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!
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.
Flash Back – Severe 4a – Second Monkey Puzzle – VS 5a – Lead Monkey’s Lunch – Severe 4a – Lead
OK, two weeks in a row we’ve had long days. This one ending in a solo of the top part of Rosemergy Ridge in the dark in an effort to escape the claws of the viscous brambles. We had problems right at the start finding our way down to Brandy’s Slab. Probably should have read the guidebook instead of setting off on the first faint trail we found which lead in roughly the right direction.
Back at the beginning of the day we had arrived at Rosemergy Towers, me with a view to having another go at Hard Times (which I fell off on the final move having gone too far left). However my still not recovered shoulder made a few protests on Flash Back (a good lead by Dave on what is an understated climb at Severe) so I gave this up as a bad idea.
And so we set our sights on Brandy’s Slab. Of course even though Tom had been there, we had no idea where to go, which resulted in an hour of bramble and Gorse bashing and a very zig zag route down. We had picked Piers up on the way and so a very scratched team arrived at the slab. I was to be honest a bit disappointed. I’d expected more, but the harder routes were just very bold and the easier routes not that inspiring. That said, I enjoyed the climbing, although I tend to agree with a comment on UKC that the detached flake of rock on Monkey Puzzle is just waiting for an opportune time to fall off. Hopefully, not with anyone climbing on it.
Monkey Puzzle is either a straight forward VS if you go slightly higher before moving into the narrow crack or a very bold VS if you go early. The nicer line is to follow the corner a bit further and then move across. Other wise you’re relying on friction on a very hairy and mossy face. Still it was fun despite the pain of setting up a belay with no anchor points… or at least not obvious ones.
And so we set off heading out via Rosemergy Ridge, which soon turned into slightly more than a scramble in the dimming light. To give Piers his due, he did brilliantly considering he has only come back to climbing recently.
There were some distinctly nervy mantles and padding going on. Still we’re alive, so that counts as a grade A adventure in my books.
So we welcomed a new member of the team in Piers who joined us for the first time. About time we had some new stock, as a few are getting a bit long in the tooth and broken.
I had in mind a bit of exploration on the far tip of the Lizard at Green Lane Cliff. This sits below the Coast Guard hut and seemed to have a few climbs in the V Diff to HVS range. As it turned out the area was a bit disappointing, but to be fair the weather meant it was seeping a lot and we definitely didn’t see it in its best condition. So its wait until its drier and onto Pen Olver to re-visit a few old acquaintances.
One of the most tense parts of climbing at PO is the down climb. It all slopes away and feels a bit exposed, so for Piers it was an eye opener. But the climbing is great and the two we picked were classics. Bilsons Fowl Play is a solid V Diff into a steep corner, but LHCP is a different beast altogether. It has a number of sections; a mantleshelf into the initial crack, a very steep ( almost overhanging flake crack section. An exposed traverse and a final technical ramp. Combined it makes for an excellent route. Pro’s not bad but hard to place sometimes and the holds in general are solid and big.
More importantly, Pen Olver can make a grey day like this was a fantastic outing. That and climbing with mates of course. Dave and Tom finished off their route on the main slab in the dark, so it was a walk out as night set, feeling weary but content.
Its a shame we missed the porpoises that the Coastguard lady told us about. Otherwise it would have been even better 🙂
Cornish weather guarantees that your never guaranteed you’ll get to climb. Despite no real prediction of rain, the dark grey clouds and strong wind felt a real portend of nastier things to come. Days like this tend to drive people for the cover of their warm homes and it would be easy to right it off and bail.
The other side of the squeeze
But then we would have missed out on a fun days scrambling around Pordenack. Just enough difficulty to add a bit of spice, but not terrifyingly exposed. We’d initially traversed onto the Green Face ledge (a nice little pulse raiser as its all a bit off kilter), but the cold, drizzle and wind meant ‘Mexican Pete’ was not going to be on. So we dropped into the Hidden Amphitheatre which proved equally as moist.
The scramble out
For those who havnt experienced the ‘squeeze’ its well worth it. A cleft through the rocks with jammed boulders, which empties into a hidden area and is the usual descent point for Pordenack. So to leave we exited vertically straight up the spires and landward face. You get an amazing view back across the point and all the thundering drama of Lands End comes into view. On this day, the 10’+ swell just made it spectacular.
Tom, hiding behind me.
Highlight of the day- eating lunch while watching a couple of seals bobbing out in the sea. In the end, a good way to spend a crap day.