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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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’.
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.
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!
Not content with nicking my gear, Dave has moved on to more blatant thievery. Cant really miss a rope can you! I might let him off due to fact I hadnt even noticed it was missing until the following day. Also lost my guidebook. I wonder if he’s got that too! Old age eh…
BREAKING NEWS! Turns out Sam is the thief, not Dave. The above is pure slander and I retract everything I’ve said. But still not deleting it!!
Sam, a good friend of Bart, came along with us today for her first experience of Carn Gowla and Gowla turned it on with a beautiful evening. We dropped down onto Indian Buttress for a crack at TTE mainly because the tides and swell were a bit against us and also because its a bit more amenable for a quick foray . Its always a pleasure to go to ‘Scary Gowla’. I get that privileged feeling whenever I wonder across the colourful upper cliffs and as you drop down, Gowla does its thing; part intimidation, mostly excitement.
TTE is typically Gowla, unreliable holds, iffy gear, shear and with a drop into the sea. Standard stuff really but at least its escapable and not too terrifying for a first venture for Sam. But it does deliver on the fun side and what a way to finish the day off.
It was also a nice way to think about Bart. In happier times, when we would scare the pants of each other with adventures into the then unknown. Back when we were climbing, every outing was a potential for disaster, mainly because neither of us knew what to expect at many of the venue’s. Good times, if a bit harrowing at times. I like to think I’ve continued the tradition of turning most days out into epics. Just ask Dave 🙂
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Fences – HS 4b – Lead Sloe Slab – V Diff – Solo Porcupine – VS 4c – Semi Solo 🙂 The Hearse – V Diff – Second Toy Story 2 – Severe 4b – Second
Wow what a windy cold day this was! Got things slightly wrong with the weather, as the wind was whipping into the Cove like it was going through a funnel. A few more degrees to the north and we would have been ok, but it was a bit of a trial of endurance.
Coming in from the bottom of the valley is described as arduous in the guide book because it involves a boulder hop to get to the main face. But contrary to this, we all found the traverse good fun and it involved some nice climbing. For those not comfortable with scrambling about with fairly high steep drops, I would recommend the alternate abseil or walk from the ridge. But this is definitely the fun way in.
I was also surprised that the main face section was reasonably accessible even at high tide (only a small swell running). For some reason I seem to remember it being a problem on the high tide, but the landward climbs are all available almost through to ‘Iron Bell’. We (Tom, Dave and I) all had a lead. Fences is a textbook corner, as is The Hearse. Dave’s Toy Story 2 was a bit steeper but good holds all the way. All three are worth doing, with strangely Toms lead, The Hearse being the hardest to protect.
The rock here though is second to none. Unpolished, grippy and immaculate granite in a stunning location. What more could you ask for except less wind?? And as is always the case when we’re out, we turned a fairly normal (and normal is not always normal) day into one of adventure by deciding to solo out. Sounded like a good plan to start with but ended with Dave having an epic tussle with lichen and a gnarly arete and me and Tom wondering how we were going to get up a tricky VS with two cams and a nut (and I’m not referring to Tom).
The solo up Sloe Slab had been an adrenaline rush. Nothing like squeezing through a tortuous mantle shelf, after a smooth slab with no rope or gear. But Porcupine is a foot grinder. Positive flakes but its a case of jam that foot in and soak up the pain. Seeing as Dave had wandered off with all the gear and the second rope (doh!!) Tom and I jury rigged a few dubious gear placements and alt led the pitch in semi solo stylee. What a buzz. Must do this soloing malarkey more often if you get that kind of adrenaline :-). Mind you we’re no Alex Honnold, but I sort of get where he’s coming from. Free soloing focuses the mind like no other kind of climbing. Easy moves become a challenge when you are trying to influence the percentages of success in your favour. And you get real freedom.
And so ended a typically adventurous day with good mates. As we collected Dave for the walk back to the bags I couldn’t help but reflect how lucky we are. Turning a pretty shite day into a good one by seeking out a great location and having a good crack with good friends. Coming back here shortly by the way as its a top place to climb and there’s loads of routes I want to do.
Oh and did I mention that Tom licks his gear as a form of corrosion test for salt air. Well, each to their own ha ha
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.
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.
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.
Which is a lot more than can be said for Blind Fury.
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.
They do at that age – E1 5b – T/R (pretend HVS) Thirty Something – E1 5b – T/R WKD! – E3 5b – T/R (More like E2 at most) Head Rush – E1 5a – T/R
Toblerone – Diff – Solo Iron Filings – V Diff – Solo Rubble Trouble -Severe – Solo Duck Soup – V Diff – Solo Horse Feathers – Dif – Solo D Tain – Diff – Solo D Tour – V Diff – Solo
Time to test the dodgy shoulder I thought on Thursday, so a trip to a well know and familiar hunting ground was in order. I love Penberth. Not because its the mecca of Cornish climbing because it certainly isnt. But because its easy to access, beautiful and has a good vibe about it.
Add to this that it brings back great memories of climbing with Bart (RIP) and it was a good choice for a day when I wanted to climb as much as possible. Also it has a plethora of potential solo’s to keep you occupied between routes. We Top Rope mostly, but the quality of climb meant that it was just a joy to be on the rock. We did most of the E1’s twice so by the end of the day I was confident my shoulder was back in shape.
Its hard to find a bad climb at Penberth. The soloing is straight forward and fun and the harder routes are just quality providing a bit of everything. ‘They do At That Age’ is the show stopper, a 3 star route if I’ve ever seen one. Delicate traverse leads to a crack which requires thought to exit which in turn leads to a hairy, gritty chimney. What more could you ask for.
Tom, Dave and I had a full on day and I think that every so often this is the way to do a day. Get on a top rope and get some mileage in. Great for the confidence.