality climbs that are well worth repeating.

The remainder of the day was spent messing about on a top rope on the HVS’s in the Hayloft area. Both were good fun. I probably should have led both, but to be honest sometimes you just need no frills, safe climbing where you can cut loose and make shapes. This was certaininly the case with Slanting Crack where Chris and I tried multiple variations and had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

So, what a great day! No real anxiety, lots of good climbing and possibly the only downer was that we forgot our surfboards as there was a bit of swell in the bay. 🙂

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I’ve gone all religous

17th Feb 2017

Vicarage Cliffs

In Memorium – HS 4a – Lead
Tombstone – S 4a – Second

After a long layoff (since October) I finally got back to some proper climbing. The recent rain meant the Culm was the obvious choice to avoid seepage, but as it turned out the day was bright, if a bit windy.

The nice solid descent

My pre Christmas jitters seemed to have settled down as well, as my excursion onto ‘In Memorium’ demonstrated. For HS this packs a bold punch. Climbing on flakes and edges which are not reliable adds some nerves to the route, but unexpectedly for HS there is little reliable gear. To the point where the run outs are actually dangerous.

Joe on belay duty

You follow the arete basically, climbing inside and outside up the line of least resistance. But other than a CAM low down there is no bomber gear until higher up. The best thing for me is that I didnt back off and I didnt have problems with my head game. Sorted…

On the main slab

Dave and I then moved across to Tombstone, a really good severe tackling the overlap on the main cliff. Well worth the effort and well protected as well.

Sunset at Vicarage

As usual Cornwall delivered the breathtaking scenery. And a buttery yellow sunset capped what was a thoroughly good return to climbing ways.

Now I need to return here and bag all the VS/HVS routes which look damn good.

 

 

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Aqua Chris (aka Chris’ big wave challenge)

29th December 2016
Commando Ridge – V Diff – Alt Lead

Ok, so last year Dave backed Tom into a corner and he took the big soak when a wave crashed into the point off Commando Ridge. So this year we all obviously knew better. Except Chris, who decided to admire the massive set pushing into the bay right up to the point where it towered above him. Outdoor gear keeps you dry most of the time, but a six foot set tests it to the max.

Chris post bath

So it looks like we are establishing a tradition. Who will it be next year. My moneys on Dave…

Another boomer comes through

Well that provided the laughs for the start but this was such a good day out. Back to old skool get out and enjoy Cornwall. It was also Joe’s first venture on the ridge and he must have brought the weather gods as the predicted grey bleak day turned into sunshine and stunning vista’s in every direction.

The colours of Bosi

Something about Commando ridge always makes me feel good. I remarked that for a novice climber the ridge is the perfect outing. But even for the experienced climber this is just such good fun.

SELFIEEE!!!!!

I’ve got to know the pitches fairly well now, but I still look forward to each one. Its a grand day out and one well shared with good friends.

Would you trust this belayer?

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The boys have gone Cuckoo!!

28th October 2016

Cuckoo Rocks/Combeshead Tor/Down Tor

Too many problems to note…  But some of the best-
Pooh Slab – f5 – Down Tor
Flat Sausage – f4 – Down Tor

Ummm… Bouldering? I’ll be honest here and say that bouldering doesnt really do it for me. I suppose its a demonstration of physical prowess, but where’s the 50ft chasm’s gawping below you; the setting off into the unknown. I think its the adventure that attracts me in trad and its missing from bouldering. Except of course the walk in and the location which in Cuckoo Rock’s case is stunning.

Set near to Burrator Reservoir, there are vista’s all around and its nice to get a walk in at the same time as climbing. You park up on the loop road and set off up the valley and rocks appear out of nowhere. There were four locations we visited. A small Tor on the way up, Whale Rock and then the two main Tor’s of Cuckoo and Down.

As is usual anything harder that f5 spanked me, but trying is fun and I almost unlocked a great traverse at Cuckoo. One to aspire to and one to get stronger for. What was really nice was being out with Tom and Joe and being in the situation where we could relax and just mooch around. A day very well spent and of course we got the weather as well… just.

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Joe’s Horror Show

21st October 2016

Bosigran – Great Zawn

Omen -E2 5b – Second
Raven Wall (Optional Start) – VS 5a – Lead
Zig Zag (Optional Start) – VS 4c – Lead

The title suggests this was a nightmare, but actually this was a brilliant days climbing and Joe was on top form, smashing through a difficult and bold E2. Very impressive.

I’ve not really climbed anywhere in the Great Zawn, so this was a cool introduction and in an unexpected part of the zawn. Coming in from the top level above Commando ridge you get a birds eye view of Desolation Row and hidden neatly away is a steep wall below. I think Joe had been eyeing this one for a while and could see why. A very good, steep line with just enough pro to make it OK, although the opening few moves are bold.

That said, I think the crux is actually later in the climb, just when the pro gets thin again. Of course I managed to leave a piece of pro in when I seconded, so having done the hard lower section, I had to reverse it all and start again. Second attempt was clean and I have to say one of the most enjoyable climbs I’ve done for a while.

It was also good to be back climbing with Joe. It seems ages since we have been buddying up together and it was great fun. I had intened to have a go at vatiety show but my indifferent confidence and the large volume of spray blowing over the lower ledges deterred me, so it was off to the main face.

With not too much drive to get stuck into anything too difficult we had a play on the lower routes below Raven Wall. These are a bit polished but fun. Both had their moments, but they are really just a pre-cursor to the main event which is of course the main face above.

All in all a good day out, with the Omen providing the memorable moments in the splendor of the Great Zawn.

 

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