South West Climbing News
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Where is my Mind? Pixies Loving Bold Brummy In Impressive Blackchurch E6 Action 8 June 2014
Stu Bradbury paid a visit to Blackchurch last week but forgot to take something important - his brain! This proved to be beneficial for his onsight ascent of Francis Ramsay's mega bold Naked God E6 6a. The route was first climbed by Francis back in 1991 and it's unlikely that it's ever seen many ascents, particularly in recent years (as most people are down at Anstey's dogging). It turned out the pegs on the upper section were all pretty knackered and there were no back up gear options... Luckily Stu managed to keep it together to eventually end up at the top without dying.
While onsights of some E6s seem to be ten a penny these days this is a remarkably impressive effort. Stu's ascent of Naked Dog, I mean God, was a brave foray into the unknown especially without knowledge of what the in-situ gear would be like. There's a big difference between getting on an E6 that has frequent ascents and is a known entity to getting on one of these Culm Coast bad boys.
Stu looking small on Naked God E6 Photo. Anna Morrison
Here's a new description of the route for the hordes of you that will be rushing up for ascents now:
NAKED GOD ** E6 6a 150ft.
A serious route giving sustained and very bold climbing up the centre of the huge blank looking wall right of Lord Bafta and Godspell. Fine, steep and fingery climbing on the best rock to be found on the main cliff.
Start just right of the arête, as for Godspell. Climb the lower wall boldly (2 Skyhooks protect) to reach the large grey rock scar (good peg above). Pull steeply up and left as for Godspell to reach a stainless peg (the last reliable gear) then move up and right of the peg to follow a slight diagonal line of weakness on small flakes and edges, passing 3 well spaced rusting pegs (1991 vintage, lets hope it was a good year!) until just below the top (Camalot 1 in a hole and 2 poor RPs above). Step up with trepidation to reach a creaking finger flake which gains the wide grassy crack on the right for the last couple of moves.
Poppy Shocker (last week's news today!) 2 June 2014
Following on from all his other recent Anstey's action (see report below) that young scamp Ellis Butler Barker has only gone and done Poppy! Needless to say this is inspirational stuff and puts Ellis well on track to ticking the wall with 'only' the mega link up of Brian left for him to do. Not bad for a 17 year old!
As some of you will be aware, Poppy was originally given 8b (not 8b+ as reported on an inferior news source!) by local hero and Plymouth School of Undergrading graduate Kendall Palmer. This has since moved up to 8b+ and some reckon 8c. When he climbed Poppy, Ken had been looking for an easier start to A Fisherman's Tale - needless to say Poppy failed in that concept...
For those that aren't familiar with the crag, A Fisherman's Tale, Postman Pat, Cyberdog and Poppy all share the same finish. This is pretty handy as one can get this wired whilst working up through the routes and grades at the same time. The easiest, or should I say 'least difficult', way of gaining the finish is via Postman Pat (which was the first 8a+ Ellis climbed on the wall, only back at the end of April).
Here's a video of Ellis razzing up Poppy and Tuppence Ha'Penny and also Tom Wright climbing The Cider Soak. The film's by Tom Wright.
West Penwith Action From Alexis 'Didier' Perry 1 June 2014
Science nerd, dark horse, Dider Berthod lookey-likey and ale fan (he's even got it in his name!) Alexis Perry has been quietly working through the harder routes of West Cornwall. His latest success is a headpoint of 29 Palms E8 6c at Sennen, probably the third ascent in it's current format. Alexis had to invest a bit of time before getting the lead, mostly due to the fickle conditions.
Photo: Is this Alexis at Orcombe Point, Exmouth? (source)
Originally climbed with pegs by Mark Edwards in 1987 at E6 6c, Mark then went on to replace these with longer lasting drilled pegs (essentially bolts). Although this action was criticised it should be viewed in context - at the time the bundaries of what was OK to bolt in the UK were being tested and revised by many activists. The originally controversial bolting of areas of Swanage, for instance, has since become accepted whereas bolting in West Penwith hasn't.
Unsurprisingly, the pegs were removed and the route was later led with gear in the old drilled peg slots. This was, however, viewed as a slightly flawed ethical statement due to the reliance on the drilled holes for protection.
Andy Long then came along and led it at E8, without any gear in the drilled holes and instead using tiny cams in very shallow placements (further clouding the story, I don't think these dinky cams existed at the time of the very first ascent).
The second ascent (in E8 form) was probably by visiting crazy mo fo Toru Nakajima during the 2010 BMC internation meet.
Alexis reckoned that despite looking a bit rubbish the gear was OK (but he always seems optimistic about his gear) and that the climbing warrants about Fr7c+. Oh, and just to complete the story Alexis filled in the drilled holes (not with bolts!) after his ascent.
Scarily, Alexis thought that his own line to the right, Tracks of My Tears, was technically as hard and also bolder... which suggests that it must be really pretty gnarly! Eeeek!
Also worth a mention is Alexis's new route over at the aesthetically pleasing crag of Cribba Head. This route, Blood Science, was climbed in April and according to Alexis is E6... but by the sounds of it could be harder for an onsight as the crucial cam that is very hard to find/place. A description can be found on the Climbers Club website
Congratulations are also due to Mrs Mandy Perry, Alexis's wife, who has spent a lot of time belaying Alexis in the cold. Hmmm, I'm glad I'm not his wife (his occasional beard might be a bit scratchy)!
Pesky Kids Hanging About Down The Cove 25 May 2014
Local youth Ellis Butler-Barker (17) has been making a nuisance of himself down at Anstey's Cove. Not content with ascents of Postman Pat 8a+ and Cyberdog 8a+ (and probably Postman Dog, CyberPat as well, knowing kids these days) the young scallyway has now only gone and sent Tuppence 8b, A Fisherman's Tale 8b, Tuppence Ha'Penny 8b+ and bloomin' Pet Cemetery 8a+ all in a week. For goodness sake, has this youth no respect for the tradition of taking years to get these routes done?
Here's a little video of Ellis on When the Days Are Dead V10 on the boulder beach at Anstey's Cove.
And if you think that's bad enough but he's not the only one! Another youth, Peter Dawson (15) has sent Tuppence Ha'Penny recently. You may have read about his highly successful trip to Spain (UKClimbing article) where he knocked out a couple of 8b+s and an 8a onsight amongst a handful of 8s. And his older brother Luke's pretty good too.
Quite frankly I think this kind of behavior from the Devon youth is ASBO worthy - would somebody please give them some homework or buy them Playstations!!
Moor Bunn Action 22 May 2014
Tom Bunn, obviously a bit keen on Dartmoor stuff at the moment, has made what is most likely the second ascent of The Camel E6 6c on Lowman. The line was first climbed by Simon Young in 1999, making use of some pre-placed RPs. Tom reports:
"I abbed the route one morning to see if it would be a worthwhile prospect and came back on Thursday to headpoint. After a couple of goes on the toprope, I lead up to place the first pieces and climbed back to the floor to rest. It seemed reasonable to not use any preplaced RPs or the matchstick thread, which makes the tough press move after the crux very bold indeed. Perhaps it ups the grade slightly, but still closer to E6 than E7 in this style. If someone decks out here I might change my opinion though!"
Dirty Dartmoor Repeats, Red Cars (and some chaff about grades) 12 May 2014
Some of the usually neglected harder granite stuff has received a bit of attention recently. Tom Bunn and Alex Moore went to Holwel Tor and had a go at Tsutsi. Originally given E6 6b, the boys decided to go for a highball style of ascent instead of leading... Tom reports:
"Well we failed doing the proper start! But I noticed some holds going direct up the prow, but we used the boulder underneath aswell. So ultimately, it's probably easier to go direct, safer for highballing, but a bit more dynamic. I tried to brush the top break with a brush on a stick from the top, but could only get rid of the moss. It ended up leaving a ton of grit and dirt in the thing still.
Although it probably does make more sense as a highball, It is still pretty damn scary as you have your feet really high up for the throw to the break. Exciting!
I didn't actually manage it, but my pal Alex Moore did. It's probably Font 7a+, maybe 7b" (Or V7 or V8 as we say 'ere on Dartmoor - I'd guess English 6b/c*)
Photo. Alex Moore laying one on for the dirty break a long way above his spotter Tom Bunn.
A few days later Tom made a visit to Haytor where he repeated Rough N Ready E6 6b. The route, found on the right hand side of the Rough Justice face, is rarely climbed (probably only 3 ascents to date?), generally pretty dirty and only requires on a couple of Friends for the break half way up. After flashing the route on top rope Tom cleaned it up and then dispatched it on the lead. Tom found the route to be a hard 6a rather than 6b - it seems that being tall/long armed may make the crux marginally easier. For those of you who don't know, Tom works at The Barn Climbing Wall and enjoys wearing Dewerstone clothing - Dewerstone are a local clothing company, they have a red car with 'Dewerstone' painted on which is sometimes seen parked in Shaugh Prior.
* Bouldering grading. Although Fontainebleau grades are being adopted everywhere I remain a stalwart fan of the V grade / English technical combination. This is largely because I like English technical grades! Font grades combined with an Engish technical (e.g. 7b 6b) look and sound confusing whereas a V grade with an English technical (e.g. V7 6b) is more aesthetically pleasing and sounds better. The inclusion of an English technical grade also tells you more about a problem's difficulty, whether it's sustained or one hard move (in the same way as E grades/technical grades on routes). And finally, English grades work better for easier problems because actual Fontainebleau grades seem to be all over the place in the lower grades and Vs only start at about English 4c/5a.
Save our heritage - use English technical grades in bouldering!
Tintagel Bouldering Reset! 10 May 2014
Tom Newberry has been in touch to report a few changes and new problems at Tintagel:
Just a heads up on some new problems/changes down at Tintagel after the winter storms which has resulted in a bit of a reset!
The new problems in question have long been on my radar but, annoyingly, were trapped behind a couple sofa size blocks. The steep, underct face lined with crimps teased and taunted me as I knew 3 star problems were waiting to be climbed. Fortunately, winter storms moved said blocks in early 2014 opening up a handful of quality problems (and a couple projects!). The best of the new problems include Hurlers V6, Purple Pants V8 and The AWOL Apprentice V9
Other noteworthy changes include:
- Kids V9, is no longer!
- Colorado Dreaming V10, has changed angle, it is now lower to the ground and the feet maybe better, top out is easier. I would say probably easier than its previous state but at similar grade. On the up side it is more open in the cave as boulders to left have gone meaning it is likely to be drier more often. Mind boggling how this house size block has shifted.
Tom Newberry re-ascending Colorado Dreaming, after the boulder shifted.
Tom Newberry on the first ascent of The AWOL Apprentice V9, suggested by Tom to be the best V9 on the coast.
Green – The Hurlers SDS V6: start sitting on low shelf follow the diagonal rail to the small shelf and a tricky rockover. Take a big bucket to empty the rock pool below.
White – Project: sitter into undercut and groove top out.
Red – The AWOL Apprentice V9??? Start matched on lowest finger rail follow holds in the slanting seam. Amazing, maybe the best V9 on the coast; Swiss style crimpin' by the sea. A variation finishes out left into and up purple haze at a similar grade.
Purple – All along the Watchtower V7/8: Start up Purple haze traverse the lip using a rose move into and up The AWOL Apprentice.
Yellow – Purple Haze V6 – original classic on the block, now even better as the dabby block has gone.
Blue – Purple Pants V8: Traverse low along the wall from Hurler into the start of Purple Haze, after the crux break out left along jugs. Amazing flowy climbing and quite a lot of moves.
Monkey Gone to Devon - More Bold Brummy Smoothlands Action 7 May 2014
Despite claiming that it was time to move on from Smoothlands' Great Slab (see news peice below), Pixies fan Stu Bradbury has been back to add a new route - it was obviously a cunning bluff to put off the fierce competition for north coast new routes!
Monkey Gone to Heaven E5 6a was climbed after abseil cleaning and takes an impressive line between Smoothtalkin' and the grassy rake to the right in one 'Gigantic' 170ft pitch (new skool Stu did send this in metric - I corrected it to imperial!). Stu worked out the route on the lead (i.e. didn't practice any moves on abseil) and discovered that he hadn't cleaned out all of the RP placements very well... oops!
Monkey Gone to Heaven E5 6a ** 170ft
Start at the base of the hanging arête on the right side of the arch.
Climb the hanging arête boldly (poor peg) to step right over the arch. Follow the runnel/crack and the pocketed slab on the left then continue up the slab to just below a large diagonal patch of hanging grass (rest and large cam in the wide grassy crack). Follow a rising line of footholds out left (crucial RP placements) towards the peg on Hellbound, clip this with a stretch and continue up the diagonal crack into the upper section of Hellbound which is followed to the top. FA Stu Bradbury, Lee Bartrop, 3/5/14.
Here comes your man, Stu Bradbury running it out like a kettle flex on Monkey Gone to Heaven
Sanctuary Wall Action 7 May 2014
Crag devotee Ken Palmer has been busy tidying up the Sanctuary Wall - Free the Spirit, Incubus Direct and Caribbean Blue have been restored so get on them soon whilst they're in good nick. Those of you who fancy sampling the delights of the main wall of crag at a slightly easier grade should consider the new link up of the start of Free the Spirit into Caribbean Blue - this has been dubbed Spirit of the Caribbean and goes at E5 6a.
Ken, with partner in crime Pete Saunders, also added Castaway E5 6a, a massive diaganol new route thingy starting at Morpheus on the bottom right of the crag and eventually finishing up Flaming Drambuie - it's steep, long, well protected and wild so get on it!
Kendal Palmer on pitch one of Castaway. Photo. Pete Saunders
Cornish Bey Newberry in Cheddar 8c Shocker! 27 April 2014
Proving that a diet of pasties and bit of aluminium sulphate is good for your climbing, ex-Camelford resident Tom Newberry has moved up a league with his recent success on Death Star, some 8c oop north (Cheddar). The route, first climbed in 2010 by strong and talented Chris Savage, is found on The Remnant and Tom's is the second ascent. The logical next route for Tom would of course be Ken Palmer's Brian 8c (or harder?) down at Anstey's. So in the absense of any footage of Tom climbing, here's Kenny P on Brian:
Bold Brummy Back At Smoothlands 27 April 2014
After his recent repeat of Slave to the Rythym, Stu Bradbury went back to the North Coast's version of Half Dome to make what is probably the second ascent of Martin Crocker's Lowlife (oops, accidentally reported this as Smoothtakin' previously!). Originally given E6 6a, Stu climbed the route onsight (with 1 fall) and reckoned 6b - but Stu and Martin are at opposite ends of the height sprectrum! Apparently it's more sustained than Hellbound but not as good. Stu has now ticked all of the routes on The Great Slab so thinks it's time to move on...
Bold Brummy Bradbury In North Coast Repeat Action 16 April 2014
Bold brummy * Stu Bradbury has recently repeated Slave to the Rythym at Smoothlands, near Hartland on the north coast. The route, first climbed by the legendary Andy Grieve in 1991 has been largely neglected since the first ascent and an abseiling clean was required prior to working out the route on the lead. Stu was joined by fellow north coast devotee Lee Bartrop for his ascent.
"...very dirty and not easy to see where the line went as the cracks were fully grassed up and had lichen, soil and loose flakes everywhere. It still is dirty but at least you get an idea of where it goes and you can pick your way through - I don't reckon it has seen more than 2 or 3 ascents.
The initial diagonal crack is obvious and goes at around E5 until it peters out just before you reach the 1st old rotten peg. It then gets harder and after moving left it becomes more intricate, demanding a sustained effort all the way up the headwall without much rest. Without the 3 original pegs for pro and having to search out small wire placements it certainly feels easily as hard as "Hellbound" and it's a long old pitch -I felt the headwall was more sustained and warrants E6 6b ** (*** for the experience!).
A rack consisting of plenty of small wires, RPs through to walnut/rock 4s and lots of quickdraws is required. Anybody capable of climbing it should get on it soon whilst it is relatively clean as it is superb!"
For those of you who don't know, Stu is a north coast based climber who seems very keen on adventurous routes. He also offers guiding services - see his website Wallcrawler for more info.
* Bold Brummy - Stu will no doubt soon be in touch to tell me Wolverhampton (from whence I believe he hails) is not the same as Birmingham.
Hardcore West Penwith Action From Tom Bunn 15 April 2014
Tom Bunn has been developing the little bouldering spot of Priests Cove in far flung West Penwith for the last year or so. After not inconsiderable time and fuel expenses he last month succeeded on what is probably West Cornwall's hardest problem, Wonderland, at a proposed Font 7c+/8a. An impressive effort on an impressive boulder - well done Tom!
A full guide to the crag is available on from the Rusty Peg website (direct link to Priests Cove guide).
New Saddle Tor Problem 14 April 2014
Mike Cleverdon has added a good looking new problem to Saddle Tor - it seems the crag is en vogue at the moment! In a departure from the general Abba theme at the tor Mike has called it Foul Play (most of the recent problems have some kind of Abba link, with the obvious exception of Foal's Chopper which was named after a well endowed Dartmoor pony present at the time of the first ascent). It goes at about V10 (or Font 7c+ for those Frenchies out there) and here's a little bit of footage:
Frank and Pat Do a Chat 4 April 2014
60's rockstars Pat Littlejohn and Frank Cannings are to present a talk on what was perhaps the golden age of South West rock climbing, the 1960s. This should be well worth seeing for anyone with an interest in the stories behind first ascents of routes like America, Eroica, Darkinbad the Brightdayler, Swing Low and the Gilded Turd. It's at Exeter's Quay Climbing Centre on 8th April, it's free and apparently there's a bar.
DartRock Opens New Bouldering Cave 4 April 2014
Buckfastleigh's popular wall has open recently completed it's long awaited bouldering cave. This vastly improves the centre's bouldering facities and will no doubt be very popular. Dartrock website.
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This file last modified 8 June, 2014.