Tag Archives: 4c

Keeping up Empire

31st August 2018

Predannack Head – Pedn Clifton South

Colonial Cruise – HS 4b – Lead
Pomme Bastards – VS 4c – Second
Irish Gold – HVS 5a – Lead

For whatever reason, Predannack Head seems to be intertwined with the antipodes. Lots of references to Australia and the colonies. Pedn Clifton South continues this trend and we managed to bag a number of routes on this wall including Dave’s much sought after ‘Pomme Bastards’

Warming up on Colonial Cruise was a bit of a jaunt. This is a straight forward HS with little difficulties and mainly crumbly rock adding to the drama. The belay point in the small col feels decidedly precarious and I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to test my anchors to harshly. But it was enough to get Dave ready for Pomme Bastards.

This is no push over in the early stages with two crux sections on the seaward wall. The first is on small foot placements and the second is a lay back to reach the arete. I really enjoyed this part, more than the main wall which is straight forward but instills some doubt because of the fragility of some of the edges. Overall though a good climb and Dave seemed to cruise through it. Showing he is right back to form.

Contrary to the weather forecast we enjoyed wall to wall sunshine all day and not the overcast drizzly conditions predicted. It shows that sometimes you just have to take a chance. I’m glad it wasn’t wet for Irish Gold. This is very short lived, but packs some great climbing into the 10 metres steep crack climbing. I loved it, with positive holds but strenuous moves. It all comes together well, but I just wish it was another 20m longer. It reminded me a little of Red Parade in that you are always on power.

With no food or drink (we must remember to take a day pack so we dont get so dehydrated) we were forced off and with Dave feeling knackered and me feeling knackered and getting pains in my knee we left Boomerang, our next intended route, for the next visit. Will we ever get it done???

In that nasty Zawn again

Predannack Head

Slab Zawn

Korev – VS 4c – Lead
Spirit Shadow – HS 4b – Second

Back to Predannack, although a bit weary on this particular day. still it was yet another new venue in Slab Zawn and so the scouting began. It’s not easy to see how the Zawn is laid out unless you move across to the South rib (the right rib as you face out to sea). From there you can look back in and sea the lines of Korev and Spirit Shadow, plus the others bearing up to the left on a long ramp.

Topo of Korev (Red) and Spirit Shadow (Green)

Both routes look good and despite the guidebooks suggestion to descend the rib and traverse round we abbed in. I haven’t actually tried it, but the easy traverse in looks unlikely. Maybe the conditions of a fairly sizeable swell was the biggest deterring factor. The ledge is above the high tide mark, but its daunting when you have waves thundering into the Zawn and the odd one got pretty close.

A few of the waves got a bit close

So onto Korev. A disappointment in my book, but maybe that’s because I was expecting too much following our last visit. The climbing is OK in the bottom section with some good moves, but its very bold. One crappy cam until the spike in the Niche. I never felt like I’d fall, I just didn’t expect the boldness and I think this caught me out. I would suggest that this is almost HVS 4b, a weird grade but one that fits. The top wall is pleasant enough but a bit of a jaunt really.

Top of Korev

Now this is in complete contrast to Spirit Shadow which Dave led. This is a top climb. Tricky off balance and contorted opening moves to three dimensional groove climbing and then onto a committing move across the face to the large crack. Pro’s good to this point but you have to make the traverse with gear under you. Its not hard, but it feels out there. Great climbing.

Dave on Spirit Shadow

And the piece de resistance is the top pitch, and a really airy pull around onto the arete for instant massive exposure. Gets the heart going but is amazing.

Happy Ian

On the way out we checked out Octopussy Zawn. This is going to be our next venue. I feel a bit scared but dead excited as well. Should be a day of awesome but challenging climbing.

You’re on the wrong side of the Zawn! Doh!

22nd June 2018

Predannack Head

Down Under, Up Top – VS -4c
Upstart Colonials – Diff – Solo
No Humans Involved – Diff – Solo
Nasty hanging Groove – E something – Fell Off

It made a difference that we weren’t wading through mud this time; in fact conditions couldnt have been better with the continuing spell of great weather.

View down the headland

Of course we still walked past our destination, but it helped getting our bearings from last time. The headland is bigger than you imagine and I think this is why its easy to gt disorientated. But we knew where we wanted to climb. It was the cool looking VS in Kangaroo Zawn that we were driven off from because of swell.

Well not today. No swell and wall to wall sunshine. Down Under, Up Top looks brilliant and had good reviews, but in the end I felt it didn’t quite meet expectations. Don’t get me wrong. Its a good climb. Moves up to and then along a curving flake overlap are excellent and there are a couple of testing moments, but I find its climbs that leave an indelible imprint that are the ones which warrant the most stars and this one didn’t make the grade. Probably the most memorable part was the slightly crumbly final wall on small crimps with poor gear which isn’t the basis for 3 stars.

Dave on the crumbly top section

Still, very good and recommended. And so on to what should have been Dave’s lead. Except we got the wrong crag!! Another of those slightly ambiguous descriptions which rely on you knowing exactly where you are in relation to the guide book description. We didn’t and ended up the the wrong side of the zawn. Still it gave rise to an hours worth of soloing on some great diffs before ‘good ol Dave’ suggested we descend steep slab and attempt a hanging groove which was clearly easy. FFS!

The descent slab. Not THE descent slab, but the initial easy one before Dave tried to kill us.

Well I had the pleasure of Dave discovering the folly of making rash assumptions as he sketchily descended the slab which steepened and rounded towards the bottom, running out of any discernible holds. Very nervy and an excellent attempt to kill both of us. But not as nervy as committing into the hanging groove which I proceeded to fall out of a couple of times. It is possible, but I think its somewhere in the E range with limited pro, so next time we’ll abseil inspect and then give it a go. Cant find it in the guidebook, but also cant believe its not been climbed. I’ll need to do a bit more research.

 

Uninvited Guests

21st June 2018

Butter Hole

Little Robert (Variation Start) – VS – 4c Lead

Butter Hole is such a great place to climb. Especially with the great evenings we’ve been having. This session was a quick grab before the main event on Friday, but actually turned out to be a proper adventure. Dont they always!

Just glad to be here

So despite the swell being fairly small, the base of Little Robert was soaked so it was a no go with the odd set spraying it completely. Daves eye for a new line picked out an alternative start which involved coming in from a high line on the left. Having experienced Dave’s “that looks easy” philosophy I was obviously dubious, but for a change it turned out to be on.

A wild traverse, with nothing for your feet allows you to swing up onto the main slab. Committing and with average pro it is exciting, but because of the large jugs it feels OK.

The steep headwall

The rest of the climb turned out to be atmospheric and brilliant climbing with nothing too difficult. A great VS in fact with good character. Butter Hole is turning out to be a little goldmine. Easy for us to get to and with a good range of climbs. I can see this being the source of quite a few great evenings this summer.

Dave on the final moves

The whole time we were there we were tracked by a couple of Rock Pipits who clearly didnt appreciate us being around. I have a feeling there is a nest somewhere high in the gulley so we’ll need to be careful in the future. Still the company was nice 🙂

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.