Tag Archives: 5a

Combined Tactics (beneath Pendeens massive hooters)

19th April 2019
Pendeen Cliffs

Second Slip – Severe 4a – Lead
Gymslip – VS 5a -Lead
Foam Follower – HVS 5a – T/R
Sea Music – V Diff – Solo

Its been a long time since Joe and I rocked up to Pendeen in the mist and first explored its slightly under-graded routes. Its a strange but slightly enchanting place with surprisingly good quality routes for a small venue.

The seaward Cliffs at Pendeen

Not one that always springs to mind, but after a quick rekki to the South coast Chris and I opted for the more sheltered North, given the Easterly winds. A good choice as it turned out. The obvious place to drop in is next to a cleft on top of the seaward buttress; which of course we did. But this leads to a freaky but fun drop inside the the huge boulder into a sort of cave. OK the first few times but as the tide pushed it made for an exciting challenge, timing when to drop so that you didnt get hit by a wave!

Chris on Second Slip at Pendeen

The two climbs I led on the seaward cliffs were both tough for the grades.With my head still not in full trad mode, I made a bit of a meal of both, but was glad that I persevered to bag both of them. For Second Slip (a repeat) its the step off the boulder which is unprotected but actually straight forward. I dont know why I was so hesitant. Gymslip is a different proposition. Another hard move to get established, but then a decided absence of gear leads to some thought provoking moves. For me I couldnt commit for a long time. Only Chris’ constant reassurance and encouragement got me through. Turns out it was all about one move with little gear. Then everything pans out.

Both routes are really enjoyable and worthwhile, with great moves and absorbing climbing. The same cant be said for either of the other two. While Sea Music was a ladder, it was a decidedly ropy ladder. No point protecting it. You were more likely to kill your belay partner with the falling choss than save yourself. Still it was fun if nervy. Foam Follower is described as ‘poorly protected’ which it isnt. I know I didnt lead it but I checked it out and there are a number of placements. However, the overall quality of the rock has to be considered as well. So maybe it is poorly protected, just in a cliff collapsing sort of way 🙂

Joe on Pork Ordinaire

The coastline here has a timeless air to it. Plenty of old mine workings around and on this day a haze which made it seem surreal. I do love Cornwall… all of it. But places like this make you feel alive when you visit.

It was the best of days… it was the worst of climbs


22nd February 2019

Sloe Steel – VS 5a – Lead (Dgd)
Margin – E1 5c – T/R (dnf)

Continuing in the spirit of failure which has dogged my recent outings, I had a typical day of jittery nerves and low confidence. This has been a theme in my recovery from my shoulder injury. It probably stems from not having the confidence to put power through my right arm or maintain my grip in my right hand. This puts all the stress on my left and as I’m out of condition it undermines my belief.

However I look at it, my climbing is pants at the moment so I’m hoping the trip to Leonidio may kick start my season off. I have loads on my tick list for this year and last October I was on siting E1’s for fun.

Margin was an interesting climb. Very furry and at first glance looks easier than it is. The initial crack isnt too bad, but the transition into the rightward trending crack is tough and a bit tenuous. I have to say I wouldnt want to lead this as its low on gear and high on the possibility of failure. But as a top roping climb it was fun.

St Loy always makes you feel good, even if you’re off form. It helped that Tom showed us a new way into the climb which doesnt involve the long descent and climb through Boskenna. Although a perverse part of me enjoys that route, because I’m sure it pisses off the locals with all their ‘Get Orf My Land’ signs.

Heads Up!

Rosebud in June – HVS 5a – T/R

Blind Fury – E2 5b – T/R

So maybe it wasnt shorts weather after all. I did my best, but that darned SWerly put an edge on the whole day. The forecast as usual was partially correct. Yes it was sunny, but it was also windy, de rigueur for Zennor.

The wind made climbing pretty uncomfortable, removing any finess to moves and turning them into more of a death grip. Of course this explains my fall- from which Tom was lucky not to get flattened. Great catch by him though, especially as I dropped another few feet further than expected when my top runner ripped and almost landed on his head. Still, four feet is four feet off the floor which counts as a save.

The crux

It was at this point that I realised my self imposed 2 months of rest to bring my shoulder back from injury, was having an effect on my fitness. Time to back off and just put in the mileage, which is what Dave and I did. But who can complain when the climb is RIJ, an all time classic.

Into the upper crack

Which is a lot more than can be said for Blind Fury.

Dave approaching the crux and the powerful moves through the overhang

No gear, tenuous and strenuous moves does not make me want to lead this climb. My lack of power showed through here. I made the crux holds, but couldnt pull through. So time to get some exercising going. Especially with Greece just a month away.

Must eat more carrots!

Brandy Slab/Rosemergy Towers

Flash Back – Severe 4a – Second
Monkey Puzzle – VS 5a – Lead
Monkey’s Lunch – Severe 4a – Lead

OK, two weeks in a row we’ve had long days. This one ending in a solo of the top part of Rosemergy Ridge in the dark in an effort to escape the claws of the viscous brambles. We had problems right at the start finding our way down to Brandy’s Slab. Probably should have read the guidebook instead of setting off on the first faint trail we found which lead in roughly the right direction.

Jelly Baby feast to start the day off

Back at the beginning of the day we had arrived at Rosemergy Towers, me with a view to having another go at Hard Times (which I fell off on the final move having gone too far left). However my still not recovered shoulder made a few protests on Flash Back (a good lead by Dave on what is an understated climb at Severe) so I gave this up as a bad idea.

Tom on the upper moves of Flash Back

And so we set our sights on Brandy’s Slab. Of course even though Tom had been there, we had no idea where to go, which resulted in an hour of bramble and Gorse bashing and a very zig zag route down. We had picked Piers up on the way and so a very scratched team arrived at the slab. I was to be honest a bit disappointed. I’d expected more, but the harder routes were just very bold and the easier routes not that inspiring. That said, I enjoyed the climbing, although I tend to agree with a comment on UKC that the detached flake of rock on Monkey Puzzle is just waiting for an opportune time to fall off. Hopefully, not with anyone climbing on it.

Lost in the Brambles

Monkey Puzzle is either a straight forward VS if you go slightly higher before moving into the narrow crack or a very bold VS if you go early. The nicer line is to follow the corner a bit further and then move across. Other wise you’re relying on friction on a very hairy and mossy face. Still it was fun despite the pain of setting up a belay with no anchor points… or at least not obvious ones.

Piers on Monkeys Lunch and having fun 🙂

And so we set off heading out via Rosemergy Ridge, which soon turned into slightly more than a scramble in the dimming light. To give Piers his due, he did brilliantly considering he has only come back to climbing recently.

There were some distinctly nervy mantles and padding going on. Still we’re alive, so that counts as a grade A adventure in my books.

The Seal Sanctuary

4th December 2018

Sennen

Protein – VS 5a – Lead

Now Dave has defined the ‘Seal’ move. When approaching an overhanging ledge deploy the ‘Seal’ mantelshelf technique… This involves working your way into an impossible situation where your feet cut loose and the only escape is to Seal flop around until you can get a knee (or any other part of your body) into a position where you can crawl exhausted onto the ledge. This should be done in the least graceful way you can and accompanied with shouts of “For F#*ks sake!” or “I CANT MOVE!!!” Finish it off with a ‘whoop’ as an expression of how relieved you are that you didn’t fall off and die.

Good steep climbing on Protein – Sennen

So with varying degrees of skill we (Tom, Dave and I) all practised this hard to perfect move on Protein, a stiff VS at Sennen. It didn’t help that it was the coldest day of the year so far, but to be honest this should have been in our range whatever the conditions. Protein starts with moves up into a V Groove where you transition right onto the ‘arete’ of sorts. Nice moves which then lead you to a second transition which goes left. Leaving the small ledge for the Chicken Head is the crux. Small crimps and pinches on what is an overhanging wall require some commitment and (as we all did) the move left helps you get height to make the hold. Might be one to do when my grip has improved, but the move left is no pushover so is in keeping with the VS grade.

Approaching the Seal Sanctuary on Protein

Then two more overhanging walls, the lower of which is really tricky. Hence the deployment of Dave’s patented moves which proved useful if inelegant. The top moves are fairly exposed and the holds though big, don’t feel as positive as they might. So all in all a great climb that gives you a bit of a test. I really liked it, even if it is a little contrived. More importantly it was great to be back at Sennen. We only got the one climb in because the rain was pushing in, but the Cornish coast delivered its usual drama with massive waves thundering into the Hayloft area.

A burly finish to Protein

To be able to just grab a mornings climbing in such an awesome location defines why living in Cornwall is the best. The weather may be varied, but you can keep your wall to wall sunshine… give me the North Coast in December any time.

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???

Watch your warm up!

31st July 2018

Predannack Head

Kangaroo Crack – E1 5b – Lead
Kurangh – E1 5a – Lead
Aoetearoa – HS 4b – Second

So Dave and I have been getting out a fare bit recently. Back on the climbing big time, so we were due a bit of an epic day. And by that I don’t mean our usual “epics!” , rather a day of pushing ourselves and climbing hard. See here for a short vid

Tasmania Block

So this was it. An eye on Kangaroo Crack sent us straight to Tasmania Block in Downunder Zawn (too many ozzie references for me), This is a block of rock cleaved away from the main cliff with a channel in between. On the main face are a series of good routes including ‘Down Under, Up Top’ but on the block itself is a striking right to left crack running the full height of the block. It looks sooo inviting. Getting down is through the usual grassy bank and boulder scramble (for those trying to find the zawn it is beyond the pinnacles as you walk towards Mullion direction. Go past the Pinnacles and then look down to the left. There is a point which is off the main path. The descent is to the right of this point facing out to sea.

Dave on Kangaroo Crack

However, the spirit of enthusiasm pushed me into a rash decision which was to start on the steep crack before warming up. So it just spat me off in disgust with pumped arms and torn hands. That’ll teach me.

Dave finishing off Kurangh

So on to Kurangh, an entirely different proposition. On the main face this time taking a line up over the bulge onto the blankish face. I knew it would be quite bold as it was E1 5a, but actually this climb suited me to the core. Small wires and a few dodgy small cams protect it, but the climbing is totally engaging, with small crimps, odd facing holds and the need for extreme delicacy as the you never knew what would remain and what would come of under your feet or in your hands. There is a crux move with two poor wires to protect it, but you know, I didnt find it half a scary as the HS I did at Butter Hole. I thought it was an excellent route.

Kangaroo Crack belay

So back to Kangaroo Crack with confidence fully restored. I breezed the opening section this time (now thats why you need to warm up) and found the whole route thoroughly enjoyable. It does not go the way you think its going to. Anyone who’s done Acid Test at Tregiffian will know exactly what I’m talking about. You need to be ‘thoughtful’ as the guide says. The crux is near the top in fact, not the opening section as I had thought. That does take commitment, but the gear makes the route very safe.

Having completed Kangaroo Crack

So onto Dave’s search for his first proper lead in a while. The fact he made both the E1′ look so easy was full indication he was ready to go. Dodgy hands working fine in my opinion. And Aoetearoa was a classic to do. Just a shame the flake wasn’t 20m longer. It is the epitome of flake climbing. Positive, good pro and amazing moves. We also had an angry tide chasing us so it was my turn to get a bit of a soaking. Fortunately Dave brought me up out of the dank dark and getting wetter by the second, gulley. Dave breezed it as I knew he would and so ended our first mega day of the year.

Dave on Aoetearoa

We now need a few more. Mind you I have a list of E1’s at Predannack I want to do.

True Grit?

26th July 2018

Bashers Harbour

Cave Buttress – HS 4b/HVS 5a – Lead
Mince Pie Problem – V Diff – Second

Obviously the lack of traffic on this crag plays a part. In the Cave Buttress area the rock is actually quite sound (in contrast to the piles of rubble lying in the sea elsewhere), but it has a grittiness to it probably derived from too few climbers.

Cave Buttress is given HS 4b on UKC but in the guidebook it gets HVS 5a. The guidebook is the more realistic grade. The crux is a powerful move from an undercling with a long reach. Although the gear is OK you leave it below as you make the moves so a fall is going to result in a bit of a whipper. It is definitely easier for the taller.

The VS Dave had been looking at (Cave Groove Direct) has suffered from a rockfall in its lower section. Its probably still do-able but the fresh rock looks a bit brittle and I cant say it looks attractive. The Severe next to it which Dave top-ropped does look good if a bit bold. It seems unlikely at the grade but dave found it OK if a little gritty.

Mince Pie Problem, which I’d already done was just as good the second time around. Its not easy, with a few tricky moves in the lower section, but in all its good climbing working your way up a corner and using all faces.

Squirrel!!!!! Again….

4th August 2017

The Dewerstone

FruitFlanCase – E1 5a – Lead

God Dammit! Those bloody squirrels were at it again. I cleverly put all my food in an old harness bag and left it out of my rucksack. So Mr Squirrel decides to take the whole bag and drag it off into the trees (having already eaten my box of raisins). A kindly passer by helped out as I perched on the belay ledge of Fruitflancase. However he was a bit too nice and put it back in my rucksack. Nooooooooooo…..!!!!!!

Squirrel!!

Not again. Visions of another big hole in my rucksack and clothing started to haunt me and despite lobbing rocks of many different sizes down on him he scampered all over the bag. Fortunately he must have got bored because he wandered off. Finally I could put my attention back on Dave who was having an epic fight with the jamming cracks of the route.

Daft thing is that after I got back down there, I shared my cashew nuts with the squirrel who sat on a rock nearby eating my handouts. There will though be a day of reckoning with the critter… its him or me and I dont intend on losing again.

Relief…. What a struggle

So back to the climb, which was awesome. My first attempt led to a slow motion peel out of the crack as my not so good jamming technique was exposed to its fullest. Thought I’d done the crux but a stupid error saw me dangling. So I returned to the ground, composed myself after a bit of cheese, and set off again. This time it all went well, but its a fight. It never lets up. The first section up the ramp is fine, protection where you need it and just a bit delicate.

But once you commit to the crack via a lay back around the overhang lip its sustained. Jams to start, but you need to get your feet right as well. Then a mixture of jams, crimps and slopers gets you to the belay ledge. I nearly came off a few times, but hung in there. Really pleased to do this one. Its been on my ticklist for a while.

Dave had an epic. But not surprising as he cant feel his fingers properly. I think it was at the top end for both of us, so please we both made it.

Dave tops out up Central Groove

The top pitch has one awkward section to start and then with rain starting I chose to finish up Central Grooves top slab. As it happens I’ve already done the top crack/groove of FFC when I climbed CG before, so I know its not hard. Just very vegetated. Both 4b, but CG’s slab is a better climb.

Dave and I had been talking about how just wandering the woods is a privelege at the Dewerstone. Its such a beautiful place. Having been driven off by some heavy rain, we explored a less well known section called The Tooth Area. There could be a few routes here, but its uninspiring when compared with the main crag. We’ll see.

In the rain and dark light Dewerstone has that ancient feel to it. You could almost imagine druids walking the woods and old miners trying to eke out a living through the old quarries. Must remember to come walking here again. Tap up Viv who’s always up for a walk and swim in the river.

Ian and Toms super tangly ropes (or how not to organise your safety!)

5th May 2017

Bosigran/The Great Zawn

Simple Simon – HS 4b – Lead
Picnic – VS 5a – Lead
The Variety Show – HVS 5a – Lead

A great day at Bosigran with three climbs that all delivered on the entertainment front. For a change Tom and I got to climb together and we lucked into three top climbs at Bosi. Considering how many times I’ve been there this is somewhat baffling, but as Tom said, there is a tendency to walk past the climbs in the initial area to get to the big names. And this is probably why they are missed.

Bosi

I’d seen some climbers on Simple Simon last month, so it was an obvious choice really. A somewhat bizarre opening pitch which involves grass trekking and avoiding the shrubbery actually delivers some good moves. The rising crack is fun and thought provoking. But it is the second pitch which is atmospheric, with a final crystal filled crack which needs some working out. Tom got it first time, but I had a few attempts before unlocking the slightly perplexing moves.

 

Picnic is if anything even more unusual. The rising corner seems straight forward enough, but there is enough about it to make it worthwhile. We left the upper pitch as we were Zawn bound, but I think the harder moves are found here and the crackline looks good. Something in the back of my mind says I’ve done this many years ago with Bart, but I might be mistaken.

Bluebells!! The hidden killer!

And so to the main event. We descended down the Desolation Row path (always entertaining with the lethal bluebells which act like butter on your shoes) and abbed down after Joe and Dave had kindly set up the abb rope.

Before we realised the ab rope was broken!!!!!

The Variety Show looks intimidating from the bottom and it delivers on intimidation when y0u’re on it as well. Basically a curving crack with a wicked sting in the tail. You have to be on your wits the whole way. But its soooooooo good.  I think this may be some of the most absorbing climbing I’ve ever done. Once at the top of P1 you’re faced with a complex series of moves to get established in the final crack. I ended up bridging after climbing myself into a weird position. It was the only way I could straighten out, but it worked well in the end. Tom had similar dificulties and ended up in the same area, but somehow extricated himself in a different way.

Anyway, both up safely we then managed to make the biggest pigs ear of our rope work. I dropped it down the cliff, then Tom tangled it on the belay. It was at this point we decided the only way to straighten them out was to keep climbing so we did P2. How much fun can you have on overhangs and grass!

Seat with a view

Eventually we bushwacked our way back to the ab rope to find that Joe and Dave were having a mare on Zarathrustra with stuck cams and upside down falls. Joe eventually sorted it by abbing off again to get his gear. Is there no end to his energy? And so we got back to the car as it got dark after a very full but enjoyable day.