Tag Archives: 4c

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.

Put your left foot in…left foot out ….

23rd September 2016

Haytor/Low Man

Levitation – VS4c – Lead
Honeymoon Corner- Severe 4a – Second

I think that the routes on Haytor in general are very different to those we normally climb in Cornwall. At first its easy to jump at the fact that they are high in the grade, but maybe this is just because they are different. The holds generally are slopers, rails or flakes meaning you need to approach them differently.

haytor_sept16-2

I found this with the first climb. looks straight forward, but is steeper and off balance with holds not being as positive as you might have thought. But once you work the move out, it is straightforward. It’s all about getting your feet up early and then straightening out your body. A good lead by Dave who as with the rest of us got a rude awakening on this one.

haytor_sept16-4

Levitation gets stars and probably desrves them, although the whole climb is really all about the traverse/stepover (or undercling for Tom). The climb starts with some good moves and them heads out onto the lip of the overhang. You then have what looks like a blank wall to negotiate, but the crystals and hidden holds are there. It just feels nervy because your gear is behind and above you so you know you’ll get a swing. For the second it is just as bad. Tom went high, using the upper rail/overlap for an undercling. Dave went low and had one of those moments where you cant commit. Mind says go, body says no!

We all did it in the end and Tom and Dave joined me on my very breeezy and bloody freezing perch high on Low Man. Still the view was awesome so I can complain too much. Some people would give their back teeth for a view like that.

Dave on the top moves of Levitation

Dave on the top moves of Levitation

I think the next time we visit Haytor its going to have to be a very calm day. The wind up there is a killer.

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.

My (not so dead) dead chicken has better feet than you do!

19th July 2016

Pentire Point
Black Zawn

Nipped in the Buddha – VS 4c – Second
Little Black Dress – EC 5B – TR
Brother Chris – E3 5c – TR (dgd)

Dave had been wittering on about NITB for ages so it was only fair to let him have his moment (of fear). NITB is one of those VS’s that doesnt look too bad until your trying to find your equilibrium as you move up into the groove. From the ground it is quite steep. From the groove it is overhanging. Either way it’s not easy.

Joe pose....

Joe pose….

After I had dropped the ab rope into the sea we dropped down onto the ledge below NITB. For a change most of the climbs were dry. Unusually.

Before the groove NITB

Before the groove NITB

The Black Zawn never really looks inviting but the truth is that there are a large number of high quality climbs here. The harder varieties suffer from a distinct lack of gear, but the moves and holds are brilliant. Most of the E numbers are on the buttress starting right of The English Way and heading all the way around to the seaward face. A awkward traverse gets you to Merchants of Menace a very good looking E2 which I think I’ll have a go at one day.

Top Groove ofNITB

Top Groove ofNITB

Dave made NITB look relatively easy, which it isnt. A sloping slab leads to difficult moves up into the groove. Then its a case of using the angles to make it easier for an exciting finale.

Dave does E2

Dave does E2

The E2 was an excellent climb, but leading it would have been a different proposition. Very little gear, particularly protecting the crux moves which were fiddly before you arrived at the jugs.

Whooo Whoo!

Whooo Whoo!

The E3 was superb. Beyond me to clean it on this day, but what a climb. It looks so unlikely from below, but as the guidebook says, miraculous holds appear when you need them. Unfortunately for me I didnt see one of the hidden miraculous holds so had to rest about half way. But for the main part it is just excellent move after excellent move. I’d love to say I’d lead this but I’d have to have a closer look at the gear first.

Boy this lad can climb.

Boy this lad can climb.

A tired group of three discussed Joes horrendous feet before a steep walk out on a stunning evening with a huge moon rising over the fields and part noises drifting across from Polzeath. The end of a good day.

Good Moon Rising

Good Moon Rising

And as a final point. How can you not know if a chicken is dead or not. Daves hutch cooked chickens some how rose from the dead – maybe they are Frankenchickens.

The patience of St Piper

27th April 2016

Tater Du

Willie’s Way – HVS 5a – Alt Lead
Flake Wall – VS 4c – Alt Lead

There are times when you wonder how your body and your mind get along. The body is willing, but the mind says ‘No!’. It doesnt matter how hard you try, it is sometimes very difficult to conquer this.

the pro in the 'relatively' secure chimney/overhang

the pro in the ‘relatively’ secure chimney/overhang

Poor Dave had to watch me going through a mental epic on the overhang of Willie’s Way. I knew I could do it. I felt strong, but my head had no intentions of giving in easily.

And so I went up and went back down again numerous times before Dave gave some sound advice and said to come back down, compose myself and rest, and try again. And so on about the 7th attempt I just went for it and surprise, I made it. It was good to know that Dave also found it hard, so I had at least some justification for my hesitancy. Many thanks to Dave for being so patient and positive.

The ab in. You cant see the rock pool cleverly placed at the bottom.

The ab in. You cant see the rock pool cleverly placed at the bottom.

We went to Tater Du because of the wind conditions and it turned out to be a good call. Sun for most of the day and good shelter. Willie’s Way has been on my ‘To do’ list for ages. Ever since I went to Tater Du with Bart and did Bus Route the adjacent V Diff. All three pitches are worthwhile with a rising degree of difficulty. The main event is the short V Chimney and capping overhang.

These are big moves on relatively big holds, but you are effectively on a 90 degree slope for the overhang. It is a case of finding the right sequence because once you commit (eventually 🙂 ) there’s no going back. But the pumpyness is short lived and the pro good. The rock looks suspect, but is solid and seems reliable. Great route and maybe I’ll do it again just to prove to myself I can get over that fear factor.

Joe going for the move over the overhang on Lamorna Wall.

Joe going for the move over the overhang on Lamorna Wall.

Tom and Joe meanwhile were on their own epic Lamorna Wall. A fantastic looking E2 going up through the middle of the main wall. By all accounts its all about the move through the overhang which looked nails.

Joe moving up the face

Joe moving up the face

Tom and Joe high on Lamorna Wall

Tom and Joe high on Lamorna Wall

But the situations looked incredible. Of course this was just a prelude to Tom finding a nasty chimney to do in Fat Panda! How come Tom likes chimneys so much – I dont see the attraction lol . By all accounts this one was sparcely protected too.

Our second climb (if we were anywhere near on the right route) was Flake Wall. The first pitch parallels WW but hugging the arete with a final bold pull onto the big ledge. The guide book description says to cross the blocky overhang, so thats what Dave did. Whether it was the right overhang I have no idea, but Dave set off and encountered his own epic.

Dave on the traverse on Flake Wall

Dave on the traverse on Flake Wall

You’d think it was a lot easier than tackling the overhang direct, but the reality is that its just as committing. Same initial gear but then a wild swing out left and some awkward foot placements on the crumbling ‘flake wall’. Then its up andover. Less steep, but still lots of exposure.

Me finishing Flake Wall

Me finishing Flake Wall

So two great routes and Dave and I were both buzzing. Add to this one of the most beautiful locations in Cornwall and you have an ‘epic’ day.

Convenient

14th April 2016

Kellan Head (Upper Buttress)

Big Dave’s Serpent – VS 4c – Second

This was a new venue for me and Dave. I have to be honest and say I didnt even know it was there. I’d heard of the Waterslide and Hidden Amphitheatre but not the upper buttress.

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

To be honest, the rock is not brilliant and the area is a bit green, probably through lack of traffic. It could clean up, but on some routes (Daves for example) I don’t think there is any escaping the loose rock.

Big Dave's Setpent

Big Dave’s Setpent

Dave’s VS was not technical or difficult, in fact 4c is a bit high, but it was VS if only for the top 10ft of precarious flakes. The fact I stood over to one side describes my reaction. Still, it has some good moves, but I think the E1’s and HVS further along are probably the better climbs.

The terrace

The terrace

It was raining or drizzling for much of the time we were there and we got soaked on the walk out, but its a venue that’s easy to get to and non tidal so I’m sure we’ll be back shortly. And of course its in a stunning location.

Time to go back to Skool

7th April 2016

Trewarvas

Joy Direct – VS 4c – Lead
William’s Chiney – HVS 5b – Lead

Your laces should not really be an issue in climbing, unless you lose the ability to tie them. This seemed to be the case on Williams Chimney with both of mine coming undone. The Virgo in me then kicked in and I couldnt get settled until I’d re-tied them. What a faff. Back to school then where I can learn to double knot them.

Shoes aside it was a great afternoon. First time back at Trewavas for a while and two good climbs bagged.

Joy Direct is a climb I mistakenly thought I had already done. I have done Joy and I have done a variation which breaks left, but not the correct route. So this was a good one to pick. Except that it was a lot more difficult than I thought from the bottom. Gear is good, but you place it on power. The route is slight akilter, so you’re never really comfortable. And it sprobably not the best warm up as your straight into it. Still good fun, although Dave had a traumatic time trying to remove a nut stuchk on the crux. His arm’ ees were soon sorted out and I think it took the rest of the session for him to recover.

Dave approaching the chimney on Williams Chimney

Dave approaching the chimney on Williams Chimney

Williams chimney I knew would be reasonably tough, but I didnt realise how good it was. A bit of everything- thin groove and face climbing, crimpy pulls and a narrow chimney. For me the crux was lower down negotiating the groove. For Dave it was the move into the chimney where my height probably gave me the advantage. Only just 5b and definitely more HVS than E1 which some have suggested. That said it is top of its grade.

The walk out on a perfect evening

The walk out on a perfect evening

Still a really satisfying climb and a good bit of progression in what has been a poor year so far for climbing. I now need to return and do South Groove and West Wing. A definite for my next trip there.

Woods for the trees

25th March 2016

Bosigran

Rapture – VS 4c – Tom

I dont know how many times I’ve been to Bosi and yet it still seems possible to pick up new lines, even in an area like Red Slab.

Tom and Dave synchronising

Tom and Dave synchronising

Rapture actually takes an obvious line through the overlaps, but cuts across about 4 routes in doing so, so not one to do on a busy day… It has two committing step ups but the gear in general is good and the holds are really positive. You get the full exposure of the Ding face, taking a line slightly higher than the Ding alcove but below the flake of Belle.

Tom on Rapture

Tom on Rapture

Its just really good climbing at the grade. The second pitch swings out wide on the flank of the wall, but Tom included the chimney of Ding to spice things up and then broke out onto a great slab near the top. This gives exposed climbing but up a friendly slab. All in all a top VS and it should have stars in the book.

Bosigran_Mar16 (12)

Neanwhile Dave was bagging an HVS in the form of Belle, another terrific climb on this wall. This takes the higher flake which is abit more committing. Good job on this for Dave this early in the year.

Dave on Belle

Dave on Belle

Unfortunately the morning was marred by wet rock as Joe and I were unable to tackle our main objectives. Joe wanted to try Kohima and I was looking at Dolphinarium and Variety Show in the Great Zawn. Still, thats for next time.

 

Old Favorites

19th September 2015
Carn Barra

Super Crack – VS 4c – Alt Lead
Axis – VS 5a – Lead
Fourteen Fathoms – E2 5c – Second

I’ve been to Porthgwarra loads of times but never considered parking up nearer the junction to the l-bend. It is in fact a nicer walk in, if a little bit longer, down blackberry walled lanes and it brings you out in the Carn Les Boels area a bit further south. Ideal for Carn Barra and crags south of here.

Jamming

Jamming

I knew Nick had has eye on one of the E2’s at Carn Barra, but we started on the upper tier, on Super Crack. I remember this being really good the first time around and this time was just as much fun. Pitch 1 is a bit nervy on the top slab, but is good climbing with small holds and neat little moves. The top pitch is great, with more strenuous jamming and laybacking. A really top VS.

And so to Fourteen Fathoms. It has good climbing throughout and the bottom section (with the exception of the bold and bouldery lower face) is reasonably protected. Once onto the upper face, protection possibilities are there (the crux has some good gear) but the climbing becomes harder and the crux move is tough. It took Nick a while to figure it out (how he hangs around for so long I’ll never know) but in the end it is about strength and commitment.

Steep!! And hard....

Steep!! And hard….

On my turn I had just as many issues and probably made the move by the skin of my teeth. My arms by this time were shot so it was with relief that I moved up a bit for a rest before dropping back a few fet to get the remaining gear out. Really pleased to have done this though.

Nick on the crux of Fourteen Fathoms

Nick on the crux of Fourteen Fathoms

We finished on Axis, where Dave joined us. This was so that I could climb it throughout. My previous attemt had just been from the upper ledge. I made the lower moves, but I cant say I made a good fist of them. I grabbed the edge of the lower shelf with relief in the end. After this thought the route went easily for me, so I was pleased with this. The first time I remember it being a real struggle.

A good day at CB and nice to climb with Nick again. Must do this more often. Next ‘American Dream’ 🙂

 

Into the gloaming

9th July 2015

Carn Gowla – America Buttress

Deceleration Lane – VS 4c – Alt Lead

The fact that Dave and I had arranged to meet at 6 pm should have rung a few alarm bells, especially on a trip to Carn Gowla. A route we’d not done; had no idea where the ab spot was or how difficult it was. Only two entries in UKC and both of them a while back.

A rare view

A rare view

Still, it was Dave who found the ab point. Left to me we would have been into some serious E stuff and probably prussiking out. And the ab was long too! Very scary, especially when it is into the unknown and only one way out. On the descent I noticed that the route was abit run out but it looked good climbing. Mind you the white blocks at the bottom and the green shit seeping out of the rocks made the first few metres a bit unpleasant.

Dont step in the guano

Dont step in the guano

Dave conceded the lead of the first pitch to me (many thanks) and it was off on a great adventure. A disgustingly smelly corner leads to a run out slab, in turn to overhangs and finally an amazing (although very dodgy looking) flake crack to finish on. Wild positions, wild atmosphere and all the beauty of Gowla thrown in. Very magical with an amazing setting sun as the backdrop.

Dave starting the flake

Dave starting the flake

Dave was clearly enjoying himself when he arrived at the flake with that wild Gowla look in his eyes. Gowla does that to you. Its a sort of a ‘thank God, we’re still alive’ look. Mind you with the light fading fast he didnt have time to reflect.

Dave looking good on Deceleration Lane

Dave looking good on Deceleration Lane

The second pitch is a bit of a mare. It looks like you can go straight up off the slab. Uhhmm… no. Dave tried that. No gear; teetering rock and plenty of grass made him decide to traverse up right facing in. This led around a corner to an equally tricky step up. Added in was the potential for a hideous Gordian Knot in the ropes so Dave belayed and I came around to do the final bit.

Looking North

Looking North

At this point the light was gone and we were in the gloaming. Head Torches on and gear stuffed haphazardly into our bags, we mooched off, with me having an interesting conversation with Chris on the mobile. It was nearly 11pm!

This one will be seared into my brain for a while I think.