Tag Archives: HS

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.

 

 

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.

Tolkeins World

25th April 2014

The Dewerstone

Central Groove – HS 4b – Alt lead
Silken Thread/Imperialist – HSV 5a – Lead

The Dewerstone is a long haul from Newquay but its worth it and on a day of repeats like these your time and money are well spent.

Dewerstone_Apr14 005

Central Groove is undeniably one of the best HS’s around and Dave got his chance to lead P1 which is just awesome. There were a few other climbers around on this day, but dont get me wrong, it wasnt busy. I still get a real feeling of being in place that was created from a novel like LOTR. Twisted trees, thick lichen, bird song and the sound of the river all add to the impression.

Dewerstone_Apr14 002

Climbing up through the canopy is always fun and sat on the belay ledge while Dave brought up Tom, I got the chance to just savour the whole experience. I dont think there is anywhere better to be in the world when you get days like this.

Dewerstone_Apr14 021

I knew Silken Thread/Imperialist would get my blood flowing. It feels bold to start and the entire first pitch seems off balance. Its a good route though and the second pitch exposed my lack of strength training this year. Time to beef up a bit me thinks.

Dewerstone_Apr14 024

A nice snooze on the way back made the trip quick. Tom’s new car is too comfortable, thats the problem.

Going it alone

28th November 2013

Sennen

No Number – VS 5a – Lead
Monday Face – VS 4c – Second
Overmarked – HS 4a – Lead
Sinners Route – Diff – Solo
Juniors Route – Diff – Solo
Seniors Route – Diff – Solo

Damp conditions alwyts temper how you approach a days climbing. Despite a favourable forecaste Sennen was slow to dry on this day and as a result we throttled back on our grades.

Are we high enough

Are we high enough

Having said that, No Number, my opening route prooved more than a challenge for the conditions. Holds full of water, moist cracks (oooh errr)  and unreliable foot placements made it full on. The rising run of flakes is slightly overhanging and therefore fairly strenuous until you reach the base of the upper cracks. Great climbing, but the twin crack finish wasnt on for this day. They were running with water so I detoured onto No Name for a much easier but spectacular finish.

Behind you!

Behind you!

Monday face has all the holds but needs a steady head. Pro is tricky to come by and the strenous positions make it akward to place. Chris enjoyed this one. An ideal route for the conditions. Meanwhile Dave and Tom were on SkrewCrack, which again was probably worth another grade given the conditions. A good lead by Dave who’s consolidating his grades nicely.

Chris on No Number and Dave on Skrewcrack

Chris on No Number and Dave on Skrewcrack

Overmarked is a weird route. Its basically a couple of moves through an overhang, but is really powerful for a short period. Get your body shape wrong and its a lot more difficult as Chris and I both found.

Dave on Skrewcrack

Dave on Skrewcrack

Unusually for the two of us, Chris and I ended the day with a bit of soloing. Only on the diffs in the Church Window area but it certainly adds a buit of spice to your climbing. What would ordinarily seem simple suddenly becomes a major issue. That said, I think it is good for your climbing as you end up concentrating on just the climbing without all the paraphanalia that normally accompanies leading.

Dolphins! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Dolphins! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Very refreshing and the sight of Dolphins just makes you feel good to be alive.