Tag Archives: Sloe Slab

The secret gear licker

12th April 2019
Porthguarnon Cove

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.

Bouldering in

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.

Dave enjoying the freezing wind… if only you could see it!

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).

Me and Tom semi soloing Porcupine

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.

Dave…. On the wrong crag???

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

Three Tiers for Porthguarnon

4th October 2012


Iron Bells – HS 4b – Lead
Sloe Slab – V Diff – Lead
Porcupine – VS 4c – Lead

Parking is a bit of a problem here although on this day we were lucky enough to be able to park on the campsite. Otherwise its a short walk from Penberth. I doubt that there is a lot in it really.

Our gearing up ledge after a thorny arrival


Pete and I rolled up not really knowing what to expect. I know that when you look at the crag it seems broken and disjointed, but after a couple of attempts we successfully managed to access the base of the cliffs via a very thorny and overgrown path. The next task was to get across to the main climbing area which is done by a series of traverses, a couple of which are quite airy, so you may want to rope up.

The bottom of Iron Bells

We started on Iron Bells, a climb very reminiscent of Anvil Chorus’s second pitch. In fact the crack is thinner, but its not as steep. However it’s a great pitch and loads of fun, especially the overhang which is taken directly on really positive holds. The granite feels grippy, probably a reflection of how little climbing this venue has seen over the years.

Eying up the squeeze on Sloe Slab

Pete and I were then faced with the next problem.To get back down to the lower tier involved some serious jungle bashing which we didnt fancy, so instead we decided to just keep going up. A great choice in fact as Sloe Slab turned out to be loads of fun. One for the rest of the group to have a go at and see if anyone can make the exit through the gap look elegant. Me and Pete failed big time.

Pete demonstrates the slug move

With the weather taking a turn for the worse (the sun had now disappeared and we were frozen) we launched for the top. Some poor route reading by me meant we did a sort of mixed route part of which at least was Porcupine, a VS. I had intended to tackle to enticing thin crack on the left of the upper slab, which would have been HVS but cold hands and impending hypothermia made me decide to just get up there as fast as I could.

Pete on the upper tier (Porcupine?)


So all in all a great venue. Each tier has a number of options all in the V Diff to HVS range and it should be a good return next week when we come back mob handed with a stay on Trevervan camp site thrown in.