Tag Archives: 5c

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!!

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.

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.

Butt Cracks and Ball Sacks

16th Sepotember 2016

Pednvounder Beach/Logan Rock

Reach – E2 5c – TR
Charlie’s Chank Seaward Arete – 6a- Lead(Eventually)
Blondie Jams with Sepultura – HVA 5a – Second (Dgd)

As well as being one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall on its day, Pednvounder is also well known as a nudist spot. On this day we shared the beach with a number of naturists, but to be honest after the initial ‘oh my god, why are you letting me see that!’ you dont even notice as the climbing is absorbing and great fun. I sometimes wish I had the bottle to get in tune with nature, but I cant see that ever happening. I leave that to Tom :-).

Pednvounder Beach

Pednvounder Beach

It really is a stunning location and with the formation of a lagoon, which cut the beach in half, it had the look and feeling of being abroad. The climbing is disjointed though. The cliff here does not really run to full height with its routes. Most are on the lower, more reliable rock that comes straight off the beach. Reach is to be found in a narrow zawn a few metres after you arrive on the beach. It is easily identified as it is a seriously overhanging piece of rock.

Looks hard and is hard

Looks hard and is hard

Joe advised me that the routes here are sometimes done as highball bouldering problems. That would be a serious fall if you blew it at the top. And given the really pumpy nature of the routes that is a definite possibility. I knew the E2 would be hard, so I ‘warmed up’ on the short overhanging crack at the start of Shady Wall. Of course this was much harder than I anticipated, so I proceeded to dog it for the first few attempts. Eventually after I had enough gear in I cleaned it, but not what I would call a clean ascent! Dave however made it on his first go, just to make me feel entirely inadequate. Git…

Dave giving it the soulful walk  .. "I want to be at one with nature!!!"

Dave giving it the soulful walk .. “I want to be at one with nature!!!”

Meanwhile Joe and Tom were giving it some on an impossibly hard route to the right of Reach. I think the start ended up having the beating of them but no wonder, with small holds and a major overhanging route. Reach has a hard start, but eases as you get higher. But only by degrees. It is all overhanging so even those ‘good holds’ soon feel inadequate. Having made the hard start I just kept going, thinking that I wouldnt be able to get going again so best make the best of this attempt, which eventually turned out OK, although I ached for a while just after.

Joe gets jammin

Joe gets jammin

Joe was determined to get over to Logan Rock for a jamming fest on Blondie jams with Sepultura. He got his wish, as we all gave up some skin for the cause. This was despite being taped up for the job (which is like a wax job when you take it off). The climb is tough, with problematic foot jams and a crack that doesnt quite fit your hands.

Tom gives it a go

Tom gives it a go

Joe made his way up on the lead and the three of us followed with varying degrees of success. What I would say is that it is thoroughly enjoyable, despite the pain. I’d like to try it again now, having tried once. Make a better ‘fist’ of it next time.



So, what a great day out. Fabulous views, great climbing and good friends. What more can you ask for?

Success seems largely a matter of hanging on when others have let go

26th August 2016

Cheesewring Quarry

Daisys Flapjack – 6a+ – Dgd (Just)
Trouble with Lichen – E3 6a – Dgd
Double Agent – 7a+ – DNF
Debutante – E3 6a – DNF
Half Route Half Boulder Problem – E3 5c – DNF

On this particular day my success rate was to be measured by the number of failures I achieved. That said, it was a really enjoyable days climbing and it made a real change to be able to unleash on a climb and not have to worry about gear or a leader fall.

I also found my level. Although I could do the moves on most of the routes, what I couldnt do was link them together in some cohesive fashion that would have enabled me to clean a whole route. But it was good to know that I could do a 6a move, even if it took me a few attempts.

Joe of course was smashing everything, but I realise that if I am to push my grade at some point this is something I’m going to have to do more of. Without actually practicing ome moves at this level I would have no idea what was in store for me.

My favourite two routes were Trouble with Lichen and Double agent. Both very technical in different ways, but both really satisfying when you had worked the moves out. TWL I managed on about my 6th attempt, but finally realised what I needed to do. DA was a case of not being strong enough. Maybe after some indoor training I’ll be able to do the upper moves, but not yet.

I think I might return to Cheeswring for a bit more ‘training’. I also fancy Warrior at some point.

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.

Exploding Antipodian

27th May 2016

Coastguard Cliffs – The Lizard

Aboriginal Sin – E3 – Second
Casablanca – E2 – Alt Lead
Rendezous Manque – V Diff – Lead

Sometimes you have a vision of how a climb will be. I imagine myself climbing it and invent the holds, hoping they will be as good in real life. On a beautiful sunny day, Joe and I stood below Aboriginal Sin and I considered whether I was in good enough form to actually get up it.

The guidebook describes a series of juggy flakes leading to ‘the fang’ that sticks up at the end of the steeply rising and overhanging crack. Easy then! Get on it and move quickly until you can get hold of the juggy fang.

Joe below Aboriginal Sin

Joe below Aboriginal Sin

After creating a bomber nest of gear Joe launched out for the fang and as I watched him fight with the crack and eventually grab the fang, I realised that this was going to be really tough. Of course it’s not over at this point and Joe had another sequence to negotiate before it was my turn.

Now in my mind the holds were going to be positive flakes and the main problem pure grunt. No, the main problem is that the jugs are actually rounded and not positive and so my first attempt ended in some air time. The second time I was lucky that Joe kept me on a tight rope as I used my last reserves to gratefully hug the fang, gasping for air and with my poor arms blown. Of course the exploding hold which literally dissolved in my hand didn’t inspire confidence and nearly shrugged me off again. Still, I got up it in the end and what a great feeling. Brilliant lead by Joe, who is going from strength to strength.

Dave on Silent Movie

Dave on Silent Movie

We joined Tom and Dave who were having there own route fest, baggy some of the class VS and HVS of the main cligg. These really are good climbs, if a bit bold at times.

Happy, Happy Joe :-)

Happy, Happy Joe 🙂

My initial suggestion of a VS traverse turned into a two pitch E2 after both me and Joe liked the look of Casablanca. I led the opening 5a pitch which was great fun. Not difficult, but nervy as the gear comes late. Joes lead of the top crack was another stirling effort. My try ended up with me jammed in the crack facing the wrong way. It was only when I extricated myself and faced the right way that the finishing moves became possible. Still a really good route and maybe I’ll try the top crack on the lead next time if I’m feeling brave.

Before the hard move

Before the hard move

Joe and I finished up a V Diff chimney (great…?) with a laughable belay on boulders that were more likely to kill you than save you. And so at the end of a hot, sunny and memorable day it was icecreams/drinks and a contented drive home.

Get a shave

Get a shave

Uhmm. Are you an ‘inny’ or an ‘outy’

Climb Hard with a vengence

19th March 2016

Pelitras Point

Lardus – E2 5c – TR
Red Snapper – E2 5c – TR

Now I will readily admit I dont often Top Rope, but there are some days when it is by far the best choice. This of course was one of them. It was overcast, cold and there was a chill SE blowing.

Pelitras is an amazing piece of rock, but in general the climbs here are hard. The easier variations all looked a bit wet and un-appealing, so Joe kindly set up a top rope. It was nice to sit back and let someone else organise my climbing, although I did my best to try and get the tr in the wrong place.

It was good to really test myself against something harder and both climbs delivered on the front. Red snapper has some hard opening moves to get established and then a perplexing move on the upper arete. This is off balance and the climb forces you to come at the holds from the wrong direction. Still, I got it in the end and was mighty releived.

Lardus is all about the top crack. Joe reckoned harder than 5c and I would agree, not that I’m that familiar with 5c but i can normally haul my arse up 5c. I dont know about 6a. Got it on my second attempt but only just.

I want to return here and bag all the VS’s and maybe something a bit harder, but on a sunny day perhaps.


2nd October 2015

Zawn Kellys
American Dream – E1 5b – Lead

Carn Les Boel 
Camelot – E3 5c – TR

Sometimes you get the bit between your teeth. This year has not been my most outstanding in climbing terms. I’ve been up and down, so why I felt the need to go for a tough E1 I dont know but I did and in hindsight I’m glad I did.

Before the Dream

Before the Dream

With the amazing spell of weather continuing, conditions were at their best. As Dave, Joe, Tom  and I walked in the Penwith coastline did its best to draw your breath away. The sea textured like marble, azure skys and a coastline set in stark relief by the low sun.

Dave making me safe :-)

Dave making me safe 🙂

I’ve never climbed Zawn Kells so it took a while to work out the ab point. This established Dave and I dropped in just as the tide cleared the boulders at the base of AD. The wave polished rocks need to be treated with care, but the view up the line of the route takes your mind off these. Its very impressive. And it looks bloody hard! And it was!

American Dream E1 5b in all its glory

American Dream E1 5b in all its glory

The opening moves give you an idea of what is coming. Balncey mantleshelf followed by some fierce steep moves up to the first ‘rest’ point. From then on its a series of high quality moves on amazing rock. Two overhangs need to be overcome (both need some thought and commitment) before you arrive at the overhanging crack. This is strenuous but technically easier than I expected, although by this point I was running out of gas so it was chuch a couple fo camms in and keep moving. And suddenly everything gets less steep and your there.

After the dream!

After the dream!

Dave made a valiant effort but too many stuck cams did for him in the end and the base of the crack shrugged him off. However he did get to climb the crack three times in order to get them out – lucky git…

I was soooo pleased to get this. On a number of occasions I got that overwhelming feeling of ‘f@~k it. Just slump in your gear and have a rest. But I found myself consolidating after each mini crisis and moving on. Just brilliant and one of the best single pitches I’ve done in Cornwall.

Pinch the crystal

Pinch the crystal

We all met up after this and despite Dave and I lingering around chatting about our adventure, we headed off for Carn Les Boels and a look at Excalibur. As it happened we left this for another day and Joe set up a top rope so that we could have a go at Camelot an E3 5c no less. It was a strange but enjoable climb. Crispy is how I’d describe some of it. A great flake move on the bulge which looked like it might disintergrate at any moment leads to some nice moves on the upper face. A fitting end to a great day.

Still reading

Still reading

Now we’ve just got to wait for next week and the crap weather they’ve forecast.

Old Favorites

19th September 2015
Carn Barra

Super Crack – VS 4c – Alt Lead
Axis – VS 5a – Lead
Fourteen Fathoms – E2 5c – Second

I’ve been to Porthgwarra loads of times but never considered parking up nearer the junction to the l-bend. It is in fact a nicer walk in, if a little bit longer, down blackberry walled lanes and it brings you out in the Carn Les Boels area a bit further south. Ideal for Carn Barra and crags south of here.



I knew Nick had has eye on one of the E2’s at Carn Barra, but we started on the upper tier, on Super Crack. I remember this being really good the first time around and this time was just as much fun. Pitch 1 is a bit nervy on the top slab, but is good climbing with small holds and neat little moves. The top pitch is great, with more strenuous jamming and laybacking. A really top VS.

And so to Fourteen Fathoms. It has good climbing throughout and the bottom section (with the exception of the bold and bouldery lower face) is reasonably protected. Once onto the upper face, protection possibilities are there (the crux has some good gear) but the climbing becomes harder and the crux move is tough. It took Nick a while to figure it out (how he hangs around for so long I’ll never know) but in the end it is about strength and commitment.

Steep!! And hard....

Steep!! And hard….

On my turn I had just as many issues and probably made the move by the skin of my teeth. My arms by this time were shot so it was with relief that I moved up a bit for a rest before dropping back a few fet to get the remaining gear out. Really pleased to have done this though.

Nick on the crux of Fourteen Fathoms

Nick on the crux of Fourteen Fathoms

We finished on Axis, where Dave joined us. This was so that I could climb it throughout. My previous attemt had just been from the upper ledge. I made the lower moves, but I cant say I made a good fist of them. I grabbed the edge of the lower shelf with relief in the end. After this thought the route went easily for me, so I was pleased with this. The first time I remember it being a real struggle.

A good day at CB and nice to climb with Nick again. Must do this more often. Next ‘American Dream’ 🙂