Tag Archives: 4b

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.

Secret Spot!

23rd August 2016

Gull Rock

Solid Air – VS 4b – Lead
Shivering Timbers – VS 4b – Second

Every surfers dream is to find a secret spot. Somewhere where you get perfect waves all to yourself while others thrash around in surfer soup at the popular venues. Well we almost have found that spot. Only problem is that its so hard to get to. Probably why no one else surfs it. But in my mind it is exactly why you should make the effort to go there…

Everyone loves a waterfall

Everyone loves a waterfall

Its no easy task getting to Gull Rock. There are a few ways, all of which are strenuous. Either over the top which looks horrific or along the boulder beach which we did and which requires concentration. An hour of threading your way through what is basically an obstacle course is tiring, but definitely worth it.

Gul rock is reminiscent of a number of venues on the Culm. Steep climbing with thin foot placements and crimps or cracks. The gear as usual is hard to find but reliable once you’ve got it. Small nuts and the odd cam.

Tom on the shear faces at Gull Rock

Tom on the shear faces at Gull Rock

Both the VS’s Dave and I climbed were on the bold side in places, or at least they felt bold. I think in reality its because you have to work quite hard to find it. From the ground up both routes look difficult, but the culm hides its ledges and incuts deviously and once you embark things start to come together. Solid Air has a few tricky moves at mid height and Shivering Timbers saves its for late in the ascent. But both are worth 2 stars, although I wouldnt necessarily mark them down as classics, just very good climbs.

Looking up Solid Air

Looking up Solid Air

Gull Rock gets cut off after mid tide so we had to make tracks reasonably early on. When we arrived we had abseiled off the saddle around Haile Selassie. But other than climbing out and hauling our bags, the only other way out was to walk. Still with the breathtaking views on offer this was arduous.

The perfect left

The perfect left

I have unfinished business at Gul Rock in Walking on the Moon and a perfect left, so no doubt I’ll be back soon.

Doing the Turkey (or something thereabouts)

6th August 2016

Hartland/ Blackchurch

Loose Women – E1 5b – Alt Lead (dgd)
Right of Spring – VS 4c – Lead
Notre Dame – VS 4b – Second

So here was the big day. Sacre Coeur here I come. Or maybe not… As a believer in ‘climb it when you feel it’, this proved not to be the day for pushing my grades. My general nerves seemed to tidy up a bit, thanks to some generous encouragement from Nick, but I never quite got into gear this time.

Blackchurch Main Cliff

Blackchurch Main Cliff

It didnt detract from an amazing adventure on Loose women though. What a climb. From the bottom it gives you a distinct feeling of ‘this will be quite out there!’ and it didnt fail to deliver. Nick led the bottom jamming pitch which is worth three stars in its own right. I got the harder and quite out there second pitch, but it is all there. Lots of pro, the holds you need and incredible airy climbing.

Looking up Loose Women P1

Looking up Loose Women P1

I think I talked myself out of cleaning this pitch, but once I worked it out, it went fairly straight forwardly. Its the exposure though that gets you. High above Blackchurch rock the views are breathtaking. It seems that the whole area has a bit of a Jurassic Park feel to it, with a stunning waterfall cascading onto the beach and jagged promontories everywhere.

Part way up Loose Women P1

Part way up Loose Women P1

Nick had the pleasure of the final pitch (if you could call it that). More like climbing a compost heap. Loose rock, grass, gorse for pro and a final ledge that was more likely to fall on you and kill you than be useful as a hold. I think Nick enjoyed it in a perverse way. It was definitely better on a second where you could admire the variety of plants and the interesting rock colours as they fell into the sea :-).

We moved over to the rock island for a lunch of proper cheese sarni’s and muffins, before Nick cunningly manouvered me into climbing Right of Spring. To be honest I wanted to have a go at it, although half way up with my muscles aching and a distinct lack of big gear remaining I wasnt thinking that way. The opening moves were very interesting. A move straight off the base would have resulted in grating a few layers of skin off and seeing as you couldnt see the rock for the molluscs, I came in from the right where an easy set of moves gets you above the nasty stuff. Placing the cam into the crack was tricky as my arms were 2 inches too short until I managed to move partway around.

Far too relaxed.

Far too relaxed.

Then it was off on a bridging fest, intermittently dispersed with laybacks and a few jams. I found it strenuous, but my chimney/corner climbing is probably not what it should be. But i have to say its a good route, full of character and with some excellent moves. A bailed left on the finla moves as the rock had the beautiful yellow moss on it. Great to look at, but not so great for friction. Nick of course made it look effortless the g#t. And he couldnt help posing for a profile picture either.

Our neat little campsite

Our neat little campsite

Of course it wouldnt be a day out with Nick if we didnt race the tide for at least a while. His accelerated ascent of Notre Dame went on as the tide washed over the normal belay ledge (I had climbed up onto the ridge which was eminently sensible). Finding gear on the underside of the climb was interesting, but it was run out in places and had a distinct airy feel to it. The final crack is poor though, full of veggies and not pleasant. It is great for the exposure but not the best the area has to offer.

The day was capped off by a swim around the rock, both ways for Nick, which revitalised an aching body for fairly long uphill walk out. We didnt see the Turkey’s (I think thats what they were) on the way out. Coming in there had been a large flock of them who had mindlessly kept running away from us instead of getting off the track. I think I might return to this area for the walking. Beautiful woodland, stunning coastal views and a slightly remote feeling make this a must visit area.

Feet of endurance

15th July 2016

Carn Kenidjack

Thane – E1 5b – Lead
Gneiss Gnome – HS 4b – Second
The Stormbringer – E3 5c – TR (dnf)

I love Carn Kenidjack! It’s official. Probably the crag of my best leads and always a ground breaker when it comes to grades.

Cape Cornwall

Cape Cornwall

So Thane isnt any higher in the grade than any other E1… but sometimes it is reputation that counts and Thane, thought to be easier than Rock Dancer by many, is less attempted. Why?? Cos its f#*king scary that’s why.

Working hard in the upper groove

Working hard in the upper groove

There are two sequences on the climb, one fairly low down and then another once established in the upper groove. Both are above your gear and both are a bit iffy for your head. It makes for a really interesting battle between your head and your feet. Head says ‘Go!’, feet say ‘Nope.. I’m going to stay right here where its safe’.

Me on the upper groove

Me on the upper groove

In the end, after my usual deliberations I went for both moves and both were OK, although my advice to others would be to keep going once you commit, because there are a number of moves before you reach more gear.

So sat here in the safety of my home I can say that Thane was an incredible climb, full of character and with some great moves. At the time of climbing I might have given a different opinion, but it is a big tick for me as it has long been on my list of ‘wanna’s’

Looking up Thane

Looking up Thane

Of course it wouldnt be fair for me to hog all the epics so Dave had his own version on Gneiss Gnome, discovering that the lower slab is particularly run out for a Hard Severe. Fortunately Tom did leave something for Dave to climb after his attempt to destroy the cliff when having a go on Seiging the Castle a long lost E4 5c which tackles the crack in the face to the left. Ripping breeze blokes off the cliff is just not cricket.

Line of Gneiss Gnome

Line of Gneiss Gnome

Joe was as usual smashing his way through ridiculously difficult routes. I let him persuade me into attempting an E3 5c on the top rope. Having seem Joe on the crux, I knew it would be difficult, but my general power let me down on what was a really good route. Just need that explosive burst and I might have made it. Note to muscles ‘must get stronger’.

Joe checking out The Stormbringer

Joe checking out The Stormbringer

And so ended another epic day on the crag. I am absolutely bursting to get out again now. Thane has instilled a bit of confidence in the system. It was needed.

This plan sucks!

8th July 2016

Lands End / Dingo Area

Blue – HS 4b – Lead (just…)

The header just about summed up my feelings as I started on the opening moves of Blue for the umpteenth time (8 or 9 attempts at least). A period of inactivity, too much good food and a liberal dose of wet rock was playing devestating games with my confidence.

OK, lets try not to break anything here....

OK, lets try not to break anything here….

A actually really like Lands End. There is something special about climbing on the tip of England and as usual the views are stunning. If there is a down side it would be the varying rock quality, which can feel insecure and crumbly. This is possibly due to lack of traffic, but the integrity of the rock does change.

Heading for a little sit down

Heading for a little sit down

Joe and Nick were definitely suffering from this over on Dr Syntax’s Head, finding some nasty HVS’s to occupy themselves on. Meanwhile Dave, me and Pete were wrestling with Blue. From below it looks reasonably inoccuous. But this hides the steepness and difficulty of the opening moves. It overhangs for a start and the holds are small.

Your a Bas#*rd Riddell

Your a Bas#*rd Riddell

Gear is OK but you make the difficult moves above it until you reach the first break. With wet holds I continually found myself slipping off until after one abortive attempt where I had to lower off, I managed to climb it clean. I was so stuffed by the end though. Absolutely drained in fact.

Dave looking very calm and collected

Dave looking very calm and collected

Its a great climb in fact, but not HS and harder than 4b. VS 4c probably, because of the opening moves and the top jam. The wet didnt help, but it was still hard.

"So anyway. As I was throwing for this dyno mono........"

“So anyway. As I was throwing for this dyno mono……..”

Good on Pete for a stirling effort after a long period of semi retirement. Good to see him back on it and no mishaps on this day. Dave, who is climbing better and better made short work of it. Many thanks for the patience they both showed in waiting for me to sort my head out.

Nick on some kind of Mare at DSH

Nick on some kind of Mare at DSH

I am going to return here and repeat this one in good conditions (and the tough and bold looking VS to its side), hopefully on the same day I bag Cormorants Bill. 🙂

David Blane… ‘eat your heart out’

3rd June 2016

Screda Point

Needle Direct – VS 4b – Lead
Seabreeze – HS 4a – Second
Tourist Trap – E1 5b – Lead (dnf) T/R

Neither Nick or I have any concept of how long it actually takes to get to the Culm. We were both 45 minutes late and arrived within a few minutes of each other. Doh!  Obviously tuned in on the same wavelength.

The view over towards Screda Point

The view over towards Screda Point

The drive up to Hartland is lovely and the lanes leading through the village and out to the quay were decked in purple rhododendron and vivid green trees showing their new leaves. Quite spectacular. Of course you then drop down to the quay itself which has its own splendor, this time with stark rock outcrops and prehistoric jagged runnals heading out to the sea.

The detached slab of Fohn

The detached slab of Fohn

Screda Point sits to the South and is only a short walk away. We decided to ab in so that our gear wasnt at the bottom (a good decision that one) and head straight out to the outer fin where an HS and VS lurked. Both turned out to be great routes. The Needle Direct was a well protected and tricky route up the centre of a slab. Fantastic climbing with a real out there feel because of the isolation of the fin. Nick’s HS also had a character of its own. Following the arete and then breaking out onto the slab it was a cool peer for the VS.

Casting a shadow on the great moves of Needle Direct

Casting a shadow on the great moves of Needle Direct

The tide was chasing all the way though and we left as the waves started surging up the runnals toward the main face. Just enough time for me to bag an E1 in order to get to the grassy saddle… or not???

Nick celebrating after Seabreeze

Nick celebrating after Seabreeze

The start of the E1 was fine but I soon found myself high up with just a micro and a difficult move. The combination was enough to stop me in my tracks and with the water lapping at Nicks feet we opted for a me to downclimb and both of us to shimmy up the ab rope on prussics. So it was a lower off to fetch the gear and then a climb out.

The prussic out.

The prussic out.

Of course I couldnt help but try to impress Nick with my magic tricks. David Blane makes planes disappear into nothingness. I make quickdraws and runners disappear into the sea in a blink of an eye. Impressive huh? The trick is to switch off your brain, use a bit of thuggery on a stuck nut and not bother attaching it to your rope. That way it cartwheels into the ocean and its possible to just stand there and look really stupid…

The fairly blank top wall

The fairly blank top wall

When will I learn. So with Nick safely up the route as well, we called it a day fairly early and so ended a brilliant session and a good return to ‘business as usual’ for me and Nick. Lets hope for loads more days like that in the near future.

 

Who yanked our chain

27th June 2015

Cheesewring Quarry

Figuzzi – HS 4b – Alt Lead
Sunset Arete – VS 4c – Lead
Simanon Direct – HVS 4c – Lead

Cheesewring quarry has not been the site of many classic days for me. In the main, when I rock up here it turns out to be damp, dank and unpleasant. Thats not to say the venue isnt good, I just dont catch it when its good.

View out of the quarry

View out of the quarry

Mt expectations for this day were therefore on the low side, so when Dave and I started off on a slightly bold and polished first pitch of Figuzzi I thought ‘Here we go again’. I’m pleased to say I was entirely wrong.

Dave searching for gear where there is none.. Figuzzi

Dave searching for gear where there is none.. Figuzzi

 

The first pitch delivered better climbing as it progressed. Yes a bit bold, but good moves and position. The second pitch was a classic moving into unlikely territory and gaining in exposure and steepness. The final moves past the overhang were brilliant on big jugs and and with a nice void opening up below.

Dave on Sunset Arete

Dave on Sunset Arete

So, there was only one thing for it. Sunset Arete. Again, looking OK, but delivering much more. This too gets into steep and exciting ground, with some classic reaches and moves and you get onto the steep upper face. Two good un’s down, one to go.

Towards the return traverse on Simanon Direct.

Towards the return traverse on Simanon Direct.

And boy did we save the best for last. Dave’s confidence had been growing as we climbed, so my suggestion of ‘Let’s go and do the really bold HVS around the corner’! was greeted enthusiastically., if a bit nervously. ‘You can do two pitches Dave’ was met with equal joy.

Mantle to the big ledge. Simanon Direct

Mantle to the big ledge. Simanon Direct

As it happened it was an epic. The first pitch is harder than it looks, needing some thistle negotiaition and a couple of technical mantleshelves to reach the dubious anchor of ‘the chain’. With a screwgate on this and a dodgy cam in, it was a terrific belay from which to launch an assault on the bold traverse pitch 2. A Crux mantle, followed by smearing out across the ramps (one small nut available) and then traverse back placing loads of crappy cams for mental security. Finally another mantle to the big ledge and a big sigh of relief to replace the nervous giggles.

Daves face said it all as he appeared on the ledge with me. ‘Fuck me!’ was my greeting which I totally understood… Lucky Dave got the final rising flake crack, whicg makes the whole climb really worthwhile. Its just as good as it gets. High, exposed and immaculate moves. Enough to put a smile on the face of two weary climbers at the end of my first proper good session at the ring.

I think I might go back 🙂

The new improved moving belay….

6th April 2015

Carn Barra

Weasle – VS 4c – Lead
Sea Fox – HS 4b – Second
Rapido – E1 5a – TR

When you anchor yourself in at the top of a climb the most reassuring aspect is the ‘imouveable’ feeling of the rock around you. There again, you can find yourself in among a heap of large fairly unstable boulders which you can re arrange to construct a sort of bespoke belay. “I think I’ll have a rock here” and “actually that boulder might be better at this angle”.

View back across Carn Barra

View back across Carn Barra

The stack above Rapido and Sea Fox was just this kind of jumble. Safe, but slightly disconserting when a 2 ton boulder moves around a bit.

Dave on Weasle

Dave on Weasle

My list above doesnt include two very steep routes which Joe and Tom spent the day on. Mean Street a hard E4 and Sunny Corner Lane and equally hard E3. Probably too much for me and Dave, but after their recent training regime, Tom and Joe tackled them with relish.

The traverse into the Southern Area

The traverse into the Southern Area

Dave and I went exploring down the South end of Carn Barra. I’d always intended to repeat Weasle and the distant memory of exposed commiting moves past the overhung corners soon came flooding back. This really is a totally underated route. For VS it is very good value, probably being nearer 5a and def close to HVS. The excellent pro probably makes it VS but dont let this fool you. It’s still scary…

Top moves of Sea Fox

Top moves of Sea Fox

So returning to the platform we set off on a fun sea level traverse with the small waves washing around our feet. A quick chimney above a rock pool led to a hidden area and Sea Fox. This follows two steep 90 degree corners, needing a fair amount of lay backing and trusting your feet. It is a bit crunchy at the top, but otherwise is a great climb. It probably needs more traffic to tidy it up.

Rapido - Follows the right hand arete

Rapido – Follows the right hand arete

Rapido is a technical E1. Not strenous or pumpy it has a couple of balancey moves around 5a. The reason it is given E1 is because the first pro of any value is at half height and although the flake provides placements I’m not sure I’d trust them. This is why we top roped it! It is one that I know I could lead fairly easily, but its one I never will (because I dont want to die). The slightly unreliable holds adds the final dimension to a good but lethal route.

Carn Barra continues to deliver. Maybe next time I’ll get on Illustrated Man and tick that one. Who knows.

 

Little guns….. “Meet the Beak”

21st March 2015

Porth Loe Buttress

The Beak – E1 5b – Lead (dnf)
Times Remembered – HS 4b – Lead

This was well and truly the first proper day of spring. Equinox, Eclipse, New Moon. And mega sunshine.

The conditions transpired to make Porth Loe Buttress appear to be the best venue in Cornwall. There is a stunning backdrop across towards Carn Guthenbras, the sea was an amazing blue and the granite immaculate. Add good friends and it was just perfect.

Descent Gulley

Descent Gulley

We’d never been here before and yet we’ve walked past it loads. Probably because of the more major attractions of Fox Prom and Carn Bara. The descent is down a narrow steep grassy gully with a cool gearing up ledge. The final section is climbable, but more relaxed on a short abb. The platform at the bottom provides a spectacular location with a few really good clims.

DSCN0627

Dave and Chris set off on Eileen and multi pitch severe on the left looking towards the cliff. A bit damp, it nevertheless looked very good and challenging. High in the grade I think.

DSCN0616

Tom, Joe and I set up for The Beak which I was lucky (unlucky maybe) enough to get to lead both pitches. The first is some tricky manouvering into a great crack. Layback and commit and you’re OK. The top pitch is mental thuggery. A hard groove leads to a massive overhang Both I and Joe looked at the actul beak, but this seemed really unlikely at 5b, and the description of ‘well protected’ in the guide is a loose one. Yes there is gear in the bottom face of the o/h but once up into the beak there is nothing and you’d take a pretty good lob.

Top pitch of the Beak

Top pitch of the Beak

I found a flake just left of the beak which seemed more positive and protectable. Good job really because after 15 determined attempts I fell off. Thankfully Tom caught me but it was still freaky and lead to the loss of much skin. I just couldnt do it… not quite strong enough, but very close. I was within a whisker of making it.

Tom suffered from the same problem as me, but Mr Muscles Joe cranked through it remarking that he’d wished he’d ‘warmed up a bit’.

Tom in the tricky flake chimney

Tom in the tricky flake chimney

Times Remembered is great. The top giant flakes are hard to unlock and pro is sparce, but the climbing is engrossing. More importantly the view across to the couple of idiots on the Eastern Buttress provided grand entertainment. There was a reason the big rock at the base of the climb was wet… it’s called the sea and Chris very nearly became intimate with it on this day. We were having bets on how long they’d last, but to be fare it did look very exciting. Adds a new spice to the climb when there is the chance you could be doing it underwater.

Nearly!!!

Nearly!!!

So what a day. One of those that will stick for a while and one that just makes you want more and more.

Amazing sea off Carn Guthenbras

Amazing sea off Carn Guthenbras

To good friends……

Feb! Really?

6th February 2015

Black Carn North

Gelert – HS 4b – Lead
Pudsey – VS 4c – Second
Wasp Pant Terror – HVS 4c – Lead
Cro Magnon Man – E2 5b/5c – TR Dogged

With the cold snap continuing we knew we needed somewhere out of the wind and preferably in the sun. Favorable tides also meant we could explore some of the less well known venues around Porthgwarra which would be on the lee side.

Black Carn North_Feb15 (4)

I keep walking past these locations thinking that ‘one day I’ll check them out’. On this occasion, armed with some exploration knowledge we picked up last time we went to Carn Barra, we dropped down to Black Carn North.

Chris on his way on Gelert

Chris on his way on Gelert

Its a tricky descent at first crossing some pretty loose ground and a gulley which is steep. Once onto the seaward rocks its OK though. If you go, drop down before the obvious wall and keep to the right of the gulley. Then follow rocks down and around to the right facing out to sea. You’ll eventually get there.

Very cool shot

Very cool shot

The obvious attractive line on this small but friendly crag is Pudsey. An angled line across the face below Cro Magnon the elephant in the room. As it happens its not the best despite appearances. My favorite on the day was Gelert. Great moves for HS and a good thoughtful move into the upper crack.

Chris not suffering from Wasp Pant Terror.

Chris not suffering from Wasp Pant Terror.

Pudsey is all about a couple of moves fairly low down, although it looks harder. Chris made short work of it. Good, but no cigar. The weird looking and sounding Wasp Pant Terror proved quite good with a couple of great mantleshelves and a final bold series of moves to the top. I really enjoyed it. Not strenuous, but quite technical.

I'm sure I know what this is for????

I’m sure I know what this is for????

Of course Joe had his eye on the main obstacle on the crag Cro Magnon Man. I can see why they call it this. The top has an uncanny prehistoric look to it. The moves though are great. Crimpy and thin on the lower face, it finishes with slopers which are just waiting for the unwary. I of course was one of the unwary’s. I thought I had it but as I barn doored off I realised it needed a bit more thought. Second attempt I unlocked it using a finger jam to keep my balance. Not one for the tall as you get compressed into a ball! Fun though.

Precariou. Joe on the pinnacle

Precariou. Joe on the pinnacle

This is a crag to come back to next winter when we’re looking for a sheltered spot. I’m sure there are more routes to find here so I might do a bit more exploring next time I’m over there and cant climb because of conditions.