Tag Archives: Chris

I shit on your Death Gully

16th September 2019

Dolomites
Punta Sud from the wrong direction

So this should have been a exciting and dramatic start to our adventure in the Dolomites. With a full blue sky day almost guaranteed and a fantastic Via Ferrata in Tomaselli the destination what could go wrong. Or in our immortal team moto, “Whats the worst that could happen”. Well it did!

This is what happens when you combine over exuberance, with unfounded assumptions and poor decision making. Access to Tomaselli should in theory be straight forward. Get the Lagazuoi cable car and then follow the signs for the Via Ferrata on path 20b. We even had a map to complement the cicerone guide. So how did we miss the right fork and end up dropping the entire length of the valley before realising we’d gone wrong.

Then the second mistake. Instead of returning and finding the correct start I recommended coming at the ferrata from the ridge of Cima Scotoni, described as an exposed walk into the Tomaselli VF. The map showed a route in and in hindsight (always reliable 🙂 ) it probably was ok, but once again we made an assumption which was ill founded.

We set off up the very steep pass of Forcella di Lech and then branched off up towards Cima Scotoni. The track is marked by Red and White flags and is a treacherous ascent up a scree filled valley which goes on and on and on and on finally reaching a flag on a blocky outcrop. From here the flags seemed to stop suggesting the very steep gully to our right was the way. Incorrect assumption number two. Logic had it that if we cut the ridge of Cima Scotoni then we’d pick up the ridge path and be able to follow this back to Punta Sud and then Tomaselli.

But having reached the top of the very loose, fragile and snow filled gully we were presented with two teetering piles of choss on either side. I tried a sortie to get on the ridge but everything moved and given this was Pete and Tony first foray into the mountains it was no a clever idea to get us stuck on the crest of a dangerous ridge. Also I had no gear and only a 10m rope.

Only one course of action…. retreat. “Whats the worst that could happen” out the window and rightly so as this was only going to end in disaster if we continued to pursue our current course. Pete’s remark of the fact it was only 1pm was right, but its easy to forget the scale of these peaks and even if we had found the correct ridge it would have meant completing the walk into Tomaselli and descent in 6 hrs. Sounds a lot, but we’d have missed the Cable car and it would have been a staggeringly long day.

As it was it turned into a feat of endurance. What an introduction for Pete and Tony! So it was back down Death Gully (after me and Pete both marked our territory), a scree down the main path with everyone adopting interesting techniques for skiing on scree. And then the awful slog back up to the Cable Car which never got any closer. Not sure what we would have done if we missed it, but we scraped onto the last one with a huge look of relief from the crew.

So these kind of days are a testament to what adventures in the mountains are like. No pain, no gain. Despite not achieving our goal, we had an epic mountain day. Massively tiring, but we went to places we will never go to again (hopefully). Well done on Tony and Pete for persevering – not that they had much choice.

Very much in keeping with Rule 4

Richard Burton eat your heart out!

Not I might add the actor, but the famous explorer Richard Francis Burton, purported to be one of the first Europeans to cross Africa from West to East. I read a story about how they had to cut their way through miles of jungle; so Tregiffian’s not Africa but today’s outing felt like it for a while.

Sophie in the Jungle

It was a pretty harsh introduction for Sophie as a new member of the group. Shame I forgot to mention that we would be hacking our way through 100 metres of dense thorn, stingers and brambles. Still, I managed to forget my trousers as well, so shorts it was and the tingling sensation is still there in my legs 6 hours after leaving. I suppose its a right of passage though. Here’s Rule 4…. live with it!

Me on Acid Test

However despite the pain it was an amazing day. Sunshine, perfect rock and great climbs. And finally a plunge in the freezing briny. Tregiffian is a truly magical place. Remote; a hard slog to get to and requiring commitment to jungle bash your way in, but the climbing is very fine.

De-rigging after Acid Test

Sophie and I started on Thea, a nice Severe with a tricky leftwards move at half height. Th rocks not perfect on this route, but the final slab makes it worthwhile. And then on to Acid Test, one of my favourite VS’s. Joe explained that I was doing it all wrong because I just step into the crack and try to walk up it. Precarious, but fun, but there’s nothing for your hands so its a bit of a trust things using the crack to cam your body on.

No explanation required!!

Our final swim capped off a great day. Still a bit cold, but actually not too bad once you’ve been in for a few minutes. Not a bad turn out for this one. 6 of us with Dave, Piers, Chris, Joe (back from his adventures in Norway), Me and Sophie.

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.

A very sociable journey

13th to 19th March 2018

Leonidio/Kyparissi

And so ends an amazing week in Greece. Leonidio is a gem of a location; probably the best overall venue that we have been to on our travels so far for rock quality and atmosphere. It is a sleepy rural town that has stumbled upon climbing as a major revenue stream. As such its geared towards climbers and very welcoming. More on the crags here.

Just walls of rock 🙂

We stayed at Leonidio Apartments nestled below a major area of crags and within walking distance of a number of venues. Alexandra turned out to be the perfect host, turning up with cakes and pastries on regular occasions. Her sister ran the organic bakery down the road (Vlamis Wood Bakery) with a 100 year old oven and olive and tomato pasties that were gorgeous.

Chilling on the veranda

Leonidio is a very idyllic town. Quaint and full of Greek character and charm. What I particularly liked was the laid back atmosphere. All the locals out and about, eating, drinking and socialising. You dont tend to find this so much now, particularly in tourist areas, but Leonidio retains this aspect.

Main Street

We also lucked into meeting a great group of people who helped to make the trip even more enjoyable. When everyone is so friendly you cant help but have fun.

“Lets start on something easy”

6th April 2017

Sennen

Delilah – E2  5b – TR Dgd
Africa Route – VS 5a – Lead
Terrace Cracks – HVS 5a – TR
Slanting Crack – HVS 5a – TR

Its been a while since Chris and I had a day out on the rock and given Chris’ recent absence from climbing and me being away for a couple of months, we figured we’d warm up on an E2. Of course we did! What else would we do/ Just what were we thinking!!!

Well, bizarrely it was a great idea. We both failed to climb it clean, but with waves crashing into the platform at the bottom, slightly damp holds and an exhilarating airiness to the whole affair we were buzzing by time we finished and ready for more.

A quick repeat of Africa Route reminded me of what a good climb it is. Technical start and with delicate moves through the groove. Well worth its three stars and a reminder that Sennen is littered with quality climbs that are well worth repeating.

The remainder of the day was spent messing about on a top rope on the HVS’s in the Hayloft area. Both were good fun. I probably should have led both, but to be honest sometimes you just need no frills, safe climbing where you can cut loose and make shapes. This was certaininly the case with Slanting Crack where Chris and I tried multiple variations and had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

So, what a great day! No real anxiety, lots of good climbing and possibly the only downer was that we forgot our surfboards as there was a bit of swell in the bay. 🙂

Aqua Chris (aka Chris’ big wave challenge)

29th December 2016
Commando Ridge – V Diff – Alt Lead

Ok, so last year Dave backed Tom into a corner and he took the big soak when a wave crashed into the point off Commando Ridge. So this year we all obviously knew better. Except Chris, who decided to admire the massive set pushing into the bay right up to the point where it towered above him. Outdoor gear keeps you dry most of the time, but a six foot set tests it to the max.

Chris post bath

So it looks like we are establishing a tradition. Who will it be next year. My moneys on Dave…

Another boomer comes through

Well that provided the laughs for the start but this was such a good day out. Back to old skool get out and enjoy Cornwall. It was also Joe’s first venture on the ridge and he must have brought the weather gods as the predicted grey bleak day turned into sunshine and stunning vista’s in every direction.

The colours of Bosi

Something about Commando ridge always makes me feel good. I remarked that for a novice climber the ridge is the perfect outing. But even for the experienced climber this is just such good fun.

SELFIEEE!!!!!

I’ve got to know the pitches fairly well now, but I still look forward to each one. Its a grand day out and one well shared with good friends.

Would you trust this belayer?

25% Pink??

17th July 2015

Oldwalls Point

Matchless – E1 5b – Lead

According to my DNA listing I am roughly 5% Irish, 2% Iberian, 2% North African, 46% Western European, 20% Anglo Saxon and 25% Viking or Pink as the boys put it. I prefer the analogy with hairy arsed, ax wielding, pillaging fellas from up north personally.

View north from Oldwall

View north from Oldwall

Mind you, being part viking would help on a day like this, where the walk in was equally as terrifying as the climb. Teetering pile of choss is a good description for the area around Oldwalls Point. Looking at the huge fin of rock I wonder how long it can survive. I’m glad I got on it now.

The fin of Oldwalls Point

The fin of Oldwalls Point

After a sketchy traverse onto the ridge above the wall/slab you are faced with an abseil down a grassy gully and down to the beach. Pete, using his particular branch of warped logic felt that extending the gully out onto the wall might create a fun situation. It duly obliged, launching him into an arc across the face resulting in ‘resistable force meets very immoveable object’. Hence Pete spent the rest of the day bleeding over the beach and anything else that came close to him.

Pete, post abseil

Pete, post abseil

Chris and I set up for matchless, which was … well ‘matchless’. Its quite unique in the climbs I’ve done, with a full on wall experience which makes mincemeat of your toes. The crux is fairly low down ( I always hate that) with a series of difficult moves past a rusting old peg. The committing part is starting off past the peg. Tiny holds and smeary foot placements get you into slightly better territory, but not enough to set and place gear, so I had to push on a ways until a nice thank god hold appears allowing for everything to calm down.

A rest of sorts but your feet are screaming by now!

A rest of sorts but your feet are screaming by now!

From there it just keeps coming at you, consistently good climbing with pretty good gear up to the pancake. The next dilema is ‘push on through the veritable forest’ or take the clean unprotected arete. I took the arete which is fairly easy but needs to be treated with real care.

Chris about to find out the Pancake isnt any easier

Chris about to find out the Pancake isnt any easier

All in all, a fantastic route which Chris smiled his way up, with a few cheek puffing moments. I think this one suits both our techniques which is why we were so chuffed with the route.

Joe on More than a Match

Joe on More than a Match

Meanwhile Joe was fighting his way up More than a match, the E3 next to Matchless. It looks to be in a similar vein except for some grunty moves at the bottom. It does have a 5c move so one to consider for the future maybe. Thats if I can be pursuaded to clamber back across the nightmare that is the walk in and out.

The treacherous escape

The treacherous escape

Pete, Chris and I exited off the beach, saving the most dubious climbing until the end with Chris nearly getting stuch in a pile of shale and Pete threading his way up through a boulder field and remarking on how one particular boulder the size of a Mini was loose. It happeded to be right above me and thankfully he treated it with kid gloves.

Now the most scary part. Explaining Pete’s injuries to Melis!!!

Jet Wash

3rd July 2015

Penberth Cove

Nicks Niche – Severe – 4a Second

Horney – VS 4c – Second

Penberth was of course the original venue at which Iwas introduced to climbing by Bart. It therefore holds very fond memories for me and returning there is never a chore.

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A new member of our group came along. For Harrison it was his first experience of outdoor climbing and my thought was that Penberth provided a good venue where we could tackle a few reasonably graded routes while at the same time introducing him to the safety routines and climbing protocols that he’ll need when we go to the more serious venues like Bosi or Chair Ladder (no I wouldnt… not yet anyway).

Harrison  warming up on Excalibur

Harrison warming up on Excalibur

So during the course of the day we visited some Penberth classics such as Nicks Niche and The Hornet, as well as spending some time in Area 5 which needs a low tide. It was good practice for Chris and I as well as we went though some of the basics, which we always need refreshers on.

 

Harrison on Bionicle HS 4b

Harrison on Bionicle HS 4b

The rising tide, which almost caught us on Nicks Niche ( a wave actually spat just past me soaking the whole climb but miraculaously missing me!!) eventually pushed us to the Hornet where Chris and Harrison on his first attempt, made short work of of what I had always found a difficult climb. Must have been me then…

Chris, pre wash

Chris, pre wash

Harrison on the face left of Nicks Niche

Harrison on the face left of Nicks Niche

 

Meanwhile Joe and Tom had mooched over to Porthguarnon  to something very hard (around E3 I believe), but did return for a quick run on Groucho.

Tom on Groucho

Tom on Groucho

There are two E1’s here at Penberth which I would like to try, so I might pay a mornings vist on the way through on one of our outings and try and get on them.

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.