Like a Bull in a Ladder Shop

9th April 2021

Overhanging Chimney – VS 4c – Alt Lead (P1)
Maureen – HS 4B – Alt Lead (P1, P3)

I suppose £5 isn’t too bad for parking at Porth Gwarra. But I am parking charge averse so it still hurts a bit. Having said that it went up to £7.50 if my mind is correct at some point so as long as they don’t blatantly profiteer I’m ok with it.

Looking across at the pinnacle of Maureen

More importantly it means less distance to walk in and on this occasion (lugging the abseil rope unnecessarily for the second time) I’m gald. Having researched the bird ban situation properly this time we headed for Bulging Wall, which inst currently barred. You go past the nesting Kittiwakes and what I am sure is a nesting Chough in Zawn Rinney, but the main area of cliff is bird free as far as I could tell.

Chris breaking through the overhang of Overhanging Chimney

The gearing up ledge on the right of the zawn is always a pleasure. Overlooking Carn Guthenbras and the seal colony it is a breath-taking view. One I never grow tired of. Its easy to take for granted the splendour of the area. On this day a couple of fishing boats cruised by with a huge flock of various seabirds in their wake. Something I’ve seen many times but which always brings a smile. Why catch your own fish when people are giving it away 🙂

So, onto the climbing. Of course Overhanging Chimney was a good choice to start on. Its overhanging so how hard could it be? Well the clue is in the name. Its fucking overhanging! But what a great find. Lots of moves to be had on this one on the lead up slab and then over the overhang, which isnt too bad if you keep moving. Not that its over then. Whats nice about this climb is that the granite is sharp and positive. No polish here. A bit of a hidden gem I think.

Zawn Rinney

Maureen is entirely different. Its still a worthwhile climb. The first pitch again is blessed with fun moves, but P2 is an enigma. I think there are multiple ways of tackling this one. Two obvious parallel crack lines go up the pinnacle. The right is harder than the left, but the left is no push over at 4b. Hairy, awkward and needing quite large gear, you need to be on your game. Chris was punished by a set of hard moves at the start of the right hand crack system so quickly moved left to a more amenable route. Again good thoughtful moves and if you can jam it makes it a lot easier.

Chris high in the left hand cracks of Maureen

A quick round of self congratulations and Chris and I were done for the day and pretty knackered. The South West continues to deliver.

Any port in a storm

Black Carn North and South

2nd April 2021

Gelert – HS 4b – Second
Pudsey – VS 4c – Lead
Doc – HVS 5b – Lead

So after Lockdown number 2, Chris and I finally got out for a days climbing. This last batch of lockdown has seemed increasingly drawn out. Coronavirus continues to dog the world, tearing up the norm and replacing it with some form of twisted altered life… similar to before but not quite the same.

Black Carn South

As Chris climbed into my car, I couldn’t help but catch myself thinking ‘is this safe? Am I doing the right thing?’. That’s what 12 months of isolation does to you. Its the new norm. Every decision has the virus at its root. But is it more dangerous than climbing? Not today it wasnt! As usual Chris and I set out for a relaxed ‘re-connection’ with climbing, but in usual fasion it turned into an epic. And why not 🙂

Being fairly rusty on all things at the crag, our first dilemma was whether Chair Ladder was bird banned. BMC RAD advised it was from Lacertian to Mitre. Where the hell is Lacertian. We didn’t find out on the day but after a bit of research we figured it must have meant Laceration. Didn’t really matter in the end, because we headed off for some Black Carn shenanigans.

Belay of Gelert HS 4b

Repeats of Gelert and Pudsey followed, rekindling the climbing vibe. Interestingly I found the scramble in and around the crag equally as enjoyable. It was just good to be hands on granite. Black Carn is a lovely secluded location. Drop down by the wall and then angle across bouldery ground for a neat little area with steep and pristine granite.

Fancy a swim?

Feeling confident, Chris and I headed over to the zawn on the South side, an area we’d not been to. Some tricky scrambling leads down to an amazing gulley with a sort of massive chock stone. This creates a pool behind but is just a lid allowing the water to flow under it. Very cool and a definite location for a swim when the sea warms a bit. As a potential practice for the Cuillin we thought that trying the ‘easy’ V Diff corner we had spotted would be perfect.

Ian Jumps!!

Doh! Not V Diff. Turns out it was Doc, an HVS 5b. In approach shoes. I did my best to look thoroughly terrified as I tried to top out way above my gear. Gone were any ethics on knees, teeth and any other part of my body that could grip the rock. A seal flop onto the top gave me enough respite to place gear and finish off with a little more elegance. Still I’d rather be lacking in style and alive. So much fun. That’s type 3 fun.

Chris Moving up Doc HVS 5b

Nursing our scars and cuts Chris and I ambled back to the car with that stupid contented grin you only get when things have pushed you beyond. Fuck COVID. I can find much more interesting ways to kill myself if I want to.

I feel so weeeak!!!

14th November 2020

Cribba Head

This was the cry of someone who hasnt climbed for a while and is suddenly asking muscles to do things they just cant remember. The strange thing about this day was the fact I felt like I’d forgotten everything I knew about climbing. No technique, noflexibility, no finger or arm strength, poor footwork.

The view to St Loy from Cribba Head

The list goes on. But by the end of the day it was coming back and it makes me realise how I need to be out regularly on the rock to keep that normal momentum going. I could blame lockdown and injuries, but I think my motivation has been lacking, so a session with Joe, who is climbing brilliantly was just what was needed to remind me why I love to climb.

Joe on Pass the Pigs E4 6a

Oh yeh, and boy do I ache. Thats enough whining though. The day was great fun and it was so good to be back on the rock. Thats it now. Back to it I think. Need to rack up the lieage and start looking at my tick list.

For this day top roped efforts on Harder and Bottleneck were enough for me. Struggled on T/R but led them in the past. Strange how things change.

Lunch View – typical post industrial wasteland!

And as always amazing views and atmosphere. Only to be expected in Cornwall.

When Huey gives back

24th July 2020

Porthguarnon Cove

Down Under, Up Top – VS 4c – Lead (rpt)
Aoetearoa – HS 4b- Second
The Fixit – VD – Alt Lead

Its been so long since Nick and I have climbed together. I think the last outing was to Swanage for a weekend about 3 years ago. Amazing how time flies and also how times change. COVID wreaking havoc at the moment seemed to actually be a catalyst in this case. Dialing in on Zoom for Nicks birthday provided a perfect opportunity to connect again and get back out on the rock and chatting.

And where better than Predannack. After last years full on Recce’ of the place by Dave and myself it was an easy venue to pick and so we strolled over to Tasmania Rock to grab a couple of newly added classics to Cornwalls huge list of classics.

I expected to be rusty, but the climbs went reasonably well. They’re not strenuous which helps when your out of condition, but they do need a bit of technique. What I like most about these climbs is the remoteness. Its not often you see many other climbers, which gives the place a sense of splendid isolation.

6 go wild at Trewarvas

Well, to be honest there was no wildness at all, but it felt great to be out at last after lock-down. This was mine (and most of the rest of the group’s) first outing on the rock post COVID 19 round 1. And it felt good to be back on the rock.

Crew chilling. Is Pete going to jump.

Lock-down has been OK on the whole for me, with a massive increase in my surfing and MTB’ing activity. But there’s nothing like climbing.

First things first. Piers is now a qualified Ski Tour instructor. What a fantastic achievement. All we need now is to get away with him and get into the back country in the alps. Might have to brush up on my skiing though 🙂

Avalanche with its great top section

This was a chilled session with Tom, Dave, Chris, Piers, Pete and me. All top roping so no drama, with the exception of Pete trying his best to kill himself by falling off the top of the crag – fortunately while still attached to the top rope and with Chris using a Gri-Gri. Funny; but also not funny.

Chris and I remembered that we still have muscles although very unused ones with a voyage up both variations of Avalanche and by finishing on South Groove. Always one to make you think, grunt and swear. Most importantly we were on the magical cliffs of Cornwall. About time this was re-awakened.

Who needs to go abroad

Now to get my lead head back on and start eyeing up thiose pesky E1’s I’ve had on the list for a while. Oh and the big elephant in the room E2. Dave and I have unfinished business with that one!

Should have gone Surfin…..

24th January 2020
Aire Point
Night Flight – Severe – Second

On the odd occasion you realise you’ve picked the wrong sport. This was one of those days. We rocked up to Gwenver for a stroll to Aire Point, only to see an amazing left peeling in towards the point. Low tide with the bank almost exposed, I rekon it was about as good as it gets.

Unfortunately there wasnt a board between us and so we had to settle for a chilled day mooching around the point. It was just the wrong side of damp so many of the routes were not in condition for climbing, but our explorations identified a cluster of routes tucked away at the head of the small zawn that cuts through the seawrd face. These are going to be worth a return visit, but maybe when it is warmer and drier. Would suit a nice sunny evening.

Instead we sat around a lot (either side of Daves excellent lead on the cruxy Night Flight) and talked about how luck we were to spend relaxing days, doing very little with good mates. A little bit ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ really 🙂

In a bit of a jam!

29th November 2019

Porthguarnon Cove

Iron Bells – HS 4b – Lead (rpt)
Seik Shaker – HVS 5a – Second
The Fixit – VS 5a – Lead (dgd)

So we’re currently up to our eyes in ‘Electioneering’ as Corbyn goes head to head with Johnson. Its so depressing. If I’m honest I cant see anything good coming from this and then we’ve got the dying breathes of Brexit to deal with. God help us!

Porthguarnon Cove in all its glory

So any day climbing is a good brain cleaner. Leave all the nonsense behind and focus on important issues, such as ‘how strong am I today?’ or ‘Will the sun shine?’. And the answers were ‘reasonably’ and ‘yes’.

In fact we were all down to T Shirts by time we arrived, which made the days routes seem all the better. I was with Joe and Dave and Tom teamed up for a go at Fences, a tricky HS that I did last time out.

Dave on Fences

We kicked off with a classic, ‘Iron Bell’. Such a nice route. A bit of lay backing into the slab, some small holds and an overhang. Has it all. I like the small indents and bulges for your feet on what would otherwise be a steep slab.

Joe’s pick was Seik Shaker. An innocuous looking arete which has a real bite. Its straight forward until it comes to moving onto the upper head wall which is bounded on the right by a thick blade of rock. The crack looks fine and there seems to be foot placements but as soon as you move onto the slab it all gets a lot more difficult. I tried to Jam but I’m shit at it so I kept right and used the arete to layoff. OK on the second but it might have made placing gear more difficult on the lead.

View down to the main face

I was trying to avoid another session of going up and down but I still managed it on our final VS. As usual the jamming let me down, although once I’d worked out I could lay off the opening moves it all unlocked. Lack of confidence and fitness cost me this one, but on a more optimistic note I felt good climbing it, so it’s just going to cost me some training in the long term.

Still not sure what the best way is to get into Porthguarnon. We met a couple of other climbers who parked at the campsite which I think is a lot shorter. I think you just have to ask the owners which is fair enough. Mind you, you lose out on the stunning walk in if you do that. Wellw orth the effort 🙂

Right! This time I’m going… no this time… no now…

16th November 2019

Vicarage Cliff

Pandora – VS 4b – Second
Wellingtons Stand – VS 4b – Lead
Atom Head – E1 5c – Second

Oh how your head plays tricks with you. The ugly head of indecision rears itself and then you’re up and down trying to persuade yourself that the terrifying move you want to make is fine… it wont hurt you. Even if you fall.

Back towards the waterfall

Alas, it’s not so simple. Having bottled Wellingtons Stand on my last outing here I had unfinished business. So finding myself trying to make the same tenuous move on two small crimps with a crap foot placement was no different. Except in the end I forced myself up by shear force of will. And lo and behold, it wasn’t that bad. Which is easy to say after you’ve done it without falling off.

Joe checks out Atom Head

So I thought that was going to be my epic for the day, but Joe had other ideas. Atom Head is one of the best climbs I’ve done recently. Tiny holds and foot placements. Run outs, padding, gorse, rusted pegs. You name it, its got it! What a fantastic lead by Joe. There is pro but you need to keep it together to place it and it must feel awfully lonely up there on the lead. What an end to the day. Abbing off as it started to darken gave a sense of having eked out every available bit of light and dryness available.

It was also really good to be out with Joe. Like old times 🙂 Except now he’s miles better than me. But thats an advantage, because he can get me on routes I would dream of leading myself. Cracking and Slabtastic!!

Beginners Luck

15th November 2019

Predannack Head

The Beginners Area
Sexygenarians – V Diff – Lead
Moonlight – VS 4c – Lead
Zig Zag _Mod – Alt Lead

Weeks of rain and shit weather led to this. A fleeting chance to get out for a climb in a weather window predicted by BBC weather. My poll on Facebook suggested Porthguarnon which was t’the peoples’ choice. But what do they know! I over-ruled them as any good dictator would and so we headed for the Lizard, the one area predicted to be dry.

Pete on Sexygenarians

And yes it was. The doom and gloom ‘its too cold to be outside’ mob off the telly f@#ked up good and proper. We had sunshine almost all day and a totally chilled session in an area only 10 mins from the car. Bliss.

The Beginners Area is easy to find as long as you pick up your bearings on The Diamond Wall. Also it helps to know that North (as per the guidebook) is down the coast to the right facing out to sea. Very disorientating when its not strictly ‘North’.

Sunshine after so many days of rain!

I paired up with Pete (his first climb of the year! no less). So we started on a nice crack climb, Sexygenarians which is straight forward but nice climbing. Its amazing when you haven’t been on the rock for a while how alien everything seems until you get back into your rhythm. By time we moved onto Moonlight, a technical VS I still wasnt quite on it, hence the mad attack of disco leg which Pete could even feel through the ropes. Anyway, it went well after a nervy start. And it made me feel better getting a more difficult route under my belt.

Zig Zag, looking harder than it is. The crashing waves made it feel epic.

Our final routre was Zig Zag, as sets thundered into the cove below. Very atmospheric and warranting a quick belay station about 5 metres up to avoid Pete getting swept away by a rogue set. Its basically a easy ramp, but with great exposure and even a waterfall at the end. What more could you want.

Days like this are precious. Sun, great mates and great climbing. Take your packed lineups and stuff them up your arse. We had this to ourselves. Viva the outdoors and viva Cornish Rock!

Are we there yet?

19th September 2019

Piz da Lech

Pete as the oldest member of the team commands the respect he is due…. But if he asks me one more time how long its going to take to get somewhere he’s going to be abandoned to the Bears.

Pete and Chris relaxed on Piz da Lech

So Piz Da Lech was the unanimous choice for the final days Via Ferrata given our somewhat misadventure on the first day. I had a few moments where my unbridled enthusiasm got the better of me (wanting to go for Giovanni Lipella a beast of a mountain near Punta Anna) and I sulked for a bit. But to be fair Piz de Lech was the right choice. A nice short walk in after a couple of chair lifts (Pete is no longer a chair lift virgin) and a steady walk off, with just a little sting in the tail.

Now its steep. The ladders on Piz da Lech

Sited above Cortina, its a brilliant route. Good steep climbing on fairly good quality rock, a little polished in places, but mostly excellent. Straight forward to climb free as well, which always adds a bit of spice. This coupled with some stunning views off the top made for the perfect end to the trip. And once again those startling blue skies which dogged us for the whole trip.

A hug for the top of Tomaselli

And now Tony and Pete can class themselves as hardened VF veterans. Two high altitude VF’s, a gorge and dealing with traffic on our first outing. This coupled with ‘the adventure’ of our first day made for a memorable trip. Chris of course took the whole trip in his stride. I can see many more outings coming up for the two of us.

We need to do them ALL! Oops there goes the over excitment again 🙂