Tag Archives: V Diff

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.

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

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?

Exploding Antipodian

27th May 2016

Coastguard Cliffs – The Lizard

Aboriginal Sin – E3 – Second
Casablanca – E2 – Alt Lead
Rendezous Manque – V Diff – Lead

Sometimes you have a vision of how a climb will be. I imagine myself climbing it and invent the holds, hoping they will be as good in real life. On a beautiful sunny day, Joe and I stood below Aboriginal Sin and I considered whether I was in good enough form to actually get up it.

The guidebook describes a series of juggy flakes leading to ‘the fang’ that sticks up at the end of the steeply rising and overhanging crack. Easy then! Get on it and move quickly until you can get hold of the juggy fang.

Joe below Aboriginal Sin

Joe below Aboriginal Sin

After creating a bomber nest of gear Joe launched out for the fang and as I watched him fight with the crack and eventually grab the fang, I realised that this was going to be really tough. Of course it’s not over at this point and Joe had another sequence to negotiate before it was my turn.

Now in my mind the holds were going to be positive flakes and the main problem pure grunt. No, the main problem is that the jugs are actually rounded and not positive and so my first attempt ended in some air time. The second time I was lucky that Joe kept me on a tight rope as I used my last reserves to gratefully hug the fang, gasping for air and with my poor arms blown. Of course the exploding hold which literally dissolved in my hand didn’t inspire confidence and nearly shrugged me off again. Still, I got up it in the end and what a great feeling. Brilliant lead by Joe, who is going from strength to strength.

Dave on Silent Movie

Dave on Silent Movie

We joined Tom and Dave who were having there own route fest, baggy some of the class VS and HVS of the main cligg. These really are good climbs, if a bit bold at times.

Happy, Happy Joe :-)

Happy, Happy Joe 🙂

My initial suggestion of a VS traverse turned into a two pitch E2 after both me and Joe liked the look of Casablanca. I led the opening 5a pitch which was great fun. Not difficult, but nervy as the gear comes late. Joes lead of the top crack was another stirling effort. My try ended up with me jammed in the crack facing the wrong way. It was only when I extricated myself and faced the right way that the finishing moves became possible. Still a really good route and maybe I’ll try the top crack on the lead next time if I’m feeling brave.

Before the hard move

Before the hard move

Joe and I finished up a V Diff chimney (great…?) with a laughable belay on boulders that were more likely to kill you than save you. And so at the end of a hot, sunny and memorable day it was icecreams/drinks and a contented drive home.

Get a shave

Get a shave

Uhmm. Are you an ‘inny’ or an ‘outy’

Com’on Joe, stop arsing about!

13th March 2015

Pedn-Men-An-Mere

Pink Sea Slab – V Diff – Lead
Devils Meridian – E2 5c – TR Dogged
Bermuda Wall – E3 5c – TR

The view over Church Cove

The view over Church Cove

One of the things I always like to believe is that I am cautious and careful when it comes to safety when we’re climbing. On a glorious day at Pedn-Men-An-mere I seemed to have a complete aberation of common sense and forget all my own well established safety protocols.

This would account for why Joe landed on his arse when he slid of Bermuda Wall, despite being on a top rope. 8mm rope (which should have been doubled up to compensate for rope stretch; belayer sat down (not the most attentive position); rope hadnt been stretched out off the anchors, so too much slack in the system. A litany of errors.

It is good that it happened on a top rope in a way. Hopefully Joe was just shaken and not damaged. I know it has shaken me up and I need to get back to good ways. There is always a lot of trust to build with your belayer and I need to re establish that.

BOOM!

BOOM!

However, it was also a great days climbing. Joe sent Devils Meridian (I didnt get anywhere near it dogging my way up) but I will hopefully get it next time. Also we both successfully got up Bermuda Wall, via a really tough series of opening moves.

BOOOOMMMM!!!

BOOOOMMMM!!!

Devils Meridian has a very hard middle section where foot placement and balance (with a bit of strength) are needed. It has a bit of everything- finger jams, laybacks, pinches and jug hauling. On a lead the hard part would be getting gear in. There is lots, but you have to have a free hand….

Well that wasnt easy was it?

Well that wasnt easy was it?

Bermuda Wall is just great, but hard. Joe rekkoned 6a for the lower moves and I wouldnt argue. Tiny crimps and pinches lead to some crazy underclings. Then a massive reach and finally a tough traverse. What more could you ask for.

Exposed on the top of PSS

Exposed on the top of PSS

Pink Sea Slab is not V Diff. I repeat ‘Not V Diff’. Its a great climb with some good slab moves and a wild finish, but pro is insecure and the final haul over a bulge is more in keeping with VS. It also needs good ropework and a careful eye on some decidedly dogey rock. I’m not selling it am I? It is well worthwhile though with loads of exposure and some great positions. Just not V Diff.

View over to Pink Sea Slab. Its the black slabby areas.

View over to Pink Sea Slab. Its the black slabby areas.

The new Nikon performed well though. Lots of good photos to add to the collection. Its so cool living in Cornwall 🙂

Oooh Suits you Sirs

1st January 2015

Bosigran
Commando Ridge – V Diff – Alt Lead

Big Ron and the boys made the most of a dreary New Years day, with an assault on Commando ridge in impeccable style… well maybe not impeccable but better that your average ridge climber.

Nice Tie

Nice Tie

Big Ron and the Boys

Big Ron and the Boys

After too many Prosecco’s at the Fish House at Fistral (amazing food by the way) the previous night we met early dressed in our finest New Years day suits. Strangely there was something actually likeable about climbing in a two piece, probably a throw back to bygone days.

Gearing up? Or already geared up.

Gearing up? Or already geared up.

We were also incredibly quick for us. Probably due to the impending rain, but we were up there in less than 2 hours. Plenty of soloing and moving together. By time I’d finished I was proper sober again, but absolutely knackered. The sleep on the way home helped!

The classic ridge.

The classic ridge.

What a great way to welcome in the new year.

Hung over selfie

Hung over selfie

Go on punk… Make my day

2nd October 2014
Luckey Tor (aka Eagle Rock)

Ivy Wall – VS 4c – Lead (dnf)
Right Hand Chimney – V Diff – Second
Black Jam Crack – VS 4c – Lead

I returned to Luckey Tor full of confidence. It had been many years since Ivy Wall kicked my arse resulting in the biggest fall I’ve had to date. This time I knew it was my turn to get the glory.

Meadows on the walk in

Meadows on the walk in

After some iffy navigating on my part, we arrived at Dartmeet (the real one this time) and set off on the quite stunning walk in, down the bank of the Dart. Having had our lives affirmed thoroughly, we wandered into the clearing and shared the rest of the day with two ponies in the clearing.

One of the more beautiful venues

One of the more beautiful venues

So, onto Ivy Wall. It looked easier than last time, although I noticed that the convenient chockstone was missing. Still it wouldnt make any difference. Actually it didnt, cos I messed up completely and ended after an hours worth of frustration walking away in disgust.

The arete of the The Eyrie

The arete of the The Eyrie

The problem I have is that I’m not that flexible so squeezing into the niche was not enticing, so I went for the direct start which is pump and strenuous.  It was a poor effort, brought on by over confidence. next time hopefully. Tom suffered a similar experience and so we went to the far side of the tor where we found a couple of classics.

Tom on Right Hand Chimney

Tom on Right Hand Chimney

Tom’s route was actually graded Diff, but I ca assure potential leaders that there are a couple of difficult moves, one with poor pro. Not Diff, but great climbing that makes you think a lot.

Black Jam Crack

Black Jam Crack

The jam fest of Black Jam Crack was also good. As usual I didnt make it look easy, but I did enjoy squeezing up and making a desperate lunge for the top. I made it… just.

Stunning

Stunning

And so ended another brilliant journey into Dartmoor. Must return here next summer and camp. A swim in the river beckons!

 

Scarred!

9th September 2014
Carn Gowla

Fine Line – V Diff – Second

The intention had been to find ‘Cave Wall Traverse’, described as isolated in the cc book. It turned out to be not just isolated but illusive as well.

Looking across at Indian Buttress - Line of Indian Country

Looking across at Indian Buttress – Line of Indian Country

Having been down to South C Walls on a previous occasion and experienced the nightmare of being caught out on an exposed , loose and very steep descent I fortunately knew about the hidden entry point to the gully. This is still a bit loose but considerably more amenable than the alternative.( Remember to head out towards the seaward face and then double back into the gully)

Nick and I stared at where the traverse should have been but it gradually became obvious that there has been a large landslip here. It’s hard to say from where we were stood, but the climbing looked considerably harder than HS (the guidebook grade). It lookslike there is a route there, but the description in the guidebook didnt match the face we were looking at. Because it was fairly late, neither of us fancied getting stuck in some hopeless position on the face and then being be-nighted.

A good line up to the shear

A good line up to the shear

The scar on the Traverse

The scar on the Traverse

So it was off around the corner to South C Walls. Its a great hidden area, with a useful platform and some good climbs. Nick chose Fine Line and it proved to be true. It looks good from below and the climbing is engaging and exposed. The rock as with the other routes here, is a bit suspect in places, but not enough to ruin a great outing.

With the good weather going on and on, you have to wonder how long we’ll get Gowla this year. At the moment its more likely to be light that stops play.

Blood Brothers

9th May 2014

Logan Rock

Lightning Crack – HVS 5a – Lead
The Wormhole – V Diff – Solo

God I hate the guide book comments on Logan Rock. For the most part the Climbers Club Guide is brilliant, but they had an aberation when it came to Logan Rock. Normally I pick up one route and from there everything falls into place. Not here. Everything is so vague you cant even pick one out.

The line of Lightning Crack

The line of Lightning Crack

Still after a little tantrum early on Pete and I set off on one of our ‘Adventures’! It was so much fun. Abbing in with the tide pushing  and swell charging into Castle Boot Zawn. Hanging just above the surge made for an exctiting belay and the initial moves meant dropping down to sea level and quickly moving back up before a wave got you. Speed climbing.

Me posing at the belay in Castle Boot Zawn

Me posing at the belay in Castle Boot Zawn

We negotiated the initial moves setting up an improvised belay part way up the groove to avoid rope drag. It’s all a little off balance but great climbing. Then the main event. The pull up into Lightning crack through an overhang. Well protected but scary. And after a few good holds its all jamming. My footwork was appalling resulting in me getting stuck lying along with my right foot jammed. After some serious grunting and heavy breathing I managed to untie myself and get some poise back. Then its a balancy mantle onto the face and its all done. Simples… Except I left blood all over the place in my desperate attempt to untangle myself. Its amazing how adrenaline masks the pain of jamming in sharp crystaline cracks. I’m feeling it today though.

Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers

Meanwhile Dave was finding out about Logan Rocks serious issue with undergrading. The two HS cracks are probably VS and E1. The whole place is full of great potential but a lot of it is hard.

Dave wondering how an HS can be so hard!

Dave wondering how an HS can be so hard!

The end of the day saw Tom and Dave working some of the hard routes on the short face in the main bay (Crack 1 and 2 area).  Pete and I undertook some caving finding a bizarre route which worked its way from the bottom to the top via hollows between jammed boulders and narrow gulleys and chimneys. Probably not a new route but I call it ‘The Wormhole’ and grade it V Diff just because its so f@#!k#$g awkward and tight. Pete is coming along great guns and his confidence is soring. We both solo’d the whole route. Never high, but committing all the same. More fun than chasing cats!

Climbing or Caving?

Climbing or Caving?

The Logan Rock Inn provided a fitting end to an amazing day in a stunning breath taking location. How can you not feel happy when you have this on your doorstep.

Vegetables are good for you. Sometimes…

2nd May 2014

Pen Olver – The Lizeard

Lying Eyes – Severe 4a – Lead
The Womb Tomb – Severe 4a – Second
The Giant Carrot – E1 5b – Lead
Sesame Street – V Diff (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha………!! ) – Second

Before we even got to Pen Olver I knew I would end up preoccupied with The Giant Carrot. I’d checked it out on our previous visit but didnt have the nerve to do it. This time I thought I’d better give it closer attention.

Pen Olver_May14 002

Pen Olver was looking its best. Calm seas. light winds and a cool temperature. Typical spring day really. Chris and I paired up, with Tom, Dave and Pete in the triumvate. I suspect Pete felt that Dave and Tom might give him an easier time of it so he could rest his damaged leg. I think maybe he was wrong here as Dave set off on the brilliant but tricky ‘The Peoples Queen’.  Pete who has been climbing superbly recently had time to squeeze in an ascent of Lying Eyes, my first lead of the day as well. No rest for the …..

Pen Olver_May14 005

Lying Eyes is short but OK. A good warm up route and it gets you to the top of the pinnacle which is always a treat. Looking across at Dave fighting his way up TPQ ,I think Chris and I had the easier option but Dave despatched yet another VS to add to his growing list.

Pen Olver_May14 007

Chris then subjected himself to a bit of ‘trollism’ as he negotiated the fantastic ‘ The Womb Tomb’. Anyone who goes to Pen Olver should do this climb. It is excellent. The final exposed traverse just caps off what is a truly different experience form most climbs. And the famous cave painting is still there. Or is it a fake??

Pen Olver_May14 011

So onto my main event. Or would it be? From below I thought I had this one sussed.But once on it, it becomes a different beast. Not sure I agree that there are small wires to be had on the traverse. I placed two in what appeared to be good slots, only for one of them to shatter when Chris removed it. A crucial cam in the face settled my nerves and I was away. It was scary, but scary good. A few difficult moves later I was sucking in air on the arete and feeling decidedly sick. Way too much adrenaline. But what a buzz. I was soooo pleased to get this one, especially after making a couple of false starts.

Pen Olver_May14 020

The adrenaline wasnt finished for the day though. Chris was scratting around for a lead wanting something around HS but not finding anything. So he settled for a really good looking line called Sesame Street. Given V Diff in the book. V Diff My Arse!! I always trot out the saying that if it looks hard from the ground, it is hard.

Pen Olver_May14 028

Chris found this out, battling up the route and getting a real shock at its difficulty. Looks like he got his VS, because I rekon this was the more appropriate grade. It made for a fitting end to what was a great day out.  Tom spent a lot of the afternoon racking up leads on the Main Face with Pete. Looks like Pete might get his 60 after all.