Tag Archives: Midnight Express

No longer a Bane

17th April 2017


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

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

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

Ready for Midnight Express… Bring it on!!

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

Dave stylin on the crux

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

Dave on Vespula

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

Even time for a look around

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

Just let it go……… FAT CHANCE!!!

24th May 2013


Zip – VS 4c – Lead
Panos – HS 4b – Second
Bandwagon – E1 5b – Lead
Midnight Express – E1 5b – Lead (dog)

A brilliant day marred by my nemesis which as usual bit me on the arse.

Sheltered from the wing St Levans Wall was the perfect venue. With a good low tide we had plenty of time to play on the climbs on the lower tier as well.


To start though I had a go at Zip a VS with a tough start. I keep forgetting that VS are not there to warm up on and this one as usual reminded me of that as I struggled up the initial crack to be halted at a slightly bold mantleshelf. I actually enjoyed it though, the same of which can be said for Chris.

Tom on the latter hard moves of Panos

Tom on the latter hard moves of Panos

He started on Panos, an HS with a bite. The opening V goove isnt easy but the top move onto the pillar is made spicy if you stay right which seems to take you away from anything useful to pull over on. Tom and Dave intelligently went left which seemed a far more amenable finish. Still, one to get the heart going.

Chris flaking before Bandwagon

Chris flaking before Bandwagon

Bandwagon looks good from below and it didn’t disappoint. Good delicate climbing which requires good footwork and a steady head through the crux. Just our type of route really and we both loved it.

Chris at the crux on Bandwagon

Chris at the crux on Bandwagon

And so to the finale. What could go wrong after such a good start. Midnight Express beckoned me, and proceeded to teach me a lesson in humility and trash my bank account at the same time as 5 of my Nuts cascaded into the deep water filled trough below. Thats my third attempt. Its got to be fourth time lucky?

The view across to Porthgwarra

The view across to Porthgwarra

Still, it didnt detract from a great day out although it took a little while for the red mist to clear. One to get on again soon methinks.

Perfection all around us

23rd March 2012
Pedn-men-an-mere (St Levan’s Wall)

Geriatrics – Severe 4a – Lead
Midnight Express – E1 5b – Lead

St Levan’s Church is tucked away in a valley near the Minack theatre. Idyllic is probably the best word to describe it, nestled in amoungst a small copse with probably one of the best beaches in Cornwall a few hundred metres away.

The view across to Porth Chapel Beach

There is an honesty box for the grass car park run by a friendly women attendant, who appeared as we were about to leave. Luckily we had ‘been honest’ as ours was the only van in the car park and it would have been fairly obvious if we had not been. The walk in brings you out on a headland  with an absolutely stunning view across Porth Chapel beach.

Getting down to the main face can be tricky but follow the most obvious path to the left of the lookout and it takes you down through boulders and grassy gulleys until you arrive above the Bemuda Wall area. A quick ab down and you’re faced with the two amazing crack lines of Midnight Express and Devils Meridian.

With Tom and Dave making up the trio, we set about Geriatrics, a Severe just above the lower rock pools. It’s a strange line with a tricky start. Wet rock (which it was because of the tide and good sized swell) always un-nerves me and this proved no exception. So the warm up route became an adventure in its own right, with poor rock quality and unreliable holds.

Ian on Geriatrics

Dave on Geriatrics

It did though get me focused on Midnight Express, a line I saw the previous time I was here, and which looks hard but magnetic. After a nervy start where micro’s are the only thing stopping you taking a splash in the rock pool below, the route goes through a series of delicate bridging moves. Unfortunately I spent too long trying to fiddle in pro just below the horizontal break which blew out my arms so I ended up sitting on my gear.

Ian on Midnight Express

I think its something I’ll have to work on. Being confident enough to push on when I need to and leave my gear a bit below me.

Midnight Express - Before the final ramp

Still, I was pleased with my climbing and I’ll return shortly to clean it. Tom and Dave both made it up which was impressive given that it was top end E1 and I reckon a tough 5b on the crux. Be warned though, there is a sting in the tail and on rock with the texture of weetabix.

We finished what was a fantastic day near the marconi slab on a climb originally attempted by Joe. It proved as hard on the repeat, but gave a good bit of climbing to finish on.

Dave on the 5b finale

I’ll be back shortly to do Midnight Express again and possibly have ago at Devils Meridian, although it too looks hard. But it wouldnt be fun if it wasnt!