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(2002) Hard Devon Bouldering (2002)

The following provides a brief outline of the state of play when it comes to bouldering in The Shire. If you have any information about repeats of problems or opinions on grades please get in touch.

The Granite

Ben Stokes on The Wave V7 at Bonehill.  photo Gavin Simonds
Ben Stokes on The Wave, a classic V6 at Bonehill. This problem provides a tough finish for Tsunami V10, a traverse from the left. photo gavin simonds


Hidden Traverse Low... there and back V11 Saddle Tor First Ascent Dave Henderson (2002) Repeats A combination of 2 existing problems (see below) gives the possibly hardest traverse on The Moor. A tad on the long side! The "ascent" was made after a number of attempts failed on the return leg - in fact, the Left to Right version and half way back was climbed about 5 times in succession (makes your tips bleed just thinking about it!) before the problem was managed in one go the following day. See the Saddle Tor guide for description.

Gold V10/11 Saddle Tor First Ascent Dave Henderson (2001) Repeats None reported. As with most of the hardest problems on The Moor this is a power endurance problem. It takes a full traverse of Saddle Tor, including the best of most of the problems. There is potential for some harder variants to this traverse, but remember that for a full tick the traverse must be completed with no falls! Sounds obvious really but let me explain: half way along, after the majority of the hard climbing is a hands-off rest in The Funnel - well, if you fall off after this (which is a possibility on the V8 finish) go back to the start again!! i.e. no sneaky starting form the hands-off rest!!

Tsunami Extension V10 Bonehill First Ascent Dave Henderson Repeats John Gaskins

The Moor V9/10 Bonehill First Ascent John Gaskins Repeats Dave Henderson. An extremely fingery problem comprising of 1 move - a bit of a slap for a fat (or "phat" if it was on Portland) sloper. Holding said sloper proves to be the crux and requires a combination of luck and good timing/aiming etc! Unusually for a hard problem on Dartmoor does not require any endurance.. the crimps on this do seem to change size as crystals get broken off by feet!

Tsunami V9/10 Bonehill First Ascent Dave Henderson Repeats Matt Cooper, John Gaskins, Caedmon Mullin. A fine link-up of The Wave Traverse into the original Wave problem. About 12 moves long and with rather poor footholds.

Hidden Traverse Low V9 (left to right) Saddle Tor First Ascent John Gaskins Repeats Dave Henderson. A power endurance type problem; about 20 ft long and with a tricky final section.The hardest thing about this problem is controlling any possible swings so your feet don't touch the floor...

Hidden Traverse Low (Right to Left) V8 Saddle Tor First Ascent Dave Henderson Repeats John Gaskins, Simon Blagdon. You may notice that the left to right version of the same traverse gets a slightly higher grade. A particularly contorted starting sequence (or blatant hard pulling) leads to more power endurance stuff.

Other stuff

John Gaskins' Bum Start to Foals Chopper V9 Saddle Tor - he has suggested V9 but it has not received any repeats and seems pretty hard. A few years ago John climbed a tricky bum start to Rippled Wall, starting in the cave below... unfortunately he's forgotten how hard it is, but it looks quite hard to me!

Easdon Arete V7, a new V8 from 2001, will be one of the new classics of The Moor. A superb flying arete. Possibly easier for the tall and those who like big slaps.. Repeated by Simon Blagdon, Caedmon Mullin, Jason Maddick, Kenny Palmer et al!! A sneaky heel hook on the right has now been discovered which puts the grade down to V7. Hard V8 without the heel hook on ledge on right... if you get bored of doing it with the heel hook that is!!

There are plenty of other fairly tricky problems, several of which have now had a number of ascents, confirming their quality and sometimes even their grades. The most popular of the "hardish" problems has become Super Trouper V8 at Saddle Tor.

The Limestone

Cutting edge on Devon Limestone probably extends to about V11, although this refers to eliminate type problems at Chudleigh and circuits at Hazard Quarry. The latter venue has shown it's worth as the most extensive roof bouldering venue in The Shire (not hard really as there's not a lot to choose from!). Despite not looking that good (some would go further in the condemnation of the place!) it now has a number of stamina/power endurancey type problems, most of these are the work of Ken Palmer.

The North Coast Beaches

Simon Young and team (not to mention a few other teams!) have been responsible for major bouldering developments on the veritable treasure trove that is the beaches of the North Coast. Quality bouldering can be found all along the Culm Coast area (with the focal points being Northcott Mouth, SandyMouth and Hartland Quay). The epicentres for developement have been Hartland, SandyMouth, Northcott and Upton and these are now home to numerous quality problems. Simon now reckons there are about 25 problems of Font. 7b and above (not to mention plenty at a less hard grade!!), the hardest of which is Ache Ball, (Hartland Quay) now confirmed at Font 8a with repeats from Suu Littlefair and Rob Sutton.

South Coast Beaches

There is definitely a bit to do on these beaches but as yet they have not had in depth investigation. A look at Great Mattiscombe Sands will reveal some potential for some extra hard problems. Over the border in the land of Cousin Jack (Devon spetch for Cornwall), Downderry is now home to a new hard one by Ken Palmer. This could turn out to be at least V10, but Ken didn't give it a V grade and it was wet when I went for a look (fortunately - saved me failing on one of Ken's Problems!!)

...and onto the Future

Dartmoor will yield a few bits and pieces - some totally new classics and a few linkup type things. There may also be some interesting developments in wooded sections of the Moor (some photo are up here)! If we're lucky a Cressbrook type steep limestone venue will be found in the Newton Abbot/Totnes/Buckfastleigh area. The beaches of the North Coast will continue to prove productive, and the beach bouldering trend may extend to the South Hams, where the rock often has "negative friction" (actively fall enducing!!). Go forth and have a look about - there be gold in them there hills (and beaches!).


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