Tag Archives: Sennen

The Seal Sanctuary

4th December 2018


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.

“Lets start on something easy”

6th April 2017


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. 🙂

Cracking Up

7th October 2016


Dolphin Cracks – HVS 5a – Lead
Commando Crack – VS 5a – Second
Six Blade Knife – E2 5b – TR

So my second attempt at Dolphin Cracks ended up roughly the same way as my first. In a fit of angst.

Dolphin Cracks is a committing climb and the top section, even if you sling the convenient chock stone, bodes for a rough ride if you come off. Probably not a decking, but definitely some skin loss.

I struggled on this. Not so much the opening moves where I chose to bridge and stay on the face, but the committing move to layback the top section. I did them on a second, but leading was a bit of a mind game. As it happens the top moves are really positive, so I had nothing to worry about, but its always easier in hindsight. I think the next time I go I will try again as I know I can complete the moves now so it could be a confidence booster.


Dave had an excellent lead on Commando Crack. Situated in Irish Lady Cove its nestled away off the beaten track. Half the fun here is the death defying descent through broken and loose ground, but it all adds to the adventure. But its well worth seeking out. It is not quite an off width, but forces you to climb inventively to make the crux sections. Not easy, but definitely a good if unusual VS with a nicely exposed finish.

We finished on an E2 ‘ Six Blade Knife’ by top roping it from the belay of Commando Crack. It’s a good climb. Hard in the botom half with a very reachy but great move to the large flake. This takes a bit of working out, but once sorted it goes OK. Then its traverse up the line of flakes to a not as easy as it looks finish. Very cool climb.

It was nice to be back on the rock and climbing reasonably well. Sennen always a good venue to make you feel at home.

Where did that f@*!ing train come from!

21st  April 2016


Slippery Slab – VS 5a – Lead
On Your Marks – HVS 5a – Alt Lead

That was basically what I was thinking as we left Sennen after a great but fairly gruelling days climbing. My body felt like it had been hit by a train – sore arms and shoulders, cuts everywhere and feeling drained.

But what a day….

Everything I’d read about Slippery Slab suggested it was great, but being self descriptive I had wanted to ensure it was in condition. So what better than a dampish day, with puddles indicating the remnants fo the previous days showers. What could possibly go wrong.

Dave, after moving off the bottom ledge and finishing the perplexing traverse.

Dave, after moving off the bottom ledge and finishing the perplexing traverse.

Well route finding for a start. Dave and I both initially  looked at the wrong line. The clue is the description of the high nut. The guide books are vague at best but basically do the following:-

Climb up onto the big slightly sloping ledge. Move to its back in the large V Groove and place some high gear. Then return to the bottom edge of the ledge and move right (facing in) into a much smaller hanging groove and pull up onto the slab. It takes some working out, but the holds are there as well as a camny hidden protection slot. Keep looking and you’ll find it.

One of the great moves on Slippery Slab

One of the great moves on Slippery Slab

I managed to blow the move up. I worked out the hard moves, got up and placed a good nut and then slid off the wet hold my left hand was perched on. So it was lower off and do it again, this time with no incidents. The rising crack is fantastic. Well protected and with loads of great moves.

Dave nearing the top of Slippery Slab

Dave nearing the top of Slippery Slab

Dave suffered from the same symptoms as I had, spending a while working out the moves, but eventually getting it.  Warning beta! There is a jug at the end of the difficult moves so dont give up.

Having spanked ourselves on SS the obvious decision was to go looking for something even more strenuous and with a harder crux. Why not? It was Dave’s idea anyway.

The line of On Your Marks

The line of On Your Marks

So I set up for the bottom pitch of On Your Marks and proceeded to completely run out of gas and make a feeble attempt at the opening cracks (which wernt actually that bad). So Dave stepped up, announced that “Your feeble. Watch how a man does it!” and cleaned the cracks in one go. I managed to get up them on the second, thanks to Dave, so we were left with a dilema.

The second pitch had an overhang. I thought it looked technical but not too hard. Dave figured it was nails. Dave was right, but in my usual inherent stupidity I grabbed the lead and set out on an epic.

Half an hour later, with my hands and legs bleeding, my shoulders dislocated and not enough strength to hold the ropes I ended up on the ledge above the overhang. It wasnt easy, it was friggin difficult. I actually nearly made it. Pulled out of the cosy recess, pulled up into the main event and even got my foot on the rim and pulled partially over. But then I didnt spot the jug hold and that was the end of it. 4 tries later I woosed out and went left to a treacherous finish that way.

Hayloft area - On Your Marks

Hayloft area – On Your Marks

Dave then rubbed humiliation into my wound by cleaning the overhang, albeit with the red-est face I’ve seen him pull yet. Good job it was and Dave can tick another HVS lead and a good one at that.

And so ended a brilliant day, with yet more adventures ticked. The ride home was fairly quiet compared to normal. Probably because we’d both emptied the tank, but what a great feeling. I think I may have to try that overhang again 🙂

Going it alone

28th November 2013


No Number – VS 5a – Lead
Monday Face – VS 4c – Second
Overmarked – HS 4a – Lead
Sinners Route – Diff – Solo
Juniors Route – Diff – Solo
Seniors Route – Diff – Solo

Damp conditions alwyts temper how you approach a days climbing. Despite a favourable forecaste Sennen was slow to dry on this day and as a result we throttled back on our grades.

Are we high enough

Are we high enough

Having said that, No Number, my opening route prooved more than a challenge for the conditions. Holds full of water, moist cracks (oooh errr)  and unreliable foot placements made it full on. The rising run of flakes is slightly overhanging and therefore fairly strenuous until you reach the base of the upper cracks. Great climbing, but the twin crack finish wasnt on for this day. They were running with water so I detoured onto No Name for a much easier but spectacular finish.

Behind you!

Behind you!

Monday face has all the holds but needs a steady head. Pro is tricky to come by and the strenous positions make it akward to place. Chris enjoyed this one. An ideal route for the conditions. Meanwhile Dave and Tom were on SkrewCrack, which again was probably worth another grade given the conditions. A good lead by Dave who’s consolidating his grades nicely.

Chris on No Number and Dave on Skrewcrack

Chris on No Number and Dave on Skrewcrack

Overmarked is a weird route. Its basically a couple of moves through an overhang, but is really powerful for a short period. Get your body shape wrong and its a lot more difficult as Chris and I both found.

Dave on Skrewcrack

Dave on Skrewcrack

Unusually for the two of us, Chris and I ended the day with a bit of soloing. Only on the diffs in the Church Window area but it certainly adds a buit of spice to your climbing. What would ordinarily seem simple suddenly becomes a major issue. That said, I think it is good for your climbing as you end up concentrating on just the climbing without all the paraphanalia that normally accompanies leading.

Dolphins! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Dolphins! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Very refreshing and the sight of Dolphins just makes you feel good to be alive.

Days of the week.

22nd February 2013

Sunday and Monday Face

Dexter – VS 4c – Second
Slim – VS 5a – Lead
Vertical Crack – VS 4c – Second

OK. The thin snow drifting around when we arrived gave a clue to the days conditions. Cold. And i therefore offered myself some advice. Stick to climbs with big holds and stay away from finger routes.

Looking across Monday Face with Dave on CWD.

It’s a shame I cant follow my own logic then. But over confidence will do that to you forcing a disregard for the blindingly obvious. Your hands are going to get cold!

Tom leading the tough bottom crack of Church Window Direct

Tom and Dave kicked things off with an attempt on Church Window, Tom preferring the direct and harder start to the traditional flop onto the high shelf. For an initial pitch it is a pumpy start, but Tom made good work of it, finishing via the corner in the alter niche.

Chis hangin.. on Dexter

Meanwhile Chris was leading the tricky and exposed Dexter. This route is all about the top traverse and finish. Moving off the pinnacle at the top of the crack you’re faced with a swing out onto the main face using the rising flake as a rail. It feels very bold, but not as bold as the step up at the end. That’s special. All in all a great lead by Chris in the conditions.

Pete on Dexter.

Pete found it difficult, but to his credit he stuck at it and made it through. I also found it exposed. The conditions meant your hands felt cold and it was difficult to trust your grip at times.

Chris about to go for the top move on Dexter.

Which is why it was all the more surprising that I chose a tasty finger crack  Slim for my lead… which proceeded to remind me that I was not as good as I thought I was. More of a mental state though, than a lack of physical ability. Four attempts later I finally cleared the early 5a move and the remainder of the climb was stright forward. Looks like I’ll have to come back and repeat this one.

Dave on the top cracks of CDW… just after taking to the air.

Both Dave and Chris lead vertical crack on this day. It’s been upgraded now to VS which is understandable so Dave has now bagged a VS which is brilliant going for so early in the year. It is well protected so it helps to settle the nerves, but is still technically a challenge.

Tom on CWD.

The same can be said for the top section of Church Window Direct, although Dave decided to put in some air time after peeling off on the tough top moves. CWD is one of my favorite climbs at Sennen. I want to give it another go next time we’re back.

Dave looking relaxed on CWD. He shouldnt have been???

Hopefully things will now warm up for the rest of the year. I’m definitely looking forward to summer.

Sugar Rush (ish)

19th May 2012

Zig Zag – HVS 5a – Lead
Dextrose – HVS 5a – Second

Meeting up with Nick later in the day seemed to suggest that we would be struggling for time, particularly as we both had arrangements for later on. However being Sennen and only single pitches we bagged two classic HVS’s.

We also met up with Rowena and James who were just finishing off Demo Route. It was watching them that drew my attention to Zig Zag a route I had long admired. Its a truly striking lightning slash down the wall at the north end of the crag. Watching another climber wrestling with the succession of niches and cracks gave me a hint of what was to come, although once on the climb I got a full on sweat on.

Nick’s monster cam came in very handy in protecting what was the crux move. This is an akward move, one that felt as though I could be off at any moment. Instead of jamming I went for the layback which is what probably made it feel more precarious. By time I topped out I was fairly pumped but chuffed to bits that I’d made it. Nick was also chuffed I made it as he avoided a soaking from the fast rising tide which had tried to get him earlier on.

Then it was across to the Southern side of the crack and Dextrose. I’d had a go at Dexter a while back but was defeated by the cold. No problem with that this time, but Dextrose turned out to be a cracker. Its a weird climb really, not taking the obvious line, but taking a loop across the face and finally approaching from the other direction. It’ sthis that makes it so good.

It’s hard too. I wouldnt have had a problem with giving it E1. The stretch across the face is made more airy because you have to move up when really all you want to do is go sideways. The rounded groove is also tough and this is capped off by gear which you have to work hard to place. A good lead from Nick and imo one of the Classic routes at Sennen.

The final move over the top provides a suitable sting in the tail as well. The rock though is superb. All in all great fun and one I may try leading in the future.

The three faces of Wednesday

7th April 2010

Dexter  – VS 4c – Lead (Variation finish up Double Overhang)
Hayloft – VS 4c – Second

Joe, Alex and I set off for Bosi to climb LBJ but for a change the normally reliable BBC weather got it wrong. The wind should have been from the North so Bosi would have been sheltered, but instead there was a lot of West in it which mucked it right up. Too cold to spend time on belay ledges we figured shorter pitches at Sennen and a bit more shelter would be the order of the day.


And so began a catalogue of misjudgement. Of course Sennen would be no more sheltered than Bosi, but this seemed to bypass us all, right up to the point I was hauling my freezing cold butt unto the spike of Dexter and wishing I was anywhere other than on this cold piece of granite. Joe couldnt feel his hands and I abandoned the airy traverse on the grounds that I would die from hypothermia, choosing the grunt up the top bit of Double Overhang.


In a bid to escape the wind we mooched down Irish Lady Cove. A good idea, but not when there is 8 – 10ft of swell running. We stood looking at Commando Crack, but I was spending more time looking at the waves smashing inbto the cove and remembering Pendeen, when a rogue set tried to eat me. Not happy, I refused to climb the crack, much to Joe’s derision, so I pursuaded him to have a go at Grot.

Never has a name been more deserved. As lumps of rock broke off in Joes hands and Alex launched lumps of it into the cove which exploded like grenades and threw another strop and demeanded we leave ILC immediately. By this time I was completely frazzled and the decision to climb Hayloft was the one good one of the day.


Joe led which was fine by me, and he had fun on the unprotected second pitch, always a pitch to focus the mind. By time we finished the day didnt seem so bad, but not one that will go down as a classic.